Weekend Wine Notes: Nine Robust Reds for Superbowl Snacks


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Oh, sure, you’re thinking, “Hey, F.K., this is America! We drink beer when we watch the Super Bowl!” All right, I understand the issues involved, but even when you’re talking about barbecue nachos, baby-back ribs, Sloppy Joes, prime rib sliders, even certain varieties of chili and quesadillas, a large-framed, robust wine can be as appropriate as beer, though, I confess, not with super-spicy food laced with serranos and such. Anyway, following that premise, I offer nine examples of the sorts of wine you could serve this Sunday while watching two teams neither of which apparently deserve to be there contending on the gridiron of valor. Prices range from a comfortable $14 and $18, good for supplying bottles to crowds of football fans, up to $60. As usual with these Weekend Wine Notes I deliver no elements of technical, geographical or historical data for the sake of quick, …

30 Great Wine Bargains of 2018, $20 and Under


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The title of this post needs no elaboration, but I’ll inform you that prices range from $7.50 to $20. It’s a diverse group of wines. Seven from France; 6 California; 5 Italy; 2 each Argentina, Australia, Chile and Oregon; 1 each Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal and South Africa. (Welcome, Bulgaria!) By genre or hue: 1 sparkling wine; 3 rosé; 10 red and 16 white. As a matter of fact, the 30 wines on this roster would make a great restaurant wine list. So, enjoy! In moderation, of course.

With one exception, these wines were samples for review.
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Albert Bichot Bourgogne Aligoté 2015, Burgundy, France. Excellent. About $16.
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Amalaya Malbec 2016, Salta, Mendoza, Argentina. With 10 percent tannat, 5 petit verdot. Excellent. About $16.
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Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato White Blend 2016, Mendoza, Argentina. 50 percent chardonnay, 35 pinot gris, 15 sauvignon blanc. Excellent. About $18.
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Domaine …

Weekend Wine Notes: 12 Wines for (Last-Minute) Giving and Getting


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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I had to insert the term “Last-Minute” to the title of this entry, which I should have posted on Friday or at least yesterday, because here it is, Sunday. Still, wine stores are open today in many states, and there’s always tomorrow. I picture My Readers on an endless whirl of parties, receptions, open houses, brunches, wassails, carol-singing and what-not, giddily essaying the Yuletide with customary joy and merriment. For any or all of these festive occasions you will require a bottle of wine as a present for your host or to contribute to the groaning board. If that’s not — let’s face it — the case, you may still need a bottle of wine to take to the family or friends dinner on Christmas Day. There should be a bottle here or several to suit every taste and credit card, six whites, six reds. The price range starts at …

Wine of the Day, No. 446


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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With Saturday night’s homemade pepperoni pizza with four cheeses, I opened the Zuccardi Serie A Bonarda 2016, Santa Rosa, from Argentina’s Mendoza region. First, a word or two about the grape, which has a long history in the northwestern Italian province of Savoie — part of France since 1860 — and was known as douce noir. The grape was taken to Argentina and California in the 19th Century by Italian immigrants, who apparently thought it was the barbera grape. In California, it became known as charbono, though often confused with barbera and pinot noir. As bonarda, it became the second most planted grape in Argentina, after malbec. DNA testing in the present century finally proved that charbono/bonarda is actually douce noir. This example — aged 70 percent in stainless steel, 30 percent in oak, for 10 months — offers a very dark black purple hue and attractive aromas of ripe, …

Weekend Wine Notes: It’s Mid-Fall. Keep Drinking Rosé


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And here are eight lovely, diverse examples, ranging from the delicate to the savory, employing a multitude of grape varieties from a healthy spectrum of regions and countries. As usual with these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew most technical data, as well as information about geology, geography, historical and personnel matters, for the sake of quick, incisive review intended to whet your palate and pique your interest. Enjoy! (In moderation, of course.)

These wines were samples for review.
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Berne Inspiration Rosé 2017, Cotes de Provence. 13% alc. 70% grenache, 20% cinsault, 10% syrah. Very pale pink-onion skin; quite dry, spare, elegant; strawberries and raspberries, lilac and lavender; hints of almond blossom and almond skin; tangerine; lithe, supple; a sleek limestone finish. Excellent. About $20.
Imported by Provence Rose Group, Miami.
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Berne Urban Provence Rosé 2017, Cotes de Provence. 12.5% alc. 45% grenache, 35% cinsault, 15% syrah, …

