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Tag Archives: red wine

Mini-reviews 71: Vin Vault, Rueda, Arido, Avalon

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vin vaultReviews 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.

Vin Vault Pinot Noir 2013 ($20 for 3-liter box, sample, 13%): This California red, part of E&J Gallo’s assault on the booming box wine business, offers much more than $5 a bottle worth of value (since a 3-liter box equals four bottles). Look for red fruit and soft tannins, though it tastes more like a red blend than pinot noir (and my guess is that it has been blended with lots of grenache or syrah). Still, it’s pleasant drinking and a huge step up from most $5 pinot noir.

Marqués de Cáceres Rueda 2013 ($8, purchased, 12.5%): This version of the Spanish white from one of Spain’s biggest producers is made with the verdejo grape. It’s much more balanced than previous vintages — the lemon fruit is more rounded and it’s less harsh. A steal at this price, though it’s still a simple wine, and its tartness may put some people off.

Árido Malbec 2013 ($10, sample, 13.7%): Just another Argentine grocery store malbec with lots and lots of sweet red fruit, some tannins that don’t really fit with the sweet fruit, and not much else. It’s an example of why I liked this malbec so much.

Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($10, sample, 13.9%): This California red is not the old $10 Napa Avalon cabernet, one of the great cheap wines of all time and which now costs as much as $18. But it’s professionally made, if hardly complex, and mostly a value with soft tannins, black fruit, a little mouth feel, and some acid to round it out. If you’re in a grocery store and need a red wine for dinner, this will be fine.

 

Wine of the week: Trivento Malbec 2013

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trivento malbecIt’s not so much that the Wine Curmudgeon doesn’t like malbec; rather, it’s that most malbec tastes like it’s made from the same recipe, regardless of who makes it or where it’s from — too much sweet red fruit and without any tannins or crispness, as boring as it can be. So when I tasted the Trivento malbec, I didn’t expect much.

Silly me. What’s the first rule of wine writing? Taste the wine before you judge it, and the Trivento ($9, sample, 14%) was a revelation, everything that most malbec isn’t — surprising depth and structure, and especially for an Argentine malbec at this price. I guess I forgot how much I liked it last time.

The red fruit (cherry?) was more juicy than soft, and the wine wasn’t flabby at all. I can’t remember the last time I wrote that about this kind of wine. In addition, there was varietal character, with sweet tannins and some heft at the back. Tasting this, it’s easy to see why malbec is supposed to be a beef wine, which isn’t true of most of that I taste, which is more suited to ice cubes.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2016 Hall of Fame. The Trivento malbec was so much more interesting than most of the malbec on grocery store shelves that it makes me wonder why more producers don’t try this approach.

 

Wine of the week: Bogle Pinot Noir 2013

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bogle pinot noirThe Wine Curmudgeon has probably tasted more poorly-made pinot noir than anyone in the wine business. I mention this not to elicit sympathy (tasting badly made pinot noir still beats working for a living), but to reinforce just how well made the Bogle pinot noir is, and especially for the price. It mostly tastes like pinot noir, and there aren’t many $10 pinots you can say that about.

That’s because most pinot noir that costs less than $20 bares as much resemblance to traditional pinot noir as I do to an editor at the Wine Spectator. It’s too ripe, it’s too fruity, it’s blended with too many other grapes, it’s too tannic, and it’s too alcoholic, and tastes nothing like the traditional description of pinot — elegant and refined. This doesn’t mean many of those aren’t enjoyable; they just don’t taste like pinot noir.

Which the Bogle ($10, purchased, 13.5%) does. It’s not a $100 red Burgundy or $50 Oregon pinot noir, but most of what needs to be there is there: Enough fruit (mostly black), a fresh mouthfeel, and real pinot tannins, which invigorate the wine. It’s not full of the jammy sweet fruit that most pinots at this price opt for, and it’s smooth in the way many consumers like without insulting those of us who want more than smoothness.

The oak — too obviously trying to be chocolate — could be better done, but this is another example of how much Bogle cares about cheap wine and gives those of us who want to drink it value for our money. Highly recommended, and why Bogle has been in the $10 Hall of Fame since I started it.


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