Wine review: Lockwood sauvignon blanc 2007

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The Wine Curmudgeon, who comes from a long of retailers, loves to guess the price of wine. And I ?m quite good at it. Drives the wine producers crazy.

So as I sipped this Monterey County sauvignon blanc, I figured it was a $15 or $18 wine. It had classic California sauvignon blanc varietal character ? some grapefruit, but some tropical flavors as well. It had three flavors ? something in the front, middle, and back. Usually, less expensive wine only has one or two flavors.

The third flavor was a long mineral finish. And, though the wine was only bottled in May, it was ready to drink, another good sign.

So when I checked the price, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find a suggested retail of $10.99. This means, when the wine hits store shelves in a month or so, it should be $9 or $10. This is a $10 Hall of Fame candidate. Serve it with shellfish or grilled chicken.

Wine of the week: Cristalino Rose NV

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The high temperature here has been 100 degrees or more for most of the past month, which makes the Wine Curmudgeon even crankier than usual. Which is pretty cranky,

So what do I do on a sun-blaring, lawn-scorching Tuesday evening after a long, trying day of dealing with editors? Open a bottle of Cristalino ?s rose (about $8), of course.

First, it ?s cheap, which always cheers me up. Second, it ?s bubbles, which cheers me up even more. Third, it ?s well-made, delicious, cheap bubbles, which cheers me up most of all. The rose is bone dry, refreshing and brisk, with low alcohol, a bit of strawberry and caramel, and lots of fizz. I ?m not exaggerating: It ?s amazing how much better this wine makes me feel.

And I ?m not the only who feels that way. Cristalino sparklers have won just about every award possible from those of us who care about good cheap wine, from my $10 Hall of Fame to the New York Times to the Wine Magazines (as difficult as that is to believe). Drink this well-chilled, and serve it with everything from those Tuesday night leftovers to Indian or Thai (it ?s more than fruity enough for the spice) to big salads.

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Tuesday tidbits 38

? McPherson winery will open soon: Kim McPherson, who makes some of the best wine in Texas, will soon be making the wine in his own facility ? a state of the art building in Lubbock in an old Coke bottling plant, set to open later this year. "It’s not like I’ve never built something like this," says McPherson. "This is something I’m doing on my own and I think it will be incredible."

? Texas Sommelier contest:: One of the Wine Curmudgeon ?s favorite events is the annual Texas sommelier contest, in which a couple of dozen of the state ?s top wine types compete to be named the best sommelier in Texas. They do blind tastings for vintage and location and are tested on service. My only regret is that these are one-on-one events. It would be so much more fun to do the blind tastings in front of an audience, hollering and screaming like a football game.

? Italian wine in boxes:  Italy, which has mostly frowned on boxed wine, has decided to approve its sale. This is big news, since it will allow some of the country ?s finest wines ? those that get a DOC designation ? to be sold in boxes. There are quality box wines, mostly from Australia, but the the Italians have always been hesitant to cross that line.

Norton grape: Let us sing its praises

image I have three bottles of wine in the closet, and I ?m waiting for the right moment to share them. They ?re not red Bordeaux, Napa cabernet, or even white Burgundy. They ?re nortons.

The norton is one of the great success stories in the American regional wine business, a native American grape, probably a naturally-occurring hybrid that was first identified in Virginia in the mid-19th century. Nortons made in Virginia and Missouri are well-known and respected around the world — big, dry red wines with bright berry fruit and big tannins that can age for a decade.

So why haven ?t you heard about norton before?

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