Wine of the Day, No. 434


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The Domaine Bousquet Unoaked Chardonnay 2018, Tupungato, in Mendoza’s Uco Valley, won’t remind My Readers of a Premier Cru Puligny-Montrachet from Burgundy or, say, a Stony Hill or Smith-Madrone chardonnay from Napa Valley. Anyway, that’s hardly the the point. What is the point? you ask. That a high-altitude, inexpensive, organic chardonnay from Argentina can provide multiple charms and delights for its consumer. How high? About 4,000 feet elevation, in the Andean foothills. Fresh as a daisy and clean as a whistle, this pale straw-gold chardonnay is bright, clean and appealing; it offers notes of lemon and lemon balm, jasmine and lilac and hints of quince and ginger; crisp acidity keeps it lively and engaging, while a touch of damp flint minerality lends structure to the petal-like citrus and stone-fruit flavors. 13.5 percent alcohol. And there you have it, an enjoyable chardonnay of crystalline clarity for drinking through 2020. You …

What’s the Deal with Malbec?


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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It’s tough to be a grape. You grow well and make distinctive wines in one climate and soil but perform dismally in a different climate and soil. You’re susceptible to all manner of diseases and attract all sort of pests. Frost and hail bring you to your knees. You accumulate numerous aliases from region to region, so eventually people don’t know who the hell you are. And they constantly compare you to other “better,” “more noble” grapes. You even disappear, as happened to malbec — our actual subject — when the severe frost of 1956 pretty much eradicated the grape from the vineyards of Bordeaux. What’s interesting is that some producers in California still consider malbec to be one of the five “classic” varieties of Bordeaux red wine, along with cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot; occasionally one still finds a red “meritage” blend that encompasses all five …

Wine of the Day, No. 415


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The Bianchi Extra Brut Sparkling Wine, non-vintage, hails from Argentina’s Mendoza region, where it is made by Bodega Valentin Bianchi. A blend of 60 percent chardonnay and 40 percent pinot noir grapes, grown at 2,460 feet elevation, this charming sparkling wine was produced in the Champagne method of second fermentation in the bottle. The color is very pale platinum blond, animated by a steady foaming stream of tiny bubbles; notes of roasted lemon, spiced pear and fresh-baked brioche are twined with hints of quince and ginger and an undercurrent of limestone that burgeons across the palate; there’s a faint, tantalizing touch of almond blossom. It’s quite crisp and dry, revealing lovely tone and presence, and culminates in a finish that delicately evinces the limestone-chalk element. 12.2 percent alcohol. A delightful aperitif on a warm Summer afternoon. Excellent. About $22.

Imported by Quintessential Wines, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

In celebration of Malbec World Day 2018…


This post is by Simon from Simon Woods – Drinking Outside The Box


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April 17th is Malbec World Day (yes, that’s what the organisers call it, no idea why, imagine if we had Book World Day). So to get the party started, a varietal Malbec, plus a Malbec-heavy blend. Doña Paula ‘Paula’ Malbec 2017, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (£9.99 Spirited Wines, strictlywine.co.uk) Really attractive young gluggable style, […]

Wine of the Day, No. 343 & 344


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Tupungato is the northern-most area of the Uco Valley, itself a sub-region of Argentina’s well-known Mendoza appellation. Vineyards here, lying in the foothills of the immense Tupungato volcano, average 4,200 feet above sea-level. Located in the volcano’s rain shadow, this grape-growing area is arid and chilly, especially at night, when the diurnal swing extends its reach. The soil is stony, alluvial and well-drained. Drip irrigation is employed in most vineyards, drawing on pure Andean water sources.

Our pair of wines today comes from Domaine Bousquet, owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Anne Bousquet and Labid Al Ameri. Anne Bousquet’s father, Jean, sold all his property, including the family winery near Carcassonne, in order to buy, in 1998, against prevailing wisdom, about 1,000 acres in the desolate region. Domaine Bousquet is farmed on sustainable and organic principles, a philosophy that extends to the surrounding infrastructure of access roads, housing for workers, …

30 Great Wine Bargains of 2017


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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I suspect that while many readers may find the annual roster of “50 Great Wines” interesting, they don’t necessarily find it essential. Today’s post, however — “30 Great Wine Bargains of 2017” — I hope will be greeted with expectation and gratitude. Who doesn’t love a bargain, especially when the price is attached to a wine that performs above its weight and class? Prices on this list range from about $7 to $20. Twenty-five of these selections rate Excellent, with the next five rated Very Good+, and each one offers a hefty and distinguishing serving of quality. The breakdown by genre is 15 white, 13 red and 2 rosé. By country or state: Italy 7; California 6; France 5; Spain 3; Germany 2; and one each from Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Oregon, Portugal, South African and Washington. Whatever, it’s not the statistics that count but the wine inside the bottle. …

