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Enjoy Your Summer A Little Bit More – With Rosé from WTSO

July 7, 2017 Leave a comment

Is summer the best time of the year? Well, I love all seasons, but with the right weather, summer might be the most enjoyable. Can we enjoy it “better”? Of course – with a glass of Rosé in your hand.

There is something special about the Rosé. We eat with our eyes first, and we drink that way too. If you think about color of the white wine, you get the range from literally a clear water to a dark gold – white wine is fun to look at, but the color of it doesn’t provoke much thought, unless you are in a blind tasting setting. Similar story with the reds – the color goes from the bright ruby to literally black, but again, the color doesn’t bring that much of the visual pleasure.

Rosé is a totally different game. The shades of pink go from the onion peel to salmon to copper to electric pink, and just a visual effect of the bottle of Rosé is appealing and uplifting, it says “the world looks a little bit better now, isn’t it”? We don’t always carry around those pink-colored glasses which improve our life’s outlook, but the bottles of Rosé can have the same effect. Who is with me? Yep, go pour yourself another glass.

So we agreed that Rosé itself can make our summer better. Can we further improve that? Of course! With the help of Wines ‘Til Sold Out, commonly known as WTSO. WTSO provides tremendous service to all of the wine lovers – it finds great wines at amazing prices – and passes savings to all of us. To make our summer even better than it is, WTSO is offering a special Côtes de Provence Rosé 4-pack collection, which you can find here.

I had an opportunity to taste these wines and here are my impressions:

2016 Famille Négrel Diamant de Provence Côtes de Provence (12.5% ABV)
C: pale, very pale pink
N: minerality, gunflint, ocean breeze
P: beautiful fresh profile, touch of underripe strawberries, crisp acidity, nice salinity, excellent balance. Appears very light, but very present in the glass.
V: 8, very nice, perfectly enjoyable, and guaranteed to remove at least 5 degrees off the thermometer.

2016 Château Garamache Côtes de Provence (12% ABV)
C: light salmon pink
N: muted, touch of green leaves
P: savory, good lemony acidity, but missing on the overall package. Acidic finish, needs more fruit.
V: 7-, should be good with food – salad comes to mind.

2016 Château Gassier Ormilles Côtes de Provence (13% ABV)
C: beautiful pink color, rose gold
N: onion peel, strawberries, medium intensity, inviting
P: ripe strawberries with touch of honey, a bit of perceived sweetness, perfect balance, delicious.
V: 8/8+, quintessential Provence. When I think “Provence”, this is a taste profile I expect

2016 Domaine du Garde Temps Tourbillon Vielles Vignes Côtes-de-Provence (12.5% ABV, 50% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah)
C: bright salmon pink
N: onion peel and savory strawberries
P: fresh, crisp, tart strawberries, beautiful palate cleanser, excellent balance.
V: 8, nicely present wine, good weight in the mouth, excellent for summer and not only. Needs about 20 minutes to breath.

Enjoy your summer and drink Rosé! Cheers!

Daily Glass: Pleasures of a Simple Côtes du Rhône

September 7, 2015 7 comments

What do you think of Côtes du Rhône wines? Côtes du Rhône (I like to call them CdR for short) are some of my favorite home wines. A “little brother” of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, they often offer similar, may be a bit less expressive taste profile, usually at a fraction of a price. They are also quite versatile with food, offering a wide pairing range, from lamb to game to cheeses.

