Qupé Marsanne, 2013 Santa Barbara

It’s ANOTHER “Summer’s Swan Song” post on this balmy Friday! We had a bit of an Indian Summer here in Oregon and it was actually really lovely. Well, maybe not so lovely for the fruit-pickers that are currently working their @ss’s off all over the Valley, but for me? Divine. It made me want to eat all the Summer produce one last time. Tomatoes, watermelon, squash- all of it! So I’m somewhat glad I saved this bottle of Marsanne from Qupé until now. It’s perfect for a Summer Friday afternoon.

Kyoo-PAY. It means "poppy".

Kyoo-PAY. It means “poppy”.

Founder and winemaker Bob Lindquist is an original “Rhone Ranger”; he started Qupé in 1982 making Syrah, Chardonnay and dry Rosé in California’s Central Coast. He subsequently teamed up with Au Bon Climat’s Jim Clenenden and the two built a shared facility in 1989. The rest is, as they say, history. Both Au Bon Climat and Qupé have great reputations, and I’m currently being reminded of how badly I need to get to this part of California. I’ll go ahead and add it to my list… which is pretty long. Le sigh.

This wine is made from 75% Marsanne and 25% Roussanne. These two French varieties are bros from way back. Most commonly found in the Northern Rhone, they play off each other beautifully; Marsanne produces wines of great color and depth and are intensely perfumed. Roussanne is a bit stingier, more of a bastard to grow, and usually packs a solid punch of acid, making them great agers. Both these fellas enjoy the Coastal California vibe, basking in the afternoon ocean breezes and morning fog, which helps them maintain their acidity.

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Both grapes for this wine are whole cluster pressed. The Marsanne, which comes from roughly 28-year old vines on the Ibarra-Young Vineyard, is chilled in tank for 48 hours before it goes to neutral French oak barrels. The Roussane, interestingly, heads straight to barrel with the lees after an evening chilling. (Literally). Bob prefers the use of once filled Francois Freres barrels previously used for Chardonnay with the Roussanne. I love these little facts. The Roussanne comes from the Bien Nacido Vineyard, one of the oldest in the area for all grapes Rhone.

Now! We gotta talk about what this wine tastes like before I get too much wordier. Its a dark golden strawish color and the nose is a nice combination of slightly tropical with ripe stone fruit. Nectarine, apricot, a touch of pineapple. Once it warms up a bit, you can detect its oak content a bit- hints of baking spice and creamy lemon. You might think it was a flab-fest, but the finish really clenches with pleasant acid and even a drying sensation which leads me to think this wine will age nicely. There’s something that reminds me of menthol lingering in there as well. The texture is viscous and slightly oily, but in a luscious way. Oily is a strange word to use to describe wine, and its connotation would seem negative, but its not intended as such. Its one of those descriptors that makes perfect sense once you identify it.

This is the first California wine I’ve written about in Lord only knows how long! Its been fun. I sometimes forget California exists. Not really. But almost. Hope you enjoyed this little trip to Cali and are as ready for Fall as the rest of America seems to be.

This wine was received as a sample. Its suggested retail cost is $20.

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Summer’s Swan Song: White Girl Rosé. Yes really.

Summer has waned, and Instagram is aflood with people photographing their last attempts at hanging on to it. Grilling. Lakes. Pools. Oceans. Wearing white (is that even still a thing?) and drinking Rosé. Today I bring you this:

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Yes. Really.

So now would be a good time to tell you that I did not in fact purchase this wine. I got an email earlier this summer informing me that I’d won some kind of White Girl Rosé giveaway. I really don’t recall entering said giveaway. It’s *possible* I did; my memory ain’t what it used to be, but I really don’t remember doing so. In any case, two bottles of it arrived along with a tote bag that I like quite a bit. So, I suppose I have to disclose that this was a sample? Not totally sure in this situation.

Now. The wine. Want a scary fact? This wine was the most photographed alcoholic product on Instagram this summer. How did this wine happen? I ask that question with a slightly shrill tone of incredulity. Well here it is, in a nutshell: this wine is a product of internet sensationalism. The creators of White Girl Rosé are two dudes. One internet celebrity known as The Fat Jew:

Feast your eyes on this fella.

Feast your eyes on this fella.

And one other guy, who is apparently co-responsible for the White Girl Problems/Babe Walker phenomenon. I won’t bother screenshotting him, he’s not as curious a specimen.

Here’s what I know about The Fat Jew: he’s an internet commentator, and I’m physically repulsed by him. Truthfully, that appears to be all he is. In case he ever reads this, I’m not making light of your fame, sir; I’m sure you deserve it. But still. I had to search for a bit to try to find out exactly WHAT you are and what you DO. Some of his Instagram posts are actually pretty funny, but overall I think he comes across in interviews as smarmy and kind of irritating, to be honest. But this is the world we live in, where people like him get famous for doing practically nothing at all.

Yes. Really.

The first time I saw this wine, I thought it was mildly entertaining and I knew it would fly off shelves (duh). I also knew that I was in no way the target audience for this wine, so my opinion didn’t really matter much. I could talk ’til I’m blue in the face about how many rosés of superior quality (and no mention of gender or race) could be found in the $14.99-16.99 price range. I could go on for days about authentic winemaking, place, process, tradition and how this practically flies in the face of those of us that have been preaching the rosé gospel for years. As well as those making it in an authentic way. But I know that those words would likely fall on deaf ears, and the wine would blow up anyway. Which it did.

THEN I read a little bit more about what exactly it is made from. And I grew increasingly alarmed. This wine comes from a crush facility in the San Joaquin Valley, and it is made from … wait for it… ZINFANDEL. And some Sauvignon Blanc.

Folks, this is White Zin.

Which is kind of perfect, actually. These bros have slapped a funny label and some internet fame onto White Zin, and made it the coolest gd thing to ever happen to white girls. They’re laughing all the way to the bank.

Then I read this: “From the creators of Babe Walker and The Fat Jew: ‘We knew people thought it was going to be a joke, so we worked with some pretty high-end and sophisticated wine people to make a spectacular, Provence-style wine… It’s super-crispy with a touch of citrus and sweet after-notes. It’s also bone-dry.'”

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Provence style? Um. No. You can call it “super-crispy” (although my brain hurts just typing that) but an ode to Provence it is not. Just cause its crisp don’t make it Provence-style. And it IS crisp. Truth be told, its not an entirely unpleasant wine. This wine tastes like Sauv Blanc- tart gooseberry with some vague red fruit notes sort of meandering about in the background. When its ice-cold it isn’t half bad. Once it warms up, you’re left with slight bitterness and some burny booze content. But something tells me the 20-something white girls slamming this by the pool never let it get warm.

Perhaps I’m getting too carried away here. I’m not trying to be a hater. Drink it and enjoy it, if you choose to. But this wine is maybe one of the first wines that literally would not be here if it weren’t for social media. And that’s a little frightening to me. And as someone who is currently on the path to creating a brand- a brand that I (we) want to have a clear vision and make a statement based on our collective experience and love of wine- I find it unsettling. The wine business is hard. And here come these two and they’re all “yeah, the Hamptons ran out of rosé last year and we thought NEVER AGAIN, so we went and did this. Cool, huh?” Oye.

Now I feel old. Did I mention I’m not the target audience? You kids get off my lawn.