Sparkling Month: Gamine Grenache Rosé Pétillant, 2014

Say hello to Gamine Grenache Rosé Pétillant!

mischief managed.

mischief managed.

This little doll is about as charming as they come. I’ve written about Division Wine Co. before, but this wine fresh from winemaker Kate Norris’ personal project, Gamine Wines. Gamine means a girl with a mischievous charm. As a lover of words in general, I’m a fan of this one.  This is an enchanting wine, starting with the fact that its made from Grenache: Grenache from Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. Grenache is a grape I don’t typically associate with sparkling wine. There’s nothing specific that makes it wrong for sparkling (to me), but especially in a hot climate like Southern Oregon, it has the potential to turn into a hulking monster of a red wine. Alcohol contents can get super high in Grenache in general, which is what makes this wine such an altogether pleasant surprise!

FullSizeRender (9)

Delicate, girly, coy… and yes, a little mischievous. Pale pink, with a faint and fine bead. The nose is subtle at first, but becomes a bit more revealing after a few minutes. FullSizeRender (11)Strawberry, cherry pit, fragrant herbs & cantaloupe, leaving you with a fun zesty tingle on the tongue. Given its Pet Nat status, the sparkle that’s found here is a light one, but it doesn’t deflate and leave you wanting more- it maintains it’s fine effervescence. Actually, this wine also drinks well on day two! I opened it last night and kept it overnight with a bubble-topper, and its still razor-sharp. The actual bubbles are no longer with us, but at this point it drinks like  a light, clean, tart rosé. Which is never a bad thing.

Pet Nat sparkling has often been described as “rustic”, and with due reason- but in this case, while there is a touch of that little funk, its a very refined wine. It is sophisticated and ultra-feminine. Normally I resist the use of gender assignment when it comes to wine (because 2015), but this wine just speaks femininity to me. In all forms, not just the light, flirty, girly side of femininity- the general badass side, too. Like this:

... or maybe it's just what I'm listening to currently.

Her walk is mean, yo.

This wine will cost you a ridiculous $26. There’s no ‘this was a sample’ disclosure here. I crushed hard on this wine and bought a couple, along with the Gamine Syrah, which is likewise ridiculously good. That wine is so good, actually, that I don’t even want to tell you about it because I’m concerned it will sell out and I won’t get to have any more. I believe the PetNat was only about 70 cases made, so that too is something  you’re gonna want to get your paws on rather soon, IMO. I think this wine is a really fantastic step for Oregon sparkling in general. A year ago if you would have told me there was a PetNat Grenache Rosé coming out of Southern Oregon, I might’ve looked at you CRAYzy.

One last side note- I love these labels! And to no one’s surprise, the talented Maija Rebecca did the watercolors for the Gamine wines. Love. Her.

I love this wine. It reminds me of pale pink lipstick, parasols, dimples, muddy pink rain boots, a sunny field of lavender, beachy hair waves, and Queen Anne’s lace. How’s that for free-association?

Advertisements

Bubbles Fest 2015!

Bubbles Fest 2015- either it happened, or I died and went to heaven yesterday. The former is more likely. Plus, I have photos and I do think I am still alive as I type this.

First, and definitely not last, Bubbles Fest at Anne Amie.

First, and definitely not last, Bubbles Fest at Anne Amie.

So, remember that article from Palate Press that was published in January, declaring that a Sparkling Wine Movement was underway in the Willamette Valley and the Pacific Northwest in general? Well, yesterday about 150 of us got to experience just a drop in the bucket of what’s going on with Sparkling Wine here in the Valley. And it was pretty darn phenomenal.

Here’s an interesting interjection; I’ve already accepted that this is going to be a long post, so I want to briefly touch on why *now* seems to be the time for Sparkling here. In fact, its kind of a two word answer: Andrew Davis. Andrew, former winemaker at Argyle, created a mobile sparkling wine production company in 2013. Let that sink in for a sec. Of course I’ve never seen this equipment, but I remember the first time I heard the concept, I instantly pictured it as some sort of ice cream truck, except for Sparkling Wine. Which, needless to say, made me very giddy. I somehow doubt that it does resemble an ice cream truck… but while we’re on the subject… will someone buy an old ice cream truck and fashion it into something that can drive around and sell bubbly? Surely you don’t need anything fancy like a permit or a license to pull that off, right? 

