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Category Archives: Wine of the week

Wine of the week: Root:1 Pinot Noir 2012

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Wine of the week: Root:1 Pinot Noir 2012Today's wine of the week is another lesson in tasting the wine before you judge it. Regular visitors will remember the Wine Curmudgeon's ambivalence toward Chilean pinot noir until I was forced to taste it last summer; in addition, Root:1 wines have rarely impressed me, being inconsistent more than anything else.

Nevertheless, I tasted the pinot noir ($10, sample, 13.5%) with an open mind, because that's what I'm supposed to do. And guess what? The wine was worth the effort. It's light, fruity (some sort of red berry?), and balanced, without any of the excesses that plague other $10 pinots -- like adding syrah or grenache -- to make them taste fruitier and heavier. And, blissfully, the tannins were more or less what they were supposed to be.

It's not exactly pinot noir, lacking the earthiness and subtle of great pinot. In this, it tastes more like Beaujolais, which seems to be the case with a lot of $10 pinots from South America. But it's clean, food friendly, and a fine value for $10 -- so fine, in fact, that it merits consideration for the 2015 $10 Wine Hall of Fame.

Wine of the week: Anne Amie Cuvée A Muller-Thurgau 2012

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Wine of the week: Anne Amie Cuvée A Muller-Thurgau 2012One of the most nefarious developments in the wine business is the $15 wine that is only worth about $10. You’ll see this a lot at grocery stores, but it shows up elsewhere as well. The point of these wines is to add value not through what’s in the bottle, but what’s on the bottle — a clever name, a funny label, or paragraphs of winespeak.

That these wines trick consumers into paying more than they should is bad enough, but they also sour the market for $15 wines that are worth that much money, like the Anne Amie. How is a wine drinker, faced with the grocery store wall of wine, going to know that the Anne Amie is an honest wine that delivers value and not something made to fool them?

That’s why I’m here. Anne Amie in Oregon’s Willamette Valley is one of my favorite U.S. producers, making smart, value-driven wines with grapes that aren’t for the faint hearted. The Amrita, for example, is a blend of 10 grapes, including chardonnay and riesling, a combination designed to warm even the most curmudgeonly heart. The Cuvée A ($15, purchased, 12.6%) does the Amrita one better.

Muller-Thurgau is a white German grape not much planted anywhere anymore, even in Germany. It’s sort of like riesling and gewurtztraminer, but with its own characteristics. That means it’s crisp, but not necessarily fruity. The 2012 Cuvée A is softer than previous vintages, almost off-dry — which isn’t a bad thing. Look for white pepper and spiciness, with honey and apricot flavors. Exceptionally well done, and the kind of wine that’s perfect as spring arrives.

Wine of the week: Aragonesas Los Dos 2012

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Wine of the week: Aragonesas Los Dos 2012One of the joys of wine is stumbling on something enjoyable when you least expect it. Which is also one of wine’s frustrations, since stumbling on something enjoyable doesn’t mean it’s going to be generally available.

Which pretty much sums up the Los Dos ($8, sample, 14%), a Spanish red blend made with garnacha and syrah. The producer, Bodegas Aragonesas, a decent-sized Spanish winery, doesn’t list the wine on its website, which means the wine may be a one-off made for the export market or not made every year. Hence my concern about availability, given the way these things work.

Still, if you can find the Los Dos, it’s worth buying. It’s not quite $10 Hall of Fame quality; it’s too simple, even for a $10 wine. But it delivers much, much more than its $8 cost. Look for garnacha-style red fruit (cherry?) and a certain richness in the mouth. There isn’t much else going on, but the fruit and alcohol don’t overwhelm the wine the way I thought they would. It’s clean and professional, and someone tried for balance when making it, which isn’t usually the case with wines targeted for the U.S.

This is a food wine, for red meat and barbeque, and a very pleasant and welcome surprise. Assuming we can find it on a store shelf, of course.

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