Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month.
• Box Box Rose NV ($15/3-liter box, sample, 11.5%): The dry rose that showed just how far pink wine has come is more off-dry this time; no, I don’t know why. But the price works out to $3.50 a bottle, so it’s more than acceptable if you like the “hint of sweetness” style. But it’s not the award winner from the past couple of years.
• Adelsheim Pinot Noir 2018 ($25, purchased, 13.5%): Very ordinary Oregon pinot noir, and not especially Oregon in style. It’s missing the fruity, brambly zip it should have, and especially at this price. Instead, it’s just dull berry fruit. Very disappointing, given how much great pinot noir Adelsheim makes.
• Matua Pinot Noir 2018 ($13, purchased, 12%): This New Zealand pinot noir usually offers terrific value and pinot character. But the 2018 isn’t as pinot-ish as in past years – lighter in body, and less fresh and lively. It’s OK, but there are lots of OK pinots at this price. Imported by TWE Imports
• Angels & Cowboys Rose 2019 ($12, purchased, 12.5%): This California pink, like the Bota Box, was once exceptional. Now, it’s quite ordinary, and can cost as much as $18. This vintage is thinner with less bright fruit — more like an $8 rose from Big Wine.
The Wine Curmudgeon pairs wine with some of his favorite recipes in this occasional feature. This edition: three wines with lemon rosemary roasted turkey thighs.
The Wine Curmudgeon’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, which is uniquely American. How lucky are we, in the history of the world, to have what we have? And, given my appreciation of the holiday, I’ve never been able to figure out why we save turkey for one dinner a year.
Turkey is also uniquely American. In this, it’s plentiful, almost always inexpensive, is versatile, and is delicious when it’s cooked properly (something my mom mastered early on, which helped me appreciate turkey that much more). This recipe fits all the categories — it costs maybe $6 for three or four four adult-sized servings; the lemon and rosemary complement the thighs’ gaminess; and it’s a welcome respite from chicken.
Click here to download or print a PDF of the recipe. This is lemony and herbal white wine food (even rose, if it’s not too fruity). These three suggestions will get you started:
• Granbazan Etiqueta Verde Albarino 2018 ($20, purchased, 13.5%): This Spanish white is more nuanced than the albarino I prefer, the ones that are savory, practically salty, and taste almost lemony tart. The lemon fruit is still there, but it’s softer and much less savory. Having said that, it’s very well done and a fair price given the tariff and how much so many ordinary albarinos cost. Imported by Europvin
• CVNE Monopole 2019 ($11, purchased, 13%): Spain’s Rioja region is best known for red wine, but quality has improved considerably for its whites, often made with viura. The Monopole is a wine to buy, drink, buy again, and drink again. This vintage isn’t as quite as tart and lemony, but remains a tremendous value. Imported by Arano LLC
• Kruger-Rumpf Pinot Noir Rosé Dry 2019 ($13, purchased, 12%): This German rose may be difficult to find, but it’s intriguing: A bit of fizz, bright berry fruit, and refreshing acidity. Imported by Skurnik Wines
Blog associate editor Churro contributed to this post
Full disclosure: Once again, I forgot to take a picture of the dish; the one accompanying the post is from the Life Jolie blog. Imagine a little rosemary and lemon garnishing the turkey thighs.
More about wine and food pairings:
• Wine and food pairings 9: Mushroom ragu
• Wine and food pairings 8: Not quite ramen soup
• Wine and food pairings 7: Classic roast chicken
Slider photo: “Rome Elite Event: wine, food and nice people” by Yelp.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Washington state’s Hedges CMS red blend remains one of the world’s great cheap wines
The Hedges CMS red blend from Washington state has traditionally been one of the world’s great cheap wines. So why hasn’t it been on the blog since 2013? Chalk it up to premiumization and availability – its price has been as high as $16 or $17, and I haven’t seen it in Dallas in years.
Enough of the bad news. The good news is that the Hedges CMS 2017 ($12, purchased, 14%) remains everything that it has always been – a Washington state red blend that has the state’s tell-tale richness and fruitiness. But it’s also wine, which means it’s balanced and sensible and never once saw a focus group on its way to a store shelf.