I kid. The question is, why did this niche need filling? Why didn’t wineries jump at the chance to make sparkling before the creation of the mobile unit? Well, I’ll be brief- but here’s two reasons: time and money. Sparkling wine production (champenoise method) is labor intensive, requires its own bottling equipment ($$), and takes a lot longer to make than still wine. As in, years longer. Its not entirely feasible for a small winery to sit on a product for 2-4 years before they sell any of it. And that’s after the hassle of getting it made! Its a labor of love. In any case, I give a major hat tip to Andrew for dreaming up the idea, and I truly think its an absolute game-changer. So game on.

I can't even.

I can’t even.

I can’t even talk about how gorgeous it was yesterday. The wine Gods truly smiled on this event, especially considering sun was forecasted ALL WEEK, but never really appeared in full force until yesterday.

Lets dive in! There’s a lotta bubbles to talk about today. In no particular order..

IMG_8274

FullSizeRender (36)

 

 

 

 

 

The Airlie Joie de Vie (retail $30) was the first bubbly I tasted. Not a winery I was terribly familiar with before yesterday, but by the end of the afternoon, I looked back and realized that this one was one of my favorites. Made from 50-50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this 2010 vintage brut was clear and concise with light hints of yeast and ultra-fine bubbles. I found this one and the Argyle Blanc de Blancs to be the two that reminisced the most of a French Champagne. Speaking of the Argyle…

This guy was kind of the Old G of this party.

This guy was kind of the Old G of this party.

Another 2010 vintage Brut, this Blanc de Blancs from Argyle (retail $50) was as sleek, steely and pure as ever. This is the second time I’ve had the Blanc de Blanc from Argyle, and I’m a big fan of their Rosé bubbly as well. Argyle will always remain etched in my mind as one of the staples of Oregon Sparkling wine. At about 1000 cases made, this one doesn’t see much availability outside the tasting room. The fruit is all Chardonnay, all sourced from the Dundee Hill’s Knudsen Vineyard. 2010 was a fairly cold, low-yielding vintage- perfect for Sparkling production. This wine is an elegant treat. There’s no arguing with it. 92 Points, Wine Spectator.

Our fabulous hosts at Anne Amie also had something up their sleeve: winemaker Thomas Houseman’s first-ever Sparkling Wine, the 2011 Marilyn Brut Rosé (retail $45).

Guess what's in my fridge right now? This guy.

Guess what’s in my fridge right now? This guy.

Anne Amie was wonderfully represented back in South Carolina, and I pretty much love everything they do. Last year’s Amrita white was one of our best-selling wines of the Summer. When I heard a Sparkling was to be born, my excitement was tangible. Beautifully packaged, this guy really hits the nail on the head. Its elegant and round, full of beautiful red fruit, tangy citrus, light spice and a lush mouthfeel. It closes with all that gorgeous acid that 2011 is known for. They should be proud of this wine, it’s freakin’ killer. Just talking about it now makes me want to open the bottle I purchased. Hmmm…

Next? Some funsies from Kramer Vineyards, the 2014 Celebrate Rosé of Pinot Noir and 2014 Grüner Veltliner (both $24).

IMG_8289

IMG_8287

IMG_8285

 

 

 

Kramer has a tasting room that’s walking distance to my house, so I think I’ve now had almost all of their sparklers. The Celebrate series wines are made in tank method as opposed to champenoise. Because this process doesn’t take as long, they’re very competitively priced. There was a lot of buzz over the Grüner Brut yesterday, and it didn’t disappoint. I love the willingness to try all different grapes in this series. The Rosé of Pinot was pretty charming and fruity- I can’t imagine that “the masses” wouldn’t just eat this one up. The Grüner was sharp and deftly balanced. I really like what Kimberly has goin’ on with her sparklers.

