This week, I would like to welcome fellow wine and rosé lover, Paeter Schmidt (@padisc on Instagram) for his Pink of the Week Pick, Guado al Tasso Scalabrone Rosato:
As a travel-hungry wine lover, THIS is where I want to go on my next vacation to Italy. It's called Salento. Google it. Then go buy this wine, and dream you were there while sipping this wine.
Welcome to a new year of my annual Pink of the Week series! For me, summer is simply not a proper summer without the joyful refreshment of rosé. Try to tell me about a better poolside wine, evening porch wine, brunch wine (ok, besides Champagne!), or for that matter, a wine to convert box wine drinkers over to higher quality vino than the veritable rosé.
Last summer 2013, I reviewed (Click on each to see that review):
- 2012 Chateau de Campuget Tradition Rosé
- 2012 Vinum Cellars California Rosé
- 2012 Chateau Guiot Rosé
- 2011 Yalumba Sangiovese Rosé
- 2012 Mas Carlot Tradition Rosé
- 2012 Mas des Bressades Cuveé Tradition
This year is an EXCITING lineup of all new pinks! First up Domaine Sorin Côtes de Provence:
Rosés whether still or sparkling make me giddy. From the south of France to Champagne to California, there isn't a pink wine I don't want to try. Scratch that. No White Zin. Unfortunately, this psychological game is still the uphill battle rosé has to fight. But the good news is, it gets better every year. Thankfully, far less people screw their nose and give me stink eye in a bar these days than used to. People are catching on to the magic of rosé, and yours truly breathes a sigh of relief. My preaching soapbox was getting rickety.
Like my motto for all Champagne & sparkling wine, I don't believe you need a special reason or a celebration to pull out this beauty. Perfectly fabulous in both color and character, the Cuvée de Pompadour is the reason! Unbeatable for a spring afternoon or a Sunday brunch, this should be on your must try list for 2014.
Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Cuvée de Pompadour: Vibrant & fresh notes of strawberries, cherries, peaches, lemon, & minerality. Beautifully balanced, which is to be expected from the house of Tattinger. My loyalty to them and Domaine Carneros remains steadfast. Pair with fruit & yogurt parfaits, light summer salads, and grilled salmon.
This never-ending winter calls us to bring out the big guns. When it is snowing, sleeting, hailing, and whatever other fury Mother Nature is flinging, that's the signal to pull out a vintage port, and yank up the blankets.
2011 Graham's Vintage Port: This stunner gets a whopping 95-97 from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, a 96 from James Suckling, and another 96 from Wine Enthusiast. Comprised of a blend of 40% Touriga Nacional, 31% Touriga Franca, 6% Sousao, & 23% mixture of old vines.
My take? If you can't hold out (and I know it's tough!), it's sweet and welcoming now with preserves of black cherry, blackberry, & plum, spread on sweet tobacco leaves, licorice whips, & spice. But it has the bones & structure built for the long haul. Enjoyable for years to come. Hold out if you can!
A couple of friends and I like to taste wines together. No pressure, some allegiance to the Sommelier tasting grid, mostly just sheer enjoyment and smiles. Coming from a big blind-tasting tradition with my friends from New Orleans, I always have fun trying to tweak my brain cells to their limit and pull out a wine's grape, region, and year, amongst other things.
As the old saying goes, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Or as Andy Griffith says, "Sometimes you bag 'em, sometimes you don't." I posed this beauty blind to my two companions, thinking I might have picked a stumper. Sure enough, the consensus amongst the two was Premier Cru Chablis. The answer? The 2009 Clos Pepe Estate Chardonnay from the simply amazing Wes Hagan:
Wonderfully Old World in style, the wine showed balanced and elegant notes of apple, pear, citrus, chalk, flint, light spice, and gentle oak. Not a bit of that buttery, over-oaked bodacious personality of many California Chardonnays. So Burgundy lovers rejoice. Clos Pepe is your new winery, Wes Hagan is your man.
This week was my birthday week, and with wonderful friends, I celebrated with a variety of amazing wines, including a few bubblies. We will get to all of them eventually, but for this week, let's pick one.