I was reminded today of how good these simple CdR wines can be. While traveling (I’m in south of France at the moment, near Nice), I asked for the local red wine at the restaurant. Red Provence (that would be a true local wine) are made in a very minuscule quantities, so it is not surprising that restaurant at a small hotel didn’t have any. I was offered to look at the wines from the neighboring territories, such as Côtes Du Rhône, and I ended up picking the cheapest wine on the menu. It so happened that 2013 Antoine Ogier Artesis Côtes du Rhône AOC (14% ABV, €21 at a restaurant) was an excellent choice. The wine had red fruit on the nose with a touch of lavender, very soft tannins on the palate, soft and silky profile, plums, touch of minerality and excellent acidity, overall very balanced. After about 30 minutes the wine also showed tobacco and touch of pepper on the palate – a very classic profile overall. Drinkability: 8-

Antoine Ogier Côtes du Rhône

What was even better than just a nice glass of wine was that wine worked perfectly with food – this was an accidental success, as I didn’t think about the wine at all while ordering the food. The wine paired spot on with the Rabbit Pate, elevating each bite. It did the same thing with Grilled Veal with Creamy Mushroom Sauce. Believe it or not, but it was not even disturbed by an interesting dessert – a Pineapple Carpaccio (called on the menu “raw marinated pineapple”) with Lime Sorbet. All I can say that this was probably one of the most versatile wines I ever had – kudos to the winemaker for crafting such food friendly wines – I guess 155 years of history mean something.

Before we part, I want to live you with a couple of curiosities. Below you will see the back label of that bottle of wine, providing sulfates warning in 21 languages (I already shared that on Twitter). I find this interesting and a bit ridiculous (sorry – wine always contains sulfates, and no, they don’t cause the headache). The second picture shows an extremely thoughtful presentation of the condiments. I shared this on Twitter too, noting that I like the classy presentation, something which French mastered perfectly, only to be ridiculed by someone asking me if ketchup is a French food. Of course it is not, but think about how many times you were presented with the bottle of ketchup at a restaurant, only to think “where should I put it to – on the plate or directly on the fries” – by the way, both are equally uncomfortable choices? In this case, the problem is solved in the best possible way – here is your personal bottle, and you don’t need to deal with any puzzles, just enjoy your food.

Voilà! I’m done with my “notes from the road”. If you are in US, happy few last hours of the Labor Day holiday weekend. Until the next time – cheers!

Rosé! It’s Good For Summer, And All Year Around

August 22, 2015 10 comments

Domains Roger ZannierSo tell me, dear reader – do you think Rosé is for summer, or is it a year-around wine? In January, when it is –10 outside, would you still reach for Rosè to drink with your dinner? No, you only need heavy reds, you say? But why? Your dinner menu doesn’t consist of 5 variations of the hearty beef stew, and so the wines you drink shouldn’t be just Cabernet Sauvignon from 5 different glasses.

Well, I think the real picture is not as bad as I’m hinting above. The same way as now literally every winery in the world added Rosé to their repertoire, wine drinkers developed better appreciation for Rosé, its light and playful character, and ability to complement wide variety of dishes.

And which region makes the most versatile Rosé? Provence, of course! Yes, Rosé is made everywhere nowadays, but when it comes to finesse and character, Provence Rosé is hard to beat.

I recently had an opportunity to taste the line of Rosé wines from Domains Roger Zannier, and it happened to be a great lesson in diversity of Provence Rosé.

Domains Roger Zannier Rosé line up consisted of three different wine, each one having its own unique personality. In a blind tasting I would never tell that the wines were made by the same producer. And the main quality – while extremely quaffable, these wines offer food for thoughts, they are asking you to focus and to figure out what you taste.

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For what it worth, below you will find tasting notes for the Domains Roger Zannier wines – I hope the notes will illustrate my point:

2014 Domaines Roger Zannier Château Saint-Maur Cuveé M Rosé Côtes de Provence AOP ($25, 25% Grenache, 25% Tibouren, 25% Cinsault, 25% Syrah)
C: darkest of the 3, pink and nice
N:strawberries, fresh
P: very refreshing, good acidity, touch of strawberries, nice intensity
V: 8-

2014 Domaines Roger Zannier Château Saint-Maur L’Excellence Rosé Côtes de Provence AOP ($45, 30% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 30% Mourvédre, 10% Rolle)
C: beautiful light pink
N: touch of red fruit, intense with finesse
P: perfect acidity, touch of lemon, and lemon zest, lots of strawberries, overall delicious
V: 8

2014 Domaines Roger Zannier Château Saint-Maur Clos de Capelune Rosé Côtes de Provence AOP ($65, 35% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 20% Mourvédre, 15% Rolle)
C: salmon pink
N: clearly a red wine on the nose, cured meat, onion peel
P: savory, complex, but light. Definitely thought provoking
V: 8, different and intriguing. Try it for yourself.