Division Wines brought their pretty little guy, whose package I still just can’t resist…

IMG_8282

IMG_8281

 

 

 

 

 

I love the spirit of the Crémant de Portland (retail $26), and the aromatics on this wine are hard to beat; yesterday the Chenin was really out to play. I want to say that this wine might be temporarily sold out until the next disgorgement, but don’t get mad at me if that’s wrong. This was sort of a “wet” day after all…

Another fun find is the Raptor Ridge Harbinger Vineyard Pinot Noir Brut Rosé (retail $63). This is Raptor Ridge’s first ever sparkling wine, but probably not the last. From a small site in the Chehalem Mountains that takes its sweet time ripening, 2011 provided a good opportunity to turn these guys into bubbles (are you sensing a trend here?). Just about 50 cases were made, and it has a beautiful, pale salmony pink color. Dry, with light stone fruit, strawberry, soft citrus and a really nice biscuity undertone. It pleased me greatly. Do make an effort to track one of these down at the tasting room, it will probably sell out lightening fast.

IMG_8290

R. Stuart’s Rosé d’Or (retail $35) has recently wound its way into my heart. Its made in a fairly rich style, purposefully with less actual bubbles than most. On the nose, I’m reminded of a spice cake, followed by lots of black cherry and strawberry. Not heavy or weighty, but definitely has its own mind.

IMG_8295Next we have the two sex-machines: J.K. Carriere 2011 Blanc de Noir (retail $75) and Soter Mineral Springs 2010 Brut Rosé (retail $65). Oh sorry, have you never referred to sparkling wine as a sex-machine? Well I do. Sexy, sexy juice, both of these.

IMG_8283

IMG_8298

 

 

 

 

 

This is J.K. Carriere’s first sparkling, and back in December I remember the winemaker saying it almost killed him. I’m really glad it didn’t kill him, because I’d like more where this comes from. Color- gorgeous pale pink. Texture- light and pristine. Finish- lifted and high-toned. A winner. And what is there that needs to be said about the beloved “Soter Pop”? Its the bomb. 2010 was a great year for Soter Pop, too.

Roots Wine Company was another new one for me- they had two bubblies out yesterday, the Cuvée Theo Melon de Bourgogne, NV (retail $30) and the Cuvée Theo Rosé of Pinot, NV (retail $35).

IMG_8294

IMG_8293

 

 

 

 

 

These two were fun- the Melon was fresh and lively, with a very nice salinity on the finish. The Rosé was clean and brisk. I give props to anyone who makes Sparking Wine out of Melon de Bourgogne.

I will leave you with the Sokol Blosser Sparkling Rosé of Pinot, NV (retail $60). This one was a little understated, in a calm cool and collected fashion. Definitely an easy-drinker; soft yet crisp, with delicate notes of strawberry, apricot and a hint of lees.

IMG_8296So what should you learn from all my ramblings? 1.) Sparkling wine is my favorite and 2.) if it isn’t also your favorite, I don’t like you. Kidding! Kidding. But there’s a whole world of Sparkling Wine down here in this Valley just waiting to be discovered. By you. Or else I’ll drink it all first.

Many thanks to Anne Amie for a great event! I’m already looking forward to next year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days, days 22 and 23: R. Stuart!

I’ve been behind this week and had lots of little real world details to take care of, so I had to postpone my wine fun until today. And fun it was! This whole “Friday afternoon at 5pm” game is still a little new to me. But what fun I had this evening- it was a cozy late afternoon at the R. Stuart Wine Bar in downtown McMinnville! Overcast, but not raining, I decompressed, sipped on a few wines and chatted with Casey, the manager (? I actually don’t know her title, but she’s rad).

Love this spot on 3rd St.

Love this spot on 3rd St.

So I went because I knew I wanted a glass of bubbly, and that it fit in with my January theme. This is only the second bubbly I’ve written about. Its made out of 100% Chardonnay, and I have sort of exceeded my Chardonnay capacity… but, I mean… its bubbles. So, yeah. Sue me.

BUBBLES. My bubbles.

BUBBLES. My bubbles.