CMS stands for the grapes in the blend; in this case, about two-thirds merlot, with the rest more cabernet sauvignon than syrah. Look for lots and lots of dark berries, but some heft from the cabernet and its tannins to play off the softness of the merlot. Finally, the syrah rounds it all out. It’s just the thing for Friday night pizza, but would also pair with something much more formal.
Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2021 Hall of Fame and the 2021 Cheap Wine of the Year. What’s most impressive about the Hedges is that it doesn’t sit in the mouth like a fruit bomb waiting to explode in a mess of sweet, gooey muck. Rather, it’s so well made that it even appeals to people (like me) who prefer a more Old World style, with less fruit and more acidity. What more can we ask for from a $12 wine?
No, this was not the WC’s favorite hat of all time, though the uniform did turn me off polyester forever.
This week’s wine news: Are fast food wine pairings the next big thing? Plus, 7th century BC wine, and more confusing numbers about pandemic wine sales.
• Bring on the Whoppers: Who knew the Wine Curmudgeon would be able to discuss the fast food of his youth two weeks in a row? But Christine Struble, writing for the Foodsided blog, asks: “Are fast food wine pairings becoming the newest food trend?” Perhaps, but the concept isn’t new. I received a release in the blog’s early days from a brand called Fat Bastard touting fast food wine pairings; I’ve written about it here several times; and I taught them to wine classes at the late Cordon Bleu and El Centro. Because if you’re trying to reach people whose diet consists of fast food, what better way to teach pairings? Or, as I asked one group of Cordon Bleu students, “What do we pair with a Burger King cheese Whopper?” The consensus was supermarket-style merlot; plus, they got to hear about working the broiler at the Burger King on Skokie Road in Highland Park, Ill., resplendent in my polyester uniform and paper hat.
• 2,700 years ago: Archeologists have discovered the first Iron Age wine press in present-day Lebanon, reinforcing the idea that wine played a key role in the ancient world. They found the press, used to extract juice from grapes, during excavations at the Phoenician site of Tell el-Burak near the present day city of Sidon (an important trading hub in wine and other goods in the Mediterranean region). Grapes were grown in and around Tell el-Burak, which was inhabited from the late eighth to the middle of the fourth century BC. Researchers have also found amphorae, ancient wine bottles, in the area. But no one was quite sure how the grapes were turned into wine until this discovery.
• More conflicting statistics? Blake Gray, writing on Wine-Searcher.com, finds even more conflict in wine sales during the pandemic. He cites research from California’s Sonoma State University, which found that even though U.S. wine sales overall are up, 57 percent of U.S wineries say their own sales are down. Or, as we have noted here, there’s little sense in trying to make sense of any of the numbers. Ostensibly, “Big wineries are taking more market share at the expense of small wineries,” said the report. You will also be happy to know, according to one analyst at the same seminar, that Americans may have had more disposable income than ever, despite the pandemic. I wonder: What country is he living in?
Photo courtesy of MeTV, using a Creative Commons license
Germany’s Dr. Loosen Red Slate riesling is one more reason why Americans should drink more riesling
Riesling is not that big a deal in the United States. There are many reasons for this, including the idea that real wine drinkers don’t drink sweet wine. Anther, also important reason, is that we don’t see a lot of quality riesling in the U.S., and especially if we don’t live on the East Coast.
Which is where the Dr. Loosen Red Slate riesling ($15, purchased, 12.5%) comes in. I bought it not because I knew the wine, but because we don’t drink enough riesling in the U.S. What did I know? That Dr. Loosen is one of Germany’s leading producers, and that it understands riesling’s perception problems in this country – hence, the word “dry” on the front label.
And I was not disappointed. The Dr. Loosen Red Slate riesling was all I could have hoped for – bone dry, a little petrol aroma, some lime, some zippiness, and a very clean back end. It’s not complex or especially subtle, and riesling aficionados might be a little disappointed that there isn’t more to the wine.
But it’s simple in the best sense, in that it’s made for everyday drinking without pandering to focus groups. The only real problem is the price, which is as high as $18 in some markets. That’s a combination of a couple of things, I think: the tariff, which adds 25 percent to the cost, and the weak U.S. dollar. The euro is at a two-year high vs. the dollar, and that might tack on another 10 percent.
Still, this is highly recommended if you can buy it for less than $15. Even at more than that, it’s still a better quality wine than much else at that price.
Imported by Loosen Bros.