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Tag Archives: prosecco

Winebits 333: Prosecco and cava, buying a winery, and family wineries

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Winebits 333: Prosecco and cava, buying a winery, and family wineriesThe Spanish understand these things: Imagine a California wine producer, facing intense competition for a foreign rival, and their reaction: “We must crush them!” But the Spanish, faced with the phenomenal growth of Prosecco over the past several years, have figured out that’s a good thing. “The Prosecco boom is helping to open minds and show that you don’t need to wait for a special occasion to open a bottle of sparkling wine – Prosecco and cava can be Monday night wines,” says Gloria Collell, the winemaker at Spanish cava giants Freixenet and Segura Viudas (and, in the interest of full disclosure, someone I know a little and like). Which, of course, is the Wine Curmudgeon’s approach to wine — drink it on Monday night (as well as Tuesday night, and so on and so forth). The interview, in the drinks business trade magazine, is worth reading for its sensible look at the sparkling business.

The best due diligence: I’ve met a lot of new winery owners over the years, and too many of them admit they really didn’t understand what they were getting into. Now they have this to read, from Jonathan Yates at The Street: “There are always good buys in established wineries on the market as many of the sellers purchased without focusing on how the business model operates.” His three points — understand wine is made everywhere, understand the importance of the tasting room, and understand wineries as destinations — are as good as anything I have seen.

Everyone owns a family business: The idea of local and the backlash against big and multi-national that started during the recession has even moved into wine. Casella Wines, the Australian producer that makes YellowTail, and has always been owned by the Casella family, has a new name — Casella Family Brands. Because, of course, nothing will better burnish the image of a brand that makes tens of millions of cases than the idea of family. It’s something E&J Gallo, still owned by the Gallo family, has always played up, and it’s even something that publicly-owned behemoth Constellation Brands, started by the Sands family and still run by it, tries to take advantage of. In wine, family and big are not mutually exclusive the way they are in so many other businesses.

Wine of the week: Adami Prosecco Brut Garbèl NV

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Wine of the week: Adami Prosecco Brut Garbèl NVThe problem with Prosecco for those of us who don’t understand it is that it doesn’t taste the way we expect it to. It’s made differently, so it’s sweeter and not as bubbly. That makes it difficult to judge Prosecco as Prosecco, and not in comparison to Champagne, cava, or any sparkling wine made in a more dry and bubbly style.

Which is even more difficult if you’re one of the world’s greatest living advocates of cava and someone whose only criticism of Champagne is that it’s too expensive.

But the Wine Curmudgeon is nothing if not persistent, and my exploration of Prosecco over the past month or so has helped me get a better idea of what it is and why so many people like it. Because they do: Two-thirds of the increase in imported sparkling wine sales in 2012 in the U.S. came from Italy, and most of that was Prosecco. The key to understanding Prosecco? To accept it for what it is, and not to make the mistake that Champagne snobs make when dismissing cava for no other reason than it isn’t Champagne. Prosecco is supposed to taste like Prosecco, and nothing else.

The Adami ($15, sample, 11%) is a big step in that direction. It tastes like quality Prosecco, with more character and interest than many others at this price. That means more structure — a beginning, middle, and end, instead of just a sweetish, fruity middle — and apple fruit instead of softer tropical flavors. The bubbles are also a little sturdier. All in all, very nicely done, and you could do much worse tonight when toasting the New Year.

Mini-reviews 55: The nothing really wrong with it, but … edition

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Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another — in this case, because there’s nothing really wrong with them, but you can do better. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

Clos du Bois Pinot Grigio 2012 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): This California white is just another pinot grigio, without any redeeming features other than that it’s cheap and inoffensive. Nothing really wrong with it, but there are lots of other wines that offer more for the price.

Haury & Schaeffer Grenache 2012 ($10, sample, 14%): French red tastes like it came from California — all fruit and not much else. Nothing really wrong with it, but not sure what the point of it is since there are already hundreds of wines just like it.

Bolla Prosecco Extra Dry NV ($12, sample, 11%): Italian sparkling wine took me back to a 1970s wedding, when the bubbly was sweetish, didn’t bubble much, and tasted a lot like 7-Up. Nothing really wrong with it, if that’s what you’re looking for — and many people are.

Reata Chardonnay 2012 ($20, sample, 14.3%): Early 2000s-style California white wine with a national forest full of oak and more alcohol than it needs, but nothing really wrong with it for people who still like that sort of thing.

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