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Tag Archives: wine reviews

Wine of the week: Clayhouse Adobe Red 2011

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 Clayhouse Adobe Red The Wine Curmudgeon spends an inordinate amount of time trying to find California labels to use for the wine of the week. Either they’re too pricey, $10 wines in $16 packaging, or too crummy, one-note wines with little more than focus group sweet fruit.

So when I find a California wine to use, like the Clayhouse Adobe Red ($12, purchased, 13.7%), you know it’s not a wine of the week just to fill space. Rather, it’s one of a too-rare example of what California — in this case, the Paso Robles region — can do with cheap wine when a producer focuses on wine and not hocus pocus.

This red blend, mostly zinfandel, has lots of sweet red fruit. But that’s not all it has, and the fruit is more than balanced by a surprising grip, some zinfandel brambliness that you almost never see anymore, and soft tannins on the finish. That a wine at this price and this style has tannins to complement the fruit shows how serious Clayhouse is about quality.

Highly recommended, and so far above the glut of grocery store wine that I must endure to do what I do that I could carve out a special place in the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame for it. Serve the Clayhouse Adobe Red as winter ends, but keep it around for summer barbecues.

Wine of the week: Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2010

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Torbreck Woodcutter'sThe Torbreck Woodcutter’s ($15, purchased, 14%) is more than just a steal at this price. It’s an example of how wine ages, and why you should sometimes buy a wine to age, even if you think aging is too wine geeky for you.

I first tasted this Australian white, made with semillon, two years ago, part of a group of samples. I liked it, but it wasn’t anything special, according to my notes: “Intriguing wine that had some richness not unlike chardonnay, but without any chardonnay fruit. Just some pepper and a little apricot or peach.”

Last month, when I needed a bottle to pair with pork shoulder braised with Mediterranean spices and chickpeas, what did my pal James McFadyen recommend? The Torbreck Woodcutter’s, and he couldn’t have been more spot on. The difference, as the wine become more complex from aging, was impressive.

The fruit had evolved into an almost honeyed apricot, close to the fig that you’ll find in the textbook definition of semillon. “Some richness” had turned into a rich and full mouth feel, and it didn’t taste like chardonnay at all. Through all of this, the Torbreck Woodcutter’s was bone dry, and with an almost chalky finish. I couldn’t believe the transformation, and the wine was delicious.

Highly recommended, and another reason why wine is about trying as many different kinds as possible. Otherwise, you’ll miss a treat like this.

Mini-reviews 69: Marchesi di Barolo, Bibi Graetz, Clos du Val, Bolla

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wine mini-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.

Marchesi di Barolo Barbera Monferrato Maràia 2012 ($10, purchased, 13%): Very nice price for a barbera that is mostly fun to drink. Look for dark berry fruit in this Italian red, plus a little earthiness. But there’s just enough oak to get in the way, and there’s hole in the middle that the oak doesn’t cover up.

Bibi Graetz Casamatta NV ($13, purchased, 12.5%):  Nothing really wrong with this Italian red, made with the soleras method, in which grapes of different vintages are blended. Simple and well-made, with cherry fruit and some acid, but it needs more than just that at this price.

Clos du Val Pinot Noir Carneros 2010 ($32, sample, 13.5%): Nothing at all wrong with this California red wine. It’s almost polite — with proper weight, fruit, tannins, and alcohol. But I want more than polite for $32.

Bolla Soave Classico 2011 ($8, purchased, 12.5%): This Italian white, which is what we drank if we wanted Italian white wine in the 1970s and 1980s, was surprisingly Soave-like given its age. Thin, but varietally correct and still drinkable.

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