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Tag Archives: red wine

Expensive wine 81: Ridge Lytton Springs 2013

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ridge lytton springsDollar for dollar, Ridge is probably the best winery in the U.S. This is doubly impressive given that it makes almost no white wine and most of the reds it makes are zinfandel. But quality will out, as the Ridge Lytton Springs demonstrates.

The Lytton Springs ($32, purchased, 14.3%) is an amazing wine, a zinfandel blend that includes just enough petite sirah, carignane, and mataro so it can’t be labeled zinfandel. Credit this to Ridge impresario Paul Draper’s sense of humor and winemaker John Olney’s sense of what needs to be done with the wine. Who knew one percent more petite sirah and one percent less zinfandel would make such a difference?

Look for lots of jammy black fruit with more oak than expected, but with pepper, acidity, and some herbal notes toward the finish. Best yet, there are even so-subtle tannins, something most zinfandels, even at this price, abandoned years ago and that lend structure to the all that fruit. This wine is a work in progress, and will only become more complete, as the fruit fades and it becomes spicier and deeper over the next couple of years.

Highly recommended, and especially as a gift for a red wine drinker who appreciates something just enough off the beaten path. I had the Ridge Lytton Springs with pot roast, and it was one of those pairings that explains why we do pairings. And Christmas prime rib would be terrific, too.

Wine of the week: Château Moulin De Mallet 2011

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Château Moulin De MalletThis will sound like damning with faint praise, but it isn’t meant to be. Rather, this review of the Château Moulin De Mallet speaks to how much the wine world has changed over the past couple of decades.

Is the Mallet ($11, sample, 13.5%), a French red Bordeaux blend, as French as I want it to be? No, but since it’s almost impossible to find that style of French wine at this price any more, it will do. In fact, save for the Chateau Bonnet red and one or two others, you’re probably not going to find any better or more interesting Bordeaux that is this affordable, given that winemaking styles today emphasize fruit at the expense of the rest of the wine.

Look for softish red fruit, some earth (but not enough to be unpleasant if you don’t like that quality), the requisite amount of tannins, and just enough terroir so that it tastes French. This is an older vintage because it was a sample, but the newer vintages, including the 2014, are probably just as worth drinking. Enjoy Château Moulin De Mallet on its own, or pair it with any straightforward red wine dinner, whether hamburgers or a tomato-based soup.

Wine of the week: Tormaresca Neprica 2012

wineofweek

tormaresca nepricaOnce, the Tormaresca Neprica was among the greatest cheap wines in the world. It was the best-loved wine on the blog, getting the most visitors for any review, and its popularity here even translated into better sales and distribution (or so I was told).

And then one of those things happened that happens in wine, and the Neprica ($12, sample, 13.5%), an Italian red blend, was never the same. Where it had been dark and plummy and even a little earthy, it became soft and too fruity and a little ashy in the middle. Who knows why? Did the grapes come from a different place? Did the winemaker decide to do something different? Was the brand sold (which, apparently, is sort of what happened)?

The result was just another $12 grocery store red wine that tasted like every other grocery store wine. The Neprica dropped out of the Hall of Fame, the number of people who read the reviewed dwindled to insignificance, and the world moved on. I’d taste the wine every year or so to see if anything had changed, and it hadn’t.

Until this one. The Tormaresca Neprica still isn’t what it was, but it is more than another grocery store wine. Look for lots of red fruit, but not so much that there isn’t anything else in the wine. The ashy taste in the middle is mostly gone, and the finish is pleasant if not long. Pair this with red sauce and winter dishes, and be glad it’s worth drinking again.

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