Jean Francois Merieau “Le Bois Jacou” Gamay, ’10 Touraine

Anyone in need of a perfect Summer red?

I did the hard work for you, and found one!

Granted, it was not really very hard at all- in fact it was easy.  A fellow ginger wine nerd friend of mine happens to sell this wine.  And we were all like, hey, we need some new juice.  And he was all like, hey, this one’s the bomb, y’all will literally feel like a Koala bear crapped a rainbow in your brain if you try it. So we did, and we do, and that’s the story of how we came to have this wine!  *ba-dum-chhhkk*

Image

So I’ve visited this wine a few times in the last two weeks (visited is a word I like to use that means DRANK), and it it truly sublime.  I’ve only ever written about one other Gamay, the Verdier & Logel Cotes du Forez (see here), which really was one of my favorite wines of 2011.  And customers seemed to like it, too.  And as I said in that post, Gamay is an awesome Fall red.  The flavor profile falls in very nicely with a various sundry of Fall-flavored culinary delights; this is true.  But it begs to be mentioned that Gamay is a PERFECT Summer red, too!  And egads, do we ever need good Summer reds here in Cola.  Seeing as how it lasts almost half the year.  Most of you know me to be a huge fan of whites and pinks in the summer, but you can’t escape the need for a nice red now and then, even when it’s 95 degrees.

Image

So why, exactly?  Well, first of all- this wine is most delicious slightly chilled.  No need to stress about exactly how slight a chill- just stick it in the fridge for 10 or 15 minutes and you’ll be good to go.  And if you forget to do that, and you think you might rather have a root canal than wait 15 minutes for your wine to chill- take an ice cube- drop it in the glass with the wine- swirl it around for 30 seconds, and then take the ice cube out.  You should be good to go.  Some may consider that sacrilegious, but it works.

So now you have a slightly chilled glass of red wine and it’s hot out, and you desire something easy to sip, low in alcohol/high in acid, and fun to drink; since Summer is fun and all.  Cha-CHING!  This wine is all of those things.  What I like most about Gamay in general is that it is incredibly friendly and vibrant.  It gives you all it’s awesome right up front.  But not in a slutty Lindsay Lohan kind of way.  Just a quirky, glad-to-know-ya kind of way.

There are so many fun flavors and aromas to be found; it leans towards darker fruit up front (plums, a hint of black cherry) but also plenty of characteristic Gamay bright red fruit (strawberries, pomegranates, raspberries).  The nose is a bit exotic- herbal notes of sage, violets and fresh lavender, followed by a touch of grass, black pepper, and a bit of lemon that gives the finish a nice lift.  It tastes like a wine that was grown in a specific place (well- duh, all wine is).  But this one really encapsulates it’s terroir beautifully and with spunk.  It is fresh and happy to be alive.

Image

So that’s about all I got to say about this wine, and I highly recommend you stop in and try a glass, or take a bottle home for $15.  I’m going to keep drinking it and watching The Fugitive.  Happy Monday Funday!

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!

Verdier & Logel Gamay, 2009 Cotes du Forez

Here is the latest in my “unusual fall reds” quest for Fall 2011!  Gamay.  Yes, yes- the same grape that will forever be linked with the phenomenon that is Beaujolais Nouveau.  A phenomenon that has never really grabbed ahold of me, personally.  But its a fun celebration none-the-less.  But let’s not talk about that; let’s instead discuss this particular Fun Fall Red!  

The latest Cellar on Greene acquisition from Sour Grapes Wine is this Domaine Verdier-Logel “Cuvee des Gourmets”, 2009 France.  So what exactly is so fun about this ‘lil guy?  DUH- it tastes good!  And DUH number two- it’s inexpensive!  $12 retail, to be exact.  But back to the tasting good part.  This wine is magnificently vibrant, which is what I enjoy most about it.  There’s so much excitement going on in this bottle.  Its pure and clear aromas of cherry blossoms, violets, and a hint of something metallic are inviting.  A delicious, tart palate of sour cherry, dried raisins and blackcurrants, and no shortage of black peppery spice.  All that spice, coupled with high acidity and low alcohol make this a truly perfect food wine!  Any kind of poultry (quail, anyone?!), a sharp cheese… I’m even thinking this wine could take on a light cream sauce?  mmmm.

purty

I even took this wine for a little stroll with my camera earlier, to try to capture its really beautiful color!  It was a short walk, but I managed to get a decent picture.  Thanks iPhone!

