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Mini-reviews 72: Estancia, Toad Hollow, Les Dauphins, Belleruche

winereview

wine 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.

Estancia Chardonnay Unoaked 2014 ($10, purchased, 13%): Not very chardonnay-like, with an odd, though pleasant, orange muscat aroma and a hint of sweetness. Chardonnay for people who want it to taste like moscato.

Toad Hollow Risqué ($16, sample, 6%): One of my favorite bubblies, mostly because it’s made using an obscure grape and equally obscure sparkling process. This is the best it has been in years, and one of best sweet sparklers I’ve tasted in a long while. Tight, wonderful bubbles, sweet lemon, and acidity to balance all.

Cellier des Dauphins Les Dauphins Reserve Rouge 2013 ($13, sample, 13%): Grocery store plonk masquerading as award-winning French wine, with lots of flabby sweet red fruit, harsh tannins, and almost nothing else. This is a marketing wine, where what the label looks like is more important than what’s in the bottle.

Chapoutier Belleruche Rose 2014 ($12, sample, $13): Everyone else likes this wine more than I do, and it always shows up on summer rose lists. But it always seems pricey for what it is — sweet, crisp strawberry fruit and not much else.

Memorial Day and rose 2015

Memorial Day and rose 2012

rose 2015The blog’s eighth annual rose post, which runs every year at the traditional start of summer, is notable for two reasons. First, it may well be the only place on the Internet that has consistently advocated for rose in the last decade, and, second, because of all the wines we’ve talked about. Dare I say that the combined posts are among the most comprehensive list of cheap, well-made, and value-oriented roses in the cyber-ether?

The Wine Curmudgeon, being the humble sort of fellow that he is, will let you decide that. The links at the bottom of this post will take you to many of the past recommendations, while the blog’s rose category offers even more reviews from the past eight years. The blog’s rose primer discusses styles, why rose is dry, and how it gets its pink color, and which vintages to buy. Note that some producers, who still don’t understand that we want dry rose instead of sweet pink wine, are calling their sweet pink wine rose to confuse us. The giveaway? Terms like silky and smooth on the back label. Rose should be crisp.

This year’s suggestions are below, but they’re only a start. As I wrote last year, “It’s almost impossible to find a badly made $10 rose.”

Fattoria La Valentina Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo 2013 ($11, purchased, 12.5%): Solid, if fruity, Italian rose with lots of strawberry, no doubt from the montepulciano d’abruzzo grape used to make the wine. Think of it as the pink wine equivalent of the red wine made in the same region frm the same grape, which usually offers quality and value.

Goats do Roam Rose 2014 ($8, purchased, 13.5%): Another in a long series of solid, fruity, value-driven rose from this South African producer. It has gamay this year, the same grape used in Beaujolais in France, which gives the wine more fruit (strawberry?) than you would expect.

Yalumba Y Series Rose 2013 ($10, purchased, 12%): Australia’s Yalumba always does a fine job with rose, and this no exception. It’s made with sangiovese, and offers soft red fruit balanced by cranberry and an apple peel sort of finish. Always one of my favorites.

Los Vascos Rose 2014 ($10, sample, 13.5%): This Chilean rose, owned by France’s Rothschild family, has had its ups and downs. But this vintage, made with cabernet sauvignon, is structured, fresh, and features dark red fruit. There is even some tannin, which adds interesting balance.

More about Memorial Day and rose:
Memorial Day and rose 2014
Memorial Day and rose 2013
Memorial Day and rose 2012
My lunch with Provence
$100 of wine

Wine of the week: Domaine du Tariquet Rosé

wineofweek

tariquet roseWhat’s the perfect wine for rose week here on the blog? How about a rose from the Wine Curmudgeon’s favorite Gascon producer, Domaine du Tariquet?

Tariquet, of course, is the Gascon producer that introduced me to the wonders of ugni blanc and colombard in a cheap white blend. And the Tariquet rose ($10, sample, 12%), if not exactly the wine I expected, is another delicious cheap wine that demonstrates the Tariquet ability to deliver low prices and high quality.

Why not the wine I expected? Because it was much fruitier (watermelon?) than I thought it would be, given it’s French and not from California or Washington state. However, since it has merlot and syrah among its four-grape blend, that shouldn’t be surprising. This makes the Tariqet rose more New World than Old, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a terrific cheap wine. There is still balance, freshness, and a surprising amount of fullness and length for a $10 rose.

My only complaint? I’m not sure what vintage is for sale, and how available the wine will be this spring. Though there is a retailer in this area that carries the wine, it’s almost an hour away in Fort Worth. This sample, a 2012, came last fall from the importer, who was probably trying to get rid of inventory. Hopefully, most of us will be to find the wine more easily than I can, and will find a newer vintage.

Highly recommended, and almost certain to join the Tariquet white blend in the $10 Hall of Fame next year assuming I can find a more recent vintage.

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