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Category Archives: White wine

Wine of the week: Toad Hollow Chardonnay 2012

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Toad Hollow Chardonnay One of the most difficult things about buying cheap wine is consistency. Given the way the system works, where production costs often matter more than quality, a great $10 wine one vintage is no guarantee of a great $10 wine the next vintage. Right, Meridian?

Fortunately, the Toad Hollow Chardonnay ($12, sample, 13.9%) is usually immune from that process. It has its up and downs since it was first made 20 years ago, but those are more likely vintage differences than pencil pushers squeezing the bottom line. When the wine is right, and the 2012 is the best vintage in several years, un-oaked chardonnay don’t get much better than this, even for wines that cost $15 or $18. It’s even a value at the suggested retail price of $12. If you can find it at $10, which it often is with grocery store discount cards, buy a case.

Look for green apple fruit in the front, a little tropical something or other in the middle, and some stoniness in the back. This is a clean and refreshing wine, without the fake oak used to make so many other wines at this price. But it also has some body, so it’s not as crisp as a sauvignon blanc. Drink the Toad Hollow Chardonnay on its own, or with summer salads, grilled chicken, and the like. If I can find it for $10 in Dallas, it’s a candidate for the 2015 $10 Hall of Fame.

Wine of the week: Bogle Sauvignon Blanc 2012

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Bogle Sauvignon BlancThe Wine Curmudgeon has finally found something wrong with the Bogle sauvignon blanc ($10, purchased, 13.5%). It doesn’t have a screwcap, and it comes in an old-fashioned, heavy bottle. Otherwise, it’s pretty much what a great $10 wine should be:

 • More quality than its $10 price. Classic California sauvignon blanc — grassiness, crisp, and with an almost tropical finish.

• Widely available. My biggest frustration, when I find great cheap wine, is that it’s not for sale in enough places so I can write about it. That’s rarely the case with Bogle, which makes more than 1 million cases annually. It’s in grocery stores (I bought this at Whole Foods, believe it or not), independents, and chain retailers.

• It doesn’t try to be something that it isn’t. This is a problem with wine regardless of price, in which consumers think they’re buying one thing and often get something else, fooled by back label nonsense or a too-cute front label. It’s telling that the three comments I found on CellarTracker (the blog’s unofficial wine inventory web app) for this vintage all said the same thing, even though each comment had a different score with it. Which, again, tells us what we need to know about scores.

Serve this chilled, with or without food, and know that wherever you are in the U.S., you’ll be able to buy a bottle of wine that won’t make you wish you had bought something else.

Wine of the week: Poggio Anima Uriel 2011

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Poggio Anima UrielThe Wine Curmudgeon always tries to find wine that people who don’t drink much wine would like, all part of my goal of spreading the gospel to consumers near and far. So when I saw the Poggio Anima Uriel ($12, purchased, 13%) on the wine list at a Dallas pizza restaurant, I knew I was in business.

Sure enough, the friends we were eating with loved it, including the non-wine drinker in the group. She pronounced it as well done as pinot grigio — score another victory for Sicily and great cheap wine.

The Uriel is a white wine made with grillo, a Sicilian grape used mostly for marsala until the island’s wine renaissance of the past couple of decades. Since then, a variety of producers have turned it into tasty and inexpensive dry wines, and the Uriel is yet another example. Look for enough white fruit to be noticeable, a bit of almond on the nose, and wonderful freshness and balance. This is the kind of wine, after you take the first sip, that you know you’ll want to drink all night.

How enjoyable was the Uriel? So much so that it was close to the highlight of dinner, given that the pizza was — as happens all too often in Dallas — over-hyped to the extreme. My non-drinking friend had an entire glass, which is like the Wine Curmudgeon drinking an entire bottle.

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