R. Stuart has been well-known for their Rosé D’Or sparkling, a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which is rich and luscious. This bubbly, known as “Bubbly” was just released, I believe, this past Thanksgiving weekend. I had it for the first time right before Christmas and really loved it. At $28, its very competitive with other Champenoise Oregon bubblies.

How freaking good does this look?

How freaking good does this look?

I’m not 100% sure if it was just the lighting, but this wine had a slight pale pink color to it as I sipped it. A round, creamy mouthfeel, this bubbly is elevated by lovely notes of baked apples and pears and a refreshing citrusy palate. Its zingy, fun to drink, flirty and doesn’t take itself too seriously; yet is a pleasure to drink and you can tell its Champenoise. A tiny hint of sweet tarts and fresh flowers on the finish. Really lovely. Comparably, the Argyle Brut sells for a similar price and is kind of a staple and totem of Oregon sparkling. Argyle is always super clean, high acid and delicious- this wine has a bit more texture and weight, and maybe more fanciful packaging. There’s room for both. If you’re a sparkling ho like me.

Next? Been meaning to try their Big Fire Tempranillo, which I did.

IMG_8085

So the last Tempranillo I had was from Eola-Amity Hills, the Zenith Vineyard. A 2012 vintage, and very delicious. The R. Stuart Big Fire Tempranillo is sourced from one small vineyard in Carlton, the Deux Verts vineyard, and predominantly Southern Oregon. As I mentioned in my last post, I learned that in Willamette, Tempranillo struggles to get ripe except in unusually warm years like 2012. So this Tempranillo is a 2011 vintage, but since a lot of the fruit is from Southern Oregon where its warmer, there is plenty of ripeness to be found here.

The nose is peppery, with a background of cedar and violets, accentuated by some beautiful vanilla and leather. There’s a touch of bright red and brambly fruit.  The palate is firm and smooth, and finishes with a pleasant bite of tannin to hold it together. At $20, its a great house red and then some. Very different than the last Tempranillo I had from Zenith, but a tough contender at $20 a bottle.

I love this “House Rules” at R. Stuart Wine Bar:

IMG_8087

This place kind of makes me wish I lived in McMinnville- every time I go, the vibe is warm and friendly, and the staff knowledgable and personable. A perfect stop for this “Friday at 5pm” feeling that many (but not all) of us experience. I gotta say, it doesn’t suck.

Cheers! I’ll be back for more McMinnville fun tomorrow…

Oh! And if you like Oregon bubbles, you should go to the Bubbles Fest at Anne Amie on February 14th! Its gonna be. the. shit. $40 gets you four hours of unadulterated Oregon sparkling, and Anne Amie’s debut sparkling wine is included (holla!). I can’t freakin’ wait.

Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days: Day 1!

Happy New Year!

In honor of 2015 being an exciting year for me, I’m embarking on a little challenge this January! Since every year I resolve to blog more, and most years I only marginally succeed, I wanted to start out with a bang. Write about an Oregon wine a day for 30 days! It’s like those 30 day gym motivational challenges, except this one has WINE. So much better. Then I thought, I gotta make it a little harder (that’s what she said) and write about 30 Oregon wines that AREN’T Pinot Noir. Not that I don’t absolutely love Pinot Noir- I did move here, after all– but I think it’ll be super awesome to highlight some of the more under the radar grapes here in Oregon. So, BAM! #Oregon30in30 is born. Here goes.

Now, for the rules. These are all self-imposed. I have consulted no one. I am the master of my domain:

1.) Pinot Noir is only allowed if it’s been blended or turned into bubbles.

2.) Repeat grapes & wineries are acceptable, but no more than twice (ie, two different Rieslings, two wines from Willakenzie, etc).

3.) I have to have tasted (duh) the wine in question, but not necessarily purchased an entire bottle- can be written up based on a tasting room experience or bummed off a roommate, etc. My credit card would not thank me if I embarked on this having to purchase every single bottle, I ain’t gonna lie.

4.) When at all possible, these have to be wines I haven’t had before.

5.) I can combine a few wines into one post, at most once a week (ie- Gamay day, etc).

