The Wine Curmudgeon tries to practice what he preaches. I needed a couple of bottles of wine for dinner, but didn't want to make a special trip to a wine store. So I looked for wine at the grocery store, using my advice about buying wine for dinner.
The result was the Dry Creek ($10, purchased), which comes from a standout California producer whose dry chenin blanc has long been one of my favorites. I wanted sauvignon blanc for dinner (oven fried chicken), saw this on the shelf, knew that I liked the chenin, and so bought it.
The fume, which is sauvignon blanc under another name, is made in the classic California sauvignon blanc style, with grassy aromas and front, and a tropical middle. Don't expect any big, New Zealand-style grapefruit; the wine has some citrus, but is more restrained than its Kiwi cousins. The finish is a little disjointed, as if it doesn't know how to end; all in all, though, it's a heck of a bargain for $10.
Serve this with most white meat dishes, as well as salads. It would also, as befits any sauvignon blanc, pair with shrimp and other boiled seafood.
The Wine Curmudgeon has long enjoyed the Yellow + Blue wines, which come in a 1-liter box (one-third more than a bottle) and offer tremendous value. So why haven't I written about the wines in almost two years? Blame it on the vagaries of the three-tier system, which has made the wines very difficult to find in Dallas (and I don't write about wines that I can't find here).
Since this post is about the wine and not the three-tier system, we'll skip the rant on the latter. Just know that the sauvignon blanc ($12, purchased) was well worth searching for. It's Chilean sauvignon blanc the way the Chileans used to make it, before they decided to raise prices and knock off New Zealand sauvignon blanc.
Look for more lime than grapefruit, with a long mineral finish. This is a very well done wine, especially for the price, and an example of what Y+B can do — assuming it can find a way to get into stores. I drank this with a Cornish hen that had been split, marinated with olive oil and lemon juice, and broiled, and it was an excellent match.
One other thing: Matt Cain, who runs Y + B, would fuss if I did not mention that this wine is made with organic grapes and that the box is a Tetra Pak, which produces a significantly smaller carbon footprint than a wine bottle. Which are good things, of course, but wouldn't make much difference if Cain's company made lousy wine. Which it doesn't.
? The one thing I didn't like about the Villa Maria ($13, sample): It's not $9 any more. Stupid weak dollar.
? Best thing about the wine besides the taste: The screwcap, of course.
? So what did it taste like? It didn't has much grapefruit as most New Zealand wines, but you could still taste citrus. The middle was a bit short and without any New Zealand-like tropical flavors, but there was a very long mineral finish. In some respects, it was more French in style.
? What do you pair this with? The web site suggests green bean and potato salad, which must be a New Zealand thing. Otherwise, almost any shellfish, grilled or roast chicken and the Wine Curmudgeon's favorite, spaghetti with clam sauce (though I use canned clams).
? What's with this bullit-style layout for the wine of the week? Trying something different. Not sure that it would work every week, but it was fun to do this time.
The Wine Curmudgeon has never felt comfortable with sauvignon blanc that has been aged in oak. Too often, the oak covers up the varietal character and the sauvignon blanc ends up tasting like chardonnay. Which seems to be defeating the purpose of sauvignon blanc.
Plus, Souverain inhabits one of those gray areas in the wine business that often makes it difficult to figure out what its wine will taste like. It's a grocery store brand owned by one of the multi-nationals scrambling to shed expenses, so one never knows what the bosses will tell the winemaker about how much he can spend.
So I was not expecting much. But the Souverain ($14, sample) reminded me, as wines so often do, not to judge them before I drink them. It was much better than I thought it would be, with a bit of richness missing from most California sauvignon blanc. In addition, the oak doesn't obscure the Bordeaux-like sauvignon blanc fruit (less citrus and more citrus zest). Nicely done; serve it chilled on its own or with white meat dishes that have light sauces.
Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month (Thursday this month because of the holiday).
? Stone Hill Vignoles 2009 ($16, sample): Lots of pineapple, but not all that sweet with a long peach pit finish. An excellent example of what can be done with this hybrid grape from one of Missouri’s top producers.
? Souverain Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($14, sample): This wine is one of the reasons why I love wine, and it has nothing to do with whether I “liked” it or not. The Souverain is done in a style I don’t usually care for, oaked sauvignon blanc, but it’s so well done that I can appreciate what it offers and recommend it.
? Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($18, purchased): More wonderfullness from what may be the best sauvignon blanc in the world. Look for even less citrus and more tropical fruit than usual, which is saying something since Spy Valley is among the least citrus-y of the New Zealand sauvignon blancs.
? Bodegas Iranzo Vertus 2003 ($15, sample): Tempranillo from a less well-known part of Spain, and well worth the effort. More fresh cherry fruit than a Rijoa, lots of bright Spanish acidity and even a bit of herb tucked in. Highly recommended.
The Wine Curmudgeon, who usually knows no fear when it comes to tasting wine, was a bit wary of the Geyser Peak. A decade ago, when I started writing about cheap wine, this was one of the first ones that impressed me. It was in the first couple of $10 Hall of Fames, and I've always had fond memories of it.
But, for a variety of reasons, I haven't tasted the Geyser Peak ($8, purchased) much over the past several years, and wasn't sure what to expect this time. I didn't want to be disappointed if the wine wasn't what I remembered it being, or if my palate had gone in one direction and the wine had gone in another.
Not to worry, though. The Geyser Peak was all that it ever was — solid, dependable, $10 wine that succeeds in being more than some wines that cost twice as much. It has lots of lime, a bit of a middle (not something many $10 wines have), and a long, lime pith finish. Chill and serve with salads, grilled shrimp, and roast chicken — almost any white meat dish, actually. A candidate to return to the $10 Hall of Fame.