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!

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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?

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

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

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Yes. Really.

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

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

Feast your eyes on this fella.

Feast your eyes on this fella.

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

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

Yes. Really.

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

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

Folks, this is White Zin.

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

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

MEMEWHITEGIRL

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

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

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

 

Patton Valley “Drink Pink” 2015!

DRINK PINK! Its as though this event was made for me. Now in its fourth year, Drink Pink sold out at 300 people. I probably would have guessed there to be 120 people there, because it never felt crowded (hat tip). I really can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than at Patton Valley, with around 30 different Rosé producers from the Valley. WHUT. Okay, so I wish it had been a few degrees cooler. But we can’t have everything. And fortunately there was shaved ice, in which I drowned my “sorrows.”

Take a gander at those babies.

Take a gander at those babies.

Although I have mixed feelings about “scoring” in general, I wanted to break up a few of the wines tasted on Saturday into fun little categories. Cause really, when I stop to think, there are two main ways to enjoy Rosé: 1.) as a wine (duh): serve it lightly chilled but not ice cold, and enjoy it with food, or just savor it slowly over the course of a Summer evening. And 2.) the “porch pounder”: serve it cold, drink it down on a hot day that’s meant for day-drinking, with as many jovial friends as possible.

There’s plenty of room for both in my world.

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As a general rule, I like porch-pounders to be 1.) thirst quenching and 2.) easy on the wallet. Let’s face it; when you’re buying a for a small gathering or just to have a cold bottle in the fridge at all times, I think they should stay in the $16-$22 price range. Perhaps your definition of a porch-pounder is more like $9-$15, or maybe its $25 and up. Again, I’m generalizing, but the $16-$22 allows plenty of room for a quality wine that *also* is delicious.

So! Without further adieu: My Top Three “Porch Pounders” from Drink Pink 2015:

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1.) David Hill Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014. Bright, fresh, fun and really captivating in that energetic, buoyant sense. This wine was a nice surprise for me; I’d never had anything from David Hill before and this wine really caught my attention. $18 retail.

(this is an older photo, Patton Valley's Rosé was on tap this Saturday)

(this is an older photo, Patton Valley’s Rosé was on tap this Saturday)

2.) Patton Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014. Sorry not sorry. These guys host the event for a reason. Their pink is the jam. I’ve yet to find a Rosé that is as fleeting, pretty, floral, clean, delicate and rose petally (not a word?) as this one. And for $18? C’mon. It’s just stupid good.

Also a photo from a few weeks ago. Is this label not awesome?

3.) Division Winemaking Company Gamay Rosé, 2014. This one also takes home the award for coolest label and coolest grape. I’m really trying not to show favoritism here, and I think I may be verging towards unobjective when it comes to this wine, but I first tried it back in April and after revisiting, am convinced of its greatness. Tart, crisp pomegranate and cranberry notes. Refreshing as all get out. Retail $19.

 

Next! My Top Three Big Sexy’s That I’d Like to Spend an Entire Evening With:

IMG_99031.) Alexana Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014. Richly colored, this wine enjoyed 10 hours of skin contact and neutral French oak barrels for four months. Inviting color, lingering creaminess on the finish and overall sex appeal make this one a winner in my world. Retail $28.

IMG_93062.) Winderlea Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014. Slightly more mellow in color but in no way lacking in the lovely department. Fragrant, silky, and the epitome of a crowd-pleaser. Robert does amazing things to the textures of his wines, IMHO. Retail $25

Hey there, piggy.

Hey there, piggy.

3.) Big Table Farm Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014. I’ve had this wine on a few occasions and it seems to just be getting better over time. Freshly bottled it had great energy but its youth showed a bit; now with a few months to gain traction it has really come together into one magical little entity. Also with a bit of barrel age, this wine ventures into watermelon rind/cherry pith/rhubarb territory. Full malo makes for a nice sturdiness. Yum. Retail $26.

 

Another award: BEST COLOR! Goes to…

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Ribera Vineyards”Molly’s Vineyard” Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2014. I love the super delicate color on this guy. It reminds me of a few of my favorite Spanish Rosé of Tempranillos that I’ve had in the past. Super crisp, beautiful palate as well. Retail $22.

There were so many killer wines there, I almost feel like a poser playing this “favorite” game, but I needed to mix it up a little today. Plus, the interweb likes “favorites.” I hope you enjoyed!

Oh, and can I just say- THAT PAELLA from Crown Paella. Slap. Your. Mama.

I've never seen such a beautiful sight.

I’ve never seen such a beautiful sight.

Oh, and aforementioned shaved ice from Ono Shave Ice! I had watermelon and blue raspberry, naturally. Because if I’m going to overdose on sugar, I want my tongue to be blue at the end:

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This was a beautifully organized event from start to finish. Great idea, great wine, perfect location, great vibe. Awesome all around! Can’t wait for next year.

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Oregon Wine Month- Rosé all Day!

Greetings on this, the last day of Oregon Wine Month. I have some brief news to share, and then I will leave you to your Sunday plans!

The Pink.

The Pink.

