Category:$10 wine

Wine of the week: Solaz Blanco 2007

image The Wine Curmudgeon has a closet full of free wine, samples from producers who want me to try their stuff and write about it. But I use my money to buy Solaz — and a lot of it. And why is that?

Because it's cheap, around $7. And it's well-made. And it tastes good. What more can a wine drinker ask for?

Solaz, as regular visitors here know, is the wonderfully inexpensive wine brand from Spain's Osborne, one of my favorite producers. The various red blends have long been in the $10 Wine Hall of Fame, and the white has been in a couple of years. It's made from the viura grape, a mostly Spanish varietal that produces clean, crisp and floral wines with just a bit of apple fruit. Serve this chilled with salads (I had it the other night with a chef's salad with Russian dressing), Mediterranean food like hummus or bulgur salad, or on its own.

Wine review: Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2007

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There are many reasons why the Wine Curmudgeon is so fond of this wine. The
Nobilo is cheap, still around $10 despite
the horribly weak U.S. dollar. It's well-made, displaying all the aromas and
flavors that New Zealand sauvignon blanc should have.

And, perhaps most importantly, it's tremendous fun to taste with people who
aren't familiar with this kind of wine. That's because New Zealand sauvignon
blanc has a tell-tale red grapefruit smell and taste. Which means half the
people who taste it for the first time hate it, and half of them think it's as
good a wine as they've ever had. This difference of opinion is one of the things
I love most about wine. Each of us is different, and what one person wants no
part of another wants a case of. If only the wine snobs, with their scores and
magazines, understood this.

Serve this wine chilled with anything remotely resembling seafood, from crab
cakes to boiled
shrimp
to tuna salad. It's also terrific with anything cooked with olive
oil, garlic and rosemary or parsley.

$70 wine: When is it really worth it?

image I was drinking wine with a couple of friends last weekend and mentioned that they would enjoy the sparkling wine. One of them took a sip and said, yes, that was pretty good. But it doesn’t taste like one of your $10 wines, she said. (Now I know how actors feel when they get stereotyped.)

The wine, of course, was not $10. It was Ruinart, perhaps my favorite bubbly and not cheap at all at $70. And, to add insult to injury to my reputation, the other bottle of wine that night was Domaine Borgeot Puligny-Montrachet Les Charmes 1999, which cost around $65.

Which raises the question: Is there something to these wines that makes them worth that much money? The answer is yes, but the point is not how much they cost, but what they deliver.

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Wine review: Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Sauvignon Blanc 2007

image The Australians don’t usually do sauvignon blanc well. The climate is mostly too warm, there isn’t a great demand for it outside of Australia, and the country’s winemakers prefer to spend their time on big red wines.

So the Wine Curmudgeon expected very little from this — and learned, once again, never to assume when it comes to wine. The Rosemount is wonderful $10 wine, an amazing accomplishment. It’s clean and crisp, without any of the flabby character usually associated with warm climate sauvignon blanc.

It’s more California in style than New Zealand, which means tropical flavors as opposed to the big grapefruit that New Zealand is know for. Served chilled, this is a porch sipper as well as an amiable companion for grilled chicken and  shellfish (shrimp on the barbie, perhaps?)

A day in the life of a wine writer: One lunch, three tastings, and six hours

A day in the life of a wine writer: One lunch, three tastings, and six hours No one ever believes the Wine Curmudgeon when he tells them that wine writing is a lot more than sipping $100 bottles in five-star restaurants in the company of mini-skirted and leather-booted PR women.

It’s work — not mining coal or repairing roofs work, but work nonetheless. Last Thursday, I attended a wine lunch at 12:30 p.m., went to two walk-around tastings, and then did a home wine tasting as one of Two Wine Guys — all in the space of six hours. And I skipped two other events. (One sales rep said skipping them proved I wasn’t manly enough. I think he was joking.) This wasn’t a typical day, but something like it happens a couple of times a year.

Why did I do it? To taste wine that I wouldn’t normally taste, and especially expensive wine. To schmooze with other wine writers, wine executives and wine makers, which is an integral part of doing this job well. And because the point of writing about wine is to drink as much of it as possible.

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Wine of the week: Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2007

image I’ll do my annual rose preview and review at the end of May, but no time is a bad time to write about rose. It’s cheap, it’s food friendly, and it’s versatile. Plus, the weekend forecast for Dallas says gorgeous spring weather, so the Wine Curmudgeon will be able to break out a bottle and sip it on the back porch.

The Santa Digna (about $10) has a little more body than many roses, thanks to the cabernet. But this Chilean wine from one of the country’s best known producers is still light and refreshing, and still pairs with everything from grilled chicken to hamburgers to pizza.

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Tuesday tidbits 19

? Rose sales increase:  Which is good news for those of us who enjoy pink wine. Sales increased about 50 percent in 2007, according to a Nielsen study. Why did this happen? A couple of reasons, I think. Consumers are beginning to understand that rose is not the same as white zinfandel, and offers value for money — especially in the $10 range. Also, producers are making better wine, particularly in California.

? Wine sales in a recession? Tom Wark at the Fermentation wine blog may have found a relationship between wine sales and economic downturns. This is something wine people talk about a lot: How much of a luxury product is wine, and will consumers give it up when times get tough? Wark tracked wine club sales, and there seem to be a cancellations that are following the on-coming recession. “I have no doubt that were it being done for the past 15 years we’d see that at this moment that Index will be in a severe downward trend,” he says.

? Blog awards: And while you’re at Fermentation, take a moment to vote for Alfonso Cevola, whose On the Wine Trail in Italy has been nominated for two American Wine Blog awards. Alfonso not only knows more about Italian wine that almost anyone I know, but he is always incredibly kind and generous with his time. Especially when he is dealing with the Wine Curmudgeon, and we know how difficult that can be.