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!

FullSizeRender (9)

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?

Advertisements

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:

FullSizeRender (2)

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.

IMG_9946

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:

IMG_9905

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…

IMG_9917

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:

IMG_9921

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.

IMG_9924

 

 

 

PDX Urban Wineries Tasting- Oregon Wine Month has begun!

Oregon Wine Month is off with a bang, y’all! There are so many great events going on this month, I really can’t even. This past Saturday was a good one! The PDX Urban Wineries hosted the 5th annual Urban Wine Experience at Union/Pine. It was my first, but hopefully not last! Something I love about the Urban wine scene in Portland is that there’s always someone willing to try something new and different. Its incredibly refreshing in an industry like this to see people take risks. Even if they’re not always successful or if they result in a string of catastrophes. How else does one learn but by experience? In any case… The theme of the day for me was pleasant surprises. I tasted a lot of wines that really made me stop, think and consider their true validity within the scope of Oregon wine. Much excites. Lets get to it.

For anyone reading thats not familiar with the Portland Urban Wineries, they are a group of movers and shakers who all make their wine within the city of Portland, their grapes hailing from near (the Valley) and far (Rogue/Applegate/Columbia/Gorge, etc). There’s actually a fair amount of pedigree floating around this group of people; years &/or harvests spent with names like Adelsheim, Apollini, Penner-Ash, Evesham Wood, Belle Pente, Drylands and Grochau. That ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at, y’know?

IMG_9258

Faves? I have plenty. Helioterra’s “Starthistle” Riesling/Huxelrebe blend (pictured, the one with the handwriting that’s waiting on label approval) scored major points for being two of my favorite things: 1.) a refreshing, aromatic white and 2.) containing a grape that I’d never heard of. Huxelrebe is a grape found mostly in Germany, and is a cross of Chasselas and Courtiller Musqué (yet another I haven’t heard of). Given the microscopic amount of Chasselas found here in Oregon, its not shocking that this grape can grow here, but its still a wonder to behold in my opinion. The Helioterra Columbia Valley Mourvédre was also fantastic; polished, with a whopping fruit content and a bit of that savory, earthy Mourvédre “funk”. Winemaker Anne Hubatch was a delight, as an added bonus.

The Division Wine Co. Wines were all showing beautifully! I gotta admit, the Francophiliac wines of Kate & Tom Monroe have wound their way into my heart for good. It was a warm day, and I was struck by how perfect the two reds they poured were for warm weather. The Division-Villages “Les Petits Fers” Gamay is about as vibrant and lively as they come. I love a red that can be served with a slight chill, and this one is ideal for just that. The Division-Villages “Béton” Cabernet Franc/Gamay is a blissful little grape marriage. Focused and spicy, with unadulterated streaks of mineralty and a blip of intense Gamay freshness. Yum. The Cabernet Franc grapes are sourced from the Quady North Vineyard, so.. yeah, they rock.

I hadn’t had a good Viognier in a hot second, so the Jackalope “Voyager” Viognier was a treat. My favorite Viogniers tend to be boisterous on the nose and balanced out with quenching acid on the finish. This wine was just that. Spring in a bottle would be an apt way to describe this wine; perfumed, heady and exciting notes of jasmine, honeysuckle & white flowers leap out of the glass. No shortage of apricot, peach and tangerine zest on the palate keep it from being a flab-fest. With a retail price of $20, this wine is a total steal.

FullSizeRender (49)

The wines of Vincent Wine Company had a really tangible sophistication to them. I was super excited to find out that this winemaker, Vincent Fritzsche, (along with John Grochau and aforementioned badass Anne Hubatch) are the masterminds behind the Guild Winemakers, two wines that I crushed very hard on back in SC. This is a majorly talented group, IMHO. The Guild wines kicked the bejeezus out of so many wines in their price point, I wouldn’t shut up about them for quite some time. Cellar on Greene regulars will probably remember this (side note- miss y’all!)

Fullerton Wines would be another one to watch. The oldest son and winemaker, Alex, was pouring on Saturday and had a youthful enthusiasm that was pretty infectious. Having worked under Lynn Penner-Ash and Josh Bergstrom, he does have a few notches on his belt to add to his charm. The Rosé was a favorite; I seem to recall that the 2013 is sold out, but the 2014 will be bottled in the next few weeks. I’ll sign myself up for one of those fo’ sho’.

IMG_9257I could probably keep going- and props to YOU if you’re still reading! This post got long. Suffice to say, the existence of the PDX Urban Wineries is pretty darn awesome. This sounds strange coming from someone who lives in the Valley and can be at any one of a dozen wineries within 20 minutes… but there’s something extra exciting about all these wines being made within the city limits, and many of them in one location. We can’t all own vineyards, y’know?

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!

 

Domaine Sainte Lucie “MiP” Rose, 2012 France

In case you haven’t noticed—

photo (34)

This makes me happy.  Why?  Because Rose is good.  And I like good things.  Pretty much every wine person I know has a special affinity for a good dry Rose.  Why is this, exactly?  Why do we all freak out over Rose?  Why do we become like fiends, trying to find the absolute most perfect one ever made (that year)?

There are a variety of factors, not all of which necessitate a long conversation.  But I should start, of course, with reminding you that if you’re still one of those people that THINK they don’t like Rose, I plea with you; try this one.  Especially if you like white wine.  If you like white, chances are you like Rose too.  You just don’t know it yet.  If you think you don’t like white wine?!  Well, I’ll work on YOU later…

photo 1 (14)

Allow me to introduce you to my new baby, Domaine Sainte Lucie “MiP” Rose, 2012 vintage from the Provence region of France.  “MiP” stands for “Made in Provence”, giving this wine an accessible and memorable package.  This picture doesn’t really do it justice; although it does look frosty and inviting, you really have to see this wine in person to appreciate it’s beautiful color.  Pale, pale, pale rose petal pink.  This is a blend of mostly Cinsault, with a bit of Grenache and Syrah.  My favorite thing about this wine is the nose- you’d have to be a crazy not to realize you’re in for something special when you get your first inhale of this wine.  It is completely alive, vibrant, and bursting with fresh notes of wildflowers, passionfruit, a little prickly pineapple, wild strawberries and a minerally touch of wet stone.  The mouthfeel is silky and addicting.  A pleasantly dry body, and a finish that lingers, refreshes, and cleanses.  It feels like satin.  In my opinion, there is something nothing short of magical in this wine.  That which cannot be explained.  Must be experienced.  But that IS the point of drinking wine, isn’t it?

Which brings me back to my original question- why does Rose captivate us wine-lovers?  In essence, I believe it to be because Rose is just fun.  Rose reminds us that wine is meant to be enjoyed- today.  It’s pink color is flirtatious and suggests an air of frivolity that is not present in other wines.  It is inviting.  It doesn’t just ask to be drunk, it begs to be.  It’s not serious or heavy handed (although, there are of course serious Rose drinkers), it just invites you to come play.  NOW.

My Google search yielded no quality results, so that’s as good of an explanation as I think we are going to get:

photo (36)So, in closing, YOU NEED THIS WINE.  And you need it now!  It is $17 a bottle and will be in residence at Cellar on Greene and available for sampling until it runs out!  Which it will, at some point.  So hop to it.  You’ll be glad you did.