Three wines, three unique and different taste profiles. And an important message – first of all, these are excellent, versatile wines. And then yes, they are pink (or mostly pink) in color.

Don’t let Rosé to hibernate away from your dinner table during fall and winter – no matter what temperature is outside, there is always place for a little Rosé in your glass. Cheers!

Seeing The World Through The Pink Glasses

May 10, 2015 14 comments

Provence TastingWhat do you think we will be talking about today? Typically the “pink glasses” is just an expression, an allegory; we use it to say that all is good in the world. But sometimes those allegories can materialize, for instance, in the form of Rosé tasting.
Rosé is Rosé is Rosé. Rosé wines became extremely popular over the last 3–4 years. Nowadays, almost every winery I know of added at least one Rosé to their repertoire, if anything, to be available at least in the tasting room. But then there are those who started it all, for whom Rosé is a way of life and not just following the fashion and consumer demand. I’m sure that by now you figured that I’m talking about Rosé wines from Provence in France.

The Provence wine tasting I attended a few weeks more than two month ago was dedicated to all of the wines made in Provence, not just Rosé. However, if we will look at the stats of wine production in Provence, 89% of those wines are Rosé, 7.5% are red, and 3.5% are white, so it is no wonder that Provence is typically associated with Rosé. Total wine production in Provence in 2014 was about 177 million bottles. To give you more numbers, there are about 600 producers and 40 negociants in Provence. Overall, 9% of the wines produced in the world are Rosé, with the general trend of producing drier wines (particularly Provence Rosé has less than 4g of residual sugar per liter of wine). Provence is the largest region in the world dedicated to production of the Rosé wines. Also, France is the biggest producer and consumer of the Rosé wines, and U.S. is the biggest consumer of Rosé outside of France.

Provence was a cradle of winemaking in France, starting from the 600 B.C. in the area around Marseille. It is easy to understand why the wines were “rosé” in its style – maceration in contact with skin was simply not used, so the wine was produced from the juice which the grapes were “bleeding” after harvest, which would have a pinkish color. Today, the Rosé is produced in the very similar way as for the thousands of years, allowing only brief period of the skin contact. Most of the Provence Rosé are produced from Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Tibouren, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon.

400px-Vignobles_provence-fr.svg

Provence Appellations. Source: Wikipedia

There are three main appellations in Provence, and one of those main appellations has four sub-appellations (you can see them on the map):

  • Côtes de Provence AOP
    • Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire AOP
    • Côtes de Provence Fréus AOP
    • Côtes de Provence La Londe AOP
    • Côtes de Provence Pierrefeu AOP (First vintage in 2013)
  • Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence AOP
  • Coteaux Varois en Provence AOP

Now, let’s talk about the seminar and tasting. In the seminar, we tasted 5 different Rosé wines from the different sub-appellations, as well as two reds. To be entirely honest, I didn’t find the dramatic differences between the wines from the different appellations – they were all Rosé wines, and I liked most of them (I’m a sucker for a good Rosé).