As you may know by now, I am a lover of pink wine. From waaay back. Pink wine was also what transformed me into a lover of white wine. Back when I was young and dumb, I thought I only liked red wine. Until one day I tried a rosé. I believe it was a very warm (okay, probably blisteringly hot) Summer day in South Carolina. It was as if the heavens had opened. I had never been so refreshed and delighted. And the rest is history. You can scroll back through my posts on this site; there are numerous ramblings and starry-eyed odes to pink wine throughout the years. As well as these two articles here and here, which are other fun testaments to my infatuation with the pink juice.

When I ventured out to Oregon, my Thirty Oregon Wines in Thirty Days project helped me make a lot of great contacts- one of them being Carrie at Cellar 503. We met up one day and chatted about a collaboration. When she mentioned she had considered doing a special rosé shipment this Summer, I of course selfishly offered my services.

There began a few week quest at finding some new favorite Oregon rosé! This was a complete hardship. I finally narrowed it down, and I’m pretty tickled about the results. You can purchase the four-pack for $75 via the Cellar 503 website. If you’re local to Oregon, you can find these bottles individually as well, either at the various winery tasting rooms or a few retailers. But isn’t it just a bit more exciting to buy them as a little package? The four pack can also be picked up at the next Cellar 503 tasting event on June 21st. I know I’ll be making an appearance!

My dreamy tasting notes on the four wines can be found here: Anne Amie Huntington Rosé of Pinot Gris, Soter “North Valley” Rosé, Quady North GSM Rosé and Willful Rosé of Pinot Noir. Something I’m also quite proud of is that a total of eleven Oregon grapes are represented in these four wines. Pinot Noir does make great rosé, but I love showcasing the variety of grapes that are found in Oregon, as well as all the different styles of rosé that there are in the world. It’s pretty darn exciting. I hope you enjoy.

Cheers!

 

Time for one more Rosé! Raffault Chinon Rosé, 13 France

It’s. Still. Summer. Yeesh. 

This is the time of year when I notice that our Rosé sales, which are steady all Summer, tend to dip off. My personal belief for this? People are just so over the heat that they drink beer. I know I do. As much as I love a refreshing glass of white wine or Rosé, when its 100 degrees and 100% humidity, the simplicity of an ice cold beer is sometimes all I can handle. So here’s a reminder that there’s STILL TIME to enjoy a Rosé!

Anyway! There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s called SEPTEMBER! It’ll be here in NINE DAYS! And even though September is still pretty hot, it never feels as bad, mentally, as August. Because we’re almost there.

Side note- I realized the other day that I haven’t written about a red wine since March- eep! I tried to come up with one to write about, but I just can’t. It’s too hot. So I’m going with one more Rosé to finish up the Summer series. And it’s a good one!

photo 1 (15)Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Rosé is a sturdier Rosé, built for a somewhat serious Rosé drinker. Remember my BFF, the Charles Bove Vouvray? This wine comes from the Loire Valley too, but from an AOC a little Southwest of Vouvray called Chinon. Chinon is known for its Cabernet Franc, which is what this Rosé is made from. This area is steeply elevated and has rocky soil. Reds from Chinon are also a favorite of mine, although they sometimes require one to enjoy a bit of austerity and tannin.

This Rosé is dear to my heart because, as I mentioned before, it has a nice weight and sturdiness to it. It isn’t frivolous, and though it would make a nice mid-day quaffer like almost all Rosés do, it can be taken seriously enough to pair with dinner. Excellent food wine. Charcuterie, herbed goat cheese, a light chicken or quail preparation would all be stellar. photo 2 (15)

When this wine reaches close to room temperature is actually when its aromatics really pop! Too cold, it will certainly refresh, but might not reveal all its lovely flavor components. Tremendous care is taken in the production of this Rosé to preserve all the vivacious fruit and delicate spice. Redcurrant, strawberry, a little bit of cherry and pomegranate are accentuated by a hint of orange peel, Asian five spice and fresh red flowers. Excellent minerality and a taut, bitey finish. I don’t think bitey is actually a word, but this wine bites a little, so therefore bitey seems appropriate. The finish lasts an awfully long time for a reasonably priced wine!

Speaking of- you’ll be glad to know that this wine is an awesome $15 to take home! And you can try it at tomorrow’s (August 23rd) WINE SALE from 12-2! There will be, as always, discounted prices, smiling faces and air conditioning. Do you have a better way to spend your Saturday morning? I didn’t think so.

I’m heading up to DC next weekend to attend Epicurience Virginia with this guy:

How could you not love this guy.

How could you not love this guy.

I hope to return with tales of all the awesome wine that is being made in Virginia- and no, that’s not tongue-in-cheek; there really is awesome wine being made in Virginia. Until then, happy drinking and see you at the sale tomorrow!

 

 

 

WattsUp Rosé, 13 Spain, Rioja

A beautiful girl with no makeup on.

MMM.

That’s the best imagery that I can conjure up to describe this wine. You know, that beauty who’s fresh from the beach, maybe a little freckled or pink in the cheeks from a day in the sun. No muss, no fuss, yet lovely and carefree. No frills. But picture-perfect.