So, I think this will be fun! I hope you do, too! And if you’re someone who gets an email every time I write a post… well, don’t get all “my inbox is too cluttered!” and unsubscribe. I mean, you can if you want, but I’m sure once February rolls around I’ll be back to my once-a-week-maybe schedule.

Without further adieu, here is WINE NUMERO UNO! Kramer Vineyards Celebrate Müller-Thurgau, 2013…

Müller Bubbles. Mmm.

Müller Bubbles. Mmm.

So, I really enjoyed the 2011 Kramer Brut at the Southeast Wine Collective Dinner a few weeks ago and was itching to try another one of their sparklers. Also they have a tasting room that’s walking distance to my house, so I’m constantly looking at it and saying to myself, “man, I gotta get in there.”

Well, I didn’t this time, but I will. I bought this little guy at Roth’s in McMinnville on Monday knowing I’d want to drink it on New Years and that their tasting room would not be open before then. Oof. That was a lot of planning. #thisisyouinyourthirties.

IMG_6454

I like the intention behind this wine; to me, it’s essentially a Prosecco but its from Oregon and its much more fun. Titillating and flirty flavors of granny smith apple, fresh flowers, honeysuckle, apricot and a nice tingle of bright acidity. Fresh and ready to party. A wine that’s clearly meant to be consumed with joy, with friends, at parties, with nothing but whimsy in the air.

This wine was made bubbly using the tank method; stainless steel fermented, aged on the lees for 5 months, then transferred to a large stainless steel tank and infused with CO2. Whammo. Sparkling wine. This method is great for highlighting a wines natural delicacy and freshness, so this is a really fun little marriage. A charming little wine, I gotta say.

I gotta get in to that tasting room. First resolution of 2015, right there!

MY BUBBLES.

MY BUBBLES.

So here’s to a new year, a new state for me and lots of new wines to explore. I’m about to throw my black eyed peas in the crock pot, and sip on this bubbly while I clean the house and listen to 90’s music. If that ain’t a good way to start the new year, I don’t know what is.

Cheers! 

A big fat BUBBLE post!

Is it me, or has this been the absolute fastest November-December in the history of the world?  It seems like it was just October and I was saying to myself, “the holidays will be here soon”, and now they’re over.  I don’t tend to perseverate too much over the timing of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but really?  They were that close together?  It just seems wrong.  But there’s no use dwelling; at this point we just need to strap in and be ready.  And now it’s just up to NEW YEARS EVE and then we’re into 2014!  So what better time than now to talk about some recent arrivals of a BUBBLY nature?!  You know it!

ccf8b9797ad47bf4eb16acad7235dd8d

they can be yours, too.

BUBBLES.  My all-time favorite thing to open on a whim, at any time of day, for no reason at all.  To celebrate nothing.  Or everything.  Or somewhere in between.  But considering that it’s a holiday, you have an excellent reason.  I’ll highlight a few from all price ranges….

photo 4

Clara C “Fiori” Brut Rose, NV Italy ($13) The Clara C is as close to a perfect little pink bubbly as I can imagine.  It is light, fresh and offers up crispness and a touch of pretty red fruit and vanilla.  This one, of course, is ideal if you have a lot of people coming over.  The bottle is classy and it looks and tastes like it cost way more!  Side note- it has a sibling that is decidedly NOT pink, but still delicious.

photo 3

Sokol Blosser “Evolution” Sparkling, NV Oregon ($21)  The Evolution Bubbly is another favorite- I fell in love with this wine back in June when I visited the winery, and at the time it was winery-only.  At this point I confess to being a total Oregon Wine Nerd, thanks to said trip to Pinot Camp- however, this wine really is the jam- AND it’s from Oregon, which is awesome.  It is a blend of (up to) nine undisclosed Oregon white grapes.  I was told it’s based in Muller-Thurgau (holla!), but you can figure there’s probably some Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, maybe even Viognier or Pinot Blanc in there, too.  I sort of relish in not knowing, and I suggest you do the same.  Anyhow– you should drink this because it has brilliant clarity, precision and tastes like heaven.  Green apples, tart citrus zest, a light floral background and brilliant acidity are artfully blended.  Get on it.  And at $21, it’s in an excellent “treat yourself” price range, in my opinion.  Truth be told, I plan to make a mimosa out of this on New Years Day.  Because- well, New Years.

