Rocca Bastia Pinot Grigio, 2010 Veneto

Rocca Bas-tee-ah.  I was saying Rocca BAS-tee-ah for a while there.  But I don’t think anyone heard me, so it matters not.  It’s been a while since I took on an Italian white, and my extreme fondness for white wine does not generally extend to Pinot Grigio… but THIS is a really pleasant surprise!  An excellent value, and a really stunning level of complexity for its… wait for it… $9 PRICETAG!  Yipeeeee!

So, what’s to like about this lil guy?  Well, I just gave you one reason- it’s $9!  But I’d rather throw $9 out the window than spend $9 on a crappy bottle of wine- so when I share my excitement over it’s price, it’s because I have deemed that it is worthy enough to be hailed as a truly delicious bottle of wine, not just a decent cheap bottle of wine that you won’t want to spit out.  You dig?  Good.

I can hear servers and bartenders all accross America heaving a collective sigh as the ladies at his or her table announce “I’ll take a glass of the Pinot Grigio.”  Heavy hearted, they ring the order in and secretly suspect that these broads are the type who just want something in their hand to sip on, and they couldn’t give a hoot what it tastes like or anything about it.  They fight the desire to pour some water into it and see if they notice.  They prepare themselves for the separate checks that will certainly be forthcoming, even though everyone’s bill comes to exactly the same amount.  Does that sound like your stereotypical Pinot Grigio drinker?  Yup.

Unfortunately, Pinot Grigio in the restaurant world is sort of a sad story.  It can be marked up more than it should be, because the owner knows it will sell regardless.  Wine retailers probably stock Santa Margherita somewhat begrudgingly, knowing that it will sell no matter how hard they try to get people to branch out.  It’s sort of like casting a really smokin’ hot blonde in a summer blockbuster movie.  Even if she’s not particularly charming or even beautiful, the fact that she’s wearing Daisy Dukes and a cut off white t-shirt will ensure that people see the movie.  But that’s the way it goes, I guess.

Before I get too verbose, let’s move on to the actual WINE.  The reason I like it is because it is perfectly balanced between light fruit, citrus, minerality and a nice flowery finish.  And perfect acidity to make it thirst-quenching and sublime for hot weather.   Tart notes of green apple, lime, and a sweet hint of honeysuckle.  The finish is longer than expected, and it’s clean and minerally.  I don’t ask for much more than this.  Don’t be boring and innocuous- show me some liveliness!  Show me some zest!  that’s what this wine has.  A friendly, lively zestiness.  It must have had fun hanging out in the bottle or during fermentation, because it’s really pretty pumped to be alive.  It arrives in your glass with enthusiasm.  You didn’t think that was possible in a simple little bottle of Pinot Grigio, did you?  well, give it a shot, because I ain’t makin’ this up.

TONIGHT, May 25th from 5-7 at Cellar, I will be introduced to this wine’s step-sibling, the Rocca Bastia Soave, as well as a few other Italian whites, which I’m pretty excited about.  If you’d like, you may meet them too!   Also known as a wine tasting, this meet & greet will cost you something like $7 and will definitely cool you off after the thermometer hits a fantastic 99 degrees today.  AWESOME.  Not.  Come to think of it… this would also be perfect to throw in the car with you on your way to the lake or the beach this Memorial Day weekend… why yes, it would.  Just sayin’.

Can’t make the tasting?  We have plenty of the Rocca Bastia in stock at Cellar for $9 a bottle.  It’s also available as part of our $90 Mystery Case.  Whuck??  never heard of a Mystery Case?  Get to it.  Oh, you don’t know what “whuck” means?  You poor thing.  You haven’t discovered Rants from Mommyland yet.  You need to get on that, too.  I don’t even have children and I’ve been staying up late laughing til I cry.  That’s all I got, thanks for reading and happy almost Memorial Day!

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Orin Swift “D66” 2009 France… yup, France!

Orin, Orin, Orin… so many new releases this year, I can barely keep up!  And you continue to impress, especially with your label art…

Simple, graphical color-blocking.  I like.  What’s inside?  A blend of mostly Grenache, with a little Syrah and a little Carignan.  So, it’s a Rhone blend?  Well, yes… sort of.  It has broken the mold of Rhone blends.  Shattered it, actually, into a million pieces.

Now I’m no Fancy Sommelier, but if I blind-tasted this wine, I don’t think I’d have ever guessed it was from France.  Spain would’ve been my best guess, probably Jumilla.  Although I wouldn’t have faulted myself for this error, since Vin de Pays de Cotes Catalanes is practically in Spain.  This wine actually reminds me a bit of the “I-will-live-forever-in-cult-infamy” wine from Bodegas El Nido called CLIO, which is a Monastrell-Cab blend.  Many have fallen victim to it’s charms and never recovered, destined to one day be on a therapist’s couch whimpering “Once I tried the Clio, nothing ever really impressed me again.”

But that was before they met D66.  This is a true Orin Swift wine- rich, opulent, hedonistic, and seductive.  Almost black in color, it’ll coat your glass with it’s silky layers of dark fruit, spice, and moist earth.  Notes of bitter cherry, raisins, toasty vanilla, and exotic Asian spices are all perfectly balanced out in it’s 15.2 alcohol content.   A nice amount of tannin on the finish distinguishes it from just your average big nasty fruit bomb.  It’s truly gorgeous.  If I were you, I’d snap one up quickly as these wines sell out faster than you can say terroir.