Forez. Not Fez.

So what about this place on the label, Cotes du Forez?  No, not Cotes du Fez.  Turns out it’s a relatively new AOC (aka officially recognized wine region), roughly located in the Loire Valley, but also fairly close to Burgundy.  It’s fairly small and Gamay is its only planted grape.  Legend holds there is some Gamay Rose to be found there- which really intrigues me.  The producer of this wine, Domaine Verdier-Logel, is apparently one of the better known producers in this little region, and they seem fairly legit- Organic winemaking to boot.  Pretty cool.  This wine is particularly true to it’s nature, in my book- something very common in much of Sour Grapes Wine’s portfolio.  Now their SC salesperson, however…  Also, I came across this very well-written post about the 2010 vintage of this wine here, for anyone interested!

So feel free to grab a wee taste of this the next time you’re in our neck of the woods!  It’s currently by the glass, so it’ll be open for the tasting for the foreseeable future.  Before I dip out for the day, allow me to digress for a minute with a small rant to this site, who linked my Zweigelt post a few weeks ago.  Mind you, this is a wordpress site created by a marketing team.  Which should be fairly evident, but in case there was any doubt.  Hey peeps- thanks for the ping.  However, there is a definite sort of back-handed compliment air floating around.  My blog is designed to take strange things (like Zweigelt, which IS strange to my intended audience) and make them fun and accessible.  Sorry if my “rendition” of the history of Zweigelt wasn’t up to par.  The information I provided was not false.  Is there more to it?  Maybe.  My intention was to make the history of the grape memorable and fun.  I find people remember things better when they have a humorous association to go along with it.  At least normal people.

Also, they presumed me a “he”.  Which is never really appreciated by we “she’s”.  You can go ahead and fix that anytime.

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.

Spring Fevah! the only cure is… white wine.

I’m pretty sure I’ve used that tag line before… but don’t hate.  Will Ferrell in a belly shirt hitting a cow bell never goes out of style.  But as for today- we’re having a small and miraculous dose of SPRING in February!  Isn’t it fantastic!  I love how we, in South Carolina, act like it’s been suuuuch a long winter and we’re SO ready for Spring- when the poor souls in New England (and lots of other places, too) suffer a much longer and more brutal winter than we’ve ever even imagined.  But be that as it may, we still get to throw open our windows for a few hours, air out the house, put a spring in our step and rejoice that we live in a Southern climate. 

Which is why I have had a serious taste for white wine the last few days!  And even though those who know me know that Chardonnay is not exactly my favorite grape- I’ve found two that really put me in my place with their deliciousness!   

First is the Novellum Chardonnay, 2009 Vin de’Pays.  I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a Chardonnay since the Chamisal Stainless I reviewed last year!   First because it tastes good.  But keep reading to find out the most awesome reason.  Robert Parker said this about the 2008 vintage of this wine, which I’ll quote since I can’t really put it better:  “The only reason not to enjoy this often over the coming year is if you insist on making an anti-Chardonnay or big-spending statement.”  So, ARE you one of those people who will insist on making an anti-Chardonnay statement??  That is so uncool.  Even worse are people who insist on making big-spending statements.  Just don’t do it.   Who are you really making the statement TO anyway?

Anyway- lovely, lovely, and more lovely is this wine.  Fresh, lively, gorgeous acidic and mineral content, and knock-out fruit- white peach, granny smith apple, tangerine, and a very pleasant hint of hazelnuts and light caramel.  It’s 30% barrel fermented, which translates to a beautiful silky mouthfeel and viscosity.  I really can’t say enough about this wine.  Oh wait- yes I can!  the best part… IT’S $11!  Oh.Em.Gee.  It’s really pretty stunning that this wine can be so good and so inexpensive.  How do they do it?? 