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Here are my notes, which will give you some level of details:

2014 Château Trains Organic Côtes Varois de Provence (SRP $15, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah)
C: Pink
N: hint of sweetness, strawberries, intense
P: Dry, tart strawberries, lemon, acidity
V: Pleasant, round, Drinkability: 8-

2014 Château Coussin Cuvée César Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire (SRP $45, 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah)
C: Pink
N: Gentle, savory, minerality, onion peel after intense swirl
P: Dry, intense acidity, very clean, beautiful fruit, perfect balance.
V: Nice, clean, very elegant. Drinkability: 8

2014 Château Pas du Cerf (SRP $13.99, Grenache, Syrah, Tibouren)
C: intense pink
N: touch of strawberries, onion peel
P: refreshing, good amount of fruit, ripe strawberries, good balance, full body ( for rose), minerality
V: Very good, Drinkability: 8-

2014 Château Pigoudet Classic Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (SRP $17, Grenache, Cinsault, Ugni Blanc)
C: almost white
N: delicious, intense, white flowers, fresh
P: clean, crisp, vibrant, good finish, very pleasant aftertaste
V: Drinkability: 8-

2014 Château Roubine Cru Classé Cuvée Premium (Cinsault, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Tibouren, Syrah, Mourvedre)
C: intense pink
N: strawberries, minerality, onion peel
P: lots of fruit, ripe strawberries, full body, excellent finish
V: Drinkability: 8

2011 Château La Mascaronne Rouge Faziole Côtes de Provence (SRP $25, Syrah, Mourvedre)
C: garnet
N: pepper, spices, herbs, tobacco – beautiful
P: same profile as on the nose – intense pepper, sage, herbs and mineral dominated, has lightness and leaves you desiring another glass. Might not be for everyone
V: Drinkability: 8+

2001 Château de Pourcieux Grand Millésime Côtes de Provence (Syrah, Grenache)
C: garnet
N: soft, touch of plume
P: subtle flavors meld well together, nice package overall
V: Drinkability: 7+/8-

The tasting consisted of 65 different wines, out of which one was white, 7 were red, the the rest (57) were Rosé. What I really liked about this tasting was a very unique format. Nobody was pouring the wines for you. All the wines were standing on the tables in the middle of the room, each wine having a sticker with the number on it. All the numbers were corresponding to the wine descriptions in the tasting booklet. Everybody were walking around and pouring the wines for themselves. The winery representative were all on hand, available to answer any questions. However, because of self pour, there was no need to wait for anyone to pour the wine for you, no need to stand there for 2 minutes, patiently waiting until the person pouring wine would finally notice you – here you could go at your own pace, and it was really convenient. I like this system a lot more than a traditional tasting.

For what it worth, below are my notes. I didn’t taste all 65 wines, but it was something close to it. I used my traditional tasting event rating system with the “+” signs, where “+++” means an excellent and highly recommended wine. All the wines listed below have at least “+++” rating, with the few even exceeding that. I also included additional comments where I had them. Grape composition is provided for all the wines, and suggested retail prices are indicated were available. Lastly, all the wines which don’t specify AOP come from the Côtes de Provence – all other appellations are included as part of the names. Here we go:

Rosé:

