Sparkling Month! Analemma Blanc de Noir, 2011

December is here! Naturally, the best time of the year to drink sparkling wine. Well, except February. That’s a good month, too- with that whole holiday that starts with a “V” occurring and all. Personally, I’ll drink sparkling just about any old month, but the craving has really come home to roost in the last few weeks. I think it really began when I was working on this article, and pouring over the Theise Sparkling Manifesto, and realizing just how painfully long it had been since I’d felt that searing acid slice across my tastebuds and the tingle of carbonation. I love the mouthwatering factor of sparkling wine more than anything. I especially love how just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Like now.

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I stole this picture from fellow writer, Tamara Belgard! It was better than mine.

But, hallelujah! There was a saving grace. The weekend of November 14th, I took a quick jaunt up to the Columbia Gorge to attend a release party for Analemma’s 2011 Atavus Blanc de Noir. Perfect! I thought. I’m unfamiliar with the Gorge area in general, still being a relative newbie, and I’ll treat it like a little vacation that’s only a day and a half long. Sold.

 

 

So what better time than December to throw together a little “Sparkling Month” on the blog? Admittedly, thus far I have slated only four Sparklers to tell you about- but they’re good ones, and they’re all very individual representations of Sparkling wine in the Pacific Northwest, and the cool directions its going in.

5.Kris_Steven_closeupWhere to start with the Analemma? There are so many cool facts about this wine. And, I have to lead by saying I was so pleasantly surprised and impressed by my experience there. Kris and Stephen are wonderfully authentic and talented people. A husband and wife team, Kris being the viticulturalist and Stephen the winemaker, they’ve really created a very special place at Analemma Wines. With some impressive notches on their belts, they had the opportunity to lease the Atavus Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge starting in 2010. The vineyard itself was planted in the 1960’s. A very high-elevation site, it sits at between 1600 and 1800 feet, making it absolutely ideal for grapes that thrive in cooler growing conditions. The resulting high acid spells perfection for sparkling grapes. 2011 was especially cold, so this wine was brought into the world at the right time. Three of the coolest things about this bubbly are: it is single varietal (Pinot Noir), single vineyard (Atavus) and single vintage (2011). Got all that?

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A sharp crispness dominates the palate, with really poignant aromas of granny smith apple, underripe red fruit, lemon peel, and a hint of sweet tarts. There are some beautifully woven baking spice notes in the background, accentuated by woodsy herbs and that salinity we all know and love in sparkling wine. Here’s the interesting thing about my experience tasting this wine for the first time. As soon as I tasted it, I thought… “Oh, wow. I *think* this is amazing,” but I didn’t have a chance to really bounce my thoughts off anyone at the time. I had read good press about the wine, so I knew it was well-respected, but sometimes when I first think something is too good initially, I like to test the waters and see if my thoughts fall in line with other people’s. Taste can easily be affected by your mood, your surroundings, etc. At least for me.

In any case, I didn’t trust myself 100%. But, as it turns out, I should have. One of my go-to Pacific Northwest palate’s is Michael Alberty at Storyteller wine in Portland. I love his tasting notes, and have the highest regard for his palate. Just a few days ago he featured this wine in his newsletter, and suffice to say- he likes it. Then I saw that Tamara over at Satiate PDX purchased a bottle at Storyteller just the other night, and she thought it was a rockstar as well. Then there’s the whole Top 100 Wines of 2014 thing, where the 2010 vintage had earned a rightful place. Kiddos, the wine’s good. These people are on to something.

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This is already super long, but I do want to make note that I also *loved * their Gewurztraminer. That thing was singin’! They weren’t kidding when they said this vineyard site was intended for Alsatian varietals. I’d love to feature it in the future at some point!

–Absolute. Last. Thing.– Wondering where the name Analemma comes from? Allow me to tell you! I love this. An analemma is a figure eight pattern that the sun creates across the sky during the course of a year. A specific location has a unique analemma- Beaune, France will have a different-looking analemma then Marlborough, New Zealand. Their logo is an artist’s rendering of the analemma at the Atavus vineyard. The top of the figure eight would occur roughly at the time of the Summer solstice. One of my favorite things about wine is that it is, in many ways, a physical representation of where it comes from. The background of the analemma itself and how it relates to the wine is pretty awesome, I think.

I’d love to thank Kris and Stephen for the really amazing, educational, and eye-opening visit. The Gorge AVA is pretty sick, y’all. I’ll be back.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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! 

Chapter 24 “The Last Chapter” Pinot Noir, 12 Oregon, Willamette

Am I the only person on Earth to be drinking “The Last Chapter” by Chapter 24 while reclined on air mattress listening to Britney Spears?

Perhaps. Very possibly.

And for the record, I am listening to “90’s” on Spotify and this song just HAPPENED to come on. I mean, I’m 32. I don’t sit around listening to Britney’s first album in it’s *entirety*. But it’s pretty hard to resist when it does come on. Admit it.

