Rocca Bastia Pinot Grigio, 2010 Veneto

Rocca Bas-tee-ah.  I was saying Rocca BAS-tee-ah for a while there.  But I don’t think anyone heard me, so it matters not.  It’s been a while since I took on an Italian white, and my extreme fondness for white wine does not generally extend to Pinot Grigio… but THIS is a really pleasant surprise!  An excellent value, and a really stunning level of complexity for its… wait for it… $9 PRICETAG!  Yipeeeee!

So, what’s to like about this lil guy?  Well, I just gave you one reason- it’s $9!  But I’d rather throw $9 out the window than spend $9 on a crappy bottle of wine- so when I share my excitement over it’s price, it’s because I have deemed that it is worthy enough to be hailed as a truly delicious bottle of wine, not just a decent cheap bottle of wine that you won’t want to spit out.  You dig?  Good.

I can hear servers and bartenders all accross America heaving a collective sigh as the ladies at his or her table announce “I’ll take a glass of the Pinot Grigio.”  Heavy hearted, they ring the order in and secretly suspect that these broads are the type who just want something in their hand to sip on, and they couldn’t give a hoot what it tastes like or anything about it.  They fight the desire to pour some water into it and see if they notice.  They prepare themselves for the separate checks that will certainly be forthcoming, even though everyone’s bill comes to exactly the same amount.  Does that sound like your stereotypical Pinot Grigio drinker?  Yup.

Unfortunately, Pinot Grigio in the restaurant world is sort of a sad story.  It can be marked up more than it should be, because the owner knows it will sell regardless.  Wine retailers probably stock Santa Margherita somewhat begrudgingly, knowing that it will sell no matter how hard they try to get people to branch out.  It’s sort of like casting a really smokin’ hot blonde in a summer blockbuster movie.  Even if she’s not particularly charming or even beautiful, the fact that she’s wearing Daisy Dukes and a cut off white t-shirt will ensure that people see the movie.  But that’s the way it goes, I guess.

Before I get too verbose, let’s move on to the actual WINE.  The reason I like it is because it is perfectly balanced between light fruit, citrus, minerality and a nice flowery finish.  And perfect acidity to make it thirst-quenching and sublime for hot weather.   Tart notes of green apple, lime, and a sweet hint of honeysuckle.  The finish is longer than expected, and it’s clean and minerally.  I don’t ask for much more than this.  Don’t be boring and innocuous- show me some liveliness!  Show me some zest!  that’s what this wine has.  A friendly, lively zestiness.  It must have had fun hanging out in the bottle or during fermentation, because it’s really pretty pumped to be alive.  It arrives in your glass with enthusiasm.  You didn’t think that was possible in a simple little bottle of Pinot Grigio, did you?  well, give it a shot, because I ain’t makin’ this up.

TONIGHT, May 25th from 5-7 at Cellar, I will be introduced to this wine’s step-sibling, the Rocca Bastia Soave, as well as a few other Italian whites, which I’m pretty excited about.  If you’d like, you may meet them too!   Also known as a wine tasting, this meet & greet will cost you something like $7 and will definitely cool you off after the thermometer hits a fantastic 99 degrees today.  AWESOME.  Not.  Come to think of it… this would also be perfect to throw in the car with you on your way to the lake or the beach this Memorial Day weekend… why yes, it would.  Just sayin’.

Can’t make the tasting?  We have plenty of the Rocca Bastia in stock at Cellar for $9 a bottle.  It’s also available as part of our $90 Mystery Case.  Whuck??  never heard of a Mystery Case?  Get to it.  Oh, you don’t know what “whuck” means?  You poor thing.  You haven’t discovered Rants from Mommyland yet.  You need to get on that, too.  I don’t even have children and I’ve been staying up late laughing til I cry.  That’s all I got, thanks for reading and happy almost Memorial Day!

Wine Sale Bargains!

Yes, ma’am- we’re still having a wine sale tomorrow (10-30), depsite the fact that there is a noon football game!  We’re just hoping that there’s enough of you out there that like wine more than football… or at the very least- wine BEFORE football- that it won’t just be us employees standing around looking at each other from 12-2 tomorrow.  Please, please don’t make us do this!  So today’s post will be short, sweet and to the point- bargains, bargains & more bargains!  Well just five, actually.  But they’re good!!

hot kitchen photo shoot

Here they all are, posing together.  First is Ca’Lunghetta Pinot Grigio, 2009 Italy.  Normally around $10-11 online or at your average Wine-o-rama store, we’re selling for $8 tomorrow!  Here’s all you need to know about this one- it’s light, bright, crisp, and it goes down reallll easy.  Or, in more polite terms, it’s “easy to drink!”  Refreshing flavors of green apple, citrus, melon, and a pleasant zesty finish.  You’re bound to love it.  It’s hard not to find it at the very least, quaffable. 

Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Pinot Gris, 2008 California.  If there was one phrase that I would’ve seriously doubted would ever enter this blog it would be Kendall Jackson.  I doubt if I ever would have picked this one up at a store for the simple reason that I tend to stay away from the Big Cali Hype… but okay I’ll level with you- it’s actually very nice!  Brighter and not as “wet” as an Oregon Pinot Gris, it offers some pleasant flavors of apple, spice, lemon zest and nice floral aromatics.  Upon further investigation, it turns out this wine is 88% Pinot Gris, and the rest is made up of various percentages of Roussane, Gewurtz, Viognier, Muscat, Chardonnay & Riesling.  Go figure!  A prettt cool little blend.  Average price- $17, tomorrow for $13!


