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Category Archives: Wine reviews

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.

Expensive wine 61: Adelsheim Elizabeth’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2011

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Expensive wine 61: Adelsheim Elizabeth's Reserve Pinot Noir 2011The Wine Curmudgeon has long lamented the state of pinot noir, in which much of the expensive stuff doesn’t taste like pinot any more. And that the expensive stuff is way past expensive, priced so that only tech moguls and Chinese generals can afford it. And that many winemakers get annoyed when someone asks them about this, as if we’re questioning their ability.

Fortunately, there are still producers who can remind us of pinot’s greatness, and Oregon’s Adelsheim Vineyard is one of them. The Elizabeth’s Reserve ($55, sample, 13%) is beautiful and classic Oregon pinot noir. Look for elegant red fruit, a subtle but full middle that is almost coy, and tannins the way they should be in pinot noir — a hint and not a kick in the teeth. The oak shows through more than I would like, but that’s probably a function of youth. The wine is still a little young, and could use another year or two in bottle.

This is not necessarily a food wine, but would be even better with it, including and especially the classic pinot pairing of roast lamb. Highly recommended; in fact, I found another bottle after I drank this one. Don’t know where it came from, but I’m glad it did. I’m going to let the second bottle age and save it for a special occasion.

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.

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