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Tag Archives: red wine

Cupcake wine review 2015

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cupcake wine review 2015Cupcake Moscato 2013 ($10, purchased, 9.5%)

Cupcake Red Velvet 2012 ($10, purchased, 13.5%)

When the Wine Curmudgeon finishes a day of wine judging, he usually gets a beer or glass of whiskey to cut the taste of the sweet wines that we judge at the end of each round. After tasting the two wines for the Cupcake wine review 2015, I needed a couple of belts of Wild Turkey.

It’s not so much that the Red Velvet, the legendary Cupcake sweet red blend, and the Italian moscato were sweet, which I was prepared for. Rather, they were sweet in that cynical, Big Wine, better living through chemistry way that drives me crazy. Sweet doesn’t mean bad; the best German rieslings are some of the world’s great wines.

But wines made to be sweet for sweetness’ sake? No thank you — and the moscato went past even that to sweet tea territory. There was a little orange-ish moscato aroma, and then some sweetness. And more sweetness.  And, in case you missed it, even more sweetness. No acidity, no freshness, just lots of sugar. Assuming my math is correct, it may be as much as 10 percent residual sugar, about one-third higher than a typical Old World moscato, and with one-third more alcohol. In this, as my old pal Tom Johnson noted, it’s Boone’s Farm for Baby Boomer grandchildren (with the resultant sugar-fueled hangover).

The Red Velvet, though even more a product of post-modern winemaking, was more like wine than the moscato. It had flavors — a sort of cherryish, chocolate thing — as well as tannins and acidity. There wasn’t much of either of the latter, but enough so that you could drink it and not go into a sugar coma. Serve it chilled with hamburgers and it’s drinkable in a way the moscato isn’t, even for those of us who prefer more balanced sweet wines.

It’s also why wine needs ingredient labels. Cupcake says Red Velvet has zinfandel, merlot, and petite sirah, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had a couple of other grapes, as well as MegaPurple grape juice concentrate for added color. Plus, what Cupcake describes as a “unique oak regimen” smells and tastes like caramel-flavored fake oak.

So one yes, the Red Velvet, and one no, the moscato. In this case, .500 is not a bad average.

For more on Cupcake wine:
Cupcake wine review 2014
Cupcake wine review 2013
Cupcake wine review 2012

 

Mini-reviews 72: Estancia, Toad Hollow, Les Dauphins, Belleruche

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wine reviewsReviews 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.

Estancia Chardonnay Unoaked 2014 ($10, purchased, 13%): Not very chardonnay-like, with an odd, though pleasant, orange muscat aroma and a hint of sweetness. Chardonnay for people who want it to taste like moscato.

Toad Hollow Risqué ($16, sample, 6%): One of my favorite bubblies, mostly because it’s made using an obscure grape and equally obscure sparkling process. This is the best it has been in years, and one of best sweet sparklers I’ve tasted in a long while. Tight, wonderful bubbles, sweet lemon, and acidity to balance all.

Cellier des Dauphins Les Dauphins Reserve Rouge 2013 ($13, sample, 13%): Grocery store plonk masquerading as award-winning French wine, with lots of flabby sweet red fruit, harsh tannins, and almost nothing else. This is a marketing wine, where what the label looks like is more important than what’s in the bottle.

Chapoutier Belleruche Rose 2014 ($12, sample, $13): Everyone else likes this wine more than I do, and it always shows up on summer rose lists. But it always seems pricey for what it is — sweet, crisp strawberry fruit and not much else.

Wine of the week: Chateau Sainte Marie Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2011

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Chateau Sainte Marie How is it, just when the Wine Curmudgeon has all but given up on finding quality, affordable French wine from Bordeaux, that I suddenly find some? The red Chateau Sainte Marie ($15, sample, 13.5%), like the white Chateau Martinon, speaks to Bordeaux wine that tastes like it came from Bordeaux and that wasn’t made to please Robert Parker.

Look for a certain earthiness, jammy black fruit that is modern in style but not offensive, smooth tannins, and a soft, merlot-like finish. In this, it’s an upgrade from the cheap red Bordeaux of my youth, which was often harsh and full of unripe fruit, the kind of wine we drank not because we liked it, but because we thought it made us sophisticated.

The Chateau Sainte Marie, from the less known Bordeaux Superieur appellation, is about three-quarters merlot, with the rest cabernet sauvignon, and it isn’t perfect. I would have liked a little more grip, the idea that there was more to the wine than the fruit. But it is solid, well-made, and varietally correct. These days, given its price, that’s more than enough of a reason to drink it.

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