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Mississippi wine lovers find ways to get wine

By By Stan Torgerson / wine columnist
Aug. 20, 2003
If there is indeed a world wine glut, and every wine publication I read says there is, we have not yet benefited in Mississippi nor is there any reason to believe we will.
I have written this before so it should be no surprise that the state warehouse is totally inflexible when it comes to price. Since they are the only game in the state they can set the price per case wherever they wish it to be and it stays there regardless of whatever deals they uncover.
Mississippi wine stores have no other legal source for the wines they wish to sell.
So be it. But even if fire sales are not available in Mississippi, our wine lovers have learned to join the rest of the country in seeking bargains tasty, well made wines at reasonable prices. They are not only seeking them. They are finding them.
My favorite wine store says they can't give away French wines and there are a limited number of buyers for the $30 and up bottles from anywhere. But there are quality drinkable wines in the $10-$20 price range, and the public is buying them every day.
The hottest wine on today's market is the Yellowtail from Australia. They're priced under $10, they are very fruity and easy to drink and you don't have to be an expert to enjoy them. They have no hidden nuances to discover and there is no long finish to remind you of their flavor five minutes after your final swallow. But they are marching out of the stores because they taste good and they don't cost much.
Last weekend, however, I found a challenger. Distributor Norm Rush, from whom we've obtained the Spiegelou glasses we are giving away at next week's wine tasting, has a new wine on his list and it is one of the best $11.75 bottles of wine we've tasted in a long time.
Its name is Cartlidge &Brown and up until two weeks ago I'd never heard of it. All wines for the tasting are coming from Rush's list, so I took his advice when selecting the wines. He recommended the Cartlidge &Brown Syrah and I put it on the purchase list. Wine expert Robert Parker rated it 87 and said it was a great value. That's high praise for a wine costing under $12.
Last Saturday we had dinner at a favorite restaurant in Oxford and they had the Cartlidge &Brown chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon on their wine list at a reasonable restaurant rate of $20 and $22. A two-time markup is considered very reasonable in the restaurant business.
The chardonnay was delicious. It, too, was rated 87, and we served it with a salmon appetizer. It was indeed a mouthful of flavor. There was no sugary taste, just peach and honey with a touch of citrus, a clean bouquet and a lovely finish. This wine was truly a bargain. I came home and immediately ordered a half a case.
Then we tried the cabernet with rack of lamb and the result was the same. The wine, priced only $2 higher, offered a rich berry-like flavor with a peppery finish. It and the lamb made a perfect match. Parker called it a great value as well. Some of that will be in my cellar soon as well. I know a bargain when I find one.
Next tasting
Speaking of the wine tasting, if you missed last week's column, our next tasting will show attendees why we so often urge them to get a quality glass to achieve the maximum enjoyment of wine.
Spiegelou glasses, made in Germany, are regarded as among the best. They are 81⁄4 inches tall and hold 22 ounces; we have purchased 48 of them in order to give everyone in attendance one of their own to use at the tasting and take home with them.
But we have all that Rush had in stock so the tasting is restricted to 48 people. At my last count we already had 33 reservations so we're down to our last 15 with more than a week still to go.
If you'd like to attend, call 482-0930 for a reservation. The price is $30 which includes the free glass. Seven different red wines will be tasted: syrah, cabernet, pinot noir, mourvedre, merlot, zinfandel and a highly recommended blend from South Africa called Goats do Roam red.
We'll be at Northwood Country Club as usual, and the tasting begins at 6:30 p.m. The date is Aug. 28. We wish we could have found more glasses, but 48 is all we have. I'd suggest you call soon.