50 Great Wines of 2017


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The prices of these 50 Great Wines of 2017 range from an unprecedented $15 to a whopping $250. Not that I expect My Readers to hasten out and snatch up a bottle of wine that costs $250, but when an extraordinary wine crosses my horizon and I rate it “Exceptional,” well, it goes on this list no matter the price. That’s one of the criteria for this annual roster: Every wine I rated Exceptional in 2017 is included automatically, followed by wines I rated Excellent and that I go back through the reviews and parse very carefully. Now I’m sure My Readers understand that by “50 Great Wines” I’m not saying that these are the 50 greatest wines in the world, just that they’re great wines — as I interpret greatness — that I tasted during the year in question. What makes a wine great? Purity, intensity, integrity, authenticity, as …

A mixed bag of reds from around the world…


This post is by Simon from Simon Woods – Drinking Outside The Box


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…beginning in Portugal Quinta Nova Reserva Terroir Blend 2015, Douro, Portugal (£16.48 Portugal Vineyards) Smells like a port winery at vintage time, the air thick with heady aromas of berries, cassis, violet and herbs, buoyant, spicy dark fruit flavours in abundance and a backbone of citrus freshness and ripe tannin – vibrant, joyful wine, I […]

Two Argentine red blends


This post is by Simon from Simon Woods – Drinking Outside The Box


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Viñalba Malbec Bonarda 2016, Mendoza, Argentina (£9.99/£7.99 mixed 6 Majestic) Alluring, savoury, fragrant style, almost with a Pinot Noir-like character, with its sweet plummy attack and wild hedgerow fruit, lovely texture with a light briny edge to the finish. Great value. S- Clos de los Siete 2013, Mendoza, Argentina (£15.75-£16 Waitrose, Cambridge Wine Merchants) A […]

Wine of the Day, No. 309


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Argentina produces an ocean of wine made from the malbec grape, enough so that the country and the grape are synonymous. Standing out in that sea, like a lighthouse above perilous waters, is El Malbec de Ricardo Santos 2016, hailing from the well-known Mendoza region and La Madras Vineyard, which lies at 2,800 feet elevation. The wine aged in French and American oak barrels for six months. The color is inky-purple with a glowing purple rim; the wine gives an impression of freshness and clarity, though it’s also quite intense and concentrated with notes of black currants, blueberries and plums permeated by a strain of graphite and iodine and a lighter aspect of cloves, lavender and bittersweet chocolate. Vivid acidity cuts through a dense, almost chewy texture and velvety tannins, all serving to bolster ripe, tasty black fruit flavors; the tannins lead to a slightly austere finish. 14 percent alcohol. …

Wine of the Day, No. 274


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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P0011028_dv-catena
Since Bodega Catena Zapata already boasts a roster of some of the finest malbec wines fashioned in Argentina, I wonder why it was necessary to add another rendition to the line-up. Still, the D.V. Catena Tinto Historico 2014, Mendoza, honors Don Domingo Vicente Catena — father and grandfather of the present owners, Nicolas Catena Zapata and his daughter Laura Catena — as a replica of the wine that Domingo Vicente made in the 1930s and sold in the bistros of Buenas Aires. Made by Laura Catena and chief winemaker Alejandro Vigil, the wine aged 12 to 14 months in a combination of French and American oak barrels, first-, second- and third-pass, followed by 10 months in bottle. If you can call this beckoning abyss a color, it’s opaque black-purple with a glowing magenta rim; warm and slightly woody aromas of spiced and macerated black currants, cherries and plums open …

Weekend Wine Notes: Eight Delightful and Charming White Wines


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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What more is there to say after “delightful and charming”? These are wines designed to provide your weekend — or the whole week, for that matter — with pleasure, deliciousness and elegance. We range widely in this post: Greece, Germany, Oregon, California, Long Island, Mendoza and Chablis. All single-variety wines, their grapes include assyrtiko, indigenous to the island of Santinori; pinot gris, not that common in the Rhineland; riesling and sauvignon blanc; gruner veltliner and pinot blanc; semillon and chardonnay. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I largely eschew technical, historical and geographical data for the sake of quick, incisive reviews meant to pique your interest and whet your palate. With one exception, the wines were samples for review. Enjoy! (In moderation, of course.)
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argyros
Estate Argyros Assyrtiko 2015, Santinori, Greece. 14% alc. This one will make you wish you were sitting in a little cafe looking out …

binz
brooks riesling
2016SauvBlanc
ILLAHEHEADER_famowned
2013ReservePinotBlanc300x300 (1)
Santos_SM_NV_label
chablis