Tag Archives: Italian wine

Wine of the week: Straccali Chianti 2014


Straccali ChiantiThe retail market, despite years of producers wishing otherwise, is still awash in cheap Chianti, the Italian red wine made with sangiovese from the Chianti region of Tuscany. Most of it, save for a couple of brands like Melini, tastes like you’d expect: harsh and bitter, with little reason to drink even though it costs less than $10. 

Add the Straccali Chianti ($8, purchased, 12%) to the first group. It’s not just a better value than the Melini, which I love, but a well-made wine that embarrasses all those $15 grocery store red Italians with their cute names and shiny labels. One of the great questions in Italian wine: Why, if the country’s winemakers can do something like the Straccali Chianti, do they do so many dull, overpriced, Paso Robles-style wines on the theory Americans prefer them? Trust me — we want quality, not marketing.

Look for more depth than the Melini, so that you have to swallow twice to get a hint of everything that’s going on. It’s also less rustic, with black pepper, red cherry, a little more grip, and the acidity that Chianti is famous for. One key to this wine: a touch of merlot is blended with the traditional sangiovese and canaiolo grapes, which rounds out the flavors and mouth feel. Plus, no oak, which lends more freshness than you expect.

Highly recommended, and almost certain to be added to the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame. Drink this as the weather cools on its own if you want a glass of red, or with pork or beef that will complement the crisp red fruit, as well as red sauce.


Mini-reviews 77: Reinhold Haart, Piccini, Picpoul, Corvina


Reinhold HaartReviews 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.

• Reinhold Haart Riesling 2014 ($35, sample, 7%): Gorgeous, honeyed white wine with sweet lemon fruit — and not the fake Sweet Tart kind common these days — that reminds you how wonderful German riesling can be. This is sweet wine the way it should be, made to be a sweet riesling instead of just being made to be sweet.

• Piccini Memoro Rosso 2014 ($12, sample, 14%): Very ordinary Italian red blend of no particular interest, with that ashy middle that often shows up when too much winemaking is going on. The poorly done oak overshadows too soft red fruit.

• Domaine des Cadastres Picpoul 2014 ($10, sample, 13%): Regular visitors know how much the Wine Curmudgeon appreciates picpoul, a cheap French white. Sadly, this isn’t one of them. Old-fashioned, but not in a good way, made with unripe grapes, almost no fruit flavor, and a too sour taste.

Tenuta Sant’Antonio Corvina 2013 ($10, purchased 13%): One review of this Italian red made with the corvina grape (usually used as for blending) says it has tropical fruit, an interesting way to describe a red wine. Another way is flabby and soft, without any freshness or acidity. Very disappointing given the quality of the producer.

Labor Day wine 2015

Labor Day wine

Bring on the wine for some Labor Day porch sitting.

Four wines to enjoy for Labor Day weekend, as well as the Wine Curmudgeon’s annual appearance at the Kerrville Fall Music Festival to talk about Texas wine (and to hear live music in a most amazing setting) and my more than annual reminder: If your state makes wine, it’s about time to try it, or to buy another bottle if you’ve found one you like. Because drinking local matters more than ever.

Labor Day wines should be lighter, since the weather is warmer; refreshing, since you’re likely to enjoy them outdoors at a picnic or barbecue; and food friendly, because you’re probably going to drink them with a holiday dinner or lunch:

López de Haro Rosado 2014 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): I bought this wine at an iffy retailer where most of the rose was overpriced or of questionable quality, and it didn’t disappoint. In other words, always trust in Spain. Look for red fruit, an undercurrent of minerality, and $10 worth of value.

Garafoli Guelfo Verde 2013 ($10, purchased, 11.5%): This Italian white is fizzy — or frizzante, as the Italians call it. Hence, it comes with a soft drink bottle cap closure. Slightly sweet, but pleasantly so, with some lemon fruit. Serve chilled.

Famillie Perrin Côtes du Rhône Villages 2012 ($12, purchased, 13.5%): French red blend with grenache, syrah, and mouvedre Solid, varietally correct Cotes du Rhone with more black fruit than i expected, some earthiness, and black pepper. Very food friendly.

Trivento Chardonnay Amado Sur 2014 ($15, sample, 13.5%): This Argentine white blend is surprisingly crisp for a wine that is 70 percent chardonnay, but somehow has more pinot grigio qualities than either chardonnay or viognier, the third grape in the blend. Having said that, well done, mostly a value, and quite food friendly.

For more on Labor Day wine:
Labor Day wine 2014 
Labor Day wine 2013
Labor Day wine 2012
Wine terms: Porch wine

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