Spring. Whites. Lots of ’em!

Needless to say, I have not been off to a perfect start in 2013 when it comes to blogging.

Truth be told, I have no clue how this year has gone by SO. incredibly. FAST.  There hasn’t been a week where I haven’t tried to sit down and write, but… I just don’t know what happened.  Not going to waste a lot of breath trying to make excuses.  However, one exciting thing that took up most of my energy in March was that I passed the CSW!  I spent a lot of free time cramming for that thing in March.  I’m relieved to have passed, as that sucker was a combination of extremely easy and extremely hard; for example- one question would be: “Which of the following is a red grape?” with four choices (easy), then the next would be: “Put these Chilean wine regions in order from South to North.” (not exactly easy).  But it’s over with and now I get to have CSW next to my name in my gmail signature.  Yahoo!

But I am excited to be back in the saddle, especially because SPRING is one of my favorite times for WINE!  Why?  Well, Spring has that sort of infectious quality where excitement is tangible in the air (along with a healthy dose of pollen).  Although we don’t have particularly long winters here, clearly Columbians are fans of warm weather, and everyone gets happy in the Spring.  This year we had a freezing cold March, and even though we’ve sort of skipped straight to Summer, everyone is still happy.

And we have some absolutely perrrfect Spring whites in right now!  Another reason I love to hunt for Spring whites is that when you find one (or two or ten) that really captures the vitality and aliveness of Spring in a bottle, it is a truly magical event.  So here are three to get us started…

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First up (far left) is the Guild (Lot #6) Pinot Gris/Riesling, 2011 Columbia Valley (retail $16).  This is an effortless, silky little Pacific Northwest white.  There is definitely no mistaking that is is 85% Pinot Gris, and the remaining 15% Riesling is artfully blended and adds just a touch more aromatics to the wine as a whole.  Oregon Pinot Gris has always been a popular category for us, and stylistically this wine offers just a touch more uniqueness than your typical one.  In my mind this makes it a winner.  It’s nose is pure and clean, with aromas of white peaches, apricots, honeysuckle, green apples, pears and a touch of tropical fruit.  The mouthfeel is equal parts soft, textural and tautly acidic.  Finishes with a zip.  I would love to see anyone try to have just one glass of this. This wine is made by a co-operative of well-established Pacific Northwest winemakers who combined forces (Thundercats style) to make the best wine they could at the most reasonable cost.  They succeeded admirably.

Next up is a new installment of what I like to call Crack Juice:

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Crack Juice is a technical term for a white wine that is ideal for warm (and scorchingly hot) weather.  It must meet certain criteria, the top two being 1.) it must be thirst-quenching and 2.) it must be easy on the wallet, since we have such long, hot summers here.  Survey says?  This wine is showing signs of being the number one Crack Juice of Summer 2013.

So what is it?  Montgravet Colombard, 2011 France, Cotes de Gascogne (retails for a ridiculous $10).  What is Colombard?  Well, I’ll tell ya- all you really need to know is that it’s good- BUT, it is a genetic relative of Chenin Blanc, and to me, drinks much like a less-grapefruity Sauvignon Blanc.  It ripens early and is popular in California for inexpensive white blends.  The Cotes de Gascogne region of South West France is considered the place for Colombards of excellent expression, character and VALUE!  This wine is delightfully crisp and clean.  Beautiful fruit leaps out- especially vibrant notes of nectarines, a little pineapple, a nice hint of spring flowers; topped off with a slight bite of citrus zest on the finish.  This wine hits the nail on the head for a value wine- it does one thing, and does it well.  Crisp, pretty, refreshing.  Done!  $10.  Love it.

Finally is a fun little Portugese wine: Serrado Encruzado/Malvasia/Verdelho, 2011 Portugal (retail $12).

serradoThis is a funny little favorite of mine- a blend of Encruzado, Malvasia and Verdelho from the Dao region of Portugal.  Definitely not grapes you’ll see all over the Piggly Wiggly, but they are fairly common for this part of Portugal.  I like this wine because it offers a bit more body while still hanging on to plenty of nice citrus and zestiness.  It will definitely appeal to someone who likes Albarino; the viscosity and fruit content are similar, but this wine conveniently comes in a couple dollars less than your typical Albarino- and it’s fantastic!  Encruzado on it’s own can, to me, be a little oily.  But blended as in this case, that little touch of slickness makes the overall package very appealing.  It has a nice golden color, with a big nose of lemon zest with hints of honeydew melon and cantaloupe to follow.  There’s a nice richness in here- a bit of golden raisin?  I think so, but it’s hard to nail down.  Basically I just think this is a way cool wine, a great value, and I love to see weird grapes being embraced by the general public.  Come try!

