$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.

Happy Holidays from the Wine Curmudgeon

The blog is mostly off the next couple of days. Enjoy the holiday with people you care about and your favorite wine.

And take a listen to this, from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (courtesy vinylman86 on YouTube). Sadly, the song has been taken down for violation of copyright.

With apologies to Bing Crosby and White Christmas, this is the greatest version of a Christmas song ever. I still have the single — vinyl, of course, the B side of My Hometown — and I play it every year.

Happy Holidays.

Wine of the week: St. Supery Oak Free Chardonnay 2007

image St. Supery has long been one of my favorite wineries. It delivers value and quality, especially for a Napa producer. Winemaker Michael Beaulac is forthright and open minded, and Michaela Rodeno, who runs the place, is about as sharp as they come.

So, if you feel like a splurge this holiday season, try the oak free chardonnay (about $25). Though it wasn ?t aged in oak, it isn ?t as steely and crisp as other unoaked chardonnays. Rather, there is a richness and depth that ?s impressive, and might even satisfy people who like oak. Look for green apples and a spicy, mineral finish. Pair this with most holiday dinners that don ?t involve red meat, and especially seafood. Oysters would be terrific.

Tuesday tidbits 57: Special cheap wine edition

News and notes related to the Wine Curmudgeon ?s favorite subject, quality, inexpensive wine:

? The market focuses on cheap wine (or, I become hip and trendy): Which, of course, is a scary thought. But some anecdotal evidence suggests that a potentially major shakeout is underway in the retail marketplace, as consumers look for less expensive wine. One major Dallas-area retailer says he can ?t move anything that costs more than $10 or $12, and even $15 wine is sitting on the shelves. Meanwhile, an executive at a well-respected importer told me ?Seems like everyone is asking for wines under $25 ?- and we don ?t have many, alas. ? I ?ll have an in-depth look at what ?s happening, as promised, after the first of the year.

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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.

Dessert wines: An overview, part II

image This is the second of two parts discussing dessert wines ? ports, sherries, sauternes, ice wine and the rest. Part I, which looked at dessert wine in general, is here.

Can you pair dessert wines with food? Yes, but it ?s generally not worth the trouble. They stand on their own. Also, don ?t be discouraged by the prices, which are high. A dessert wine serving is half or less than that of a dinner wine, and one or two glasses is more than sufficient.

One other note: Dessert wine labels are confusing, not just because there are so many different kinds, but because we don ?t deal with them very much. Don ?t be afraid to ask for help. Sherries and ports, for example, are labeled according to quality and style, a complex process that is more than most of us need to know. It ?s helpful to know that an LBV port is different and less expensive (and sometimes a better value) than a vintage port, but it ?s not crucial.

Finally, these wines are only a tiny sample of what ?s out there. As always, look, taste, and see try different things. And then pour yourself a glass, sit back, and enjoy. A fire place is optional, but it certainly doesn ?t hurt:

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Blog housekeeping: Ads and comments

I wanted to keep everyone posted on the two major recent developments, the appearance of advertising and a new comment format.

So far, the ads seem to be what they should be. I ?ve had to block a couple, but even they weren ?t tremendously inappropriate. A friend of mine gets sex ads on the site he runs for his college journalism classes, and he spends as much time blocking ads as he does writing, I think.

My blog is part of an ad network put together by Six Apart, the company that owns TypePad, the blog platform I use. I ?ve been quite impressed, though the money I get won ?t do much to feather the Wine Curmudgeon ?s retirement. A good day brings in about a quarter, though I set a record yesterday with 37 cents. And don ?t worry ? I ?m not going to write something here about how you need to click on the links to save me from penury (or drinking poorly made cheap wine). The ads are more about seeing how the system works than making any money. For instance, I don't get paid until I accrue $200 in earnings — which should take about six years.

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