photo 2 (1)

Louis Grenelle Brut Rose, NV France, Loire ($18)  OHHHH heavens, you need this.  One of my absolute favorites. (hmm… that word seems to be coming up a lot…).  But really, this stuff is the BOMB.  I posted about it’s white sister a year or so ago, and I love both of them- but the pink one holds a special place in my heart.  It is made from Cabernet Franc- and if you’ve never had a sparkling Cabernet Franc, you really must.   With this bubbly, you get gorgeous notes of strawberry and cranberry, hints of fresh flowers, and the MOST clean and zippy finish you’ve ever experienced.  Zippy being a technical term for that fleeting “lift” that we love so much in a sparkling wine.  Bubbles and acid.  Magic, I tell you.

photo 1 (1)

Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Brut, 09 California  ($19).  An absolute steal of a California sparkler!  This guy has impeccable balance- bright flavors of citrus, golden apples and raisins and lime zest are met with a touch of yeast, honeycomb and toasty-ness.  I drank some of this alongside a giant bowl of buttered popcorn, and I was transported to a very happy place.  Crunchy things with a bit of salt are fantastic with sparkling wine- and add in that toasty quality with the buttery popcorn?!  Oh, lord have mercy!

And now for a few high-rollers... In my opinion, if I’m going to shell out $40 or more for a bottle of anything, let alone Champagne, it better be good.  And not just good because celebrities on TV drink it, or because it has a shiny ad in Wine Spectator or excellent marketing- like it has to be GOOD WINE.  So here are a few that I would GLADLY spend my money on and drink with relish:

photo (9)

A. Margaine Cuvee Traditionelle, NV France, Premier Cru ($42) and Aubry Brut, NV France ($42).  Since I am spoiled and DO get to taste a lot of Champagne, I can honestly say that I don’t taste Champagne the way I do other wines- when I really love a Champagne, I FREAKING love it and want to marry it.  If I just like it and think it’s fine or even excellent- I usually forget about it the next day.  These two have been staples on our shelves for years, and both come from what I think to be the best importer of Champagnes in the US- Michael Skurnik.  The Margaine is made from mostly Chardonnay and a touch of Pinot Noir; the Aubry is an interesting blend of 45% Pinot Meunier, 25% Chard, 25% Pinot Noir, and the rest small weird varietals that I’ve never heard of.  So why these?  All I can really say is, they both have that touch of “magic” that you can’t quite put your finger on.  Therefore I’ll not go into massive detail- stylistically, they’re a fresh, lean, taut and energetic style that I’m quite drawn to.  They both taste tremendous and you should get one.  Coincidentally, they both also got 92 Points from Robert Parker.  

Last, the Pierre Gimonnet “Paradoxe” Brut, 2006 France, Premier Cru ($65).  This is the big sexy.  A richer style that is sheer indulgence.  Also imported by Michael Skurnik, and also 92 points rated by Robert Parker.  Made from about 2/3 Pinot Noir and the rest Chardonnay, it is more broad-shouldered and bustier than the last two.  Ripe red berries, hints of spice, smoke and cherry pits; it is deep, layered and expressive.  A real treat.  Go for it.

Hope everyone’s enjoyed this trip down bubble lane and HAPPY 2014!

All aforementioned bottles are available for purchase at Cellar on Greene.

Recent obsessions, condensed…

So, as I’ve stated before, sometimes I allow weeks to lapse without writing a proper post.  And while this is partially because it can be extremely challenging to set aside the proper time slot, it’s also because I have a HUGE problem with indecisiveness!  This is because I simply love so many wines that I can’t choose just one.  And a lot of times, I choose one, then another one shows up that I love just as much, and I’m thrown into a quandary of the worst sort.  And by then it’s Friday, and once Friday happens, I just give up.  Woe is me, too much good wine.  

