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Tag Archives: California wine

Fourth of July wine 2014

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Fourth of July wine 2014Why does the Wine Curmudgeon do a Fourth of July wine post (for seven consecutive years, in fact)? Because the holiday is a birthday party, and what do we do at birthday parties? Drink wine and celebrate, of course.

Consider these bottles for your Fourth of July wine — and don’t forget the porch wine concept, where what you drink has as much to do with how hot it is as anything else:

• Villa des Anges Old Vines Rosé 2013 ($9, purchased, 12%): This rose from the south of France, made with cinsault, features barely ripe strawberries and is so fresh that it almost doesn’t taste like wine. Highly recommended, and certain to be in the 2015 $10 Hall of Fame. Yet another example of what a great grape cinsault is for rose.

Pacific Rim Riesling 2011 ($10, sample, 11.5%): Washington state white is medium dry, with a touch of lime fruit, honey in the middle, and wonderful oiliness. A sophisticated sweet wine, and especially for the price. Chill this, sit on the porch, and you won’t mind too much how hot it is.

Handcraft Petite Sirah 2011 ($10, sample, 14.5%): Intriguing, inexpensive California red that benefits from the addition syrah and zinfandel — more structure, less over the top fruit. It has petite sirah’s plumminess and spice, but isn’t too heavy (despite the alcohol).

• Gloria Ferrer Private Cuvee NV ($15, purchased, 12.5%): This sparkling wine, without a UPC code, was on sale at Kroger at  one-third of what it would have cost in the restaurant where it was supposed to be. How it ended up in a grocery store is a mystery, but if you see it at this price, buy it — firm bubbles, some caramel, and fresh green apple fruit. Failing that, the  Ferrer Sonoma Brut, often on sale around this price, is an equally fine value.

More Fourth of July wine:
Fourth of July wine 2013

Fourth of July wine 2012
Wine of the week: Stephen Vincent Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
My lunch with Provence

Mini-reviews 62: Hot to Trot, Sauzet, Dr. Pauly, Chateau St. Jean

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Mini-reviews 62: Hot to Trot, Sauzet, Dr. Pauly, Chateau St. JeanReviews 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.

14 Hands Hot to Trot Red 2012 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): The problem with this red blend is not that it’s very ordinary and slightly sweet (probably somewhere around E&J Gallo’s Apothic), but that it doesn’t say, on either front or back label, that it isn’t dry. As has been noted many times here and elsewhere, producers have an obligation to share that information. Otherwise, dry red drinkers will buy something they don’t want and sweet red drinkers will pass it by. The Wine Curmudgeon expects more from 14 Hands than this kind of winery sleight of hand.

Etienne Sauzet Bourgogne Blanc 2012 ($43, purchased, 12.5%): Impeccable white Burgundy (chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France) from one of my favorite producers. Layers and layers of complexity, just like much more expensive wines from specific appellations within Burgundy. Still young, and I could have held on to it for six months or more. Some oak when first opened, but the wine eventually evens out to become a traditional Sauzet with white pepper and green apple fruit. Very reasonably priced considering the quality. Highly recommended.

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Bernkasteler Badstube am Doctorberg Riesling Kabinett 2010 ($27, purchased, 7.5%): Gorgeous German riesling, rich and full, with honey, lemon, and minerality — exactly the way it should be, as anyone who appreciates this kind of wine can attest. Yes, it’s sweet, but it’s supposed to be; in fact, it’s surprisingly heavy and needs food (tuna steaks, perhaps?. Highly recommended.

Chateau St. Jean Fumé Blanc 2012 ($12, sample, 13.5%): California sauvignon blanc is flabby, heavy, and without any sort of style or grace, to say nothing of fruit. This used to be one of those wines that you could always count on; now it’s stuff sold at the grocery store.

Wine of the week: Stephen Vincent Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

wineofweek

stephen vincent cabernet sauvignon 2011The Wine Curmudgeon has fond memories of the Avalon cabernet sauvignon, which carried a Napa appellation and cost just $10 or $12 in the bad old days before the recession, when great cheap wine was becoming increasingly difficult to find. The Avalon is closer to $15 or $17 these days, replaced by a $10 or $12 California appellation version which isn’t quite the same thing.

Fortunately, the Stephen Vincent ($11, purchased, 13.8%) does a fine job of doing what the old Napa Avalon did. It’s a solid entry-level cabernet, with lots of black fruit and a flavor somewhere toward the back that can be described as chocolate for people who look for that sort of thing.

Meanwhile, there are enough tannins and acid to be varietally correct, so that it’s more than just another tarted up wine designed to please a grocery store focus group.  The Vincent’s great strength is that is well made enough so that those of us who want cabernet quality in their cabernet will probably enjoy just it just as much as people who want their red wines to be “smooth.”

Drink this with any red meat dish, and especially summer beef grilled on a backyard barbecue. And don’t be afraid to chill it a touch, so that the wine isn’t the same temperature as the back yard. Otherwise, you’ll miss some of the qualities that make the Vincent so enjoyable.

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