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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.

Wine review: Anne Amie Cuvee A Amrita 2011

This post was going to be a wine of the week for a different wine from Oregon’s Anne Amie – the muller-thurgau, one of my all-time favorites. But bizarre fog last year did something to the grapes, and rather than make a crappy wine, Anne Amie winemaker Thomas Houseman decided not to make it at all. How often do I get to write that?

So we’ll have to settle for the Amrita ($15, sample), a white blend that is a fine wine in its own right. It’s mostly chardonnay and riesling (plus eight other grapes for good measure), and is fresh and lively and without the stilted, heavy fake oak that so many wines at this price use to compensate for poor quality fruit, to cover up a winemaking flaw, or to add oak flavor because they think it makes a more popular wine.

The Amrita, like the muller-thurgau, is a food wine with enough sweetness to pair with spicy food (look for a little citrus and apricot fruit), but not enough to offend people who think sweet wine means white zinfandel. In this, it would be a huge hit at Thanksgiving, what with turkey and cornbread dressing.

Mini-reviews 39: Schug, Anne Amie, Acrobat, Colores del Sol

Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. Today, wines to enjoy over the Labor Day weekend:

Schug Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2010 ($25, sample): Elegant chardonnay that is a huge bargain at this price. It retains California freshness and fruit while showing some of the length and breadth of a fine white Burgundy.

Anne Amie Pinot Noir Cuvée A 2010 ($25, sample): Classic Oregon pinot (and always a favorite), with berry fruit and earthiness that balance each other, and a fine value at this price.

Acrobat Pinot Noir Rose 2011 ($10, purchased): Nothing really wrong with this Oregon rose, but mildly disappointing if only because it’s not up to the quality of the Acrobat pinot gris. Tastes of red fruit with almost sauvignon blanc-like acidity.

Colores Del Sol Malbec 2010 ($12, sample): At $8, this is a nicely done grocery store wine, featuring the typical blueberry cola aroma. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t cost $8.

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