Anyone that knows me well, is more than aware of my obsession with a list of grower Champagnes. These wines come from smaller producers not associated with the bigger houses (that might source their grapes from a variety of vineyards), who source their grapes from their own vineyards. These wines display a more artisanal, variable style with their makers maintaining a personal relationship & dedication to their grapes and terroir.
Let's start the fun with a more accessible one you might find more readily in your local wine shops:
Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Champagne Brut 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs: From the Cote de Blancs, this bubbly is fresh, yet elegant with notes of lemony citrus, apple, pear, flowers, & chalk. The Gimonnet family has been bottling Champagne since 1935, and their estate produces outstanding fruit, with some vines dating to over 100 years old! While this one also comes in 375ml to try on a smaller scale, trust me you will want the whole bottle, so just go for it. Start with the 1er Cru, and then dive into the other amazing selections, including their Rose and Oenophile.
Ok, so it's not technically a wine pick, but this gorgeous weather screams for sake! Grab some delicious sushi and declare Sake Saturday or Sake Sunday for yourselves. Don't know where to start? I'll make it easy. Here are 4 sakes to try of different styles & body types with a corresponding wine varietal to help you along. For quick & fun info on sakes, check out a great post from NorCal Wine Blog, entitled 12 Things You Should Know About Sake.
Dewazakura Oka, Ginjo: Dry, with clean minerality. Light floral and wet rock notes. The Chablis version of sake.
Dewazakura Dewasansan, Junmai Gingo: Also dry and clean, but with much stronger floral (think frangipanis, roses, and gardenias) notes, with a sweet aspect on the palate. Fans of aromatic white wines will gravitate to this.
Masumi Arabashiri, Junmai Gingo: Big, full bodied sake with a giant, sweet nose of ginger, flowers, and baking spice, with a sweet palate and a longggg finish. Fan of big, robust whites, like California Chardonnays and Viogniers? Try this one.
Jizake Tenzan, Junmai Genshu: Similar to the Arabashiri. Full bodied with similar floral notes with garden aspects of greenery and foliage. Add ginger and lemongrass to the mix and there you have it. For those Sauvignon Blanc & Chenin Blanc fans, especially those that are barrel-fermented.
See how easy that was? Now get out there and enjoy.
Two things in wine life are certain:
1. Italy is one of the most awesome countries on the planet for wine.
2. However (capital H), good Chianti is hard to come by.
Allow me to assist. Put away visions of straw baskets, and journey off to Toscana (Tuscany) in your mind with this Weekend Wine Pick. Now make a gigantic bowl of pasta, (or other dishes suggested below!), uncork this Italian, & watch a Fellini movie. Live la dolce vita.
Castello d'Albola Le Ellere Chianti Classico (2008): 100% Sangiovese. 18 months in oak, 2 years in bottle. Cherry with dust on the nose and plenty of that telltale Tuscan brush, dried herbs (rosemary & thyme), and chunky earth. Lots of power there and substantial acidity & tannin. This wine is the definition of a food wine, one that when paired properly, brings lovely balance to a dish.
How? Pair with any pasta with red sauce, various charcuterie, white bean stew, mushroom risotto, or herb-crusted pork loin (think of matching that rosemary/thyme element). Now get to planning that Tuscan getaway.
Karia Chardonnay, 13.5%: Crisp, yet rounded and fragrant with notes of peach, apple, orange blossom, white flower, honey, toast, and spice. With good acidity, this doesn't lay on your palate like the tell-tale creaminess of some California offerings. (A portion of this wine is aged in stainless steel, so freshness & vibrancy remain.)
Welcome to Weekend Wine Picks! They might be simple, they might be fancy-pants, but they will always be appropriate to the weather, holiday, or maybe for the gigantic geeks like me, to current events. And I really don't need to tell you, they will of course, be delicious.
It's blazing hot this weekend of August 31, 2013. Literally. Yosemite National Park is up in flames. And Southern California is experiencing a blistering heat wave, much like the rest of the country has already withstood.
So there is no better wine for this scorching weather than this affordable Weekend Wine Pick:
Weingut Graf Hardegg Veltlinsky Grüner Veltliner , 12% ABV: Racy, crisp, & refreshing with bright citrus (particularly lime-skin, leaf, & juice), tart green apple (bring on the Granny Smith's), white flower and minerality.
