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Tag Archives: cheap wine

Wine of the week: Josep Masachs Ressò 2013

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Masachs RessoThe Wine Curmudgeon buys wine not because he wants to, or because he thinks he will enjoy drinking it, but because it’s in the store, it’s the right price, and it might be worth writing about. Needless to say, that doesn’t always work out, and my notes are full of angry comments: “plonk,” “overpriced grocery store junk,” and the like.

The Masachs Resso ($10, purchased, 13.5%) seemed to be one of those wines, garnacha from a part of Spain best known for cava, the region’s sparkling wine. Still, it was $10, and it was brought into the U.S. by Winesellers, Ltd., one of my favorite cheap wine importers.  Call the result serendipity — a top-notch Spanish red wine when I didn’t expect it.

Look for garnacha-style sweet strawberry fruit in the middle, but fun to drink and not overdone. The fruit is surrounded by more earthiness than I had any right to hope for, fresh acidity, and what wine geeks call dusty tannins. Think of that as tannins that aren’t harsh or too astringent, but that complement all that fruit.

The Masachs Resso was much better than I thought it would be, and is just the wine for summer barbecues, burgers, and even on its own, slightly chilled. Sometimes, the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t have to suffer for his art.


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Winebits 388: The world hates expensive wine

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expensive wineThe cyber-ether has been full of vitriol for expensive wine over the past month, so much so that even the Wine Curmudgeon has wondered what’s going on. Some of these posts make me seem like a “bring on the $100 samples” member of the Winestream Media:

Damn you, Napa cabernet: Something called Vox Observatory, which is part of the company that owns the chi-chi Eater food site and the SB Nation sports blogs, posted a video called “Expensive wine is for suckers.” The results? Not only is expensive wine overpriced, but many of the tasters said they liked the way the cheap wine tasted better than they liked the way the expensive wine tasted. One even went so far as to say that she was glad she had cheap wine taste. I wonder: Would Eater have run a similar post, citing the cheap and simple qualities of grocery store tomatoes over $15 organic, heirloom tomatoes? Of course not. This post speaks directly to the cliches the wine business and the Winestream Media reinforce about wine, and how their approach intimidates people who aren’t wine drinkers.

Grocery store cheap wine: The cheapest offers the best value, according to a study done among British supermarkets. Almost two-thirds of the wines sold at Lidl and Aldi, known for their low prices, were called a good value; at least half the wine at six other chains was judged a poor value; and three-quarters of the wine at the bottom grocer was called a poor value. This is an amazing result, and not just because so much wine in grocery stores is so ordinary. It speaks to the concept of premiumization, and that producers and retailers aren’t giving us better wine when we pay more money, but the same wine in better packaging and with more expensive marketing.

The placebo effect: Think your pricey wine tastes better than the cheap wine I drink? That may be because you want it to, says a study in the Journal of Marketing Research. Says the report: “Expectations truly influence neurobiological responses,” and there are even brain scans to prove it. Again, not a surprising result, and especially for those of us who have spent our professional careers trying to educate people on the differences between cheap and expensive wine.

Wine of the week: Félines Jourdan Picpoul-de-Pinet 2013

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Felines Jourdan picpoulPicpoul, the white wine made with the picpoul grape in southern France, is one of those summertime wines that most Americans, unless they write a wine blog, don’t know about. The catch, of course, is that given the way the wine world works, even if more of us knew about picpoul, we probably wouldn’t be able to buy it. The last time I checked, the retailers that bother (and even the good ones) carry the same picpoul.

Because it’s not chardonnay, and aren’t we supposed to drink chardonnay?

Fortunately, the Wine Curmudgeon is ever vigilant, and can report that the Felines Jourdan picpoul ($10, sample, 13%) is well worth knowing, buying, and drinking — lots and lots of it, in fact. Jourdan makes a couple of picpouls, which by itself would recommend it to the Wine Curmudgeon. That this version of the Felines Jourdan picpoul is so well done, and offers so much more than almost any other picpoul I’ve tasted, makes it that much better.

Look for the varietal’s trademark tart lemon fruit (picpoul loosely translates as lip-stinger in English), as well as something softer — peach? — in the middle and a little minerality on the finish. Again, not something that a lot of $10, one-note wines have or even consider having.

Drink this chilled on its own or with almost any combination of boiled seafood this summer (or in any of the other nine months, actually). Highly recommended, and almost certain to go into the $10 Hall of Fame in January.

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