Wine of the week: Dufouleur Pere & Fils Nuits St. Georges Premier Cru Les Saint Georges 2002

image Regular visitors here know that the Wine Curmudgeon does not put much stock in expensive wine. Even when it ?s worthwhile, these wines often fail the 10 times test: Is a typical $100 wine 10 times better than a typical $10 wine?

This red Burgundy (what the French call pinot noir) is from a 400-year French wine family and it does pass the 10 times test. The 2002 vintage, meanwhile, is one of the best in Burgundy in decades. Even better, the wine is only about $30 (though I can ?t guarantee availability outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth area). This is classic red Burgundy, with zippy tannins and a pleasantly rustic feel and taste. It isn ?t especially fruity, so if you drink a lot of New World pinot noir you may be disappointed. Try it anyway.

I drank most of a bottle of this on the porch, enjoying a pleasant fall afternoon. It will also pair with almost anything you can throw at it for Thanksgiving, and it has lots of aging potential. How often can you say that about a $30 wine?

Tuesday tidbits 53: Aussie wine cuts, wine writing, Cellar Tracker

? 20 percent overproduction: Australia ?s wineries must cut production by 20 percent or face serious consequences, say some of the country ?s top producers. The president of Constellation Wines Australia says one out of five vines needs to be pulled out of the ground. A recent study found that 90 per cent of Australian producers were losing money.

? Wine writing and wine flavors: Blogger J. Tobias Beard says most of us are completely over the top, what with terms like scorched earth, new saddle leather, and white pepper. As Beard notes: ?. ?white pepper? Isn ?t that an album by Ween The Wine Curmudgeon, of course, is in complete agreement: Write in English, please.

? CellarTracker hits 10 million bottles: CellarTracker, which the Wine Curmudgeon uses to keep tabs on his wine closet, catalogued its 10 millionth bottle of wine last month. The site is free, and allows me to make tasting notes, track purchases and consumption, and see what others say about wines I have tried. Developer Eric LeVine says it's the largest wine data base in the world.

Happy birthday, Wine Curmudgeon

We celebrate our first birthday here on the blog on Nov. 16. Since that ?s a Sunday, when I don ?t post, I thought I ?d commence the activities today. Of course, the gang will be at Wine Curmudgeon world headquarters this weekend for the big blowout, where we'll be popping Cristalino, sharing bottles of Bogle and Solaz, and passing around all the Gascogne wine we can drink.

Thank you for participating. This has been tremendous fun for me, much more than I thought it would be. I started the blog a year ago for several reasons, none of which involved having a good time. (That I was wrong isn ?t a big surprise, is it?)

The blog has allowed me to write about a topic I like, learn even more about wine, and meet people I would not have met otherwise. Plus, I get to fight the good fight ? for regional wine, against scores, and for a sensible, level-headed approach to wine.

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Wine clubs: Are they worth the effort?

Wine clubs are they worth the effortAt any given moment, the Wine Curmudgeon has a half a dozen pamphlets, mailings, and circulars sitting on his desk, all promising to send wines of great quality and fine value directly to my door every month. And practically for free! In addition, I get similar offers that arrive all the time via email from web retailers, wineries, and on-line shippers.

Is there anything to all hoopla? Perhaps — as long as you know what you ?re getting into.

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Wine of the week: Garnacha de Fuego 2007

The Wine Curmudgeon has never been a huge fan of this wine, mostly because it cost as little as $6 and $7 in other parts of the country, but as much as $12 and even $15 in Dallas. Lately, though, the price in this area seems to have settled closer to $10. That makes this Spanish red a fine bargain.

Garnacha is a grape that produces very fruity wines with little in the way of tannins. This one has a lot of red fruit, but it's not especially heavy, which is a testament to Spanish wine making skills. The wine magazines adore this wine, and I've never quite been able to figure out why. One reason, probably, is that it's imported by Jorge Ordonez, who is one of the best at bringing Spanish wine into the U.S.

Drink this on its own, because it's light enough, or with pizza or similar casual food. It will also be more than adequate with Thanksgiving dinner (and don ? tell anyone, but the non-wine drinkers might even enjoy it chilled).

Tuesday tidbits 52: Wine scores, Beaujolais nouveau, red wine popularity

? Wine score uproar:  Steve Heimoff, a major U.S. wine writer, has lashed out at those of us who don ?t like scores. ?Just once, I ?d like to meet someone who bashes wine magazines and doesn ?t seem to have an ulterior motive ? making money. Hasn ?t happened yet. ? Mr. Heimoff, give me a call. I ?ll be happy to introduce myself and explain why scores are the wrong way to review wine. And no, I don ?t make any money by saying that. In fact, it probably costs me money. But no one ever accused the Wine Curmudgeon of being a good businessman.

? Beaujolais nouveau: The 2008 edition will be released on Nov. 20 (that ?s a week from tomorrow), and I ?ll have a review here on Nov. 21 (no scores, of course). I don ?t have high hopes for this vintage, mostly because the past several have been quite ordinary. But, as I always tell my wine students, drink the wine before you criticize it. It generally works better that way.

? More red wine? We likely drank more red wine than white in 2008, the first time that has happened in 32 years, according to a study from Impact Databank, which tracks wine sales. Among the projected big sellers? Pinot noir, expected to advance 12 percent; chardonnay, which should remain the most popular white wine; pinot grigio, which should increase 7 percent; and sauvignon blanc and riesling, where imports will rise at double-digit rates. The study attributes this change to two things ? the decline in sweet pink wine sales and red wine ?s supposed health benefits.