Tag Archives: wine reviews

Mini-reviews 79: Black Friday wine


Black Friday wineReviews 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. This month, four wine reviews for the price of one — how much more Black Friday wine can you get?

Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Reserva 2009 ($18, sample, 13.5%): Spanish red from the Rioja region is terrific value, especially since it’s probably much cheaper in most supermarkets. True reserva tempranillo, with integrated oak and tart cherry fruit, and not just a fruitier version of the entry-level crianza.

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2009 ($14, sample, 13.5%): This Spanish red, like the Caceres from one of the country’s biggest producers, is also much better more enjoyable than its crianza, though not as well-rounded as the Caceres reserva.

Gianni Masciarelli Villa Gemma 2013 ($17, sample, 13.5%): This Italian white, made with two little known Italian grapes and a splash of chardonnay, is heavier and richer than I expected, with white pepper and only a little white fruit. Having said this, it’s an intriguing wine that needs food (chicken in a wine sauce?) and should improve with age.

Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais-Villages 2013 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): Surprisingly acceptable French red, given how disappointing so much Beaujolais is these days. A little rustic, even though it’s an older vintage, but varietally correct, grapy and fresh.

Wine of the week: Casteller Cava NV


casteller cavaSomehow, despite the Wine Curmudgeon’s passion for cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, and several reviews of the Casteller rose cava, I have neglected to review the Casteller brut. What better time time to rectify this than for Thanksgiving?

The Casteller cava ($10, purchased, 11.5%) does everything sparkling wine is supposed to do, regardless of price. It has tight bubbles that sparkle up from the bottom of the glass; a vague notion of the toast that is part of Champagne’s appeal; and crisp, fresh, sweet lemon fruit. In this, it’s not exactly soft like some Proseccos or sweet sparklers, but more fruit forward, and certainly not unpleasant.

And, for your $10, you can buy four bottles the Casteller cava instead of one bottle of very ordinary Champagne. Highly recommended, and almost certain to enter the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame in six weeks. Chill this and serve it with Thanksgiving dinner, on its own, or any time you feel like something bubbly. Which, as regular visitors here know, is any time at all.

Expensive wine 80: Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2012


grgich hills chardonnayWant a classic example of Napa Valley chardonnay, with the just right amounts of fruit and oak, a proper mouth feel, balanced alcohol, at a fair price, and that speaks to Napa’s terroir? Then you could do much worse than the Grgich.

This is not damning with faint praise; rather, it says much about how wine is often made in that part of California — score driven, price be damned, and that the consumer will buy the Winestream Media tells them to buy. The Grgich, which has been around longer than I have been writing about wine, takes none of that into account. The 2013 Grgich Hills chardonnay ($42, sample, 13.5%) is no exception.

Look for green apple, a little citrus, and even some peach tucked away in the back. The oak is there, of course, but it’s integrated and part of the wine — not a flavor in and unto itself. Perhaps the most important quality is the wine’s acidity, something most California chardonnays don’t worry about. It helps the wine taste fresh and clean despite its richness.

Highly recommended, and the kind of wine to give as a holiday gift, drink at this time of year, and enjoy anytime.

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