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Winebits 424: Scottish wine, domain names, crowdfunding

 • Too much rain: Scotland’s hopes for its own wine, which never seemed possible because the climate was too cold and too went, have been dashed once again. The drinks business reports Read More »

winereview

Can it be? Was that affordable red Bordeaux I tasted?

The Wine Curmudgeon grew up when French wine ruled the world, and I have watched with sadness as the French — and especially in Bordeaux — have done everything they can to Read More »

NFL

Once more into the Super Bowl breach

One of the biggest shocks in the 8 1/2 year history of the blog is that Super Bowl Sunday is the worst day for visitors every year. It’s worse than Christmas and Read More »

Blue-Apron-Wine

Blue Apron wine: Disappointing and depressing

This was going to be a glowing post about the wine program at Blue Apron, the home delivery service that supplies recipes and ingredients for home cooks who want to try something Read More »

wineofweek

Wine of the week: Chapoutier Bila-Haut 2014

It’s probably an exaggeration to call Michel Chapoutier of the renowned Rhone winemaking family France’s version of Fred Franzia, the man the U.S. wine business loves to hate. But the two have Read More »

Mini-reviews 81: Estancia, malbec, Macon, Scarpetta

winereview

estanciaReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month.

Estancia Pinot Grigo 2014 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): This California white is another example of the deteriorating state of cheap wine. If you drank it when it was released almost a year ago, it had pleasant apple and tropical fruit and was certainly worth what it cost. Drink it almost a year after release, which I did, and the fruit is gone and what’s left is mostly pithy bitterness — the kind of wine people cite when they say they don’t like wine. Even $9 white wine should last 15 or 18 months.

Pascual Toso Malbec 2014 ($8, purchased, 14%): This red is a decent enough grocery store Argentine malbec, without too much jammy berry fruit and a little rusticity for balance, though there is way too much fake oak. It’s not bad, but not as good as it could be.

Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages 2014 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This French white is everything the Estancia isn’t, and offers at least $10 worth of chardonnay. Look for green apple, a nicely rich mouth feel, and short if refreshing finish. It should be in most supermarkets in the country, so you have something to buy if all else fails.

Scarpetta Timido NV ($17, purchased, 12%): This sweetish Italian rose sparkling wine has lots of strawberry and then some more sweetness, just like I remember from the bad old days. You can buy the same quality wine for half the price without any trouble at all.

Thanks, Drinky the Robot — the WC will never have to drink alone

drinky-robot

drinky the robotOne of the perils of being the Wine Curmudgeon is that, eventually, I will alienate everyone in the wine business — if I haven’t already. Like with this. Or this. Or even this. Which means there won’t be anyone left to drink with me. Fortunately, a Korean inventor has solved my problem with Drinky the Robot, and I am more than grateful.

Eunchan Park created Drinky because — and I know his pain — he didn’t have anyone to drink with. “I had no girlfriend at that time,” Park wrote. “Drinking alone was definitely terrible!” Of course it is, if only because there is no one to commiserate with.

So here’s to you and Drinky, Eunchan Park. And Drinky and I will get along. First, he does the Mike Nesmith look, which men of a certain age have always appreciated. Second, though the robot can’t talk, it can dance and give a thumb’s up. What more could I ask for every time I whine about scores, complain that the wine has too much alcohol, or that some focus group has decided that it should be overoaked?

Wine of the week: Benedetto Chianti 2014

wineofweek

Benedetto ChiantiOne of the problems with really cheap wine — the $3, $4, and $5 labels like Trader Joe’s Two-buck Chuck and Whole Foods’ Three Wishes — is that they don’t always taste like the grapes they’re made with. That is, they’re not varietally correct. The merlot tastes like the pinot noir, the pinot tastes like the cabernet sauvignon, and so on and so forth.

Which is not the case with the Benedetto Chianti ($5, purchased, 12.5%), a really cheap Italian red wine from Aldi. It tastes like Chianti — not “this Chianti is so good it made me cry” Chianti, but that’s true of wines that cost three or four times as much as the Benedetto. Call this the “man, this Chianti is better than I thought it was going to be” Chianti, which is never a bad thing for $5.

The Benedetto Chianti is simple and juicy, with a little tart cherry fruit. It’s softer than many Chiantis and doesn’t have the burst of telltale acidity, but there’s enough of the latter so that you can tell it’s Chianti if you’re forced to do a blind tasting. In this, it’s fairly priced at $5 — just enough less interesting than the $8 Melini, and obviously not as interesting as the $10 Caposaldo and Straccali.

And, for those of you who want to tweak the wine snob in your life, the Benedetto Chianti is DOCG, the second highest rung in the Italian appellation system. That it can be DOCG and only cost $5 says a lot about how the Italian wine business works, and why it’s as well made as it is.

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