Chåteau Font-Mars Picpoul

Château Font-Mars Picpoul ($10) France

In 2004, shortly after the Advocate’s annual Cheap Wine extravaganza and $10 Wine Hall of Fame made its first appearance, I wondered about the future of cheap wine: “The news for those of us who worry about inexpensive wine has not been good. …”

Turns out I worried way too much.

This year, for the 11th annual Hall of Fame, I added eight wines, and could have put in twice that many. Wine producers, for whatever reason, seem to have decided that the future of the business rests with well-made, affordable wine. Who can argue with that?

The new wines: the Ipsum and Zestos Spanish whites, brought into the United States by Patrick Mata’s Ole Imports, perhaps the best Spanish wine importer in the world; Australia’s Yalumba Y Series, and especially the shiraz/viogner, riesling and rosé, which may be the beginning of a revolution in Aussie wine; a French pinot noir, Luc Pirlet Pinot Noir les Barriques Reserve; a California syrah from Mandolin; and Château Font-Mars Picpoul, a French white wine. Five wines dropped out from last year, most because they’re no longer available in the Dallas area.

The holdovers in the Hall of Fame include Notorius, a white wine from Sicily, which represents the couple of dozen Sicilian wines that I have enjoyed over the past four years; the $10 wines from California’s Bogle Vineyards, and especially the old vine zinfandel and petite sirah; and the Yellow+Blue 1-liter boxed wines, and especially the torrontes from Argentina.

Also, Dry Creek Fume Blanc, a stellar sauvignon blanc from California; La Fiera Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a classic Italian red made with the montepulciano grape; and the Santa Julia+ Argentine torrontes and malbec.

Finally, two Spanish sparkling wines, or cavas — Cristalino and Segura Viudas; and the countless Gascon wines, white blends from southwestern France, that have become available in the United States over the past year, such as Domaine Tariquet, Domaine Artigaux, Domaine de Pouy, Domaine D’Arton, and Domaine Duffour.

Jeff Siegel’s weekly wine reviews appear every Wednesday


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Q: How many calories in a glass of wine?

A: About 100 in a five-ounce glass, which is the same as an eight-ounce light beer or a flour tortilla.

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With your wine: Sloppy Joes

This old standby was made for a cold January evening and some great $10 wine, like the La Fiera.

Grocery List

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 bell pepper, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery rib, finely diced
1/3 tsp dried thyme
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 1/4 pounds ground beef chuck or sirloin
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c beer
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Hot pepper sauce to taste


1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add vegetables and seasoning, and sauté 10 minutes, until onions are clear but not browned.

2. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up any lumps, just until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Add liquids, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes until thickened.

Serves 6, takes 30-40 minutes (adapted from Joy of Cooking)