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Category Archives: Wine of the week

Wine of the week: Kon Tiki Merlot 2014

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kon tiki merlotMichael Franz, who judged the flight of $15 and under merlots at the Critics Challenge with me last month, was even less optimistic abut finding quality wine among the nine entries than I was. And regular visitors here know how the Wine Curmudgeon feels about $10 grocery store merlot.

So if Michael was happy, then you know the wine was worth drinking. We gave six medals, including a platinum to the Chilean Kon Toki merlot ($12, sample, 13.2%) — easily one of the best grocery store merlots I’ve had in years. It tasted like merlot and not a chocolate cherry cocktail, with almost unheard of depth and subtlety. Look for a black currant aroma followed by black fruit and very correct tannins that weren’t harsh or off, but complemented the fruit.

This is the kind of wine to buy by the case and keep around the house when you want a glass of red wine that does what red wine is supposed to do, and that doesn’t offend you with too much fruit, bitterness, or oak. Drink it on its own, or with any weeknight red wine dinner, from meat loaf to takeout pizza. Dad probably wouldn’t mind a bottle, either, if he needs something for Father’s Day.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the $10 Wine Hall of Fame if I can find it for that price. The only catch? The importer lists distributors in 33 states and the District of Columbia, but many of them are small and may not have enough clout to get the wine on store shelves.

Wine of the week: Guy Saget La Petite Perriere Sauvignon Blanc 2014

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sagetThe crisis in the French wine business — too much overpriced wine, and too often crappy and overpriced wine — doesn’t apply to everyone in France. A variety of producers, who focus on the wine and not what the marketing department tells them to make, deliver quality and value. Guy Saget, whose family business dates to Napoleon and the French Revolution, is an excellent example.

The winery, like many of the best French producers, combines tradition and post-modern winemaking to make wine that actually tastes like wine and not grape juice with alcohol. The sauvignon blanc ($13, sample, 12.5%) demonstrates how successfully they do this. For one thing, it’s varietally correct — French sauvignon blanc that tastes like it came from France, with just enough citrus to be noticeable, but mostly minerality and a pleasing green quality that the tasting notes call fern.

For another, the grapes come from throughout France and not just the Loire, which lowers the price by about a third without substantially reducing quality. This is an everyday practice in California (see the Joel Gott sauvignon blanc), but isn’t nearly as common in France, where centuries of tradition make it more difficult to do.

Highly recommended, and especially for past vintages, which cost as little as $10. Serve this chilled with almost any summer salad, grilled chicken, or boiled seafood.

Wine of the week: Josep Masachs Ressò 2013

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Masachs RessoThe Wine Curmudgeon buys wine not because he wants to, or because he thinks he will enjoy drinking it, but because it’s in the store, it’s the right price, and it might be worth writing about. Needless to say, that doesn’t always work out, and my notes are full of angry comments: “plonk,” “overpriced grocery store junk,” and the like.

The Masachs Resso ($10, purchased, 13.5%) seemed to be one of those wines, garnacha from a part of Spain best known for cava, the region’s sparkling wine. Still, it was $10, and it was brought into the U.S. by Winesellers, Ltd., one of my favorite cheap wine importers.  Call the result serendipity — a top-notch Spanish red wine when I didn’t expect it.

Look for garnacha-style sweet strawberry fruit in the middle, but fun to drink and not overdone. The fruit is surrounded by more earthiness than I had any right to hope for, fresh acidity, and what wine geeks call dusty tannins. Think of that as tannins that aren’t harsh or too astringent, but that complement all that fruit.

The Masachs Resso was much better than I thought it would be, and is just the wine for summer barbecues, burgers, and even on its own, slightly chilled. Sometimes, the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t have to suffer for his art.


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