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Rosé All Day

June 10, 2019 6 comments

On Saturday we celebrated yet another one of the “National” days – the National Rosé Day (it is always celebrated on second Saturday in June). I don’t know if you actively participated in the celebration or not, but I wanted to use it as an opportunity to ponder at the state of Rosé in the USA (don’t know if this can be extended to the wine consumers worldwide).

I had been writing this blog for almost 10 years. When I started, Rosé was not a “thing”. It was a highly seasonal beverage – appearing in the wine stores at the beginning of summer, and disappearing with the end of the warm weather. If you crave a glass of Rosé in the winter – tough luck, unless you could find some Tavel – Rosé is the only wine produced in that Rhône appellation. Even as recent as 4 -5 years ago, wine aficionados and bloggers would typically lament that people still don’t get the concept of Rosé as simply another type of wine, same as sparkling, white, red or desert, which is not just an occasional summer beverage, but which has its own place and can be consumed any day of the year, whether thermometer says 10°F or a 100°F.

Rosé wines auto collage

It seems that all this writing, nudging, lamenting, complaining, and most importantly, convincing and educating, resulted in something which can be simply called a “Rosé revolution”. Today, there is hardly a winery left which didn’t add Rosé to its repertoire, both around the world and particularly, in the USA. The Rosé might be produced in the quantity of 10 cases and available only in the winery’s tasting room or to the club members, 1 bottle per year, but nevertheless, Rosé became a staple of attention and it became important. Maybe even too important – some of the wines, such as Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosé Gran Reserva used to be available at under $30 and was mostly demanded by the wine geeks. Today, you can’t even find this wine anywhere, and if you will find it, it will set you back for close to $300.  Today, while the selection of Rosé in the stores would go down in the winter, there still will be a reasonable selection available all year around. And maybe most importantly, the quality of Rosé has dramatically improved, no matter where in the world it is made or what grapes it is made out of.

It only seems that Rosé is a simple wine and it is easy to make – I guess the bottles with a spectrum of a very happy pink give this impression. In reality, making good Rosé very much on par with proverbial Chef’s test, when the Chef is asked to prepare an omelet and a chicken dish – anyone who had a pleasure of consuming burnt, crunchy eggs and rubber-shoe-dry chicken breast, can easily relate to what I’m talking about here. Rosé is all about balance, and it doesn’t offer too many chances to correct the shortcomings, which can be done for the red and even white wines, using different types of oak barrels and more. With Rosé, it is better to be done right from the very beginning, or else.

I have to honestly tell you that when I’m in the restaurant, especially by myself, Rosé is my typical drink of choice by the glass. It is usually reasonably priced and works well with a wide range of foods, due to the high acidity and gentle fruit expressions. There is typically only one or two different Rosé available on the restaurant’s wine list, which makes the selection process very easy.

Rosé is really not any different than any other wine. Beautiful color notwithstanding, it is all about the balance and it is all about the pleasure. So, what do you think – is Rosé here to stay or is it just a fad which will pass soon? Cheers!

 

Rosé Showdown – California Versus Spain

May 30, 2017 4 comments

A glass of wine as an “adult beverage of choice” continues its growth in popularity. If we will take a closer look at that world of wine, we will discover that there are two types of wine which are leading that growth pattern – those two types would be Sparkling and Rosé. I’m not talking about the growth in the dollar amounts or number of bottles produced, but rather a growth in attention and demand. Today, you will be pressed hard to find a winery around the world which doesn’t produce at least one type of Rosé and one type of sparkling wine – for sure this is the case with Rosé. The production might be tiny (few hundreds of cases or even less) and far less than the demand is – but it is the wine which commands lots of attention.

Rosé from California and Spain

Another “phenomenon” makes me happy about the Rosé – it is slowly losing its “Rosé is only for a summer” connotation and becomes more and more acceptable and requested as a year-round drink. Rosé is a serious wine, with its own unique taste profile and capability to showcase terroir and grape variety, same as any other red or white, with two additional benefits. For one, I would dare to say that in general terms, Rosé’s versatility around food surpasses the white and the red wines – oh well, this might be only me. And the second one is pure aesthetics – the pink palette of Rosé, with possibly more shades than the proverbial 50, looks gorgeous, sexy and inviting – just take a look above and see if you are agreeing with me.