If I may use a clever analogy, the D66 is sort of like French Wine Meets Monster Truck Rally.  “SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!  ORIN SWIFT DOES FRANCE!  Death-defying stunts and POWER POWER POWER!”  Okay, so I’ve never been to a Monster Truck Rally, but I have memories singed into my consciousness of those TV commercials.  I don’t mean to trivialize the D66 by any means, but this is just where my mind went with it.  Call it French wine on Steroids.  Call it French wine “juiced up.”  Call it whatever you want.  It’s a beast.  Enjoy.

This wine is currently in stock at Cellar on Greene for $42.  Check out Orin Swift Cellars Website for more info on all their juice.

A big fat ROSE post!!

Oh, sweet Jesus thank you for Rose!  Warning: if you are under the impression that pink wine sucks, you can stop reading right about now.  Or I should say- if you are firmly resolute in that belief, and have no desire to think otherwise, then you can stop reading.  However, if you are willing to consider (just consider!) that your long clung-to belief that pink wine sucks MIGHT be slightly inaccurate, than READ ON!  Because I just might change your mind.  I’m pretty determined about this.

The kids.

Why do I like pink wine so much?  Hmm.  Let me examine that one.  One of the reasons I like pink wine is because it reminds me of warm sunny days and relaxation.  There is something carefree about a pink bottle of wine, it just screams “forget about all those little annoying things about life and just drink me.”  Does this identify me as a procrastinator?  Well, yes, I am.  It doesn’t take a bottle of pink wine to make me want to procrastinate.  But it’s not just about procrastination or warm sunny days.  It’s more about slowing down to actually just do one.thing.at.a.time.  Which isn’t always easy.  So I’m by no means suggesting that you blow off all your responsibilities and jet off to the nearest pool to drink rose and not give a F*@% about anything.  But a rose to me suggests setting aside a small block of time to just do ONE thing, and that thing is gently sip a glass of rose.  Notice how pretty it’s color is, how frosty and inviting the bottle is, contemplate all the lovely fruits you taste in it.  Call it a meditation if you want.  So maybe that’s why I like pink wine.  It reminds me to slow down and enjoy.

Yesterday was a good day for me, as you can see by all the open bottles pictured above!  This is possibly the first of many posts about Rose in store for you this summer.  First in line we have my personal favorite, the Charles & Charles Rose of Syrah, 2010 Washington State.  As you can tell, it has the lightest, most delicate coloring.  But don’t you dare call it a pansy.  This just released wine is sleek, sexy and polished.  It has pretty femininity, with a masculine edge.  How, you ask?  You’ll taste lovely notes of raspberry, sour cherry and pomegranate.  Then you’ll notice some exciting hints of herbs and leaves.  It’ll hit you with a nice dose of acidity and minerality, and then at the very end?  a touch of strawberries and cream.  Ahhhhh.  I love it.  Crisp, refreshing, and an awesome looking bottle to boot.  Goes on by the glass tonight, and retails for $13.

This one’s a fun one- just look at the name!  Gaga Rose, 2009 California (retail $11).  This was the most fruit-forward of today’s bunch, with a somewhat sweet finish.  Ripe, ripe, ripe red fruits to be found here; watermelon, red cherries, strawberries and a faint aroma of herbal tea.  All fruit all the time once you taste it, too- plus be prepared for some yummy flavors of watermelon Jolly Ranchers!  Now, I can’t tell you what to do, but I think this one in particular would make a great gift for that 20-something year old niece, daughter, sister, friend, whatever-of-yours that’s graduating this weekend!  It will make you seem very hip and in tune with what the “kids” are into these days.  Plus, nothing says “welcome to the real world” like wine!

Next on the list is the Bodegas Tikalo Albaliza Rosado, 2010 Spain.  I like this wine for it’s sturdy simplicity, nice marriage of fruit and dryness, and of course, PRICE (retail $9!).  It has a nice deep color and is made of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Cabernet.  It’s fruit offers a little more tartness- think cranberries, with notes of rose petals, spice and a palate-pleasing “quench.”  I’m a big fan of this one as an everyday go-to Rose, and perfect for entertaining given it’s friendly pricetag.  You will most certainly find this one at this Saturday’s Wine Sale at Cellar from 12-2 if you wish to experience it for yourself!

Last but not least, we must include a Rose bubbly!  Life is not complete without pink bubbles.  This one has been a favorite of mine for quite some time, and we also just put it on by the glass.  So, you know how everyone likes Champagne?  Well, it turns out, they make sparkling wine in France that’s NOT just from the Champagne region.  And often, it represents some of the best value out there AND can often be more delicious (in my opinion) than a “true” Champagne.  Such is the case with the Marquis de la Tour Brut Rose, NV Loire Valley.  I especially love sparkling from the Loire, and this little guy is made by Remy Pannier, one of the better known and well-respected Loire valley producers.  It’s a pretty salmon color, and has a delicate, fresh palate of strawberries and peaches, perfect mousse, and a round mouthfeel.  It makes a perfect party guest and will please the masses fo’ sho!  And you can party with it all night long, too- cuz it only costs $11! 

Soooo… what do you say?  you’ll give pink wine a try?  Pretty please?  Here’s one last plea- well, not so much a plea as a statement of fact- and it comes with every case of Charles & Charles Rose (yes, you can have one, but only if you buy a case):