Tag Archives: wine reivews

Four wines for International Tempranillo Day


International Tempranillo DayToday is the fifth annual International Tempranillo Day, in which those of us who appreciate value and quality tip our hats towards Spain’s signature grape — even when the wine isn’t from Spain. How wonderful is tempranillo? This year, the wine that the students in my El Centro class have enjoyed the most was a tempranillo from Spain’s Ribero del Deuro, and they’re a tough audience.

Tempranillo, and especially from Spain, is food friendly, terrific for Thanksgiving, and something that I drink almost as often as I drink rose. It’s one more example why the best wine values in the world come from Spain. This year, four wines for International Tempranillo Day:

• El Coto Rioja Crianza 2010 ($10, sample, 13%): This Spanish red, from the Rioja region, is always well done, always more traditional (brighter acid and cherry fruit), and always with just enough oak to round out the wine. And the stag label isn’t bad, either.

C.V.N.E. Rioja Cune Crianza 2010 ($15, purchased, 13.5%): Sophisticated crianza (the first of three quality levels of Rioja) that is more complex than its $10 cousins, with deeper and richer cherry fruit, more layered oak, and a fuller, more complete finish. Highly recommended and worth the extra money.

Llano Estacado Harvest Tempranillo 2014 ($18, sample, 12.8%): This is a beautiful wine, rounder than a Rioja, with less obvious red fruit and that speaks to Texas’ terroir. I was one of the doubters when Texas producers started making tempranillo, and I’m happy to say I was wrong. Highly recommended and one of the highlights of my American Wine Society presentation, though availability will be limited outside of Texas.

Emilio Moro 2011 ($20, sample. 14.5%): The wine that wowed those hard-nosed students, showing what Ribero can do when its producers want to make great wine and not just get a 98. The Moro is fruitier (black instead of red), with more oak, and less tart than a Rioja, but the alcohol doesn’t get in the way. Highly recommended.

For more on tempranillo:
12 wines for International Tempranillo Day
Wine of the week: Barao de Vila Proeza Dao Tinto 2010

Labor Day wine 2014

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

Wine of the week: Kono Sauvignon Blanc 2012


Kono NEW BottleNew Zealand sauvignon blanc, a hot commodity in the 1990s, is mostly just another part of the wine landscape these days. Those of us who drink it know what to expect — citrus flavors, including grapefruit and sometimes a lot of it, a good price, and not much else. This doesn’t make it bad wine; just predictable, with the advantages and disadvantages that goes with that.

Which is why I was so surprised by the Kono ($11, sample, 13%) at a tasting for double-gold medal winners from the San Francisco International Wine Competitton. It was more than that, and at a price where many of the wines are one-note grapefruit efforts. Look for some citrus, of course, but also tropical fruit in the middle (mango?), and even a bit of green herb, believe it or not. It’s rounded, surprisingly complex, and a terrific value at this price.

Two other things worth nothing: First, the company that makes the wine is owned by Maoris, the indigenous people of New Zealand and who mostly aren’t in the wine business. Second, the company is very proud of its Wine Spectator score, 89 points for the 2011 vintage. This is another example of the fallacy of scores — how could the wine get a double gold and be worth less than 90 points?

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame (coming in a month) if I can find it somehere for $10.

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