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Tag Archives: wine reviews

Barefoot wine review 2014

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barefoot wineThis year’s verdict for the best-selling wine brand in the U.S., with some 11 million cases? Much, much better than I expected, and perhaps the two best I’ve tasted since I started doing annual Barefoot wine reviews in 2009.

The Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvee NV ($10, purchased, 11.5%) won a platinum medal at the Critics Challenge, and that’s a tough audience. I don’t know about platinum, which is one medal above gold, but this is a quality sparkling wine that tastes exactly like it is supposed to taste — crisp apple fruit and a little creaminess. It was wine, and not like something put together by the marketing department to appeal to consumers who assume sparkling wine should be sweet and gooey. The bubbles weren’t quite as tight and long-lasting as I like, but given that the wine is made using the charmat method (common for less expensive sparklers and which results in less impressive bubbles), they weren’t bad. I’d buy it again, and serve it blind to get a few giggles.

The only problem? Price, ironically, which may be the only time in wine writing history that price will be mentioned as a problem with a Barefoot product. Much cava, made with the more expensive methode champenoise, costs less than the Barefoot, and is at least the same quality. And other California bubblies, like Korbel, are methode champenoise and about the same price. But Barefoot, knowing its audience likely doesn’t know the difference between charmat and methode champenoise (or much care), probably isn’t overly concerned.

The Barefoot Zinfandel NV ($6, purchased, 13.5%), meanwhile, is exactly the kind of wine that helped make the brand such a success. It’s dry, but loaded with the kind of fake oak that lends a chocolately finish, giving it the flavor profile that Barefoot reds are famous for. Having said that, the oak isn’t offensive — just obvious. In fact, minus the oak, the wine reminded me of the inexpensive, brambly, dark berry, and low alcohol zinfandels I drank in the old days and hoped would become the next big thing in cheap wine but didn’t.

Is the zinfandel a value the way Aldi’s $5 Vina Decana tempranillo is? Probably not, but the Decana is a $10 Hall of Fame wine. But it’s certainly a value compared to most of the $10 red wines, with their cute labels and sweet fruit, that overwhelm grocery store shoppers. That’s not a bad thing for a $6 wine, is it?

More Barefoot wine reviews:
Barefoot wine reviews 2013
Barefoot wine review 2012
Barefoot wines (again): Value or just cheap?

Wine of the week: Stephen Vincent Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

wineofweek

stephen vincent cabernet sauvignon 2011The Wine Curmudgeon has fond memories of the Avalon cabernet sauvignon, which carried a Napa appellation and cost just $10 or $12 in the bad old days before the recession, when great cheap wine was becoming increasingly difficult to find. The Avalon is closer to $15 or $17 these days, replaced by a $10 or $12 California appellation version which isn’t quite the same thing.

Fortunately, the Stephen Vincent ($11, purchased, 13.8%) does a fine job of doing what the old Napa Avalon did. It’s a solid entry-level cabernet, with lots of black fruit and a flavor somewhere toward the back that can be described as chocolate for people who look for that sort of thing.

Meanwhile, there are enough tannins and acid to be varietally correct, so that it’s more than just another tarted up wine designed to please a grocery store focus group.  The Vincent’s great strength is that is well made enough so that those of us who want cabernet quality in their cabernet will probably enjoy just it just as much as people who want their red wines to be “smooth.”

Drink this with any red meat dish, and especially summer beef grilled on a backyard barbecue. And don’t be afraid to chill it a touch, so that the wine isn’t the same temperature as the back yard. Otherwise, you’ll miss some of the qualities that make the Vincent so enjoyable.

Winebits 339: TechCrunch on wine and more lawsuits

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techcrunch wineWhat about those wine menus? TechCrunch, for those of us who are sort of computer geeky, offers mostly reliable tech news, reviews, and the like. Which made last week’s post about the WineGlass phone app so odd, and not just because Josh Constine, who wrote it, kept referring to restaurant wine lists as wine menus. The couple of dozen comments (including one from CellarTracker’s Eric LeVine) were at times snarky and mean, and included plugs for other phone wine apps. It’s as if I reviewed a wine here, and everyone who makes similar wine saw it and recommended their wine instead. The other thing that was fun? The quotes from the app’s creator that his effort will help end restaurant wine ripoffs. At the risk of sounding especially curmudgeonly, there’s about as much chance of that happening as there is of me writing for the Wine Spectator. For one thing, none of the hundreds of previous wine apps have made a difference; for another, most restaurants don’t care, or the system would have changed years ago.

Doing the duck walk: The lawsuit between Duckhorn, the high-end Napa winery, and a Long Island winery called Duck Walk, which was settled 11 years ago, has reappeared, reports On Reserve, a wine law blog that is essential reading for anyone who gets a giggle about these things. The details are, not surprisingly, difficult to understand, and seem to have something to do with whether Duck Walk is complying with the terms of the settlement. And, lest those of us who aren’t attorneys become even more confused, this complaint is completely different from Duckhorn’s current action against Duck Dynasty.

Don’t count on .wine just yet: The Wine Curmudgeon, who recently checked to see if he could buy the winecurmudgeon.wine domain name, has run into a hurdle — the French.  They are furious that anyone will be able to buy a .wine name, which they claim violates the spirit of the various trade agreements they have negotiated to prevent non-French producers from giving their wines French names, like Argentine Bordeaux. For instance, what would prevent someone from selling non-French sparkling wine under the champagne.wine domain? This would imply they’re selling French wine, even though trade agreements mandate that only sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne. Boycotts have been threatened, which will probably dissuade me from buying the name. I want the French to read the blog.

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