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Tag Archives: red wine

Wine of the week: Chateau Recougne 2009

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Château RecougneThe Chateau Recougne, a French red blend, is an excellent example of the pricing dilemma facing U.S. wine consumers. At $10, this is a Hall of Fame wine, but increase the price by one-third, and it’s not nearly as impressive.

So what did I pay for the Chateau Recougne ($13, purchased, 13%)? One-third more than $10, of course. None of this means that the Recougne, mostly merlot from a lesser part of Bordeaux called Bordeaux Superieur, isn’t well made or enjoyable, because it is and especially for an older wine. There is more oak and fruit (black cherry?) than I expected, but there is also some earthiness and the proper balance between all of the parts. It’s a little New World for my taste, but I enjoyed it and would buy it again.

Which brings us back to price. Does the Chateau Recougne offer one-third more value than the Little James Basket Press or McManis’ gold-medal petite sirah? Not really, and that’s the dilemma: How do we decide what to buy, given the incredible selection of wine to choose from and the lack of information to help us make that decision? The Recougne label isn’t much help, though it looks very French, and since I bought it at a grocery store, there was no one to ask.

My colleagues and I regularly argue about whether Americans buy wine on price; the Recougne seems to be argument that we do. If there’s a similar $10 wine next to it on the shelf, given an equal lack of information, how many of us won’t pay one-third less?

Expensive wine 63: Volta Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

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Volta Cabernet Sauvignon The email was straightforward: Would the Wine Curmudgeon review the Volta cabernet sauvignon ($60, sample, 14.5%), even though it wasn’t the kind of wine usually featured on the blog? “A review in your monthly expensive wine feature would be great if that works out for June,” wrote the winery representative. “I wouldn’t dare insist it be a positive one, only that you share your true thoughts with your readers.”

Which is what the Wine Curmudgeon does anyway, so a few considerations about the Volta cabernet sauvignon:

• It’s a good example of this kind of pricey Napa Valley wine, rich and full with a burst of sweet berry fruit, very smooth tannins, and a chalky finish. The grapes are top quality, but you’d expect that from a wine at this price. The oak is relatively subdued, and it’s not as over-extracted and over-ripe as many similarly priced and styled wines from this part of the world. Having said that, it’s not subtle, either, and is firmly part of the post-modern wine movement.

The wine is hot, which means the alcohol shows more than it should. It’s most noticeable when you smell it, when there is a whiff of something that isn’t fruity; and on the finish, when it’s almost like a sharp bite. This isn’t unusual for this kind of wine, because it’s made with very ripe grapes that have more sugar to be turned into alcohol during fermentation. I don’t like hot wine, but many people consider it a good thing. I don’t know any, but I do know they are out there.

• This bottle did not hold up well after we opened it. After 30 minutes in the glass, the wine started to fade and it lost much of its fruitiness. I don’t know if it was just this bottle, or if the vintage has started to get old. This style of wine, given the grapes’ ripeness and the techniques used to make it, doesn’t always age well.

Wine of the week: Errazuriz Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Reserva 2010

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Wine of the week: Errazuriz Cabernet SauvignonThere is almost no way that this red wine, from a well-known Chilean producer, should have impressed me. It’s too old for a cheap wine and too many cheap Chilean wines these days are dumbed down for the so-called American palate.

But the Errazuriz ($11, purchased, 13.5%) was neither of those. It was great Chilean cheap wine from the old days, a decade or so ago when you could go to any supermarket and pay $10 for a red like this or a sauvignon blanc like Veramonte and get more than your money’s worth. Chilean wines were always candidates for the $10 Hall of Fame in those days.

But not as much anymore. For one thing, the quality of the grapes used to make the wines declined as Chilean wine became more popular and more grapes were needed. For another, the marketing wise guys got their hands on the wines, and focus grouped them to death, so that they started to taste the same.

The Errazuiz didn’t have as much black fruit as I expected, but it was still more new world in style than old — save for the fact that it is heavy enough that it needs food. Plus, it was mostly balanced, with tannins and acid in the right places, another pleasant surprise. This is a nice value, and especially for an older $10 wine. Shows what Chile can still do when its winemakers aren’t busy chasing trends.

 

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