So, I like this juice. Could you tell? I like it for a few reasons. First of all, it tastes delicious. Clean, crisp, lightly floral, just the right amount of red berry fruit highlights and a touch of fresh watermelon. It’s elegant in it’s simplicity. Isn’t that what we want in a Summer thirst-quencher/beach-mate?

Second, I like the package. It sticks with it’s intended theme of “TAKE ME TO THE BEACH!” Simple and fun to look at. And doesn’t that picture make you want to go to the beach? I mean, I do- and with my pale skin, the charms of the beach are sometimes lost on me.

photo 4 (7)Third, this wine has some star power. And I admit, I’m charmed by it. Here’s the story: the wine was brought about by a rad photographer named Ben Watts. Somehow he became entrenched with the fellas at Wine Awesomeness. (Speaking of which, I’m going to need to hear the whole story there soon, mmkay guys?). All these bros apparently have a deep love of Pink Wine (three cheers for men who drink pink! teehee). So the first vintage of WattsUp was released last year and got quite a bit of press- check out the GQ article, Food Republic article, and Hamptons Magazine article from last year. And here we are in li’ ol’ Columbia SC, and we get to drink the stuff! How cool is that?

 

And while we’re on the subject of Wine Awesomeness, you should pop over and check out a few of the Wine Education blog posts I’ve written for them. I think they’re pretty neat!

But back to the wine, because that’s why you’re here. What I love about it, and why I believe it to be a successful wine, is that it picks one thing and does it well. By that I mean, the intention was to have a wine that is an easy-going, refreshing quaff that you can party with all Summer. And that is precisely what it is. Plus it’s an excellent value! You can sip on a glass for $7 at Cellar on Greene where it’s currently by-the-glass. But tomorrow would be a great time to come stock up on a few bottles before July 4th at our Big Ol’ Wine Sale & Tasting! Seriously, 12-2 tomorrow (June 28th), be there or be stranded without the coolest wine of the Summer for July 4th. We’re also going all out and marking down a lot of reserve bottles in a “Summer cleaning” sort of endeavor. DO IT!

Are you not so much a beach-goer? Have no fear. This wine is also perfect for this:

Don't act like this isn't what you're doing right now.

Don’t act like this isn’t what you’re doing right now.

Did I air out your dirty little secret? Drinking wine and Facebooking? It’s okay. We all need to decompress. So I suggest keeping a permanent bottle of this little guy in your fridge all Summer to give you an assist. That’s all I got for today. Come see me tomorrow at the wine sale!

 

Vaughn Duffy Rose, 12 Sonoma

So this is a new thing for me, and I feel like a bit of a celebrity.

In the spirit of full disclosure, this wine was received as a sample from one of my Twitter followers, @wineclubguy, aka Mark Aseltine.  Turns out, upon inspection, that he is a co-founder of Uncorked Ventures, a site that in addition to having several convenient wine club options, offers pretty neat lookin’ wine gift baskets.

photo 1 (19)

#goesgreatwith… Sriracha?

So this is a Rose of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Syrah from Sonoma County.  I’m fairly certain that @wineclubguy saw one of my many tweets about my love for Rose, and that was how this sample bottle ended up in my life.  Did a little research, and I’m pretty impressed with some of the buzz about this wine.  Evidently not a lot of it makes it out of California (not too surprising given that it’s just 600 cases made). Sarah Vaughn and Matt Duffy were named  on a list of Seven Winemakers to Watch in 2012 by the Insider’s Guide to San Francisco in 2012.  Their 2010 Rose of Pinot was listed as the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Wines of 2011.  There are also some impressive scores for several of their Pinot Noirs- here is where I got this info- worth checking out.  Could they be the next members of the “new school” of California winemakers?  Matthiasson, Lioco, Arnot-Roberts?  Perhaps.

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So a bit more about the wine, as I’m trying to keep this post short n’ sweet; it’s a pretty delicious little quaff, and price-wise ($17 is looking like average retail), it is very decent for a small-production, boutique-y Cali Rose.  I would pay it.  It has a bright nose of freshly grated orange peel, wild strawberry, watermelon and tropical fruit.  Nice acid is combined with a juicy mouthfeel, and a nice thirst quenching, easy-going palate.  They describe it on their website as a porch sipper, and it’s pretty darn hard to argue with that.  Who doesn’t need a porch-sipper?  Or in my case, a couch-sipper?  A Monday night watching Jurassic Park-sipper?  (this movie is fantastic by the way.  don’t even argue with me.)

Truth be told, I’m pretty impressed with the quality of this wine, and I can only assume it is representative of the wines available through Uncorked Ventures (note- this wine was included in their “Explorations” wine club shipment). Since I am super-spoiled and hardly ever have to purchase wine in a retail capacity, I’d say my trust-factor isn’t terribly high on internet wine purchases.  But this might have earned my trust, and in my opinion that’s about 75% of the battle.  Kudos, fellas.

I don’t think I’ll be making the switch to big-time-online-wine-reviewer anytime soon, but this was a fun departure from my norm.