When I was offered to try two Rosé samples, of course, I couldn’t say no. The first wine was familiar to me, as I had a pleasure of trying 2015 vintage of Hacienda de Arinzano Rosé last year. The second one was the wine which I never saw before – Isabel Rosé from California. Thus it became an interesting experiment to see how the two wines would fare side by side.

If anything, putting Rosé from Spain and California on the “same page” makes sense as Rosé is clearly a “new phenomenon” for both regions, growing to prominence over the last 3-4 years at the most. Of course, Rosé was produced in Spain and California in much earlier days – but it was rather an exception and not the norm – unless we want to count white Zinfandel as a Rosé which I personally refuse to do. Until a few years ago, the only Spanish Rosé I knew about was the one from Lopez de Heredia ( which was outstanding). For the American Rosé, even if they were produced, they were really not that good (take a look at the blog post on Vinography called “Why Does American Rosé Suck” – no further comments needed?). Fast forward to today, and you can find lots of beautiful Rosé wines coming from Spain; American Rosé became a standout, as proven in the virtual tasting last year at the #winestudio.

Our first contender today comes from the first Pago estate in Northern Spain – Pago denomination signifies the highest quality of wines, this coveted level is not easy to achieve. Hacienda de Arinzano Rosé is made out of the 100% Tempranillo, in the “proper” way – by macerating the juice with the skins for 6-8 hours. Don’t you love the color of this wine?

The California’s Isabel Rosé is definitely a formidable opponent, as you can see starting from the bottle itself. Glass enclosure, beautiful shape and painted bottle – really curious how many people dare to discard the bottle once they finish the wine instead of keeping it (all I can tell you that I kept mine). A different but equally beautiful color on the mostly Cabernet Sauvignon wine, again produced in the classic style from one of the very best vintages in California (2016 had almost ideal growing conditions, watch out for those Cab prices) – and at one of the well-respected wineries, Michael Mondavi family estates.

As you can tell, it is definitely a game of equals, and for what it worth, my tasting notes are below:

2016 Hacienda de Arínzano Rosé Tempranillo (14% ABV, $20, 100% Tempranillo)
C: bright concentrated pink
N: onion peel, fresh crunchy berries
P: intense, red fruit, plums, crisp, good acidity, medium body, will stand to wide variety of dishes
V: 8-, excellent

2016 Isabel Rosé by Michael Mondavi Family Estate California (13.5% ABV, $15, 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23.5% Barbera, 1.5% Muscat)
C: light pink
N: intense fresh strawberries, herbal undertones
P: strawberries, good acidity, very dry – not bone dry, but quite dry, refreshing
V: 8-/8, light but affirmative, don’t overchill – needs to warm up a bit to become richer

Well, here we are, my friends. There was only one winner in this competition – me. Yes, I got to enjoy two outstanding wines, which will perfectly fit any table at any occasion,  and at the price, an absolute majority of the budgets. Both will be great on a summer day, a winter day, with food or without it. Grab one or both, chill and enjoy! And if you had any one of these wines, I would be really interested in your opinion. Cheers!

 

Another “How Do They Do It?” Set of Trader Joe’s Wines

May 23, 2014 21 comments

Trader Joe wines San DiegoOn the multiple occasions, I wrote about Trader Joe’s wines in this blog. I generally only can taste them when I travel, as Trader Joe’s stores in Connecticut can’t sell wine. Thus if I’m in the close proximity of the Trader Joe’s store, and schedule allows, I always make an effort to taste something new.

While Trader Joe’s wine selection generally includes wines at the different price levels, my focus is always on the most inexpensive wines. The rationale is simple – at $9.99 and above, there is a great selection of wines in my neighborhood wine store. At the same time, there is practically nothing in the $4.99  – $6.99 price range, thus it is very interesting how good (or how bad) such wines can be.

In general, I can’t complain about Trader Joe’s wines. My typical “success rate” is somewhat of the 3 out of 4 ratio – if I would taste 4 wines, at least 3 of them would be at “I want to drink it again” level. But this time, while in San Diego, California, I was simply blown away – 6 out of 6, 3 wines at $4.99 and 3 at $5.99, where perfectly drinkable wines which I would gladly drink again on any day! This was definitely a “how do they do it???” moment, as I would never expect, for instance, Rosé or Zinfandel from California to have such a QPR, to taste as good as they did considering the amount of money I had to pay for them.

Without further ado, let me present to you my 6 out of 6 set of “how do they do it?” wines from Trader Joe’s.