Never heard of this varietal? Let's put it this way: If you like Sauvignon Blancs, you will like this. If you like Vinho Verdes, you will like this. Heck, if you like Margaritas, you will like this. Serve cold, quench that thirst, and face the heat with a smile. $11-14.
If I could give a bottle of this to every brave firefighter in Yosemite, I would.
Dining with my friend Taylor is always a culinary and palate-pleasing treat. Her allegiance to the finest of foods, including farm to table, organic, & sustainably grown local foods is awe-inspiring, while her elevated taste in wine always happily agrees with mine. So, as you can imagine, when our two minds meet in a restaurant, a gastronomic feast is sure to unfold.
On this occasion, we dined at the hip and fabulously decorated Currant in downtown San Diego. From our Ahi tuna duo with serrano chili and capers to our perfectly seared duck breast and our well-chosen wine, we were like two Instagram geeks on steroids. Sadly, it was so dark, there wasn't a filter in the arsenal that could save our pictures. (And thus, I got reamed by photographer friends. They were so wretched in fact, that I deleted them from my Instagram and now I must give you a stock shot. My apologies and thank you to Archery Summit.)
Archery Summit Premier Cuvee (2010): Full and lush with notes of blackberry, black cherry kirsch, Asian spice, cocoa, coffee, and pepper. Approachable and welcoming for both Pinot lovers and those just discovering the noble grape. For years, I have always recommended this wine as a great crossover for those opening their palates to Pinot or those previously married to California wines, but peering over to the other side of the fence. Go on, Cali wineophiles, try Oregon. It's a whole new world of wine.
PS. For you geeks like me out there, the wine is a blend of six of their vineyards:
Arcus Estate, Red Hills Estate, Renegade Ridge Estate, Archer’s Edge Estate and Archery Summit Estate in the Dundee Hills AVA, and Looney Vineyard located in the Ribbon Ridge AVA.
Okay, okay, I know it's a long mouthful of a title. But the wine is well worth it, I promise. As many of you already know, I am a Rhône wine fanatic, thanks to a previous boss of mine. He introduced me to the wonders of the wine I shall be buried with, Côte Rôtie, a brawny & animalistic, yet elegant expression of Syrah. You see, he was a Rhône fanatic, so like some form of wine osmosis, it transferred into my brain.
We reveled in the juicy, peppery, fruity loveliness of Châteauneuf du Pape, the affordable, yet delicious rosés, and the tiny areas of my obsession, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Rasteau, Tavel, countless village wines, and of course, Crozes Hermitage, the budget friendly child of the Northern Rhone.
I won't kid you and tell you drinking a Crozes is like drinking a full blown Hermitage, but it still makes for one pleasurable glass of wine, if you choose wisely. In the right hands, a Crozes gives you that addictive Northern Rhone character, and your wallet doesn't sear a hole in your pants.
QUICK rundown: Crozes-Hermitage is in the Northern Rhône, and is the largest appellation, surrounding the famous Hermitage to the north, south, and east. It was declared an AOC in 1937, and covers around 3200 acres. Like all red wine in the North, the only permitted grape is Syrah. Fine by me! (Fun hint: Look for a show on this with Dr. Bill, Stephen, and myself on Expert Drinking this year)
On to this fabulous selection!
2009 Domaine Saint Clair La Fleur Enchantée (The Enchanted/Magic Flower) : I have tried this wine a couple of times over the past 10 months, and what a development! Many of the rougher edges and brawniness have smoothed out beautifully, and it currently drinks just perfectly. Fantastic and full notes of violet, tar, black cherry, blackberry, tobacco, baking spice, wild herbs, cocoa, and chunky earth. Syrah how I like it. With a distinct sense of place and terroir, this is how you experience the difference between California or Aussie Syrah/Shiraz and the same grape in France. Go get it. Drink it. At $25-30, it's a great way to experience the Northern Rhône.
It's time to wrap up my Pink of the Week series for this summer, and I close with my go-to Rosé of these balmy months, the 2012 Chateau de Campuget, from my star region in this series, the Costières de Nîmes. As I have mentioned before, this area is prime for selecting delicious and affordable rosés.
