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!

 

 

 

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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!

 

Sunday Funday: “The G Spot” White Blend

Time for some Sunday Funday reading! And drinking. And maybe a pun here and there about G-spots. Are you feeling okay about all this? Good. Let’s go!

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The Dirty Pure Project “The G Spot” White, 2012 Lodi

Meet The Dirty Pure Project! They make some cool wines, to which I have only recently been introduced. It seems like the oldest trick in the book, to make a wine and give it a vaguely sexual name so that people will buy it. But get this! This wine is really tasty. A blend of mostly Vermentino and a touch of Roussanne from the Lodi region of California. I ought to preface this by saying Lodi has not *traditionally* been my all-time fave place for white wine. The area has boatloads of sunshine that are mediated by cooling effects from the SF Bay and the Pacific, and make it well-suited for mostly red varietals. However, this wine boasts such a pleasant burst of acidity that it’s easy to see that this “cool breeze” that supposedly comes from a gap in the Coastal range is not just a myth.

Moving on! Have you had Vermentino before? If so, perhaps not from California. A mostly Mediterranean grape, there are some truly tasty renditions in Italy and Southern France. Some crazy wahoos in other parts of California (ahem, Matthiasson) are also playing around with the grape, among other Italian varietals. But this one is sort of in a world of it’s own.

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So this little guy, as I mentioned, sports some lovely acidic balance. The slightly punchy kind that you’ll sometimes find in a California Chard. It’s somewhat sneaky, as it’s hidden in a nice richly textured package such as this. But fear not, unlike actual G-Spots, this little bright pop of acid is quite easy to find! *ding ding ding! one point for me* But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, let’s go back to the initial aromas, which are pretty enticing: tangerines, ripe pears, honeydew melon, fresh flowers and wafts of perfume. The finish is a little pop of orange peel and spice. There’s also some earthiness that is hard to pinpoint, but definitely present. Peetmoss? Dunno.

It paired pretty nicely with THIS:

SEASON TWO.

SEASON. TWO. BINGE.

I may not be willing to admit exactly how many episodes of Orange is the New Black I watched today… but, I mean, it did RAIN, so it’s not THAT sinful. Also I did take a break and go to the gym. So there. Are we not entitled to a good old-fashioned binge watch now and then? I think so.

So this is a short n’ sweet Sunday Funday post, so I’m gonna leave it there, and just recommend you stop in and sample this one. It’s fun and different. It’s by-the-glass at Cellar and also will be present at this Saturday (June 14th’s) wine sale from 12-2. Retail cost? $16! 

Plus, it’s also time for Game of Thrones. Priorities, people.

I’ve never played around with polls, so here’s one! I think it’s kinda fun… Please play!

This Week’s Whites to Watch Out For!

It finally feels like we better strap in and enjoy the ride folks- Summer is almost here! Spring was sort of a temptress this year, no? Warm. Cold. Warm. Cold. And the last few days have been downright Summery. Complete with a forecast full of rain and… no accumulation. So what better time than to preview a few fun exciting new whites?

mmm.. WHITES

mmm.. WHITES

 

Folk Machine Tocai Friulano, 13 California, Mendocino. Retail $15. 

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OKAY OKAY- so THIS one is hands-down one of the coolest whites I’ve had this year! For a lot of reasons, some nerdier than others. I’ll get into that in a bit, but first I must regale you with details about how delicious this stuff is! If you’re after a flowery-citrus-bomb that’ll leave you feeling like you licked a grapefruit peel, this one might not be your jam. Because it is a study in understated, if you will. It’s an effortless little wine, made from a cool grape that you don’t see a lot of in California, and dollar for dollar, it absolutely owns some of it’s closest “competitors”, style-wise. Yes, I’m speaking of the “New California” category. But anyway, let us first get back to the wine itself: this wine has an irresistible freshness straight out of the bottle. I hesitate to call it “petillant”, but there’s definitely a touch of fizz on this wine when you first crack it. It’s a lean and fresh palate that you’ll find when you sip this guy. Slightly saline with green hints. Think an underripe pear, green grapes straight outta the fridge, lime pit, and fresh herbs. The nose is not terribly forthcoming, but that’s just kinda how it rolls. It hits the thirst-quenching note quite precisely, and the finish is dry and a bit chalky. This wine is like Vinho Verde’s slightly more evolved cousin, in my opinion. Meant to be taken just a bit more seriously than your average poolside-crusher, but still falls into the everyday category. Would be genius with a fresh tomato salad with plenty of herbage and some tangy goat cheese. This wine was written up by The New California Wine author Jon Bonne in SFGate. Check it out!

 

Anne Amie “Cuvee A” Muller-Thurgau, 2012 Oregon, Willamette. Retail $16.