2012 Pancake Cellars Big Day White Paso Robles, California (13.5% ABV, $4.99, 37% Chardonnay, 23% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Viognier, 15% Pinot Blanc, 10% Muscat Canelli) – I can only guess this is modeled after the Conundrum, only this wine I actually enjoyed (and it costs 1/4 of the Conundrum)! Very nice and refreshing nose of white fruit with herbal undertones. On the palate, nice, round, good acidity, white fruit, white apples, very good balance. While not the most complex, definitely very enjoyable! Drinkability: 7+/8-

2013 Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles Rosé Paso Robles, California (13.5% ABV, $4.99, Mourvedre 49%, Grenache 26%, Syrah 25%) – you can safely assume that I had zero expectations opening a bottle of Rhone-style Rosé from California which cost $4.99. Boy, was I wrong. The wine was simply outstanding – bright, cheerful, full of strawberries and cranberries, perfect acidity – get it by the case to make your summer days super enjoyable. Drinkability: 8-

2013 J.L. Quinson Cotes de Provence AOP (12.5% ABV, $5.99) – same as the one above, zero expectations for Provence Rosé for $5.99 – sorry, the internal snob is speaking. First sniff and sip – wow, I’m convinced. Perfectly restrained, mineral, light, refreshing acidity – as classic as Provençal Rosé gets, only at half price or even less, depending on the bottle. Another case buy for the summer, in case you need my recommendation. Drinkability: 7+

2012 Oreana Wines Project Happiness Syrah California (13.5% ABV, $5.99) – see the happy face on the label? This is what this wine is – happy. No, this is not the most thought provoking Syrah you can drink, but it is simple, easy to drink, round and balanced, good fruit on the palate, a tiny bit of pepper. Throw in a little barbequed meat – and your face might look exactly as the one on the label. Drinkability: 7

2011 Symington Family Estate Tuella Douro DOC, Portugal (13.5% ABV, $5.99) – Douro wines are slowly but surely gaining their international reputation, so this is definitely a good deal of a very solid wine which you can also age. It was showing a little tight, with reserved fruit expression, but good overall balance and acidity. At this price, if you got some space in the cellar, forget a few bottles there – you might thank me in a 3-4 years. Drinkability: 7

2012 Trader Joe’s Grower’s Reserve Zinfandel Paso Robles (13.5% ABV, %4.99) – the first smell exhorts the “wow”. Good Zinfandel at $4.99 didn’t sound to me even as a remote possibility. And then this Grower’s reserve comes in – perfectly open, with clean smokey raspberries and blackberries, very round fruit expression on the palate, with the same smokey berries being very present and well matching the nose – the QPR on this wine simply goes through the roof. No, this wine doesn’t have the richness of Turley or Carlisle, but then you don’t need to cellar it for 10 years before you can really enjoy it. If you like Zinfandel – this is definitely the wine you have to experience. Drinkability: 7+/8-

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I tip my hat to whomever is responsible for sourcing the wines for Trader Joe’s stores – to say “well done” is almost to say nothing – great job, and please keep doing it over and over again, to the delight of all the wine lovers out there. Cheers!

Rosé!

May 29, 2012 7 comments

The weather fully turned around, and despite way too much rain (at least here in Connecticut), summer season has started. Which means we can start drinking Rosé, and feel good about it!

In the US, Rosé had being a very interesting phenomenon. Even 6-7 years ago, it was pretty hard to find Rosé wine on the shelves of the wine stores. Tavel (one of the world most famous Rosé wines from the Rhone region in France) was practically the only Rosé you could find in the better wine stores. Mind you, I’m talking specifically about dry Rosé wines, not White Zinfandel or any other sweet concoctions. I guess many years of the pink colored plonk trained US wine consumers that you can not expect anything good from the pink-colored liquid, therefore stores had no incentive to offer Rosé. Little by little, situation changed, and now you can see lots of different Rosé coming from all over the world, made out of every possible grape and occupying more and more shelf space at the wine stores.

What I like about Rosé wine is that it combines light and refreshing qualities of the white wine with the fruit and structure of the red, making Rosé a perfect complement to anything you do and anything you eat on a hot summer day. Don’t get me wrong – personally, I’m happy to drink Rosé at any time of the year, but somehow it has a notion of being ”summer wine”. I remember being in France in November of 2006, and when I asked for the Anjou Rosé offered on the restaurant wine list, my French companion said with the expression of disapproval on his face ”but you only supposed to drink Rosé during summer?!”. I’m very happy that summer is here and glass of Rosé is officially appropriate.

