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Tag Archives: wine reviews

Wine of the week: Chateau Sainte Marie Vieilles Vignes Rouge 2011

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Chateau Sainte Marie How is it, just when the Wine Curmudgeon has all but given up on finding quality, affordable French wine from Bordeaux, that I suddenly find some? The red Chateau Sainte Marie ($15, sample, 13.5%), like the white Chateau Martinon, speaks to Bordeaux wine that tastes like it came from Bordeaux and that wasn’t made to please Robert Parker.

Look for a certain earthiness, jammy black fruit that is modern in style but not offensive, smooth tannins, and a soft, merlot-like finish. In this, it’s an upgrade from the cheap red Bordeaux of my youth, which was often harsh and full of unripe fruit, the kind of wine we drank not because we liked it, but because we thought it made us sophisticated.

The Chateau Sainte Marie, from the less known Bordeaux Superieur appellation, is about three-quarters merlot, with the rest cabernet sauvignon, and it isn’t perfect. I would have liked a little more grip, the idea that there was more to the wine than the fruit. But it is solid, well-made, and varietally correct. These days, given its price, that’s more than enough of a reason to drink it.

Expensive wine 74: Domaine Roger Belland Les Champs-Gain 2005

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Belland Les Champs-GainYou love your Mom, right? You want nothing but the best for her, don’t you? Then the Belland Les Champs-Gain is the wine for her and Mother’s Day.

The Belland Les Champs-Gain ($70, purchased, 13%), a premier cru from the Puligny-Montrachet region in Burgundy, is everything that great wine is supposed to be. It’s the kind of chardonnay that people dream about, and that even those of us who don’t want to pay more than $10 for wine will drink without hesitation — subtle and muted, with layers and layers of flavors and aromas.

Look for white pepper, a brilliant use of oak, and almost ripe apples, three signs of great white Burgundy from Puligny. But there is so much more going on that it’s almost impossible to describe. Besides, just listing a bunch of adjectives won’t come close to doing the wine justice (even though that’s apparently what I’m supposed to do).

Highly recommended, though availability may be limited. In which case, ask your retailer for something similar, and you can’t go wrong. White Burgundy remains one of the few parts of the French wine business that hasn’t shot itself in the foot, head, and behind, for which the Wine Curmudgeon is quite appreciative.

Mother’s Day wine 2015

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Mother's Day wineMother’s Day wine is about options: wine for a gift, wine for brunch, or wine for dinner? Fortunately, the Wine Curmudgeon has all possibilities covered, as well as the most important piece of advice when it comes wine gift giving. you’re buying someone a gift they will like, and not a gift that you think they should like because you know more about wine than they do. In other words, if Mom likes sweet red, then buy her the best sweet red you can afford, and don’t worry about the wine police.

These wines are a start on covering most of the eventualities:

Vinum Cellars Sparkling Chenin Blanc NV ($18, sample, 12.5%): Delicious bubbly that shows what a top-notch California producer can do with the charmat method and the Wine Curmudgeon’s beloved chenin blanc. The wine is slighty sweet, with fine bubbles, lime fruit, and even a bit of spice. This is Mother’s Day brunch wine, and if it is a touch pricey, it is for Mom.

Château Sainte Marie Vieilles Vignes 2011 ($15, sample, 13.5%): Varietally correct right bank Bordeaux, which means earthy, jammy black fruit, smooth tannins, and a merlot sort of finish — not long, but round and full. If you’re planning a barbecue or informal dinner, this French red will make Mom happy.

Château Sainte Marguerite Côtes de Provence 2013 ($18, sample, 12%): Gorgeous onion skin rose from Provence in France that’s worth the price, one of the best roses I’ve tasted in years. Look for fresh red fruit to complement the orange-ish color; what the French call garrigue, an almost herbal aroma; and a very long finish.

Domaine Félines Jourdan Picpoul 2013 ($10, sample, 13%): White wine from southern France with the picpoul grape’s trademark tart lemon as well as something softer — peach? — in the middle. This is about as well made as $10 picpoul gets, and is a candidate for the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame. Let Mom sip it on the porch while she enjoys her holiday.

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