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So if you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you’ll remember that I’ve written about this wine before. But… it’s just SO. DURN. GOOD. And this is a new vintage! I can’t resist a revisit. Especially since I have been to Oregon and Anne Amie Vineyards since the last time I wrote about this wine, so my appreciation has only deepened. I’ll skip the part where I explain to you what Muller-Thurgau is in great detail; suffice to say, it’s a grape you should be drinking. It originated in Germany but has found a happy home in Oregon’s cool Willamette Valley. And you can call it MULL-er, or MEW-ler, depending on your mood. I go with MULL-er because I find the alternative awkward. I may be remiss in that, but I am okay with the consequences. I have heard pros say it both ways. So there.

It goes without saying that this wine has been delicious and consistent every year that I’ve tasted it, and this one is no exception. It’s aromas are downright intoxicating. Sweet honeydew melon, honeysuckle, peaches and fresh spring flowers. The palate offers a touch of tartness (green apple, lime) and minerality. But it finishes up with an oh-so-silky mouthfeel that will make you squeeeeee. I can’t think of a more perfect wine for Pad Thai (yeah, probably even the kind you can get at Food Lion), a Spicy Tuna Roll &/or a Shrimp Summer Roll with sweet thai chile sauce! (I gotta pause and drool now….) LOVE. IT. You need it in your mouth.

 

Vina Tobia Blanco, 12 Spain, Rioja. Retail $14. 

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Yet another funsie! I love a good, zippy Spanish white. If you’ve been in an Albarino phase, let this one be your next fling! It is a blend of 50% Viura, 20% Verdejo, 10% Malvasia, 10% Tempranillo Blanco and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. Note: there will be a quiz. You may or may not be familiar with many of those, but Verdejo and Viura are fairly common in the world of Spanish whites and you may have had them before. An energetic and vibrant white, it has a rounder texture than an Albarino typically does, but all the lovely bright citrus flavors you probably love. You’ll also find some exciting hints of pineapple, passionfruit and and a touch of nuttiness. The finish is fresh and clean, but with the aforementioned touch of texture and “waxiness”. Kind of an odd word, but it will make more sense once you try it.

…And try it you will! Or can, at least, at TOMORROW’S Wine Sale! All these babies will be open for the tasting from 12-2. I picked three off-beat wines today for a reason- my new catch phrase at the wine sales is going to be “TRY SOMETHING NEW!” Cause I love y’all mean it, but sometimes I feel as though I sell the same wines to the same people every week. We gotta shake it up! Try new stuff! That’s what we’re here for.

Come visit tomorrow, have a great, wine-filled weekend, and thanks for reading! 

 

 

Let’s get weird: Sattler St. Laurent, 2012 Austria

Let’s give the weirdos some love this week, y’all.

First of all, let’s have a round of applause for some of my favorite weird characters from various movies. If you don’t know who any of them are, I really pity you… Especially if you’ve never seen Wet Hot American Summer.

photo (21)So yes, this is a weird little grape. What’s weird about it? Well, definitely not the taste. Mostly the name. Yes, the St. Laurent is in fact the name of the grape! I can’t help but wonder, perhaps somewhat glibly, what they were thinking when they named the grape St. Laurent. From my not-terribly-extensive-Googling-okay-so-sue-me, the conclusion seems to be that it was named that after St. Lawrence Day, which is celebrated by Europeans (what a cheeky bunch they are!) on August 10th, which is when or around this grape usually ripens.

The cat finds this bottle highly suspect.

The cat finds this bottle highly suspect.

But maybe that’s just my American sensitivities that are confounded by the name of the grape. And I don’t dislike it, per say; I just think it’s odd. But, there’s a zillion grape names out there that are nothing if not odd: remember the Bukettraube? Vranec? Just to name a couple.

But onward we go to our weirdo celebration! And now that we’ve actually past the weird part, we can get to how fantastic this wine is! And that’s really the challenge with a weird grape name- encouraging people to not be scared of the unfamiliar! Sometimes that takes a while. *sigh*

I found some really colorful ways to describe St. Laurent on the good old interwebs: Terry Theise calls it “Pinot Noir with a touch of ‘sauvage'” in one of his catalogues. John Schreiner says, “it comes across as a Pinot Noir wearing hiking boots.” (source is a great article found here). The Pinot Noir comparisons are no coincidence, as it IS actually genetically related to Pinot Noir. Here’s what I think: yes to both of those quotes. Suffice to say, I would definitely recommend this wine to people that are fond of Pinot Noir. It drinks like a old-world style Pinot, but with a bit more flesh on its bones. The skin on St. Laurent is darker, and the wine definitely reflects that. A deep, pretty shade of eggplanty-purple, the nose is generous and forthcoming. Notes of creamy vanilla swirl about after some initial blue fruits, black cherry, blackberry, violets, cherry cough drops, and a touch of evergreen. The palate is richer than it’s 13% alcohol reflects and uber-smooth. It finishes with a tang of red plums and redcurrants. Really tasty.

photo (23)

St. Laurent is apparently one of the widest planted grapes in the Czech Republic and other parts of Eastern Europe. And there’s some in Canada and New Zealand, too. Are there any crazy wahoos in Oregon growing this grape? Inquiring minds want to know! It wouldn’t shock me, logistically, except that I don’t know much about what it takes to grow a new grape somewhere. Seems like that might be tricky.