Next is another perennial favorite in the unoaked California Chardonnay category- Four Vines Naked Chardonnay, 2009 Santa Barbara– worth mentioning because it’s also pretty darn good.  And it’s $12!  That’s nothing to sneeze at.  Wine Spectator gave the 2009 vintage a nice little 88-point rating.  My taste generally points me more towards French Chardonnay, but the Naked is a pretty fun wine- more tropical than the Novellum, with lots of citrus, a nice quenching palate almost similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, and notes of pineapple, melon, and pears.  A ripe, flirty little Chardonnay.  This is the Chard that will leave you wondering why so many people hate on Chard.  So lets hear it- why do you think people hate on Chardonnay?  because Grandma drank it?  because they tasted a really cheap disgusting one (or two or three) at some sort of function and decided it sucked?    I’m curious.  

Before I sign off for today, a few items for consideration: the Novellum is available as part of our $90 Mystery Case this week (a new group of wines will be sent out today or tomorrow, but for last weeks- click here).   Huh?  you don’t get our wine club emails?  Tsk tsk.  $90 plus tax for a case of wine can’t really be beat, trust me.  Email us if you want to sign up!  Also it will be at the Wine Sale this Saturday the 19th (it’s supposed to be 75 degrees out!  holla!) from 12-2. 

AND- check Cellar on Greene out in the Free Times this week!  Bite of the Week- Duck Quesadilla.

Feraud-Brunel Cotes du Rhone Villages, 2007

I LOVE Cotes du Rhone!  LOVELOVELOVE.  Most especially when they come in at a whopping $18 a bottle!!  And are rated 91 points like this one from Feraud-Brunel!  And it’s a 2007, which all the wine nerds out there know was a great year in the Rhone, and as such, it can be pricey to acquire a higher-end Chateauneuf du Pape and the like.  Not as pricey as these 2009 Bordeaux futures are looking (scroll through this for an example, but get ready to have a tear in your eye)… aaaand that’s enough wine-nerding for today.

Moving on to wine we can actually afford in this lifetime- this Feraud-Brunel Villages is a truly exceptional wine.  Robert Parker gave it 90 points, and Wine Spectator gave it 91.  It has the wild, exotic characteristic that French Rhone wines can so often have (it is a blend of 70% Grenache, and 30% Syrah).  Brambly, with an up-front taste of raspberries and blackberries, hints of vanilla, cloves and figs, a pleasant amount of wood (that’s what she said- boo-ya!- that was for you, Florence Wine Guy), dark chocolate, graphite and licorice.  Absolutely awesome. 

Here it sits, amidst my Monday list of things to do- which is remarkably short today- a good thing, I suppose, since I am sipping wine in the middle of the day:

If you can see that far, notice that “Saturdays” appears on my to-do list.  Why?  because we have had several abnormally quiet Saturdays in a row here at Cellar on Greene.  Busy all week, then Saturday just falls on it’s face.  I know there’s lots to do in Columbia, but do any of my faithful readers care to venture a guess about why Saturdays seem to be our slowest nights?  Or any suggestions on what you would like to see us offer that’s exciting and different on a Saturday?  Anyway, back to the wine… here is an up-close of the label so you know what you’re looking for:

Now let’s think about food pairings, just because I love food.  Would you just look at what popped up during my google search for this wine?!  One word: SAUSAGE!  Oh yes.  This wine would be perrrfect with some grilled sausages like THESE:

I could probably do without the black-eyed peas that these are sitting in, but thanks for the picture anyway, Epicurious!  I like black-eyed peas, but if a bean isn’t the toughest thing to pair with wine, I don’t know what is.  Maybe Indian food?  But the sausage sure looks delicious, doesn’t it?!  Lamb sausage would be exceptionally good, given the classic pairing of Syrah and Lamb.  This wine has such a nice spicy, smokiness to it, it would really be perfect with anything off the grill in the Summer- or if you can wait that long- something slow-roasted or braised with wine and herbs in the Winter. 

