Category:$10 wine

Wine review: Chateau Famaey Cahors Malbec Rose 2007

Chateau Famaey in Cahors in southern France. The temperature in Dallas hit 91 yesterday, which is even a bit warm for us in April. So The Wine Curmudgeon reached for the rose.

The Famaey (about $10) is made with malbec from the southern French region of Cahors. It ?s a strawberry bombshell, which was a bit surprising. The French are supposed to be a bit more subtle than this. But it was also bone dry, and any hints of sweetness come from the intense strawberry flavor. That ?s because our brains are used to associating that kind of fruitiness with sweetness (think of a Jolly Rancher). Hence, we assume that it ?s sweet. I would have preferred a little more acid to balance the fruit, but there is certainly nothing wrong with the wine.

Drink this well chilled as an aperitif or with any kind of picnic food. I ?d also try to slip it past a white zinfandel drinker. The results could be fun.

Wine of the week: Ipsum 2008

Ipsum_Rueda_Hermanos del Villar Cheap Spanish white wines are often a crapshoot. Quality varies considerably from vintage to vintage and even solid producers seem to pay less attention than they should when the wines get made.

Which is why the Wine Curmudgeon didn ?t expect much from the Ipsum (about $10), a blend of verdejo and viura from northern Spain. Which goes to show why one must always taste the wine before judging. Ipsum, from the respected Ole Imports and made by Hermanos del Villar, was much better than I expected it to be. It's fruit forward (mostly citrus), but not overwhelmingly so. It has lots and lots of Spanish minerality, probably from the limestone that the grapes grow in.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the $10 Hall of Fame. Serve chilled with chicken and rice, paella or just about anything with saffron.

Wine of the week: McManis Family Pinot Grigio 2007

image Much American-made pinot grigio is actually closer in style to pinot gris than it is pinot grigio. Producers in this country call it pinot grigio because the Italians have spent so much time and money marketing the name. Hence, they ?re more than happy to piggyback on that effort. (The grapes are, for all practical purposes, the same. The difference in style comes from climate and cultural differences.)

Which is why anyone who buys the McManis and expects an Italian-style wine, with not much fruit and that quinine quality that seems ever present, will be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you want a quality $9 wine with juicy, almost peachy fruit and a stony finish, then try this. McManis, a quality cheap wine producer, would be better served calling this pinot gris.

It ?s easily a better buy than similarly priced pinot grigio imports (and many California labels), and is a $10 Hall of Fame contender. It will stand up to a variety of white wine food, and should be quite nice with grilled chicken.

Cheap wine does not cost $20

Note to Meredith Erickson at the New York Times: $20 wine is not cheap. It is past mid-priced and on its way to expensive.

I mention this because Erickson has put together a case of what she calls cheap wine, courtesy of the great Kermit Lynch. This is no criticism of Lynch, who is one of the world ?s great importers of French wine and could probably find value in $100 wine.

But Erickson does not say value. She says cheap, as in ?the only quantifier being cheap, but not cheap tasting. ? So why is only one of the wines in this case is less than $15? In fact, one of them is $20, one is $19, and two are $18. For the cost of those four wines, $74, I could have put together an entire case of wine that is actually cheap. Actually, you can do it. Just look at the $10 Hall of Fame.

I ?m getting exceedingly worn out from reading this kind of wine writing. I may have to do something about it. Be sure to read the blog on Friday.

Wine review: Sangre de Toro 2006

sangre de toroSomewhere in my house, either stuffed in a drawer or buried in a box, are probably hundreds of the little plastic bulls that are attached to the neck of the bottle of the Sangre de Toro, a Spanish red blend. When I started doing this 20-some odd years ago, I drank a lot of what I called bull wine. It was $6 or $7 then, well made, and dependable.

I haven;t had Sangre de Toro in years. No reason to, really. I thought I knew what it tasted like, and I thought I had outgrown it. Which is a good reason to repeat the Wine Curmudgeon mantra: “Taste the wine before you judge it, dummy.”

So I bought a bottle for about $10, took it home, unscrewed the cap (a welcome change from the old days) and discovered that the wine has remained relevant. These days, it ?s made with Spanish versions of grenache and carignan. The former gives it fruitiness I don’t remember from before, while the latter adds body. It was fine on its own before dinner, and would also pair with simple red wine food — burgers, sausages, and the like.

Wine of the week: Vini Merlot 2007

Reasons to go crazy over this wine:

• Screw top.

• It costs $8.

• It’s from Bulgaria (and the back label notes that “Since we haven’t seen you in Bulgaria lately.” )

• It ?s actually available, which was really surprising given how many $10 wines that the Wine Curmudgeon likes that aren ?t available.

• It may be the best-made cheap merlot I’ve ever had. It’s certainly the best I’ve had in a long time, with enough tannin and structure to complement the cherry and plum fruit. Best yet, it wasn’t cloying and jammy, like so many inexpensive California merlots. It’s pleasant enough to drink on its own, but it would also complement barbecue, beef fajitas, and meat loaf. Most definitely a candidate for the 2010 $10 Hall of Fame.

Wine review: Altano Douro 2006

image Two years ago, this was a nifty $7 wine and it almost made the $10 Hall of Fame. The 2005 vintage, on the other hand, was fat and flabby, and was not interesting at all.

The good news is that the 2006 is almost up to the standards set by the 2003. This Douro, a Portuguese red blend, is still not as well put together as the ?03. It ?s kind of empty in the middle, and it ?s more jammy than it should be. (Whether this was a conscious decision by the winemaker to appeal to the American palate or the result of Portugal ?s recent unseasonably warm weather is anyone ?s guess.)

But it ?s certainly drinkable, with lots of red berry fruit, decent tannins, and it is food friendly ? think burgers or pizza. And you ?ll probably be able to buy it for as little as $8 at some retailers.