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So the reason I led with that little intro was because this isn’t exactly the kind of wine you’d typically drink on a boring night while you’re wearing sweatpants and doing nothing in particular. This is one of the more expensive wines I’ve ever written about; and truthfully, it isn’t *that* much when you compare it to some of the big heavy hitters in boutique Napa wineries, famous century-old French estates, and the like. It sells for $90 at the tasting room. This wine also scored 96 points from Wine & Spirits, 93 from Wine Spectator, and 94 from Stephen Tanzer. When you hear scores like that, and you see the price tag, you might be inclined to dismiss it, thinking that it couldn’t possibly live up to its praise and for that kinda money, you’d just as soon get a half case of some good everyday drinkers. There’s something to be said for that. But, after visiting this wine over the course of a weekend, I have to tell you- it does live up to the hype. It’s worth it. Sorry haters, but it just kinda is.

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Now I love Oregon wine- this much we know. And part of me thinks- well, you’re GD right you can make good wine when you start out bankrolled and with a powerhouse founding/winemaking team (Mark Tarlov and Louis-Michel Liger-Belair). Frenchie, in case you don’t know, is a very well-known and well-respected oeneologist/owner of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair in Vosne-Romanee (Burgundy). The cool kids call it Voz-Rom, by the way. In comparison, I respect small operations wholeheartedly and always will. They are what make industries happen.

But to dismiss this wine for that reason alone would be remiss. True, scores do set expectations and force people to draw comparisons and come to conclusions they might not have come to on their own. However, the fact remains that this is beautifully made juice. And we live in a world where scores happen. So let’s leave that behind for now.

I don’t want to blather on too much longer before I get to the actual tasting notes, but it is worth noting that Chapter 24 Vineyards is a somewhat unique project in that it’s two “staple” bottlings are bottled by soil type, not by individual AVA. “The Fire” is sourced from AVAs with volcanic soil and “The Flood” from AVAs with sedimentary soil (these sell for $60 each). “The Last Chapter” comes from the top four vineyards that are used in Fire and Flood. So when you taste these wines, you’re also almost getting a little lesson in how different soil types taste. Which is pretty cool!

Technically, you could do that with almost any single vineyard bottling that you choose to purchase. Because vineyard sites are typically small enough that they’re only made up of one soil type. Technically. But it’s still really fun to be able to taste Fire and Flood side by side, and know that they’re from two different soil types in the same year. Okay, enough of that…. WHAT the F*%@ does it taste like?!

The nose is somewhat subtle, with fragrant red raspberry, plum & wild strawberry on the forefront, but very delicately woven nutmeg, clove and star anise following close behind. The palate is silky for days and met with darker notes of blackberry, briar patch, berry liqueur and very soft vanilla. It has tannin, but its completely seamless. The texture is really what this wine is all about. Without going into too many geeky details, there are some really interesting winemaking techniques at use here that make the texture happen. Its an experiential wine; it glides, it floats. Ephemeral, yet all the big fruit characteristics of the vintage are there. You’ll see what I mean.

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Chapter 24 tasting room! Brand-spankin’ new, located on the corner of 99 and 5th St in Newberg. 

Just under 900 cases of The Last Chapter were made. I’ll go out on a (not so big) limb and say it is worth seeking one out. Or, if you’re a local Oregonian, it’s *definitely* worth stopping in to the tasting room. It’s convenient (basically right in front of Dobbes, and right before Argyle, if you’re heading West on 99).

In the interest of full disclosure, I did help out at the Chapter 24 tasting room for Thanksgiving weekend, but I wasn’t paid to say nice things about the wine. I promise. The Oregon adventure continues to be a wild ride, but I am enjoying it; working here and getting to know these wines was a total treat.

Cheers, y’all!

 

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!

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

One Wine to Rule Them All- Verso Rosso Salento, 2012 Italy

THIS is your big Winter Red!!

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I’m 1000% serious.  This is absolutely THE wine you are gonna fall head over heels for during the chillier months that are upon us.  The best part?  You’ve probably never heard of these grapes.  You might not know how to say Verso or Salento (VAIR-so and sa-LAIN-to).  Heck, you might not have had an Italian wine quite like this before.  But trust me, YOU’RE GONNA FLIP!!

This wine is special for several reasons– first, it comes to us from one of my favorite portfolios, Small Vineyards.  In order to be included in Small Vineyards, the wine must be hand-harvested, from a family-owned estate, and be farmed in an ecologically friendly manner.  Note the word organic is not in use here; in my opinion it’s a bit irrelevant- you can trust that this wine comes from people that really cares about their impact on the environment as well as making the best wine possible, which I trust over a USDA certification eight days a week.

Raisins are tasty.

Raisins are tasty.