I’m trying to get back into my Celebrity comparisons that I used to do with the wines, and this one might be a bit of a stretch, but I just can’t help myself.  Since this wine is sleek and somewhat intellectual in it’s packaging, and yet also sort of a “bad boy” given it’s wild, spicy, gamey and untamed character, I’m gonna go ahead and say this wine is Robert Downy, Jr.  What?  No, I most certainly DO NOT have a long-standing love affair with him, and I HAVEN’T been just itching to compare a wine to him just so I could search for the absolute best pictures I could find!  Why on Earth would you think that?!  Well, since I must illustrate with photos, here we go:

First, here he is looking sleek and intellectual and polished:

Next, much like the wine, he reveals more of his brooding demeanor, with a hint of muscle:

And then- WHOA!  he takes his shirt off for an unexpected fight scene in Sherlock Holmes and catches you totally off guard!  Much to your surprise, he reveals himself as a total badass while still being smart and polished!  How in the WORLD did he do that?!

I can’t even get into any Iron Man comparisons… we’d be here all day and Ricky would begin to question whether I did any work today whatsoever.  So just buy the wine, show your love for RDJR, for the love of God.  Happy drinking!

Hugues Beaulieu Picpoul de Pinet, 2008 Languedoc

This week I continue with two recent obsessions- Languedoc aka “the doc” and Spring wines- although I am breaking the Rose trend that I’ve had going for the past two entries.  It’s SPRING!!  And that means WHITE WINE!  This wine with the funny name- Picpoul- is one of my favorite by-the-glass pours we’ve had at Cellar since we opened.  We poured it last year and included it in a flight called “whites u been ignoring” after it sat on the list for a few months, quite literally being ignored.  Poor little Picpoul.  Funny thing happened once we put it on the flight, though- people realized how awesome it was!  And it became a favorite.  Triumph over adversity- it’s the classic American story.  Even though it’s a French wine.  People would come in looking for it, and when the 2007 vintage ran out, there was a resounding disappointment heard all through Greene Street.

Customers who came in looking for it never remembered what it was called, so they usually said something like, “this wine in the skinny green bottle… I can’t remember the name of it…” and that was my cue that they were looking for the Picpoul.

Here it is- a skinny green bottle with a bunch of weird French words on it.  Honestly- something that your average wine buyer would likely overlook- or be too scared of- if it were sitting on a shelf somewhere.  It’s not really clear WHAT the heck it is.  Picpoul?  Pinet?  What on earth is Coteaux?  And how do you say Hugues Beaulieu?  All this is just too much.  Leave it for the wine nerds.

But we need to move past all that.  Who cares how to pronounce it.  Just call it Picpoul.  Pick.  Pool.  As one of our servers at Cellar says- “This is great pool wine.  It’s in the name!”  Okay, Sarah- maybe you say it a little cooler than that- but this is a test to see if you actually read my blog like I tell y’all to!

Besides the Opala Vinho Verde, this really is a perfect pool wine.  It’s great for hot weather.  It’s a delicate, pretty wine- like a girl in a tutu.  Notes of green apple and lemon make up the majority of the palate, with a slightly salty, almost “briney” finish that make it perfect for… ??  you guess it!!  OYSTERS!  Ohhhh sweet Jesus I can almost imagine this with some fresh oysters on the half shell.  Here’s a photo of some deliciousl oysters I had recently in Vegas, just to get you salivating…

And in a perfect tribute to Mother Nature, it’s no coincidence that Picpoul tastes great with oysters- the village of Pinet overlooks the oyster and mussel farms of Bassin de Thau.  Interesting how that works, huh?  I think so.  I can’t claim to be a subscriber to any theory of intelligent design- but if I were, I would use this as evidence.  And that’s all I will say about that.  This is a blog about wine, after all.

In any case, come taste the Picpoul!  You can try it any old night of the week, since it is by-the-glass, or just stop by the Wine Sale this Saturday at Cellar from 12-2, where it will be for sale for an attractive $11!! If you’re not our friend on Facebook, hop on it!  I often throw special deals for facebook friends on, so it’s worth paying attention to!

Hope to see everyone Saturday- Happy Spring and Happy Drinking!

