Category:$10 wine

Wine review: Toad Hollow Unoaked Chardonnay 2007

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Regular visitors to this space know how much the Wine Curmudgeon appreciates Toad Hollow ?s $10 rose. But the rest of the winery ?s efforts are also praiseworthy, though they ?re usually closer to $15. So when I saw the unoaked chardonnay on sale at Dallas retailer for $7.50, I scooped it up. It ?s more than up to its usual standards, with lots of crisp, green apple fruit and some minerality. This vintage also tastes brighter and cleaner than those of previous years. No doubt 2007 will be an extraordinary year for inexpensive California wine.

And, as the late, great Todd Williams always said: ?No trees were harmed in the making of this ? Chardonnay. ?

Drink this chilled on its own or with anything that needs bright fruit and a bit of acid. I had it with homemade egg rolls, and it was a huge success.

Wine of the week: Bieler Sabine Rose 2007

Winter doesn't mean you can't drink rose. The Wine Curmudgeon doesn ?t understand why the experts say rose is only to be enjoyed in the summer. What ?s wrong with rose in the middle of winter, when the days are short, the nights are long, and it ?s too cold to do much except complain about how cold it is?

Hence the Bieler (about $12), which is classic Provencal rose. That means some fruit (strawberry and watermelon in this case) and still bone dry — a style of rose that all should aspire to. It as far removed from white zinfandel as possible.

One caveat: The alcohol is a bit high for a rose, around 14 percent. It didn’t seem to be a problem, but that may because the wine has aged a bit. If it was younger, it might be more noticeable.

Chill this, and drink it before dinner. Or serve it with roast chicken, almost any kind of chicken breast preparation (chicken-fried chicken breast, anyone?) or seafood.

$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.