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Tag Archives: regional wine

New Year’s sparkling wine 2014

wineadvice

New Year's sparkling wine 2014The Wine Curmudgeon won’t be drinking Champagne on Wednesday night or Thursday; the Champagne trade association has taken wine lawsuit foolishness past the point where it’s silly, turning it into a free speech issue. This is the Champagne Jayne case, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago and which has made an Internet splash in the week or so leading up to New Year’s.

The trade group is suing Champagne Jayne, an Australian wine writer named Jayne Powell, because she also writes about other sparkling wine. Her name, says the group, violates the EU’s trade agreement with Australia and if she is going to write about cava or Prosecco, she can’t call herself Champagne Jayne. And the French wonder why they have so many public relations problems.

Fortunately, there’s little need to drink Champagne for New Year’s anymore, given the revolution in sparkling wine. Yes, it may be the best bubbly in the world, but it’s priced out of reach for most of us and the alternatives are better than ever. Hence this year’s recommendations, after the jump, focus on those affordable sparklers that don’t offend the First Amendment.

Lamberti Rose Spumante Extra Dry NV ($12, sample, 11.5%): Fresh and  floral, with red fruit and surprisingly bubbly, this pink Italian is not too sweet or too fizzy. It was a revelation, given how crummy so many cheap spumantes can be.

J Brut Rose NV ($38, sample, 12.5%): This is always one of my favorite California sparklers, and this edition is one of the best in years. There are layers of flavor, with yeastiness, strawberry fruit, and minerality. Given how overpriced so many $40 Champagnes are, this is a steal.

Mas Fi Brut Natura Reserva NV ($10, sample, 11.5%): This Spanish wine is more dry and more elegant than many cavas, thanks to a slightly different winemaking process. Look for more white fruits than apple flavors (a welcome change), and a very long finish. Yet another example of how far cava has come.

Trump Winery Sparkling Blanc de Blanc 2009 ($24, sample, 12%): The former Kluge winery in Virginia makes some of the best sparkling wine in the U.S., and it’s even available in states other than Virginia. This is a chardonnay-based wine, with crisp green apple fruit and more richness than I expected.

How serious am I about my Champagne boycott? I have a $150 sample of Champagne in the wine closet that I’m not going to drink.

More about New Year’s sparkling wine:
Wine terms: Champagne and sparkling wine
New Year’s sparkling wine 2013
New Year’s sparkling wine 2012
Wine of the week: Castillo Perelada Brut Reserva NV
Wine of the week: Adami Prosecco Brut Garbèl NV

Kerrville 2014: They really like Texas wine

winetrends

texas wineRosanne Palacios rose to her feet, took a breath, and then slowly and carefully, in front of the hundred or so people in the audience, said: “I”m a recovering Texas wine snob.”

The crowd cheered and there was even a ripple of applause. “Five years ago,” said Palacios, a hospital development director in Laredo, “I thought all Texas was wine terrible. Then I came here, and I’ve been drinking Texas wine since.”

Here was the Texas wine tasting at the annual Kerrviile fall music festival, where I’ve been preaching the gospel of Texas wine for almost a decade. So you can imagine how I felt when Palacios stood up. Giddy, practically. But that wasn’t the only reason to be excited about Texas wine based on what I saw during my three days in the Hill Country:

• There was the 20-something man at the Walmart automotive center getting a flat on his pickup truck fixed. “I don’t drink much wine,” he said, talking about the Texas wineries he and his wife had visited over the weekend, “but this has been a lot of fun.”

• The chef who stood up during the Kerrville panel and said, “Thanks to the Texas industry for getting this right. I was here 20 years ago, and I really wondered if they’d ever be able to do it.”

• The middle-aged Jack Daniels drinker who made a return trip to one winery tasting room because he couldn’t believe how much he enjoyed the wine. He even bought a couple of more bottles.

This does not mean there still aren’t problems, which I saw at this year’s Lone Star judging and that cropped up a couple times over the weekend. We still have a long way to go with wine education, for one thing, though that’s not necessarily a Texas problem. What’s important is that the first step in making Texas wine work has been taken. Consumers are willing to try it. Now the onus is on the wineries to produce quality wine at an affordable price that is uniquely Texas, and not a California or French knockoff.

Because consumers like Palacios are ready, willing, and able. “I’ve got a lot of wine drinking friends who won’t drink Texas wine,” she told me when I chatted with her after the panel. “So I’m going to do a blind tasting with these wines when we do our next tasting.”

What more can any wine business ask for?

Labor Day wine 2014

winereview
Labor Day wine 2014

Rose with that barbecue?

Labor Day weekend marks not just the end of summer, but the Wine Curmudgeon’s annual appearance at the Kerrville Fall Music Festival to talk about Texas wine (and to drive 5 mph). Whatever you do to enjoy the weekend, these wines will make it that much more interesting:

A to Z Pinot Gris 2013 ($13, purchased, 13%): Delightful, fresh Oregon-style pinot gris with ripe melon fruit and a little citrus (lime?) that offers terrific value whether porch sipping or with food. I don’t know that I’ve had an A to Z wine that didn’t enjoy or want to buy again.

• Pedroncelli Zinfandel Mother Clone 2012 ($17, sample, 14.8%): Nicely done California zinfandel from Dry Creek in Sonoma with dark jammy fruit, lots of oomph, and some black pepper. Nice rendition of the post-modern style for those who appreciate this sort of thing, and will pair with barbecue and burgers.

Pierre Morey Bourgogne-Aligoté 2011 ($20, purchased, 11%): Not cheap, unfortunately, but this white wine from Burgundy in France that isn’t chardonnay is exceptionally well made. Look for white pepper and a bit of lemon fruit, and it’s just enough different from chardonnay so that someone who is paying attention will notice.

Muga Rosada 2013 ($10, purchased, 13%): This Spanish rose, made with grenache, is annually one of the best roses in the world. It’s always very crisp, and this year features tart strawberry fruit. Highly recommended, and a $10 Hall of Fame wine.

Finally, the Wine Curmudgeon’s regular appeal to try your local wine. Dave McIntyre and Mike Wangbickler (the past and present of Drink Local Wine) and I went through a dozen or so Texas wines during one fine Saturday afternoon of tasting earlier this month. Almost all of them were worth drinking again — even the ones I didn’t think I would like. Thanks to Haak, Llano Estacdo, McPherson, and William Chris for supplying the wines.

I was especially impressed with the William Chris sparkling blanc du bois ($30, sample, 11%), which was bubbly, citrusy, and quite fresh. It was a bit simple for the price, but William Chris never seems to have a problem selling its wines.

For more on Labor Day wine:
Labor Day wine 2013 
Labor Day wine 2012
Wine of the week: Robert Hall Rose de Robles 2013

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