Texas wine festivals

The most important — the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival — attracts national attention. But there are half dozen others this spring.

This is not surprising, given wine’s increasing popularity. There are 155 wineries in the state, including some three dozen in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

?It has been an amazing experience, ? says Caris Turpin at Lightcatcher Winery in Fort Worth. ?We never thought we would have done so well so quickly. We had no idea we ?d get this kind of response. ?

Hence, seven big-deal wine festivals in the state through the end of the spring:

Continue reading

What about $6 wine?

image One of the things that I always tell my students (or anyone else, for that matter) is never to judge wine before you’ve tasted it. There might be many reasons to be skeptical — price, alcohol content, the grapes it’s made with, producer — but none of that matters until you take the first sip.

So what did I do when I received samples of BV’s Century Cellars line? Stuck it in the back of the wine closet, figuring it couldn’t be any good because it only cost $6 a bottle.

Shows how much I know.

Continue reading

Wine of the week: Sanford Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 2005

image Regular visitors to this space know that the Wine Curmudgeon hates overpriced wine — and that way too many wines that cost more than $10 are overpriced. So when he finds something that is expensive and fabulous, he swoons. Or as close as he can come to swooning.

The Sanford is among the best pinots made in California, and Sanford makes some of the best pinot noirs in the world. Hence, $45 is not a stretch. The wine has a bit of a red Burgundy nose and flavor, which is more rustic than those from California and Oregon. But it also has terrific California-style fruit (think cherry and raspberry), without any of the candied flavors of too many other U.S. pinots.

Drink this by itself (I shared it on a Sunday with several people who came over to talk away the afternoon) or with any classic pinot food, be it duck or beef braised in red wine.

Wine review: Republic of Sauvignon Marlborough 2007

image One of the great joys of drinking wine is tasting something that you think you know and discovering that the current vintage is a lot better. That’s the case with this wine, which is more than decent to begin with.

The Republic of Sauvignon Blanc Cellars is a negociant that sells sauvignon blancs from California, South Africa, and New Zealand. As noted, they’re usually fine wines, if a bit pricey for me at $18.

So, when I tasted this the other night, I expected New Zealand grapefruit and an acceptable finish. I got that, and a lot more. There is a bit of pineapple tucked in behind the grapefruit, which offers a wonderful contrast to the latter’s acidity. And the finish, if not Sancerre-like, offers better minerality than in previous years.

You can drink this on its own (something that can’t be said for a lot of New Zealand sauvignon blancs) or with shellfish or anything with garlic. This is value for price, even at $18.

Tuesday tidbits

? Rosenblum sells out: One of the best independent California wine producers isn’t independent any more. Rosenblum Cellars, which specializes in zinfandel, was bought yesterday by Diageo. The massive multi-national paid $105 million for the winery, which had been owned by by the Rosenblum family since 1978. Kent Rosenblum, a vet, started the winery as a sideline, making just 400 cases his first year. (In fact, Rosenblum still owns a vet practice in northern California).

This is the second of the big three zin producers to go corporate, with Ravenswood Winery selling to Constellation Brands in 2001 (resulting in a surprising drop in quality). Only Ridge Vineyards remains independent. Expect to see the new Rosenblum drop some of its less high-profile wines, like its fun and well-made Chateau La Paws red and white blends, and focus on more expensive zinfandels. No word yet on how much the Rosenblum family will have to do with the winery once the sale is final.

? Bring on Alsace: Gil Kulers at Wine Kulers (love that name) writes about one of my favorite subjects, Alsatian wine. Most of it is a great value, most of it is white, and most of it pairs with sausage."This may shock the steakhouse crowd, which would be lost without its alcoholic, over-oaked cabernet sauvignons," he writes. "After all, how can a measly white wine stand up to all those types of foods, especially heavy dishes featuring Alsace’s renowned sausages and game preparations?" That’s my kind of wine guy. 

? Super Bowl wine: The Wine Curmudgeon, who once toiled as a sportswriter and hopes never to have to do it again, is well aware that there is a football game on Sunday. He’ll just be doing something else. But for those of you who do want to pair wine with football, this is the time to break out the jug wine — the 1.5-liter bottles of grocery store brands such as Meridian, Woodbridge, Glen Ellyn and the like. There’s nothing actually wrong with them, especially when people are eating nacho-flavored corn chips.

Students pair wine with food

Maybe there is something to this teaching business.

My first class at the Dallas Cordon Bleu took its final Friday, and the results were impressive. The test was simple: Match a five-course meal with wine, and I used dishes that these first-year students had either learned or that had simple ingredients and techniques, like pot roast instead of Beef Wellington.

Their job was not to pick a right or wrong wine. Instead, it was to pick a wine and explain why it went with the dish. In this respect, there were no right or wrong answers. If someone could make an argument for white zinfandel with pot roast, they got full credit. That no one tried to do that also struck me as a good sign.

After the jump, the menu and a look at their choices:

Continue reading