So give this one a try if you’re looking for a cool new discovery this week! You’ll find it at the wine sale this Saturday, March 22nd from 12-2, if you remain unconvinced of it’s merit. If nothing else, you can commit some of this to memory and show off to a friend or two the next time you’re in a wine store or a wine bar. Like… Cellar on Greene. Since you definitely will not find this wine as a glass pour anywhere else in Columbia. Yep, we excel at the strange on our corner of Greene Street.

I should also mention that this wine sells for $17 a bottle! So try it! Get weird!

Goin’ Goin’, Back Back, to Oregon!

Sometimes inspiration is hard to find, friends. 

That’s a lesson I’ve repeatedly learned throughout the course of writing this blog. It’s really easy to fall into the rabbit hole of non-creativity and lack of motivation (for me) when it comes to writing. It’s almost like when you put off doing a specific task for a few weeks, even though you know you’ll feel great once you do it. Then one day? You wake up and just FEEL like doing it! It’s miraculous. Like today!

It also helps to have a friend tell you: “WTF? You’re not blogging! You suck.” She meant that with love, honestly.

#OregonNerd

#OregonNerd

The OTHER thing that helps is having two wines arrive a day apart from each other that are SO marvelously Oregon that they inspire you beyond words. And that happened this week! You’ll definitely want to check these out at the Wine Sale tomorrow, March 1st from 12-2. Yeah, I know there’s Mardi Gras stuff going on tomorrow, but there’s plenty of time to do both, mmmkay?

First up is the brand-spanking new vintage of Walnut City Wineworks Pinot Gris, 2013 Willamette Valley. What is it about a really nicely balanced and well-priced Oregon Pinot Gris? When they hit the nail on the head, they’re just the ultimate go-to wine. But some of them speak to me more than others- usually I look for an ultra thirst-quenching bite on the finish, and I like fun accents of florality. Is that a word? Maybe. Plus I LOVE their label art:

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So this is an effortless little drinker that is everything it should be; crisp, clean and fragrant with notes of kiwi, lime zest, white flowers (gardenias, maybe) and something vaguely soapy and lovely. I like the slight addition of tropical fruit flavors, which you could pick up nicely with whatever you choose to dine on- a tropical fruit salsa? Atop a salad with goat cheese and even some grilled salmon? Oh, I do think I just planned a meal for you… how easy was that? This wine retails for $15, and you can also find it on Cellar on Greene’s by-the-glass list for the time being!

Next up is definitely my favorite 2012 Willamette Pinot that I’ve had in a minute- Left Coast Cellars “Cali’s Cuvee”. I believe this wine is relatively new to South Carolina (I might be wrong on that, but at the very least I had never had nor seen it until just before the holidays). Lemee tellya, this stuff is perfect. I’ll always support the merits of 2011 Oregon Pinots- I embrace the light, cooler vintages as much as a warmer one like 2012. But coming off of 2011, this wine is such a welcome change! It really captures fullness and ripeness without sacrificing the overall “cool” nature of Oregon Pinot Noir in general. It has a nice depth of color- and offers more of the blue fruit spectrum- blueberry, black cherries; as opposed to the lean cranberry/pomegranate palate. The finish is undeniably sexy- warm and soft, with lingering vanilla and French oak. A touch of strawberries n’ cream, almost. But not like a nasty strawberries n’ cream candy bar- like actual fresh strawberries with a mound of freshly whipped cream on top. Did I mention that I had the best strawberries of my *life* last summer in Oregon? I thought I knew strawberries. They were life-changing.

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But back to the wine: hints of Asian five spice and a touch of clove are flirtatious and fun. This wine won a Double Gold at the Oregon Wine Awards for it’s 2011 vintage. I literally cannot get enough of it. The other thing I’ll say about this wine is that our staff at Cellar LOVES it. I take pride in this, because they, at the ripe ages of around 23-26, actually DO know a killer wine when they taste one. They might not be able to tell you exactly why (yet), but they know it’s good. I like that. It’s that you-can’t-quite-pinpoint-why kind of love. Like when you meet a person and you KNOW you instantly like them, even though you don’t know every single thing about them yet. Evidently I’ve had too much wine before lunch, so I will quit my rambling right about now.

BUT the BEST part of this wine? It’s freaking $22! That, my friends, is an absolute steal for such a high-quality Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. I insist you try it.

Also, here’s a screenshot of yet another source of inspiration that got me pumped to write about wine today. And don’t you judge my station list… Sometimes one needs Mariah Carey Radio.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 12.05.40 PM

That’s all I got for today- see y’all at the WINE SALE TOMORROW! 

 

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!