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Category Archives: Wine of the week

Wine of the week: Pio Cesare Gavi 2014

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Pio Cesare GaviIn those long ago days before pinot grigio, we drank Soave or maybe Frascati and Gavi when we wanted Italian white wine. Not that we drank much Italian white wine; it was a novelty for a wine drinking culture that assumed all Italian wine was red and came in a wicker-covered bottle.

These days, Italian white wine, mostly pinot grigio, ranks as one of the biggest imports in the country, and wines like the Pio Cesare Gavi ($15, purchased, 12.5%) are something most of us don’t drink. Which is too bad, because the Cesare is well worth drinking, an example of what happens when a top producer puts care and effort into an affordable wine made with a grape, cortese, that is not well regarded.

Look for minerality and a little lemon and dash of herbs in a wine that is so subdued and understated that it takes almost a glass before you understand what is going on. It’s also a stunning value for the price; most quality Gavis cost more than $20, and those at this price are usually too simple for a $15 wine.

Highly recommended, and just the thing for spaghetti with clam sauce with garlic and parsley.

Wine of the week: Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva NV

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Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee ReservaGiven Segura Viudas’ $10 Hall of Fame reputation, it’s no surprise that the new Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva is another top-notch wine.

I say this even though the Gran Cuvee Reserva ($14, purchased, 12%) is the company’s attempt at trading consumers up, and we all know how the Wine Curmudgeon feels about premiumization. And, to make matters worse, it includes a little chardonnay and pinot noir, two grapes that sometimes show up in cava and rarely add much more than a flabby sweetness.

This time, though, the result is a more elegant, Champagne-like cava — which, of course, I should have expected given Segura’s devotion to quality. Look for some crisp apple, tart lemon, and even a hint of berry fruit, as well as a creamy mousse and a bit of yeasty aroma. Plus, it still has all those wonderful tight bubbles.

This is a step up from the regular Segura and well worth the extra three or four dollars. Highly recommended, whether you’re toasting the New Year in a couple of days or you feel like sparkling wine to brighten a gloomy winter’s day. I drank this with my annual holiday gumbo (chicken, sausage, and okra, made in the finest Cajun tradition, including a nutty, chocolate-colored roux) and my only regret was that I didn’t have a second bottle to drink.

Wine of the week: Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2014

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forrester petit chenin blancIn a perfect wine world, the Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc would be on store shelves everywhere, and I wouldn’t have to write this kind of post. Until then, know that this is the kind of wine that I wish more producers made and that my colleagues in the Winestream Media allowed more people to enjoy.

Because the Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc ($11, purchased, 13.5%), from South Africa, is the sort of fresh, crisp, and cheap white wine made with a grape that gets very little respect and that the world needs more of. It’s bright and juicy (peaches?), with a touch of citrus and an almost zesty finish that’s devoid of the bitter, pitty flavors some chenin blanc has. And it’s not sweet, either, with only about as much residual sugar as a typical chardonnay.

Chill this and drink on its own; it’s the kind of wine to keep around the house when you feel like a glass. Or pair it with almost any holiday meal that isn’t red meat, and especially a Christmas turkey or something to make all those leftovers that much more enjoyable. 

My tasting notes say “thoroughly delightful,” which goes nicely with the note from the producer (and which are rarely worth quoting): “Should last half an hour with the cap off and reach for the next bottle!”

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