Category:$10 wine

$10 Hall of Fame update

This year ?s list is here. But I thought I ?d list several wines that almost made the Hall this year:

? Rene Barbier Mediterranean Blanco, a Spanish white blend that costs all of $5.

? Drylands Sauvignon Blanc, which compares favorably to wines costing $15 and up. But it ?s probably closer to $12 than it is $10.

? Beaulieu Coastal Estates Riesling, which is quite complex for a cheap, sweet wine. It actually has acid to offset the sweetness.

? Montes Malbec. This is the inexpensive malbec many people drink, but the quality never seems consistent from year to year.

? Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel. I ?m never sure what do with the Smoking Loons, which are usually fine values but never seem to cross the line into Hall of Fame territory.

? Cave de Saumur Rose, which was one of almost a dozen roses that I tasted that could have made it. This, from Anjou, was made with cabernet franc.

The 2009 $10 Hall of Fame

Break out the bubbly -- it's time to celebrate the new $10 wine hall of fame. And it ?s full of good news, detailing one of the best years for cheap wine since I started doing this almost 10 years ago.

The full list, with links to previous Hall of Fames, is here. You can also click on the link on the left sidebar. Briefly:

? No wine dropped out because it dropped in quality,  the first time in three years that has happened.

? I added five wines, including the Yellow+Blue malbec; Meridian ?s chardonnay; the Les Jamelles wines from southern France; Domaine du Tariquet from Gascony; and Lockwood sauvignon blanc.

? If I wasn ?t such a curmudgeon, I could have added 10 or 12 wines. The quality in 2008 was that good. But I don ?t want this to turn into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Comments are most welcome on the selections.

$10 Hall of Fame: 10 days away

The Wine Curmudgeon has the 2009 edition mostly ready to go, though I ?ll probably do some final sniffing, tasting and spitting. It looks like 2008 was a great year for cheap wine.

Until then, while I take the rest of the holiday weekend off, enjoy this. It's from the 2007 Canadian ice wine harvest. This helps explain why ice wine is so expensive, and makes normal grape harvesting look easy.

Wine review: Dancing Bull Zinfandel 2007

Label-Rancho_Zabaco_2007_California_Dancing_Bull_Zinfandel_750ml_-_New ? Dancing Bull Zinfandel 2009 review

Dancing Bull, when it debuted six or seven years ago, was solid, cheap, quality zinfandel. Then, as will happen with these things, the label (part of the Gallo empire) morphed into two: The more expensive Rancho Zabaco, which focused on zinfandel, and the less expensive Dancing Bull, which became a full line (chardonnay, merlot and the like) of ordinary grocery store stuff.

This was disappointing, since the Wine Curmudgeon appreciates zinfandel, and especially solid, cheap, quality zinfandel. But I ?m happy to report that the current vintage of Dancing Bull zinfandel (about $10) is almost what it used to be. The 2007 isn ?t quite as spicy or brambly as those first bottlings, but it does offer lots of berry fruit, subdued tannins, and, blessedly, relatively low alcohol. You can drink two glasses without the need for a field sobriety test.

Pair this with any hearty winter fare (braised short ribs and garlic mashed potatoes come to mind), as well as zinfandel ?s traditional partners ? spaghetti and meatballs and the like.

Wine of the week: Clean Slate riesling 2007

image Riesling is a funny thing. Some people won ?t drink it because it ?s sweet, and other people only drink it because it is sweet. So how about drinking the Clean Slate because it ?s enjoyable?

Sweet wine is neither good nor bad because it ?s sweet, just like dry wine is neither good nor bad because it ?s dry. How often does someone refuse to drink cabernet sauvignon because it ?s too dry? Sweet wine is worth drinking based on whether the winemaker pays attention, and the sweetness should be balanced by the fruit and the acid in the wine.

That ?s mostly the case with the Clean Slate (about $10), a German wine from the Mosel. It ?s a simple wine, but it has enough lemon-lime acidity to balance the sweetness. The Germans have six levels of sweetness, and this is about the second most dry. Drink the Clean Slate at any holiday event, and it will also pair with roast ham and spicy food.

Wine review: Veramonte sauvignon blanc 2008

Last night, the Wine Curmudgeon felt like a glass of wine. But it was Sunday evening, and I didn’t want to go through a lot of wine selection foolishness — would it pair with dinner (leftover pizza that I had made earlier in the week), what were the flavors, and all of that? So I pulled the Veramonte out of the wine closet, unscrewed the top, and poured myself a glass.

This has always been quality $10 wine, and the current vintage is no exception. (Thankfully, the Chilean peso has lost much of its value in the past three months, and this wine no longer costs $12). The Veramonte has grapefruit flavor up front, a decent middle and even a bit of mineral in the finish. It’s not as citrusy as a New Zealand sauvignon blanc, and it doesn’t have the tropical flavors of its California cousins.

All of which means it will pair with typical white wine foods, the odd leftover, and you can even drink it while you’re watching television. With an ice cube in it, to boot.

Wine of the week: Meridian Vineyards chardonnay 2007


Meridian ?s products are almost always competent and value oriented, and you usually get your $6 worth. But they are rarely more than that.

The chardonnay, though, is grocery store wine done at a level that is way beyond grocery store wine. Winemaker Lee Miyamura has accomplished something special with this vintage, producing a stunning wine that offers two or three times $6 worth of value. Look for bright green apple fruit and a rich mouth feel, as well as balanced acid and a finish that many wines that cost $20 don ?t have. There is even an oakiness that tastes like barrel aging, which Meridian doesn ?t usually do (the company uses stainless steel tanks with oak staves or wood chips). 

Serve this to wine snobs, and make them guess how much it cost. They ?ll never figure it out. Meanwhile, you can sip it before dinner, serve it with chicken or seafood, and think about how smart you are when it comes to wine.