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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!

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!

 

New and Noteworthy: Few Spanish Wine Recommendations

May 12, 2016 9 comments

I’m an eternal optimist, for sure – I keep creating new “series” of the posts (like the one you now see in the title – New and Noteworthy) in the hope that I will remember to use it all the time. Well, I had or still have a number of series in this blog, but very few of them are current ongoing. Will see what will happen with this one. Here is the idea behind this series: I do get to taste many of the newly released wines, some of them are samples, some are not; the wines which I like I intend to share with you in this series of posts. ‘Nuf said, let’s go.

CVNE winesMy love affair with Rioja started after tasting of the beautiful line up of Viña Real, CVNE and Imperial Rioja (all essentially produced by CVNE), all the way up to the 1964. They were all delicious red wines. For the long time Rioja associated for me only with the red wines, until I tasted Lopez de Heredia Blanco and Rosato, both being about 15 years old and delicious. This is how I discovered that Rioja actually is not only red wines. My next discovery of Rioja white wines was Rioja Monopole (100% Viura), which (to my shame) is produced since 1915 – well, “live and learn” (or “better late than never”, whatever you prefer to comfort yourself). And few years ago I also encountered the Rioja Rosato – so now I definitely know that Rioja is a lot more than just delicious reds.
Recently I had an opportunity to taste the latest releases of few of the white and Rosé wines from Spain, not only from Rioja but also from few other regions, and I want to share those wines with you. I don’t know if this is luck, or if I lost all of my taste buds already, but I liked all the wines I tasted – below you will see my tasting notes on the 6 wines, and I would gladly recommend all 6 to you. As a bonus, all 6 are also a great value (under $20). Well, you will be the judge once you will have an opportunity to taste these wines.

Cune Monopole Rioja2015 CVNE Monopole Rioja (13% ABV, SRP: $13, 100% Viura) – the oldest continuously produced white wine in Rioja, starting from 1915. I didn’t realize this was a 100th vintage (assuming there was no break in production years).
C: straw pale
N: beautiful white fruit with tropical fruit nuances, lemon, intense
P: clean, crisp and round at the same time – is it possible?, white stone fruit, medium to full body, refreshing, nice acidity on the finish
V: 8-, this wine would brighten up any summer day

Bodega Berroia Bizkaiko Txakolina2014 Bodega Berroia Bizkaiko Txakolina DO (12% ABV, $19, 85% Hondarrabi Zuri, 10% Riesling, 5% Folle Blanche, Vegan) – Txakoli is dangerously looking but actually easy to pronounce (just say “Cha-Coh-Lee”) wine coming from the Basque country in Spain. My first encounter with Txakoli was about 8 years ago – it is a clean and refreshing wine, perfect all year around and especially in summer. Similar to many other Spanish whites, it didn’t make it in the US in any major way, but you can still find some of the Txakoli wines in the wine stores – and they well worth your attention.
C: Straw pale
N: concentrated, intense, inviting, touch of peach, candied fruit
P: fresh, undertones of candied fruit but with dry core. Somehow reminiscent of grapefruit, but without much sweetness of bitterness. Medium body and intriguing, leaves you with a sense of mystery which is hard to grasp.
V: 8-/8, excellent and dangerous. Once you start drinking it, it is hard to stop.

Cune Rioja Rosado2015 CVNE Rosado Rioja (13.3% ABV, SRP: $13, 100% Tempranillo) – shhh, don’t tell anyone, this was my favorite wine out of the group – but it is a secret.
C: Dark, concentrated pink, bright fresh cranberry juice level
N: intense, floral, with fresh berries and the leaves – imagine smelling the raspberries right on the brunch with leaves on a hot summer day
P: wow, crunchy strawberries and cranberries which just plop in your mouth as you bite them. Clean acidity, super refreshing and every sip is asking for the next.
V: 8+/9-, outstanding, one of the very best Rosé I ever tasted.

