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Tag Archives: $10 wine

Vinho verde review 2014

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vinho verde review 2014Vinho verde keeps getting stranger and stranger, but that’s the wine business for you. What’s the first thing it does when it has a drinkable, $6 wine? Confuse the issue, of course.

This year, there are varietal vinho verdes, something I’ve never seen before. Vinho verde, a Portuguese white wine that’s actually kind of green, is supposed to be an inexpensive, non-vintage, simple wine served ice cold, and even with an ice cube. But, in a trend that started last year, producers are trying to take vinho verde upscale, and one bottle I tasted (I did eight this year) cost $13. This baffled my friend Jim Serroka, a vinho aficianado: “Why, when you get something right, do you have to change it?” he asked.

Blended vinho verde, made with three grapes that most wine geeks haven’t heard of, is slightly sweet with lime or green apple fruit and very low alcohol, plus some fizz that’s more like club soda than sparkling wine. You buy it, drink it, and forget about it. It’s the quintesstial summer porch wine, which isn’t surprising given the region’s 100-degree summer temperatures.

Most of the single varietals that I tasted, made with one of the three grapes used in the blend, were sour and not in a good way. The one that stood out and was worth the extra money was Anjos ($10, sample, 9.5%) — a little sour, a little sweet, some bubbles, and very fresh.

Otherwise, stick with the $6 versions. The Sonalto ($6, purchased, 9%), known for its crab label and also called Santola, was much as always:  Fresh, limey and effervescent, without too much sweetness or the warm beer taste that sometimes shows up. The Famega ($6, purchased, 10.5%) went in a slightly different direction, with more apple, but is still enjoyable.

For more on vinho verde:
Vinho verde review 2013
Vinho verde review 2012
Vinho verde review 2011

The Wine Curmudgeon visits The Reverse Wine Snob

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reverse wine snobJon Thorsen is one of the hottest wine writers in the world these days, showing up on all sorts of most influential lists, as a Wine Blog Awards finalist, and with a book deal (out next year).

What makes it even more impressive is that Jon writes about cheap wine as The Reverse Wine Snob.

We don’t approach the subject in the exact same way (his top price is $20), but our points are the same: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to buy a quality bottle of wine. Jon was kind of enough to let me write something for his blog today, and we’re giving away a couple of cheap wine books as part of my guest post:

[W]riters like Jon are pitching in, helping to educate wine drinkers and to disabuse them of the notion that wine is elitist and snooty. Trust me: That was not something a lot people wanted to do in the bad old days, when they would have turned their noses up at anyone who featured wines sold at retailers like Costco and Trader Joe’s. That just wasn’t done.

You’ll have to visit Jon’s website to read the rest. But it’s OK. That’s the point of this exercise.

When I started writing about cheap wine in those long ago days of the 20th century, the Winestream Media was so entrenched that Elin McCoy wrote a book about Robert Parker called “The Emperor of Wine,” and cheap wine got as much respect as a social disease.  How that has changed — so much so that I actually smile when I think about it. Who would have thought that was possible?

Wine of the week: Campo Viejo Brut Reserva NV

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Campo Viejo brut reservaThe Wine Curmudgeon is always ready to recommend sparkling wine, and even more ready to recommend it given the  United States’ 238th birthday this week. So why not mark July 4 with Campo Viejo Brut Reserva NV ($10, purchased, 11.5%), a Spanish cava that combines quality, value, and a history lesson?

That’s because Spain played an important role in the U.S. victory in the War of Independence, declaring war on Great Britain and providing money and supplies for George Washington’s army. Campo Viejo, meanwhile, is a well-known Spanish producer in Rioja, whose wines offer an introduction to Spanish tempranillo at a fair price. The cava, though not what the producer is best known for, is a solid offering somewhere between Cristalino and Segura Viudas.

That means the Camp Viejo has more sweetness than the Cristalino, but not so much as to be sweet. It’s not as polished as the Seguras, but still provides lots of apple fruit and maybe even some peach, as well as some very impressive bubbles. The best way to know this is a wine worth drinking? It will be gone before you know it, and you’ll have to open a second bottle when you watch the July Fourth fireworks.

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