Using primarily Grenache & Syrah grapes (which also happen to among my favorite orbs in their red versions), rosés from this region are fruity and juicy, but dry enough for my taste, and always quaffable. Maybe I'm a lucky ducky, but I have yet to have a pink from the Costières de Nîmes that I thought was undrinkable. So friends, if you are a rosé newbie, THIS is a great area to feel safe in.
Whether it was on the porch by the lavender, callelillies, and star jasmine, or by the pool sipping out of my Govino sommelier approved plastic goblets, Chateau de Campuget hit the spot every time. Wonderfully priced at around $10 for this budget stressed economy, this wine has defined my 2013 Rosé summer.
Chateau de Campuget 2012: Lovely salmon color, with a nose of wild strawberries, white cherry, freshly cut herbs, citrus and minerality. Aromas follow through on the palate, with a clean, crisp mouthfeel, and a dry finish. This is a wine I have tried with a variety of dishes over the summer, and undoubtedly my favorites are fresh fruit or farm-fresh vegetable salads with goat cheese, and poached or grilled salmon with a citrus beurre blanc or vinegar based marinade atop a garden-picked salad or creamy risotto.
Everyone have a wonderful summer and I will see you next year for more fabulous rosés and a whole new region for us to explore in Pink of the Week.
Today the pendulum swings. From lean & mineral-laden to chunky & juicy. The polar opposite from last week's Pink, this in-your-face rosé puts your senses on high volume. We are back to one of my favorite areas for delicious, easy-drinking pinks, the Costières de Nîmes.
Chateau Guiot Rosé: Grenache/Syrah. Bursting out of the bottle with a bright, dark pink color w reddish tones, and a big, full nose, with jammy, strawberry preserves, raspberry compote, vanilla & cranberry. This is your brunch rosé! Pair with pancakes, stuffed french toast, or at night, with a lovely strawberry-rhubarb pie.
Keep drinking the pinks!
Lean & dry rosé from Down Under? Yep, but believe me, when I blind-tasted it, I didn't guess Australia...
Yalumba Sangiovese Rosé 2011 : Salmon color, lean & mineral driven with herbs, good acid, & dry. This is a dinner rose. Pair with a grilled, poached, or baked salmon entree, arugula salad, or a fatty cheese plate with goat cheese. Actually, make that your three courses and you are so the master dinner party thrower-person.
Mas Carlot Tradition, 13.5% ABV: 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre from the Costières de Nîmes, France. This area is bursting with delicious rosés! Undoubtedly one of my favorites of the year, and a screaming deal, this is a rosé to please everyone. Bright pink with an orange hue, it's fresh & vibrant, with strawberry, cherry, lemon and light herbs. Pair this with glazed ham, strawberry-blue cheese salad or fruit salad. Honestly it's so drinkable you aren't going to care. Just enjoy.
Welcome to my weekly exploration of the BEST VALUES in Rosé wines! This Spring & summer, let's look at one of the hottest wine trends on the market (finally!) and how you can incorporate it into your everyday life, brunches, summer parties, and all. Now, while there are stunning pinks from Provence and more recently, Napa, these posts are not about the upper tiers of summer wine drinking. Maybe I'll cover that in another post.
These posts are about wine being fun and not breaking your bank. In this crazy economy, drinking rosé is about enjoying delicious wine while doing it with a smile and at a VALUE. Listen, you can have lovely wines from France, Spain, Australia, & California without resorting to wine in a jug to save money. Don't worry, I'm keeping the descriptions simple and straightforward. No obnoxious adjectives or random fruits you've never heard of.
Mas des Bressades, Cuvée Tradition: 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, from the Costières de Nîmes of France. Bright red fruit, lemon zest, light herbs, very strawberry & cherry on palate. Nice dryness but not bone dry. Fruity. Around $10.
Perfect for a healthy brunch of hemp or flax granola (the hemp complements the subtle herb character in the wine), Greek vanilla or lemon yogurt, and fresh fruit. Don't forget the acacia honey, a lighter and more floral honey that is tops with fruit.
