Wine of the week: La Poule Blanche 2006

image Or, for those of you whose French is a little rusty, chicken white wine.

La Poule Blanche ($11) comes with an excellent pedigree. Sacha Lichine, the man behind it, is the son of Alexis Lichine, one of the legends of the French wine business. And the wine is that good.

It ?s a blend of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and viognier that combines a New World fruitiness (very ripe apples, maybe) with French style. That means crispness, minerality and not a touch of oak. I drank it with roast chicken (big surprise, huh?), but it would work with seafood pastas, white pizzas and cheese courses. If it cost $1 less, it would make the $10 Hall of Fame.

Tuesday tidbits 45

? State Fair of Texas: The fair ?s Wine 101 classes, which proved such a big hit last year, will return when the fair begins Friday. Look for the Wine Garden, in back of the Food and Fiber building. And, yes, that will be the Wine Curmudgeon holding classes, rotating with well-known wine types John Bratcher and Dan Peabody.

? Manhattan gets a winery: Urban wineries are popular, but in Manhattan? Nevertheless, City Winery, which is set to open this fall, has imported a French winemaker and is run by several well-known New York restaurant types. The biggest question, of course, is price vs. value. How can a winery paying Manhattan rents (and. in this case, SoHo rents, produce wine at a competitive price?

? More wine score sighing: This, from the Wine Blue Book, which compares wines based on price and scores: 2005 Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve ($113) –average score, 95 points; cost is 41 percent of the average of a similar scoring West Coast cabernet sauvignon. This means it ?s a "Great Value." Have we fallen so far that a $113 wine is a great value?

Restaurant wine: What we’re drinking, part II

This is the second of two parts looking at restaurant wine and what Americans drink. Part I is here.

The good news, if anyone in the restaurant business is paying attention, is that Americans want to drink interesting, quality wine in restaurants ? if the restaurants will let them.

That was one of the most intriguing bits buried in this year ?s Top 100 Wine Brands and Top 100 Individual Wines, a report compiled by Restaurant Wine magazine tracking restaurant wine sales in 2007.

Sales of some of the least interesting traditional wines declined in 2007, and there were sales boosts for several newcomers that were not the same old stuff. What does this mean? Forward-thinking restaurateurs, and even those who work for chains and corporations, can put together a more appealing and less expensive wine list.

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10 things to like about Bordeaux

A few thoughts about Bordeaux, before I get home and write about how much fun this has been:

1. It's a pleasure to be in a country where people hold a wine glass by the stem.

2. Cheval Blanc is very, very good.

3. Bordeaux is quite pretty. Richard Carleton Hacker, who is on this press trip, said it looks like the kind of wine country that defines the term, the kind of ambiance that the rest of the world aspires to.

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Wine review: Menage a Trois Red 2007

image The menage (about $10), from Folie a Deux, is a very confusing wine, which has nothing to do with its double entendre marketing. It ?s a red blend from California that isn ?t heavy, tannic or alcoholic, which is so rare as to be worth mentioning. And the wine is supposed to have been aged in oak, but I ?ll be damned if I could taste it. In fact, it tasted like a steel-aged Beaujolais.

Plus, it ?s cheap and tasty. The blend of zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon and merlot is quite approachable, quite jammy and even juicy. It ?s a style of wine that ?s almost old-fashioned in California, harkening back to the days before Wine Magazines and point scores. Drink this with barbecue, fall picnic food like grilled corn on the cob, or even takeout pizza.

Three Australian winemakers, part I

This is the first of two parts about selected Australian wine and winemakers. The second part is here.

One of the Wine Curmudgeon ?s favorite things to do is to taste wine with Australian winemakers, even though I ?m not a huge fan of the Australian style of wine.

So why is it so much fun? Because most of the Australians I have dealt with are genuine, sincere, open-minded, and plain-speaking. This is a welcome change from U.S. winemakers, many of whom are scared to death of critics, and quite a few Europeans, who aren ?t quite sure why they need to explain their wine to people like me.

But the Aussies? We just sit around and drink wine.

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Wine of the week: Reds 2006


One of the few good reasons for using corks to close wines was when Reds had pictures of famous Bolsheviks on its corks. The Wine Curmudgeon still  has some Lenin and Trotsky corks in a drawer somewhere.

Reds (about $9) is a screw top these days, but the wine remains true to its mission ?  a cheap, quality red wine blend that ?s food friendly. It ?s a little more fruit forward and raspberry jammy than it used to be, but it ?s still a well-made wine that offers considerable value and deserves $10 Hall of Fame consideration. I drank it with roast chicken, and it would also do well with hamburgers, grilled sausages and spaghetti and meatballs.