2014 Château du Galoupet Cru Classé (Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Tibouren) – +++, very good, balanced
2014 Château de Landue (Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah) – +++
2014 Château La Jeanette Fleurs Côtes de Provence La Londe (Chnsault, Grenache, Syrah) – +++. excellent, round
2014 Château Saint Maur Cru Classé Clos de Capeluine (Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Rolle) – +++, complex
2014 Château Saint Maur Cru Classé L’Excellence (Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Rolle) – +++, clean, crisp
2014 Château Les Valentines Organic (SRP $26, Grenache, Cinsault) – +++, beautiful finish
2014 Château Les Valentines Le Caprice de Clémentine (SRP $18, Grenache, Cinsault) – +++1/2, excellent!
2014 Château Des Bormettes Les Vins Bréban (Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah) – +++
2014 Château de Pampelonne Maitres Vignerons de Saint Tropez (SRP $20, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Tibouren) – +++, excellent!
2013 Domaines Sacha Lichine Château D’Esclans Garrus (Grenache, Rolle) – 8+, very interesting, delicious complexity
2014 Château de Brigue (SRP $13.50, 35% Mourvedre, 15% Cinsault, 30% Grenache) – +++
2014 Château de Brigue Signature (SRP $17.50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Tibouren) – +++
2014 Château de Saint Martin Eternelle Favorite Cru Classé (SRP $25, Cinsault, Grenache, Tibouren) – +++, excellent, crisp
2014 Château de Saint Martin Grande Réserve Cru Classé (SRP $20, Cinsault, Grenache, Tibouren, Syrah, Carignan) – +++, dry, fresh
2014 Domaine de L’Amaurigue (Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah) – +++
2014 Domaine de L’Amaurigue Fleur de L’Amaurigue (Grenache, Cinsault) – +++
2014 Estandon Vignerons Estandon (SRP $13, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah) – +++, nice balance
2014 Château L’Arnaude Nuit Blanche (50% Cinsault, 35% Grenache, 10% Carignan, 5% Rolle) – +++
2014 Château Roubine Cru Classé Cuvée “R” (Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault) – +++
2014 Domaine Clos de L’ours Grizzly Rosé (Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvedre, Rolle) – +++
2014 Estadon Vignerons Terres de Saint Louis Côtes Varois de Provence (SRP $12, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah) – +++
2014 Famille Quiot Domaine Houchart (SRP $15, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon) – +++
2014 Famille Quiot Domaine Houchart Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire (SRP $20, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) – +++1/2, excellent, round
2014 Château Pigoudet Premiére Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (SRP $13, Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah) – +++
2014 Château Vignelaure Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon) – +++
2014 Château Vignelaure Source de Vignelaure Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon) – +++
2014 Château Beaulieu Gassier en Provence Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (SRP $16.99, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cinsault) – +++
2014 Les Quatre Tours “Classique” Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (SRP $17, 50% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Rolle) – +++
2014 Maison Saint Aix Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (SRP $18-$20, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault) – +++

White:

2014 Domaine Terre de Mistral Anna Côtes de Provence (Rolle) – +++, nice complexity

Red:

2012 Château Réal d’Or (Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah) – +++, perfect Cab!
2013 Domaine Clos de L’ours Grizzly Red Côtes de Provence (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre) – +++, yummy, open, pepper!
2012 Domaine Longue Tubi Red (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon) – +++, delicious

All in all, this was an excellent tasting. I don’t know if there is ever a bad year in Provence, but I definitely liked lots of 2014 Rosé, and I think you will too. Also, if you will have an opportunity to try a Provence Red – don’t miss it, those wines are definitely worth your attention. Happy Provence Rosé (and red) hunting! Cheers!

One on One with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, The Winemakers

May 27, 2013 24 comments

Do you really think I managed to get face time with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt? Or at least a Skype interview? A phone call? Yeah, none of the above, you are correct. But – as it was announced a while back, they joined the ranks of celebrity winemakers with the release of their first wine from Château Miraval, a property in Provence, which they acquired a few years ago – and considering that they both participated in the tasting and selection of the final blend, I think the title of this post stands as appropriate. Well, yes, they didn’t make the wine all by themselves – they got some serious help by partnering with Marc Perrin of Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, so the wine officially lists Jolie-Pitt & Perrin on the back label.

DSC_0589 Miraval

Miraval Rosé

Before we will talk about the wine, I want to mention that Château Miraval has very interesting history – in the 1970s, it belonged to the famous jazz musician Jacques Loussier, who converted the chateau into the recording studio. Many famous musicians, such as Pink Floyd, Sting and others, used that studio to produce their albums.

Now, let’s get to the wines. While celebrity status of winemakers is nice, in the end of the day, I care about content of my glass. So in this particular case, I wanted to have some frame of reference – of course in the form of another wine. As Miraval Rosé comes from Provence, I wanted to compare it with another Provence Rosé. Looking at the wide range of Rosé available, my eyes stopped at the label. Whispering Angel. I think I heard it somewhere. And it is from Provence. Problem solved – I got my second Rosé, and the battle (okay, it is only two, so let’s call it a mini-battle) of Rosé was set.