Time for some REDS!!  Two Pinot’s for all you Pinot-lovers out there… Dante Pinot Noir, 2009 California, just $10!  This is a Michael Pozzan wine, which I did not know until just now when I googled looking for images.  This wine is very competatively priced- it’s price range matches- IE $10 at your average grocery store- don’t even hold a candle to it, as it easily drinks in the $14 range.  Not super new-worldy, it’s a touch more earthy and gamey than you usually find in California.  Sour cherry, cloves, leather, and an easy-going palate.  Not the most complex wine on the planet, but who doesn’t love a good Wednesday wine for $10 that would taste great with a frozen pizza?  I sure do. 

Then we skip to the little “Superstar” of today’s post- J Pinot Noir, 2007 Russian River Valley!  Now we’re stepping up to $22 a bottle for this one, but given that it averages at least $30 a bottle, that ain’t bad!  Plus, this is some great Russian River juice- classic raspberry and strawberry, but with interesting additions like hints of mint, wintergreen, cinnamon, cloves, and lovely dark, rich black cherry.  100% French Oak aged.  This one will be a welcome addition to the “grown up” wine shelf in your house, for when you need something just a bit more, but aren’t willing to break out the reserve wines just yet.  Save those for when it’s December 23rd and you haven’t finished your Holiday shopping.  You’ll need them. 

And last but not least, our old friend the L’Oca Ciuca “The Drunken Goose” Sangiovese-Merlot-Syrah, 2006 Italy.  This has been a staple around here for quite a while and folks seem to really like it.  Maybe it’s the name, who knows!  This little goose is awfully cute, too.  The long and the short of this wine is that we’ve sold it for $10 a bottle in the past, but this weekend we’re marking it down to $8!!  What could be better than a good wine for $10, but a good wine for $8?!  Especially one you know you like.  But if you’ve never had it, remember you can try it on Saturday!  It’s very smooth, versatile, and is more fruit-forward than you might expect from the Chianti region. 

So come check these bad boys out!  Actually, if you come to the sale on Saturday and mention that you read this blog- or at least this post- I might hook you up with a little gift.  I’m something of a baker, didn’t you know?  Can’t turn that down, can you?

Whites You Need for the 4th!

A quick post before our annual summer vacation from July 3rd-7th!  This Thursday night, the 1st, we’re doing a special night of Whites You be Needin’ for the 4th of July.  All of the wines I’m about to blather on about may be consumed for $4 a glass on Thursday night, and then ones you like best may be whisked away with you that very night (after you purchase them, of course)!  Yes, you know you need to stock up that cooler before you high-tail it out of Columbia.  Why do I know you will be doing that?  because that’s what you all did last year!  The night before 4th of July weekend, we had a total of 6 customers at Cellar on Greene.  Columbia was like a ghost town.  Which is fine- have fun, be safe, but STOCK UP!  Especially on some killer summer whites!  What else could you want for the beach?!  Beer, I suppose.  Beer tastes good at the beach.  But so does Opala!  And the rest of the wines I’m about to tell you about….

Opala Vinho Verde (Portugal) really needs no intruduction- it still remains the most visited post out of all the wine rants I’ve created over the last year and a half.  It’s our best seller at Cellar (get it?  seller?  cellar?).  It’s $10 a bottle.  I seriously doubt there’s anyone who hasn’t tasted this wine and not loved it.  It’s light, it’s crisp, it’s a little fizzy, and it’s low in alcohol, so you can practically sip it through a straw while you roast in the sun and never get more than a pleasant buzz.  We have PLENTY in stock, so stop in and grab as much as you need!

Norton Torrontes (Argentina)– this is a new one to me, but I *heart* torrontes, and so do a lot of our regulars.  Stylistically this one’s a bit on the drier side, which is nice for a summer wine.  Torrontes tend to have very flamboyant noses, with lots of bright fruit going on- sometimes hints of candy like jolly ranchers and gummy bears- but then they surprise you when you with their crispness when you get to the palate.  This one has leafy notes, with granny smith apple and tangy lemon flavors.  Delish!  $10 a bottle!


Markham Sauvignon Blanc (California) is definitely an above average Cali Sauv Blanc for this price range ($13 a bottle).  California Sauv Blancs are some of my favorites where Sauv Blanc is concerned- I love New Zealands as well, but occasionally I feel as though I’m chewing either a.) a grapefruit rind, or b.) a mouthful of grass.  The Markham offers delightful tropical hints- passionfruit, guava, gooseberry- finished off with nice lemony and white peach notes.   Fantastic alone or delicious with a fresh green salad and a citrusy viniagrette of sorts.  Fish, chicken, even a lightly prepared pork- perfect!  Very versatile wine.


Pighin Pinot Grigio (Italy).  Okay, I said it- Pinot Grigio is probably my least favorite white wine.  BUT!  When it’s good, I love it!  And it still has a stronghold over people, because it sells like hotcakes in the hot weather.  The Pighin is from Friuli, which gives it a leg up over other Pinot Grigio’s- the grape manages to maintain it’s intensity.  Peachy stone fruits, a silky texture, a h int of hazelnut, and a touch of melon lead into a classic, clean finish.  Yum!  $10 a bottle!


Last but not least, Lonen Charonnay (California).    A lush, rich little Cali Chard, which despite the the amount of “anything but Chardonnay” press there is out there these days in wine-snob land- still maintains strong selling presence… pretty much everywhere.  The Lonen is like a big, ripe basket of exotic fruits- pineapple, mango, light touches of orange blossom and a luxurious, butterscotchy-oaky-toasty finish.  Delicious and a fantastic value for $13 a bottle. 

That’s all I have time for today!  Likewise, if you need some REDS for the 4th, too- just let me know and I will hook it up in a jiffy while you’re sipping away on your $4 glass of white.  And maybe some tuna nachos, too?  That’s what I just had for lunch.  Ah, the benefits of working at Cellar on Greene.  Tuna Nachos whenever I want!