French wine, regardless of quality, has become ridiculously expensive. (Think weak dollar.) So when I tasted this chardonnay last week at a Skalli wine lunch, I could hardly wait to write about it.

It’s well-made. It combines classic French style with a touch of New World green apple fruit. And, at $18 (available at Central Market), it’s not ridiculously expensive.

How does wine maker Laurent Sauvage do it? He uses grapes from a less expensive region of France, the Languedoc, and can pick and choose which grapes to use to ensure the best quality. Since he is French, the understands the proper use of oak. Combine all that with vineyard management techniques that focus on maintaining acid levels instead of getting high alcohol, and you have a winner.

How big a hit was this wine? We had eight wines to choose from for lunch, and almost everyone picked the chardonnay. We ate it with chicken breaks in a dill sauce, and it was a smash.

Other stuff worth noting:

• I don’t ordinarily plug restaurants here, but the lunch, held at the just-opened Dali Wine Bar in the new 7-Eleven building downtown, was first rate. Chef Joel Harloff did one of the best gazpachos I’ve ever had. Yes, the restaurant is way too hip, and I shudder to think what a problem parking will be, but the food was as good as I have had in Dallas in a long time.

• Cheap wine! I’ve been following a book called The Wine Trials on my wine blog, which details 100 wines for less than $15. I also wrote a piece for the Star-Telegram, and it ran last weekend.

• The fifth annual Savor Dallas will be held March 6-7, 2009, in the Arts District and at the Westin City Center hotel. This year’s event attracted some 4,000 people.