Next week will likely be devoted to Rose, as we are supposed to have a Rose arriving that is so good, it will make you melt.  I will speak no more of it until then, but gird your loins, as this one is practically life-altering.  No joke.  No exaggeration.  Happy Spring and happy drinking!!

 

 

 

Semaphore 7, 2009 Portugal

This wine sure does go pretty well with the blueberries I’m eating for lunch.  No joke.  Surely I will dig up something more substantial a little later, but for now it’s wine and blueberries.  It feels like morning to me, even though it’s 1pm.  So really this is breakfast.  Wine for breakfast?  it’s the new coffee.

Okay, maybe not.  And I’m not really drinking, I’m merely tasting.  So what’s the deal with this wine?  Welllll…. it’s made out of a bunch of grapes you’ve probably not heard of, but I’ll tell you anyway:  a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Aragones, and Trincadeira.  Portugal, Portugal.  They just cannot call a grape something we ‘Murricans can remember.  They sure are a stubborn bunch.  Don’t they know that America is the center of the universe??  And that everything revolves around us?

I’m kidding, in case that sarcasm went over any of your heads.  I actually really appreciate the fact that this wine is true to from whence it came.  I know of a particular bottle of Primitivo that goes as far as to print Zinfandel in parentheses under the word Primitivo on the bottle.  I bet it took a whole team of marketing experts to decide on that one.  “Study groups have shown that sales increase drastically when there is a recognizable word on the label!”  Okay, so I made that up.  But I’m sure it’s not far from the truth.  And it’s all about the sales quota, isn’t it?

Well, no.  Not for this wine.  This wine is just going to be who it is.  And if you are unfamiliar with the grapes?  Google them!  That’s what I did.  Educate yourself.  You might learn a thing or two, and have a little fun.  And impress your friends.  So here’s what I learned; Aragones is Tempranillo.  It’s known as Aragones/Aragonez in one part of Portugal.  It’s known as Tinta Roriz in another part of Portugal.  Alicante Bouschet is a cross between Petit Bouschet and Grenache.  Grenache!  There’s a familiar word.  I like Grenache.  And if you do too, you will probably like this wine.

Okay, that was a LOT of wine-nerding for this post.  I think I’ve filled the quota for today.  Let’s move on to experiential things like how it tastes, smells, and behaves!  It’s mostly black fruit n’ flowers.  Since Portugal is best known for port, a lot of times with Portugese reds I get more hints of dried raisins (what other kind of raisin is there?), prunes, plums, blackberries and dried currants.   The Semaphore is young and fresh, so it offers a bit more ripeness and juiciness than many of its cousins and step-siblings might.  There’s also a really nice undercurrent of violets and maybe a little jasmine, followed by some exotic spices.  All in all, an interesting and fun to drink little bottle.

And the best part?  It’s inexpensive!  Retails for $11!  You can grab a bottle and be on your way, or you can sip on a glass during dinner at Cellar on Greene, where it’s on by the glass.  OR if you really wanted to be cool, you could ask for this in your next Mystery Case purchase!  Yes, it’s available as a Mystery Case pick.  Quite a few of you picked it the last two weeks, so hopefully you liked it!  That’s all I got time for today, so happy drinking!

Las Lilas Vinho Verde Rose, 2010 Portugal

“My name is Kaitlin, and I am a Rose Addict.”  Ahhh… it feels good to admit it.  I am powerless to resist the charms of Rose this summer.  It’s all I want.  I try to want other wines, I really do.  But when you hit on something as delicious as this Vinho Verde Rose, and it costs a ridiculous $10, it’s hard to fathom drinking anything else.

Check out it’s gorgeous, almost electric pink color!  She’s a purty one.  The color itself is just screaming “drink me!”  Something this vibrant in color just has to be delicious!  And it is.  It’s fresh and quenching the way a Vinho Verde was intended to be, but offers exciting flavors of strawberry soda, watermelon, and fizzy sweet tarts.  Its finish has a perfect lip-smacking “grip” that makes you feel instantly refreshed!

What to pair with this wine?  Hmmm.  How about a 100-degree day?  We have no shortage of those around here.  Or maybe a pool?  a lake?  the beach?  or just a back porch?  I know, I know- I’ve said all these things before.  But I feel very passionately that this Rose should be consumed at all of those places.  I know from experience!  Of course, I’ve also consumed it in boring places like my couch.  Which miraculously became extremely un-boring once I added a glass of Las Lilas!  It’s true, you must try it.

