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Winebits 372: Valentine’s Day wine 2015

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Valentine's Day wineA look at Valentine’s Day wine suggestions from around the Internet, because the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t want to do it himself, given this is The Holiday That Must Not be Named:

From a supermarket: HEB, the Texas grocery store chain that is one of the largest independents in the country, focuses on sweet and cute, including chocolate-flavored wine. I’m not sure there is anything here I would recommend, but the Wine Curmudgeon is not the target demographic for this post. Also note how the post uses descriptors that focus on sweet, like candied fruit. Anyone who wants to know why sweet red wine has become such a cash cow need only look here.

From a wine magazine: Decanter, the British equivalent of the Wine Spectator, sticks to sparkling wine, but includes cava and Prosecco, including “10 great value Cavas” and English sparkling wine. The point here is not whether these wines are available in the U.S., but that the editors understand not everyone wants to spend $200 on a bottle of Champagne. Would that wine magazines in this country took the same approach. My favorite pick? The Jansz sparkling from Tasmania, about $20, which I drank on New Year’s as part of my Champagne boycott.

From a financial news website: The Street runs a lot of wine-related items; why is anyone’s guess. But most of it is solid information, and its choice of 11 Valentine’s Day wines is more of the same. The 11 wines are mostly white, mostly quality (though not always easy to find), and mostly around $40. Having said that, the Marcel LaPierre from Morgon in Beaujolais, about $30, is an impressive recommendation.

Wine of the week: JCB No. 21 Brut Cremant NV

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 JCB No. 21The Wine Curmudgeon is not drinking Champagne for this New Year’s; the First Amendment is more important. But that doesn’t mean I can’t drink terrific French sparkling wine.

The JCB No. 21 ($15, sample, 12%) is a cremant, a sparkling wine from a part of France that isn’t Champagne. In this case, it’s Burgundy, which means it’s made with the same grapes, from a similar part of France in terms of terroir, as Champagne — and at one-third the price.

Look for a nutty aroma, lots of crisp green apple fruit mixed with something like peach, the tight, firm bubbles that I love, and even some minerality. All in all, a much better wine that it has a right to be, and perfect for this holiday. In fact, I tasted it last month at the memorial service for my friend Diane Teitelbaum, and it was a fitting wine for Diane — lots of quality at a very good price.

One note: Prices for the JCB No. 21 are all over the place, with some as high as $25. It’s not quite that good, but if you can find it around $15, it’s an excellent value.

Winebits 360: New Year’s wine

winenews

New Year's wineNew Year’s wine advice and news from around the Internet, though not everyone is boycotting Champagne:

Red wine, too: Dave McIntyre at the Washington Post offers bubbly to drink, as well as still wine. And Dave made one of the best wine videos I’ve ever seen — professional, informative, and to the point, with sparkling wine pointers. It’s amazing what you can do if the people making the video know what they’re doing. I’m jealous, too, given how much effort I’ve put into videos. It’s at the bottom of this post.

• Bring on the experts: The IntoWine website offers seven suggestions, including two cavas (neither of which I know), a cremant, and a Prosecco. Most are  reasonably priced, and one expert calls out Champagne in a way that not even I’ve done, labeling the most popular brands “mass-produced grocery store Champagne.”

Watching the budget: Laurie Daniel at the San Jose Mercury News has 12 wines for the New Year costing $30 or less, all from the United States. This is as good a rundown of California sparkling wine as you’re going to find, and Laurie (who I’ve judged with) knows her stuff. How else to feel confident enough to recommend the $14 Michelle Brut Rose from Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle?

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