Category:$10 wine

Wine of the week: Melini Chianti Borghi d’Elsa 2008

$10, old-style Chianti: What more can we ask for?

Much has changed in the wine world over the last 70 years. This wine is not one of them.

Do you want an old-fashioned, “this is the way Italy used to make cheap wine” wine? Then look for the d’Elsa (about $10, sample). My Italian wine expert tells me that Melini has been exporting this wine to the United States since at least the end of World War II, and probably did it before then as well. So what will you find? A simple, satisfying, well-made wine that is about as Old World as wines get these days. That means tell-tale Italian acid, some red fruit and more tannins than we’re used to from this kind of wine. In fact, the d’Elsa is still made with the traditional Chianti grapes — a mix of sangiovese, canaiolo, and the white grapes malavisia and trebbiano. Drink this with anything remotely resembling Italian food, and especially spaghetti and meatballs or sausages, peppers and onions with tomato sauce.

Highly recommended, especially for those of us who are tired of Old World wines that have abandoned their birthright in an attempt to appeal to the so-called American palate.

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Wine review: Las Rocas Garnacha 2007

This Spanish red wine is one of wine guru Robert Parker's favorites.

The Wine Curmudgeon has always been ambivalent about the Las Rocas, a Spanish red wine that is one of wine guru Robert Parker's favorite wines. It wasn't so much the quality of the wine as the hype and the price. In Dallas, it's almost never less than $12, and, frankly, for $12, I always expected a lot more than the Las Rocas delivered.

The 2007 vintage is mostly more of the same, though I found it for $10 (purchased) as an increasing number of local retailers are trying to clear out inventory. It's fruity and extracted (think very dark berries that coat your mouth), high in alcohol at 14.5 percent, and has lots of oak, especially for a wine at this price. No doubt those qualities are why it appeals to Parker.

I don't think it's a better value than Osborne's Solaz, but if you drink the Las Rocas with grilled beef or something similarly hefty, which will match the fruit, oak and alcohol, you'll understand why so many people enjoy it.

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Wine review: Chateau Boisson Blanc 2008

Chateau Boisson: Not quite traditional, but still quality.Long before New Zealand — and even most of California — figured out sauvignon blanc, Bordeaux produced cheap, quality wines. They're not what they were 10 and 20 years ago, unfortunately, but some producers can still do what needs to be done.

Chateau Boisson is one of them. This wine ($10, purchased) is close to what white Bordexaux used to be, though it does have too much New Zealand-style citrus and not enough of what used to be the region's trademark minerality.

Still, it's a professional and competently made wine that is worth trying. Drink it chilled on its own or with the usual sauvignon blanc dishes: grilled seafood, oysters, and anything with garlic and parsley.

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Wine of the week: Vinum Cellars CNW 2007

$10 chenin blanc, well-made, is the dream of everyone who loves cheap wine. The Wine Curmudgeon has long been an advocate for chenin blanc. It's a welcome alternative to chardonnay, it grows almost anywhere that wine is produced, and it can be used to make exceptional cheap wine.

Which is one of the reasons for being for Vinum Cellars, which makes the CNW (about $10, purchased) ? or Chard-No-Way (CNW, get it?). It's one of several quality, inexpensive wines the winery makes, using lesser known grapes from lesser known parts of California.

How much did I like this? After the first couple of sips, I knew it was $10 Hall of Fame quality and I was planning to buy more. It's everything that a $10 chenin should be ? dry and crisp, but not overly fruity. Look for a bit of lemon and lime. Would that Texas winemakers did this sort of wine. Drink the CNW chilled on its own or with almost anything that isn't big red meat. Highly recommended.

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Wine of the week: Goats do Roam Rose 2008

image The Wine Curmudgeon ?s relationship with South African wine has always been lukewarm. Many people I respect keep insisting that it is the world ?s next great wine region, but save for a couple of sauvignon blancs and an occasional chenin blanc, I have not been impressed. Equally as important, most of the cheap wine that I have had from South Africa has been ordinary at best.

Which is why I ?m happy to report that the Goats du Roam rose ($10, purchased) is a knockout — $10 Hall of Fame quality wine. What more does one need from a $10 wine? It has a screw top, it ?s dry with a bit of strawberry fruit, and there is not a flaw to be found. In this, it may be the best use of pinotage, the native South African grape, that I have ever tasted. Serve it chilled on its own, or with shellfish, roast chicken or gooey grilled cheese sandwiches.

Editorial note: The Federal Trade Commission has issued new rules for bloggers and product reviews. It ?s mostly aimed at sites that take money to review items, which I don ?t. As noted in my annual honesty policy, no one pays me to review their wine. I accept samples from wineries, but I also buy wine myself for review. In addition, the ads on the site come from a third party and aren ?t related to what I write. Still, because I believe in transparency, I ?ll go the FTC one better. Starting today, each review will note whether the wine is a sample or purchased.

Wine of the week: Bogle Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Bogle's sauvignon blanc is as dependable as ever. The Wine Curmudgeon has been in a slump. Most of the wine I have tasted over the past six or eight weeks, including wine that I bought for myself (as opposed to samples), has not been much fun. The wines have been flabby and uninteresting, boring and predictable. At dinner Saturday night, the three wines we opened ? two of which were long-time favorites ? were amazingly disappointing. In short, I was drinking lousy wine, and I needed to do something about it.

Hence the Bogle, from a winery that has never let me down. And it didn ?t this time, either. The sauvignon blanc is fresh and clean and bright, all those things that I enjoy and look for in a wine. Best yet, it was $9.

Look for what the Californians call grassiness (not unpleasant at all, which resembles a freshly mowed lawn), some citrus and tropical fruit, and a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Drink this chilled on its own or with spaghetti with clam sauce, as I did, and marvel at how some producers understand consistency and quality.

Wine of the week: Dis Tinto 2007

Wine of the week: Dis Tinto 2007

The first great cheap Spanish red blend to to get noticed in the U.S. was Osborne ?s Solaz. Since then, there has been an almost unending stream of red blends, many of which taste like they came from Australia and that they are cheap is about the only thing in their favor. And some of them aren ?t even cheap.

Fortunately, the Dis Tinto (about $10) belongs to the cheap and well made category. It ?s a tempranillo and syrah blend from Valenica (known for bulk wine, if not always quality wine) from Ole Imports, which has made a habit of bringing in these kinds of wines.

The Dis Tinto is dark and Spanish in nature, not as fruity as the Solaz syrah and tempranillo blend, and a bit higher in alcohol. I had it with chicken and rice seasoned with chili power, paprika, cumin and coriander and it was a terrific fit.