Second, this wine is big and sexy for a cool reason; a portion of the grapes (no, I’m not sure which ones) were allowed to “raisin”- which is exactly what it sounds like!  Also known as “appassimento”, it is a process of allowing the grapes to hang out and dry a bit- concentrating their sugars.  It is a labor-intensive process, which results in the reduction of the yield.  A labor of love, I would call it.  So it means they end up with LESS total wine to put into bottles, BUT the wine that results is so rich and flavorful it’ll leave you speechless- and (AND!) it it not weighed down with a high alcohol content!  This wine comes in at a solid 14% abv.  That’s a full 1.5-2 percentage points less than your average Cali Cab, Zin or Shriraz- the typical wines “big red” drinkers tend to like.  Balance, people- balance!  And it means you can drink a bit more of this guy without that thick, heady feeling you get after two glasses of Zinfandel.

Alright, so I got wine-nerdy there for a minute- so let’s get moving with HOW IT TASTES!  Because that’s what’s gonna keep you coming back for bottle after bottle.  But before I forget, this wine is a blend of 60% Negroamarao, 35% Primitivo (aka Zinfandel’s parent grape) and 15% Malvasia Nera.  A giant nose of figs, cloves, anise, vanilla, raisins (go figure), a hint of olives and black peppercorns, a nice lift of dried flowers and red berries and blueberry.  The texture is silky, polished and mouth-coating.  There’s some unique spicing at work here that I can’t quite pinpoint… I want to say it’s Sumac, but I can’t be positive.  It’s taunting me.  The wine finishes with elegance and a tangy little pop.

So I saved the BEST FOR LAST!  This bottle will cost ya just $16!!  

To add to the fun, this wine is available as part of TURKEY PACK #2 at Cellar on Greene this year!  That means you can have it along with three other swell bottles to take to your Thanksgiving feast quickly and effortlessly.  Never heard of a Turkey Pack?  Well, you must click here and check them out.  They’re only our most popular wine club item every year!  Good news is, you can absolutely grab them as a walk-in purchase- it’ll take 2 seconds for us to pack you one.  So you can leave it til last minute, if you’re at all like me!  

Happy Thanksgiving, wine-lovers!

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

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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

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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 

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“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

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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!

Could it be?? The Perfect Sparkling Gift?

The answer, of course, is YES!  It’s perfect.  The Mumm Brut Prestige (NV, Napa Valley) really had me at “Hello.”  The bottle looks sophisticated and well designed- Good Gift Reason #1.  It tastes delicious- Good Gift Reason #2.  It’s #48 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2010- Good Gift Reason #3.  Soooo… I’m thinking that’s all you really need to know.  No?  Well, okay, I’ll tell you a little bit more about it, but only because I like you.

Aight, so the Brut Prestige is an assemblage of primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.   In true Napa-sparkling style, it strikes a near-perfect balance of gorgeous, warm, sunny fruit characteristics and a lively, refreshing, quenching acidity.  The website states that it is aged in *mostly* stainless steel- there are hints of yeasty spice and vanilla, which suggest a small amount of oak- but whatever the amount, doggone it if it ain’t just right!  The rest of the nose is pear, apple, fresh white flowers, apricot and melon.  What I love BEST about it (besides the fact that it’s reasonably priced) is the mouthfeel- it has that delicate “lift” that a sparkling wine can have- it feels sort of like an air-bubble in your mouth for a second, and the mousse is very fine, but not so fine that you can’t find the bubbles.  Cuz you want to know where da bubbles at when you’re drinking sparkling wine!

Here it is on our Top 100 Shelf at Cellar on Greene, flaunting it’s cool little 90-point rating.  Sooo… let’s see if we can find a celebrity to liken this wine to… Awwww man- I’m bringing out the big guns for this one! 

So this wine is classy, elegant, and most importatly- has never, and probably will never, go out of style.  Even if you’re not in the mood for wine drinking, it’s still bound to brighten your day.  Sometimes you probably forget how good it is, until you pop a bottle one Tuesday for no reason and are reminded- WOW- it’s been this good all along and has never faltered not even for a second!  Can you guess it?? 

sweet jesus that’s a good looking man

BRAD PITT!!  Yes, that’s right folks.  Did you forget about Brad Pitt?  You might have, since he’s so busy with the kids nowadays, and he has the beard sometimes which is a little distracting.  And he’s basically started a second career as a philanthropist and spends a lot of time on that.  But… do you remember Thelma & Louise?  I DO!!  I love him in that movie.  That might be my favorite cute boy movie of all time.  And by that I mean, you watch it just to see the scene with the hairdryer one.more.time.  So in a nutshell, the Mumm and Brad are one because they are timeless and perfect for any occasion. 

So, the last thing I need to mention is that the Mumm can be had for the cool price of 20 bucks!  Good Gift Reason #4- twenty bucks is the ideal amount of money to spend on a gift, in my humble opinion.  Stop in to Cellar and mention this post when you purchase the Mumm and I will also give you a pretty sparkly wine bag to put it in, thus negating the need for you to wrap it!  So that should wrap things up for this edition.  All in all it’s been a good writing experience, given that I got to stop halfway through and Google pictures of Brad Pitt.  Just what I needed tonight, and hopefully it was what you needed, too!