All of that is a way of introducing you to not one, not two, not three, but FOUR fantastic wines that I’ve been loving lately!  Let’s start with the bubbles, because it’s before noon as I write this, and only bubbles are proper before noon:

Argyle Brut, 2009 Willamette Valley. $24

photo 1 (11)

This is a fun one, because there aren’t a *ton* of sparklers from Willamette Valley.  I’m racking my brain right now trying to think of some, but I’m coming up blank.  My suspicion is that many Willamette wineries make Sparkling, but don’t make a lot of it, and maybe only have it available at the winery.  Yet another reason why I need to visit Willamette ASAP!

I like this wine because it’s true to it’s roots; once you taste it, there’s absolutely no doubt that it’s a Willamette Valley wine.  They didn’t try to make it taste like anything other than what it should.  It shines a crystal-clear straw color, and cute tiny bubbles rise up from the bottom of the glass like they’s supposed to.  This is a Methode Champenoise wine, which means the bubbles are created in the bottle, making them, in most people’s eyes, preferable.  Made from 59% Pinot Noir and 41% Chardonnay, its light and clean, with a fresh palate of pears, green apples, a hint of almonds, light citrus, floral notes of honeysuckle and… something vaguely soapy, which I really like.  At just 12.5% alcohol, it drinks easily and frighteningly quickly.  A nice slap of minerality really lifts the finish to another dimension.  Fantastic.  At $24, it’s a great price range for a gift- and to boot, $24 is a bit less than what you might find it for elsewhere.

Next up!

Hugel “Gentil” Gewurtraminer/Muscat/Sylvaner/Riesling/Pinot Gris/etc etc, 2010 France, Alsace  $15

photo (26)

Truly, I should have posted about this wine around Thanksgiving, but – duh- I didn’t.  Which is to say, that I’ve been marveling at this wine’s awesomeness for weeks.  I think it is absolutely gorgeous.  In fact, I don’t know if I’ve had an Alsatian white that I liked quite as much as this before.  It’s balance and texture are truly sublime.  “Gentil” is a term for a traditional blending of Alsatian grapes, so I gather.  It’s sort of a serendipitous name, in my modern American mind, because one of the first words that comes to mind when I think of this wine is gentle.  It is gentle and effortless, smooth and silky, refined and elegant.  Hugel et Fils is family owned and boasts over twelve generations of winemaking.  A nice tropical and floral nose is prominent, with aromas of kumquat, pineapple, lemon zest and lavender.  All of which are well-integrated and not in your face; gentle.  The palate is mouth-coating and has a touch of the oily-ness that is often found in Alsatian whites.  Calling something oily sounds disgusting, but it’s actually very pleasant- in this wine in particular, it feels like the wine is gently caressing your mouth.  Whoah.  Sorry, that got a little froo-froo sounding.  But it’s actually true!  The finish is tart, a bit dry, and thirst-quenching.  Really an exceptional value at just $15.

Onto the reds!

Decendientes de J. Palacios “Petalos” Mencia, 2010 Spain, Bierzo  $22 

photo 2 (14)

“Well helloooooo, lover!”  That’ what you should be saying to this wine.  First of all, I love the packaging on this bottle.  It’s just plain pretty.  Simple, pretty, and memorable.  This wine is my jam, y’all.  And it’s actually a lot of people’s jam, because it got a spot on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2012, and a 93-point rating.  Mad props.  This wine has scored well most of the past few years, and it remains as delicious and consistant as ever.  So let’s start with the grape- Mencia!  Never heard of it?  I’m not surprised, although you might want to commit it to memory, because there are a lot of good ones out there, and it’s currently experiencing a bit of “trending” in the wine world.  Think of Mencia as a love child between a Tempranillo and maybe an earthy, cool grape like Carignan or Syrah.  It’s deceptively dark in color, a deep purple- the body is packed with fruit, but it is not weighed down in the slightest.  It’s what I like to call a drinker.  One of my more creative titles for a wine, I know.  But as I’ve elaborated before, a drinker is a wine that, upon completion of first sip, leaves your mouth with such a perfect acidic “quench” that you’d have to be straight-up cray not to desire another sip.  Or bottle.

