Turkey sandwiches and rose

Toad Hollow Eye of the Toad rose What goes better with leftover turkey than well-made, inexpensive rose?

? McPherson Cellars 2006 ($10): One of the best of a crowd of top-flight Texas roses. It’s softer than a lot of European roses, but still dry.

? Toad Hollow Pinot Noir Rose 2006 ($10): The flagship of the Toad Hollow line, and that’s high praise considering the quality of the wines. It’s dry, fruity and one of the best buys  — of any kind of wine — in the U.S.

? Reserve St. Martin 2006 ($8): Not always easy to find, but classic French rose at a non-classic price.

Toasting Thanksgiving

2011 update: These are the wines I enjoyed for Thanksgiving 2007, and save for the vintages, they're still good choices.

On the wine list today:

? Olivier Savary Chablis 2005 ($25). Another example of Kermit Lynch's importing genius.

? Ch teau Latour Leognan 1999 ($20). Probably exactly ready.

? Codorniu Pinot Noir Brut ($10). Rose sparkling wine at a great price.

Enjoy the holiday.

Consolidation in the wine business

This is one of the Wine Curmudgeon’s favorite topics, but it’s difficult to get people to pay attention. Too many consumers don’t understand that increased consolidation may well reduce their choices and raise the prices they pay.

The latest news? Constellation Brands, a $5.2 billion company, paid $885 million for the wine subsidiary of the company that makes Jim Beam. Constellation will get Clos du Bois, Geyser Peak, Wild Horse, Buena Vista Carneros and Gary Farrell. Constellation, incidentally, is a bigger company than PetSmart and Pizza Hut.

The always erudite Dan Berger has the best take on this: Consolidation will hurt the quality of the wine, unless everyone is paying very close attention.

Wine review: Argyle Pinot Noir Nuthouse 2004

Argyle Nuthouse Pinot Noir 2004Argyle Winery’s efforts are not only well-made, but they’re almost always good values. The sparkling wine, at $25, puts many $40 French bottles to shame.

So what do we do with the $45 Nuthouse pinot? It’s certainly a quality wine, with wonderful earthy Burgundian overtones and trademark Oregon fruit. I liked it a lot. But $40? You can buy two nice bottles of $20 wine and you won’t be any worse off.

The problem is twofold: First, pinot noir is pricey because it’s not easy to make well. Save for some French vin ordinaire like Red Bicyclette. Lulu B., and French Rabbit, it’s almost impossible to find a decent bottle for less than $20. Second, wineries charge a lot because they can. Consumers are caught up in pinot’s media hype, which extends far beyond Sideways to the Wine Magazines, and they pay those prices because they think they’re supposed to. High-end pinot drinkers are some of the biggest wine snobs I’ve met.

As to the Nuthouse: If someone else is paying, enjoy it. If you’re paying, go buy two bottles of Newton Claret or Ridge Three Valleys.

Peter Mondavi’s perspective

Peter Mondavi Jr. Peter Mondavi Jr., regardless of anything else (and there are a lot of anything elses with the Mondavi family), knows wine. He is the son of Peter and the nephew of Robert, two men who are among the handful who have helped California wine become some of the best in the world.

So when Peter Jr. offers his perspective on the state of the wine business, as he did during a recent visit to Fort Worth, it ?s worth paying attention. Today, Peter runs the Charles Krug Winery in Napa Valley, which one part or another of the Mondavi family has owned since 1943. One of his goals? To make wine drinkers once again associate the family name with quality wine. This is something that hasn ?t happened much given the focus on the Mondavis ? various personal and financial woes ? mostly on uncle Robert ?s side of the family — over the past decade.

?It ?s incumbent upon our half of the family to show the Mondavis in as different a light as possible, ? he says. ?We want to continue the family name and heritage. ?

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Wine review: Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2007

32481 The Wine Curmudgeon likes Beaujolais nouveau. It’s cheap and food friendly, which covers a lot of territory.

But, over the last four years, it has been sadly inconsistent: Crummy vintages in 2004 and 2005, a good vintage in 2006, and now this mediocre 2007 entry from the Emperor of Nouveau, Georges Deboeuf ($10).

Nouveau should smell almost like grape juice, and taste fruity and refreshing without any tannins at all — all without being sweet. This Deboeuf smells grapey enough, but it tastes thin, with very little fruitiness. It’s as if the grapes were picked too soon, before the flavors had developed.

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Dessert wines

Yes, winemakers really do let the grapes freeze to make icewine. The Wine Curmudgeon has a deep, dark guilty  secret. It ?s dessert wine ? sweet, rich, luscious, and often pricey dessert wine.

In those respects, it is frequently everything that drives me crazy about the wine business. But dessert wine almost always gets the benefit of my doubt, because it is that much fun to drink. Pour a glass after a dinner, sniff it, swirl it around in the glass, and sip it. More often than not, it caps off the evening without recourse to over-chocolated desserts, the current chef-fusion-fruit concoction or whatever form of cheesecake is making the rounds.

Dessert wines come in a variety of flavors and styles. Some are made with fruit other than grapes, some are sparkling, and some use grapes that have frozen on the vines. (There are also cognacs, ports, sherries and Madeiras, but we’ll worry about those some other time.)

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