(A perennial favorite, I've been drinking this rosé for years, and it always pleases. If you see it on the shelf, buy it. Trust me.)
Cheers & Bon Appétit!
Is is Chile, like 5 bean chili, or Chilaaay? Hmm. Pretty sure it's the latter, but most Americanos pronounce it like they are going to a cookoff. The Skinny Girl version of countries, Chile is a slender 3000 miles long, only 140 miles wide, and is one of the exciting regions for winemaking in the New World. Vineyards are in 14 main areas, and are at altitudes varying from 100 feet, to the highest at over 2600 feet. A runway model of winemaking.
Tasting with Master Sommeliers wines from a relatively unknown country (at least to most Americans), with such a focus on the various regions and the grape expression in relation to their proximity to the ocean, their altitude, and their varying soil content was nothing short of fascinating. If you haven't experienced Chilean wines yet, here is your condensed intro! So here we go! The wines:
Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc (2011), 13.5% ABV: From the Casablanca Valley, about 20 km from the ocean, a bright, vibrant wine with citrus, grass, & a definite note of jalapeño. If you like that in your wine (SoCal residents this is for you!), try this value at $14.
Ritual Sauvignon Blanc (2010), 13.5% ABV: I don't use the word supple to describe Sauvignon Blanc often, but in this case I will. 100% aged in old French oak for 5 months, this wine displays a lovely and elegant roundness, with the oak staving off the acidity. Pun intended. $24
Valdivieso Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (2010), 13.5% ABV: From the Leyda Valley, about 12 km from the ocean, this SB is 100% aged in French oak for 6 months. Slight funk in the finish from the wild fermentation. Oak hits in the mid-palate. Interesting. $20
Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir (2008), 15% ABV: From Casablanca Valley, this wine is aged 12 months in French oak, and displays roasted cherry and red plum, with alot of oak character, particularly on the finish. High octane Pinot. $32
Loma Larga Pinot Noir (2009), 14% ABV: Also from Casablanca Valley and aged 12 months in French oak, this Pinot has much brighter fruit on the nose, with notes of red currant and a cherry that vascillates between candied & syrup, along with a herbal quality. Always a high point-taker in the ratings. $29
Matetic EQ Pinot Noir (2008), 14.5% ABV: From the San Antonio Valley, about 6 km from the ocean. This biodynamic Pinot shouts one word. Concentrated. The cherry quality leans toward more of the syrup end, with chunkier, heavier red fruit, and a higher perception of alcohol.
Valdivieso Single Vineyard Syrah (2011), 14.5% ABV: A big, inky wine, with an intense purple color, sweet dark fruits of plum & blackberry, and violets. Mouthcoating and full-bodied. $20
Anakena Ona Syrah (2010), 14.1% ABV: Wowza. Super duper eucalyptus & menthol. Big dark fruits are present but secondary. Definitely more of a specific palate targeted here. Reminded me of the Cabernets of the Aussie renaissance a decade back. $18
Montes Alpha Syrah (2009), 14.8% ABV: 90% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Viognier. A fan on Montes for years, I was pleased to see their wine in the tasting! Chunky, big fruit wine with notes of herbs, flowers, and smoke. Definitely more tannin in this wine, along with the perception of higher alcohol. This one will a fantastic food wine. $24
Santa Carolina Reserve de Familia Carmenere (2009), 14.5% ABV: From 20 year old vines, this 100% Carmenere from Rapel Valley definitely displays its telltale herbal character. Scrub brush & rosemary mingle with floral & violet notes alongside big, mouth coating fruit, smoke, & tobacco on the finish. $23
Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha (2009), 14.5% ABV: Also from 20 year old vines, but from the Cachapoal Valley, this wine displays big, black fruit, Asian & baking spices, perfume, & thyme. Bigger tannin and acidity. $24
Apaltagua Grial Carmenere (2008), 14% ABV: From 60 year old vines in the Colchagua Valley, this beautifully done Carmenere spends 12 months in French oak. Dustiness, along with scrub brush, black fruit, perfume, and graphite. The treat of the tasting, and displaying where Carmenere is going in the vineyards of Chile.
Education. Insight. Learning with wine is fun.