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Viña Real Rosado2015 Viña Real Rosado Rioja (13% ABV, SRP: $15, 85% Viura, 15% Tempranillo) – you don’t need my comments here – Viña Real needs no introduction to Rioja wine lovers.
C: orange onion peel
N: very restrained, hint of herbs
P: ripe strawberries, good acidity, medium body, unusual. Second day: delicious, round, refreshing, cohesive. Just needed to let it breeze
V: 7+, need to try again to make up my mind. Second day: 8-, excellent, clean, good fruit presence and perfectly refreshing

acienda de Arínzano Rosè2015 Hacienda de Arínzano Rosè Tempranillo Pago de Arínzano (13.5% ABV, SRP $19.99, 100% Tempranillo) – Pago is the highest denomination for wine quality in Spain, above DOC, and it is not easy to achieve it. You can think of Pago as single winery becoming its own appellation – as Arínzano is in our case. What is also interesting about this wine is that it comes from the Tempranillo vineyard which is designated for the production of the Rosé wine, so Rosé here is the goal, not an afterthought.
C: bright pink, beautiful
N: inviting, herbal notes, strawberries, fresh
P: outstanding. Soft, polished, fresh strawberries, excellent balance, lip smacking delicious, medium body.
V: 8, excellent wine, easy to drink with perfect balance.

Laguardia de Viña Real2012 Laguardia de Viña Real Crianza Rioja (13.5% ABV, $12.99, 100% Tempranillo) – can’t leave you without a red, can’t I? Viña Real Rioja Crianza is one of my favorite wines, and it is also one of the best value wines for about $15 or under (depending on where you shop). I never had, however, Laguardia de Viña Real, so was definitely interested in trying this wine when I saw it in the store.
Once I poured it in the glass and took sip, I was not happy. The wine was rather lean and biting, not what Viña Real usually offers in the glass. I decided to decant it, and then after about two and a half hours, the magical Rioja showed up.
C: dark garnet
N: eucalyptus, cigar box, cherries
P: fresh fruit, herbs, sweet oak, medium to full body, well noticeable acidity
V: 8- (after decanting), very nice wine, but give it 5 years or so.

We are done here – let me know if you tried any of the wines I mentioned above and what you think of them. Cheers!

Wine and Beer Lovers, Unite, or Marrying Hops and Grapes

April 9, 2016 4 comments

Sacrilege? Possible. Should I be ostracized by beer and wine aficionados alike, and this very blog been banned forever from their reading lists? I will leave it to aficionados to decide. I’m merely doing what I’ve always done in this blog – sharing my experiences, those which I deem worth sharing. That’s all there is to it.

When I got email from Andrew Jones, the winemaker behind one of my favorite labels, Field Recordings, advertising something called “Can Club”, the decision was quick – “yada, yada, yada – I have to do it” (the “yada” part is here to explain how much attention I was paying to the exact email content). Then I glanced over the following: “ Pure, free-run rose from a pair of our westside Paso Robles vineyard partners, mostly Grenache.  100% whole cone citra hops [sic] were added prior to canning.  The results, a super refreshing elixir, combining your love of Provence with a touch of Belgian brew.  I have a tough time explaining it because it isn’t like anything I have tried before.  It’s impossible for me to properly analyze.  I just want to drink it.“, and the next thought was “whatever. I have no idea what he is talking about, and I don’t care”. So yes, I signed up.

Few days ago, the door bell rung, and FedEx guy asked me to sign for something which rather resembled the set of engineering drawings – “hmmm, what is it” was my first thought. And then it downed on me (“this box contains alcohol” sign was a good cue) – aha, the can club?! I liked the unorthodox presentation so much that I even shared the puzzle on twitter, asking people to guess how the object in the picture can relate to the wine:

FedEx TubeThe most prevalent idea was “poster”, so I had to share an answer a few hours after:

Citra Rosé shipmentAnd then I opened the can. The liquid in the glass had an appeal of a perfect Rosé. Classic salmon pink color. On the nose, it was perfectly Provençal Rosé – touch of strawberries, hint of onion peel, refreshing minerality, touch of lemon. And the palate was, once again, perfectly Provençal – strawberries, touch of lemon, fresh, crispy. With the tiny beer bite on the finish. You know, the one which you get from the fruity, light Belgium beer. You don’t have to believe me, but I only read Andrew’s exact words when I sat down to write this post. “love of Provence with a touch of Belgian brew” – wow. It would be rare, very rare case that my take on the wine would match its description with such a precision . And then I have to fully agree with Andrew on one other thing – “ I just want to drink it“.