Then I found out that I have chosen well. It appears that Whispering Angel Rosé was a hit of 2012, and it was literally impossible to get it last year. Thus it was very interesting to see how the two will fare, and how the arrival of the Miraval might affect the cult status of the Whispering Angel.

Whispering Angel and Miraval side by side

Whispering Angel and Miraval side by side

Now, before we get on to the wines themselves (didn’t I say it already? yes I did, sorry for the interruption once again, but please read on), I need to let out a little rant. When I visit a winery’s web site, I’m doing it because I’m looking for information. Information for me includes history of people, story of the winemaker, information about vineyards, but most importantly, I want to know about the particular wine made at that winery. I want to know what grapes went into the wine, how the wine was made, what winemaker thinks about wine, and so on. Anything and everything which winery is willing to share about the wine, I’m willing to read, but (ahh, my finger is dancing above the Caps Lock key – I’m not going to press it only because I really respect you, my readers, but read rest of this sentence in the loud voice) – I’m not looking to read four praising quotes from the different sources and none, zero, nada, zilch of any actual information about the wine. The wine I’m talking about here  – Whispering Angle. 4 quotes on the web site – and no wine information to be found anywhere. Yes, some of those quotes are wine tasting notes from the critics – but you don’t even know what vintage is being described. Yes, I do find it very annoying. End of the rant.

Now, let’s [finally] get to the wines. Here are the two wines side by side:

Whispering Angel and Miraval, now in the glass

Whispering Angel and Miraval, now in the glass

2012 Whispering Angel Rosé Caves D’Esclans Côtes de Provence AOC ($17.99, 13.5% ABV) – supposedly a blend of Grenache, Rolle, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvedre – the reason I say “supposedly” is because I didn’t find this information at winemaker’s web site or the back label – see the rant above.

Literally non-existent color in the glass. Pretty intense nose, more on the sweet side, with some tropical fruit (uncommon for Rose?). On the nose, it is more white wine than a red wine. Opens with the degree of sweetness on the palate, but as wine warms up, the sweetness disappears. After the wine opened up a bit, the palate is almost insignificant – there no traditional strawberries and onion peel. The wine is pleasant, but behaves more as indistinct white. Drinkability: 7

2012 Miraval Rosé Côtes de Provence AOC ($21.99, 13%ABV) – a blend of Cinsalt, Grenache, Syrah and Rolle. Syrah was vinified by saignée (bleeding, the pink juice is collected separately instead of leaving the juice in contact with skin for the short period of time), and the other varieties were direct pressed. 5% of the cuvee was aged in the oak casks.

Here are the tasting notes: Nice rose color, more intensity that the previous wine. Some strawberries on the nose, no sweetness. Nice density on the palate, more strawberries, very round but with the character. Drinkability: 7+

Time to conclude our small Rosé competition. I would give a small edge to Miraval, it was a bit more interesting. Miraval Rosé was good, but – it was not a wow wine I can’t live without. In that price range ($20+) there are plenty of interesting Rosé, lots of options are available to the curious palate in need of refreshing sip – in other words, I don’t think I will be specifically rushing over to the store to pick up whatever supply is left for either one of these Rosé.

Before we done here (I know, I keep testing your patience), I want to mention an excellent Rosé post by The Armchair Sommelier (I hope you discovered and follow her blog already, if not – fix that problem immediately). One of the dishes in that blog post looked so good and simple – Grilled Avocado with melted cheese – that I asked for the recipe (very easy – take avocado, make some holes with the fork, smother with the hot sauce, cover with cheese and broil for 5 minutes). I made it to accompany my Rosé and the dish came out perfectly and was very enjoyable, especially with the wine.

Grilled Avocado with melted cheese

Grilled Avocado with melted cheese

Now it is the time to conclude for real. Until the next time – cheers!