Sorry -- I know I'm behind, but here are the wines we popped open for our Easter dinner (with truncated, from-memory notes).
NV Pierre Sparr CREMANT D'ALSACE Reserve Brut -- To my mind, in general, sparkling wines from Alsace are the best values in the market for bubbly. They're generally $15-$20, and have as much character as non-vintage Champagne costing twice as much or more (although because of the different varietals used in Alsace the flavor profile is a bit different). They tend to be more flavorful than the Spanish cavas as well. This one was decent, but not a great example -- crisp, citrusy fruit, bone dry, but I detected just a note of beginning oxidation. Lucien Albrecht and Rene Mure are other producers to look for in Houston.
2006 Jean-Max Roger SANCERRE "Cuvee Les Caillottes" (Loire Valley, France) -- Lean, very herbal and crisp. A tad underripe for my palate. Bone dry and refreshing, however.
2001 Delectus MERLOT "Stanton Vineyard" (Napa Valley, Cal.) -- Yes, I have often repeated the famous Merlot line from Sideways, but this wine (which our guests the Murphys brought over) floored me. Superb, rich, chocolately dark fruit on the nose. Full, and still sporting some nice tannic structure. Lots of concentration and length, but with good balance. Can even stand a few more years in a cool cellar.
2006 Linne Calodo "NEMESIS" 82% Syrah, 14% Mourvedre, 4% Grenache (Paso Robles, Cal.) -- Big disappointment for such a cult winery. Overripe and massive, but plainly out of balance, with hot, hot alcohol burning from entry to finish, obliterating the flavors.