What can I tell you about this 2015 Field Recordings Citra Rosé Paso Robles (13.1% ABV, $14 retail/$10 club – 500ml can, 67% Grenache, 22% Picpoul Blanc, 8% Mourvédre, 3% Syrah)? It was delicious, perfectly combining the best of both beer and wine worlds – crisp, fresh, bright, thoughts provoking. Dangerous as well – as the wine comes in the can, you pretty much treat it as a single serving – while it actually contains more than 3 standard glasses of wine. But I think the taste is well worth that danger. And until you will get your hands on one of those cans, my words are all you got, so yes, take my word for it.

I want to raise my glass to never ending creativity and courage. Beer and wine lovers, rejoice! 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!

Rosé – Still Misunderstood and Looking for Love?

August 13, 2013 17 comments

This Wednesday, August 14th, is the Wine Blogging Wednesday event, where all wine bloggers get the chance to share their thoughts and experiences related to the designated theme. The theme of this upcoming Wine Blogging Wednesday event, or WBW for short, is Rosé – here are the details of the announcementThis is what this blog post is all about.

How often do you drink Rosé? Do you think Rosé is fully understood and appreciated by the consumers en mass? I’m afraid that many wine drinkers still have a notion that Rosé is either sweet, or strictly  seasonal, or mostly inferior, or all of the above. I remember being in France about 7 years ago, in November, and ordering a bottle of Tavel in a restaurant. My French colleague gave me a look, and then said sternly “just keep in mind, you are ordering a summer wine” – of course he has an excuse as a Burgundy buff, but still – even in France, people often see Rosé as seasonal wine, not as a wine you can drink all the year around. In the US, yo would rarely find Rosé on the main shelves – they are usually setup on a side, ready to be replaced by the holiday wines, and slowly moving to the “closeout bins” as summer comes to an end.

Many people judge Rosé by the color, which reminds them of White Zinfandel, and think it is a sweet wine. I have seen many people come to taste the wines at the store and refuse the glass of Rosé simply saying “no, thank you, I don’t drink sweet wines”. It really takes time to convince them that the wine they are refusing is actually perfectly dry, refreshing and food friendly – and not only during summer, but all year around.

Having presented this pinkish “doom and gloom” to you, I actually have to admit (happily) that over the past 3-4 years, the situation is changing to the better. Even as a seasonal wine, there is really an abundance of Rosé offered in the wine stores. More and more wineries and winemakers now include Rosé as part of their standard offering, year in, year out. This happens in France, this happens in Georgia, this happens in California, Greece, Italy, Spain, New York and many other places.

The great thing about Rosé is that they are some of the easiest wines to drink – and some of the food-friendliest. Rosé typically has a flavor profile of a light red wine, with strawberries, cranberries and onion peel being some of the main characteristics – it also lacks the punch of tannins as skin, seeds and stems contact is minimized during the winemaking. At the same time, Rosé typically has savory complexity coupled with acidity which is usually a bit less than the acidity of a dry white wine. Overall, it is easy to drink and food friendly – what else do you need from wine? Of course I’m not advocating that the whole world should start drinking only Rosé at this point – but Rosé definitely has its own permanent (not seasonal!) place on the shelves of the wine stores and in your wine cellars.

Let me now give you two great examples of Rosé wines.

Williams Selyem Vin Gris of Pinot Noir

Williams Selyem Vin Gris of Pinot Noir

2012 Williams Selyem Vin Gris of Pinot Noir Russian River Valley (12.9% ABV) – bright concentrated pink color, reminiscent of cranberry juice. Strawberries and cranberries on the nose, same on the palate, lots of strawberries and cranberries, very dry, perfect acidity, very balanced overall and very easy to drink. Drinkability: 8-

Antica Terra Erratica

Antica Terra Erratica

2011 Antica Terra Erratica Willamette Valley Oregon (13.1% ABV) – another 100% Pinot Noir Rosé. What a treat! Perfectly bright strawberry red in color, nice nose of raspberries and cherries. First the wine opened into a light Pinot Noir, showing some smokiness and earthiness, then evolved into into bright strawberry and onion peel wine, classic Rosé, and then it was gone… Drinkability: 9-

There you have it, my friends. Open a bottle of your favorite Rosé, pour a glass and enjoy – however remember – sometimes Rosé is too easy to drink… Oops, did we just finished this bottle? 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!