So a beautiful nose of rose petals and violets will greet you, followed by a plush, plummy palate of red fruits, blackberry, and a perfect amount of fresh herbs- thyme and sage, mainly- plus a touch of peppercorn.  And again, the finish has such great lift, you’re gonna want to drink lots n’ lots.  Would be a great pairing for a roasted gamey meat- lamb?  Or- my personal love- a charcuterie plate filled with bountiful amounts of cured ham, sausage, and lots of cheeeeeeese.

One more!  And then I sign off…

Orin Swift “Locations F-1”, 2011 France  $22

photo 3 (4)

We’ve been sellin’ the bejeezus outta this wine for a few weeks!  The middle child in the “Locations” line by Orin Swift winemaker Dave Phinney, this is the French sibling.  As indicated by the giant letter F on the bottle.  The trio will be completed in Spring of 2013 with an Italian “I” family member (are you seeing a pattern emerging here?).  The idea behind this project is to blend fruit from major wine regions (aka locations) in each country.  So this wine here is a blend of Grenache from Roussillon, Syrah from the Rhone, and various unspecified Bordeaux varietals.  To me, it drinks like a Cotes du Rhone but with a nice creamy addition of vanilla and a bit of oak, and more fruit-forward.  It’s bright, fun, and remarkably easy to drink.  A sensible, straight-forward, yet playful wine that just begs to be drunk now.  It’s a great price point as well- most of the Orin Swift California wines are more in the high $30’s -$40’s, so at $22 it’s just a notch into the “treat yourself” territory.  But there won’t be any next-day “why did I open that” regret!  In fact, the next day you’ll probably want to buy another one.

Well, I started this at 11:30, and now it’s 3:30.   Along the way, I have tasted 17 additional wines from various distributors.  So that has been my day.  Jealous yet?  You should be.  My job rocks.

I’m formulating a “Best Wines of 2012” post for next week, and that will likely be all you hear from me this year.  ALL the wines listed in this post will be open this week either by the glass, or at Saturday’s tasting from 12-2!  So, please stop in and grab a taste or two or four!

Charmeroy Brut Rose, NV France

“Ain’t nobody dope as me, I taste so fresh and clean…”

"don't you think I'm so sexy, I'm dressed so fresh and clean!"

"I love when you stare at me, I taste so fresh and clean."

A moment of sheer genius struck me two days ago as we revisited this wine with the staff- there is NOBODY as dope as this Brut Rose, it’s just SO fresh and CLEAN!!   I can’t stand it.  What is it about Champagne (actually, this is technically a sparkling wine) that makes it so freaking perfect for SO many occasions?  here’s one occasion that occurred last weekend in Edisto:

this guy is maybe *not* so fresh and clean... but the wine is.

Beach?  Bubbles!  Trying to get a jump start on Christmas shopping online?  Bubbles!  A small or large Holiday get-together?  Bubbles!  Friday afternoon?  Thursday at lunchtime?  Bubbles.  Especially pink ones.   And especially THESE.

What’s so good about this?  Well, it smells like strawberries and cream, raspberries, and sweet tarts.  It has a delicate mousse (or bubbly-ness, in technical terms), a lovely thirst quench, and a hint of tart green apple on finish.  And as it turns out, it’s quite an interesting blend of grapes: Merlot, Pinot Noir and a little bit of Chenin Blanc.  Not your typical sparkler, that’s for sure.  The best part?  It’s affordable!  Like super-affordable!  We’ll be slingin’ it at this Saturday’s (10/29) wine sale from 12-2 for 11 bucks!  

Just to temp you even more, doesn’t it look inviting in this frosty glass?

mmmm... pink n' frothy.

I’m pretty stoked that I got to combine two of my favorite things, Outkast and Pink Bubbly in one blog post!  I would pay a large sum of money to see Andre 3000 and Big Boi together.  A girl can dream.  Until then, at least I have scratched old CD’s and Charmeroy Brut Rose.  Can’t make it to the sale on Saturday?  This little pinky is also By The Glass, and will definitely be making an appearance at our next Champagne Tuesday!