Here’s a shameful moment in my life as a Rose drinker that I’d like to share; I feel compelled to purge myself and just give in to my total and complete Rose obsession- because at this point, there’s nothing else to be done.  So there may have been a bottle of Las Lilas in my refrigerator at some point recently, and I may have been reaching for the cream for my morning coffee, when…  I glanced at Las Lilas and suddenly thought “that would taste good right now.”  I should also admit- I don’t do much before I’ve had coffee- including talk to people.  But this thought entered my head with 100% seriousness.  So deep is my devotion to pink wine, and this wine in particular, that I really thought about having some first thing in the morning.  And that concludes the How Big of a Lush am I? portion of this entry.

If this goes on much longer, I might turn into this:

help me! I love Rose too much!

“I just really love this wine… I want it on a porch… I want it in a pool… I want to taste it all the time!!  …and… wait a minute, what I really want to say is… *sniffff*… Oh, I’m SORRY, I was just thinking about how much I love this WINE… again!   and I just got all choked up when I thought of all the people out there that haven’t tried it!  aaaand… who might LOVE it the way I do!  I mean, there’s so much bad wine out there, and this one just needs people to LOVE it!  that’s all it needs!  *blows nose* ..ohhh, I just can’t handle iiiit!”

Does anyone know if that video is for real??

Lastly, you can sample this wine tomorrow, July 9th from 12-2 at Cellar’s big ‘ol wine sale from 12-2!  Or any night of the week, as it’s by the glass.  For a while.  Maybe forever.

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!

First Post- Opala Vinho Verde!

Hello everyone!  This is my first official Wine Snob blog entry.  For those of you who know me,  you probably understand the satirical tone behind the title “Wine Snob,” but if you don’t, let me explain: I have racked my brain for weeks trying to think of a title that was witty, creative, original, and conveyed that the purpose of this blog is to undercut Wine Snobbery with some good old fashioned BARGAINS and just plain deliciousness.

I thought and thought.  I asked everyone I knew.  I bothered people about it.  I got annoyed when people gave me dumb title ideas.  Katie-whine-oh?  No.  Glass-Half-Full?  Too unoriginal.  Oh-lingering-Wine?  Um.. NO.  Thanks, Ricky.  You are good for nothing.

So, The Wine Snob it is.  It’s not the best, but it’s to-the-point.  My goal will be to pick at least one wine a week and write a nice little succinct and humorous blurb about it.  I will definintely focus on value- but my objective will not necessarily be to have a wine that costs less than 10 or 15 dollars, but maybe a wine that costs $40 and TASTES like it costs $100!  What is better then THAT?!  Nothing.  I cannot hide my bias for wines that are available at Mr. Friendly’s, Cellar on Greene, or Solstice, but don’t hate me because of it.  Please.

So, with all that as a lead-in, allow me to introduce my first wine pick- Opala Vinho Verde!  Some of you may have sampled this at last weekend’s wine sale, or since then at Cellar where we poured it by-the-glass for a few days until-literally- it was GONE in a few days.  But thankfully, we have more on the way!!  EVERYONE, I do mean everyone, who has tasted this wine has raved about it.

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Simply put, this is the absolute BEST summer wine you can ever imagine.  You could drink it by the pool.  You could drink it while you mow the lawn.  Or after… maybe that would be safer.  Drink it on a porch.  Take it to the river or the lake.  I didn’t even know it was possible for a wine to be thirst-quenching, but it IS.  It SO is.  It is spritely, delicate, a little effervescent, light, low in alcohol (9%), with hints of citrus, apples, pears and a lively finish.  This wine is just FUN.  And did I mention that it is $10 a BOTTLE?!  Yes, it’s true.  You just died and went to heaven.

Speaking of heaven, the bottle even looks like heaven.  It’s pretty and floral and ephemeral and sort of dreamy.  I am trying to think of a celebrity to compare this wine to…. Reese Witherspoon!  Likeable, cute, petite, sort of dainty, but not annoying and cheesy like some little blonde petite celebrities.  Of which there are plenty.  Reese has substance, and so does Opala.

Let me add a little background info on Vinho Verde, for anyone who’s interested-  It’s from Portugal, and it means “Green Wine”, the “green” referring to the fact that the grapes are picked young, and it’s meant to be consumed very young as well.  So don’t buy it for your Mom if you think she’s bound to try to save it for a special occasion.  Bad idea.  It’s made out of a bunch of Portugese grapes you’ve never heard of and won’t remember.  And it’s delicious.  In my world, that’s all you need to know.

I hope everyone got a kick out of my first entry!  Stop in to Cellar on Greene and ask for a taste anytime Tuesday-Saturday.  If you mention that I sent you… there’s no tellin’ what will happen, but you will still get to taste the wine… and then some.  And then take a bottle home and park yourself on the porch for the rest of the evening.  I’ll be doing the same.  Cheers!