Oscar Edition- Domaine de Nizas Rose, 2008

Yes, that’s right- another Rose.  Two weeks in a row.  I wasn’t kidding when I said I was going to drink Rose every day until Spring decides to stay.  Today was nice, but I’m still holding out for a nice 70 degrees.  You may as well know- I go through phases a lot, and right now I’m in a Rose phase.  Call it the phase, call it whatever, BUT the Mulderbosch Rose and this Domaine de Nizas Rose from Languedoc (aka The ‘Doc) are two of the BEST wines I’ve had recently- and they’re as different as night and day!  Which is why I love wine.

Alright- I know it says “Ricky’s Pick”- but it’s my pick, too!  We like the same things a lot of times.  But I always pronounce them properly (inside joke).  Actually, I really don’t know how to pronounce Nizas.  Somehow Nih-zus doesn’t sound right.  Maybe Nee-zus?  Either way it’s an awkward word.  Those darn French!  If the wine wasn’t so good I’d hold it against them!

So, if the Mulderbosch Rose was a “manly” Rose, this Nizas Rose is it’s lovely female companion.  If it were to take the form of a dress (in honor of the fact that I’m watching the Oscars as I write), it would definitely be Jennifer Lopez’s iridescent pink, beautifully sculptural dress.  I’m really not her *biggest* fan, but I do think that dress was amazing!  Feminine, yet strongly shaped and a little exotic and with a nice flair.  Kudos to J-Lo for that one.  Here it is in case you missed it…

But I digress- the point is- THIS ROSE IS UNBELIEVABLE!!  In case I didn’t beat it into your head with the Mulderbosch post- Rose is SO GOOD!  and remember- not all pink wine is White Zinfandel!  Feminine really is the operative word- it’s delicate, with notes of dried berries, cherries, white flowers, hint of spice, some white chocolate, and a simply beautiful mouthfeel.  The winemaker’s notes call it “vibrant, crisp and dry” and I can’t really improve on that succinct wording.  One of my favorite words- quaffable- I’ll throw that in here.  This is quaffable wine.  An extremely awkward word that means it’s pleasant and easy to drink.  But when else does one get to say quaffable?

And PS- Wine Spectator!  I am pissed at you for only giving this 88 points!  88 points is decent, but you’re waaay off on this one.  It costs an unbelievable $15, and that fact alone, combined with how freaking good it is, makes it deserving of a 90-point rating.  It’s only a 2-point difference, but I’m still sour about it.

Happy sipping, DRINK ROSE!

Another PS- I’m going to VEGAS this week, so keep an eye on my tweets (@winesnobsc) and be prepared to drool over all the wine I’ll be drinkin’!

Francoise Chauvenet NV Brut

Alright, so it’s high time I included a bubby in my blog.  Especially in time for the wine sale TOMORROW where you can snag this delicious little guy for $9!!  Yes, per bottle!  Plus, as an added bonus, this bottle is French, which means it LOOKS expensive.  Oh, you didn’t know that?  Everything that’s French looks expensive, it’s a widely accepted rule.  That means it’s the perfect bottle to serve at a party for some friends.  You could even learn to say it properly- “Franswaz Show-ven-ay.”  Just picture all the people you can impress.  Or, if you’re like me, you can sit in bed and drink it out of a cheap wine glass from World Market, in your sweatpants, while you download songs on iTunes, and put off cleaning the house- impressing no one.  But that is the great thing about inexpensive wine- you can open it for yourself and not feel obligated to do anything special at all!

silvercap

See?  There it is, on my nightstand next to the cheap wine glass.  Moving on, let’s get some descriptors going for this little guy: it’s a nice pale yellow in color, smells light and fresh and fruity.  Has a bit of honey, straw, some toast… it has a nice delicacy that I love in a bubbly.  Goes down soooo easily, so easy to drink!  I got so distracted writing this that I burned my dinner.  I wasn’t planning on going out tonight, but it looks like little Francoise here has forced me to… funny how Champagne can do that, isn’t it?

Well, I don’t feel the need to be overly verbose when it comes to this wine- it’s fantastic, and it’s $9.  What else do you need to know?  And if you’re not convinced, come down to Cellar on Greene tomorrow between 12 and 2 and taste for yourself!  Plus- you can pick up some OPALA Vinho Verde and Atteca Grenache, too!  They’ll be there!  Hope to see everyone then!