Couple of days ago, I had an opportunity to taste 8 different Rosé wines which my friend Zak was considering for his store – and I’m glad to share my tasting notes with you.

2011 Les Quatre Tours Espirit Sud Rosé, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence – this was the first wine of the tasting, and it set it on the right foot. Provence Rosé in general  are some of the best wines in the world, which is probably not very surprising considering the fact that Provence is a birthplace of French winemaking. This particular wine is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pale salmon hue in color, strawberries on the nose, subtle and delicate on the palate, with very good acidity. Drinkability: 7+

2011 Chateau Les VaValentines Le Caprice de Clementine Rosé, Cotes de Provence – second wine from the Provence. This one is a blend of Cinsault and Grenache.

This wine had bigger body compare to the first one – however, it was not very balanced and had too much bite (may be needed some time, but I will leave that for you to check). Drinkability: 6

 

2011  M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut, Cotes de Languedoc (13.5% ABV) – yet another wine from France, this time it is from the area called Languedoc. Bila-Haut wines are made by M. Chapoutier, a very respected producer. I had some Bila-Haut reds in the past, and they were very good, so I was definitely interested to see how Bila-Haut Rosé woud fare. This wine is yet again a blend of Grenache and Cinsault.

Nice pale pink color, not very expressive on the nose, same on the palate – the wine showed some bite and tamed fruit. Drinkability: 6+

2011 Carpineto Dogajolo Toscano IGT (12.5% ABV) – Carpineto produces Super Tuscan wines, made out of Sangiovese with the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon and other grapes.

After being pressed and left in the contact with the skins for the short time, this wine was fermented in the stainless steel tanks and bottled in January.

Solid pink color, this wine showed some good fruit, but was somewhat lacking the acidity. Drinkability: 7-.

2011 Tasca d’Almerita Regaleali Le Rose Sicilia IGT (12.5 ABV) – another Italian wine, this time from Sicily. The name of the wine comes from thousands of roses which had being brought from all over the world and are happily growing at the Regaleali estate. The wine is made out of 100% Nerello Mascalese, an indigenous Italian variety growing primarily in Sicily.

The wine showed beautiful strawberries and cranberries both on the nose and on the palate. Overall, wine had very good body and great balance. Drinkability : 7+.

2011 Fattoria di Magliano Illario Rosato, Maremma Toscana IGT (13% ABV) – One more Rosé from Italy, again from Tuscany. This wine actually comes from Maremma region which is famous for its Super-Tuscan wines. This wine is produced by Fattoria di Magliano out of 100% Sangiovese grape.

The wine was similar to the previous one, showing red fruit with nice acidity, but a bit more delicate on the palate. Drinkability: 7+

 

2011 Tombu Rose Castilla y Leon, Spain (13.5% ABV) – Something different – this wine comes from Spain, from the Castilla y Leon region, and it is made out of indigenous grape called Prieto Picudo.

As far as tasting notes are concerned…Would you accept a very short and simple “WOW!” as complete tasting notes? Saturated pink color, akin to cranberry juice, this wine starts from the concentrated nose of fresh cranberries and continues to deliver an exuberant punch of fresh zesty summer on the palate – perfect balance of fruit and acidity, extremely refreshing. Best of tasting! Drinkability: 8+

2011 Adelsheim Pinot Noir Rosé,  Willamette Valley, Oregon (13.4% ABV) – Last but not least, this Rosé comes from Oregon, and as you would rightfully expect it is made out of 100% Pinot Noir which was sourced from 6 different vineyards in the region.

Inviting nose of strawberries and cranberries, may be a hint of sour cherries, beautifully balanced on the palate with the same fruit and right amount of acidity. Again, very refreshing and just what the doctor ordered for the hot summer day. There are only 1,200 cases produced, so if you want this wine, you better not wait. Drinkability: 8-

I don’t know what you think of Rosé wines, but I can’t stress their greatness enough. If you were ignoring them until now, it’s time to change. If you had being a fan all along, I will be glad to learn about your favorites! Whatever you do, don’t let summer heat get to you – protect yourself with some Rosé in your glass! Cheers!

What Do You Drink When Weather Is Like This?

July 22, 2011 2 comments

This heat is literally paralyzing…

Is there anything to drink besides water?

Here is one possible answer:

So, what do you drink?

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