Qupé Marsanne, 2013 Santa Barbara

It’s ANOTHER “Summer’s Swan Song” post on this balmy Friday! We had a bit of an Indian Summer here in Oregon and it was actually really lovely. Well, maybe not so lovely for the fruit-pickers that are currently working their @ss’s off all over the Valley, but for me? Divine. It made me want to eat all the Summer produce one last time. Tomatoes, watermelon, squash- all of it! So I’m somewhat glad I saved this bottle of Marsanne from Qupé until now. It’s perfect for a Summer Friday afternoon.

Kyoo-PAY. It means "poppy".

Kyoo-PAY. It means “poppy”.

Founder and winemaker Bob Lindquist is an original “Rhone Ranger”; he started Qupé in 1982 making Syrah, Chardonnay and dry Rosé in California’s Central Coast. He subsequently teamed up with Au Bon Climat’s Jim Clenenden and the two built a shared facility in 1989. The rest is, as they say, history. Both Au Bon Climat and Qupé have great reputations, and I’m currently being reminded of how badly I need to get to this part of California. I’ll go ahead and add it to my list… which is pretty long. Le sigh.

This wine is made from 75% Marsanne and 25% Roussanne. These two French varieties are bros from way back. Most commonly found in the Northern Rhone, they play off each other beautifully; Marsanne produces wines of great color and depth and are intensely perfumed. Roussanne is a bit stingier, more of a bastard to grow, and usually packs a solid punch of acid, making them great agers. Both these fellas enjoy the Coastal California vibe, basking in the afternoon ocean breezes and morning fog, which helps them maintain their acidity.

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Both grapes for this wine are whole cluster pressed. The Marsanne, which comes from roughly 28-year old vines on the Ibarra-Young Vineyard, is chilled in tank for 48 hours before it goes to neutral French oak barrels. The Roussane, interestingly, heads straight to barrel with the lees after an evening chilling. (Literally). Bob prefers the use of once filled Francois Freres barrels previously used for Chardonnay with the Roussanne. I love these little facts. The Roussanne comes from the Bien Nacido Vineyard, one of the oldest in the area for all grapes Rhone.

Now! We gotta talk about what this wine tastes like before I get too much wordier. Its a dark golden strawish color and the nose is a nice combination of slightly tropical with ripe stone fruit. Nectarine, apricot, a touch of pineapple. Once it warms up a bit, you can detect its oak content a bit- hints of baking spice and creamy lemon. You might think it was a flab-fest, but the finish really clenches with pleasant acid and even a drying sensation which leads me to think this wine will age nicely. There’s something that reminds me of menthol lingering in there as well. The texture is viscous and slightly oily, but in a luscious way. Oily is a strange word to use to describe wine, and its connotation would seem negative, but its not intended as such. Its one of those descriptors that makes perfect sense once you identify it.

This is the first California wine I’ve written about in Lord only knows how long! Its been fun. I sometimes forget California exists. Not really. But almost. Hope you enjoyed this little trip to Cali and are as ready for Fall as the rest of America seems to be.

This wine was received as a sample. Its suggested retail cost is $20.

“I’m. So. Fancy.” Charles Bove Vouvray, 13 France

Doesn’t this bottle just look fancy?

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You already know.

Who doesn’t like to feel a little fancy? Especially when on a “weeknight” budget?

Let me begin by saying that this is one of those wines that I’m bordering on a little unhealthily obsessed with. It’s all I want. Every time I re-taste it, I am once again struck by its brilliance and I usually let out some kind of involuntary exclamation of joy. I can see where this may be an odd sight, but I really can’t help it. It’s just. So. Good.

So what’s in this wine? What is a Vouvray? It’s not too hard to remember, but it still might fall into the unrecognized category- Vouvray is a region in the Loire Valley of France, which is roughly located in Central France. And Vouvray is roughly in the center of the Loire. See here if you want to get more techy about it:

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This is actually a great map.

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But more importantly, what is IN a Vouvray? Chenin Blanc. One of my ALL-TIME favorite grapes EVER. Chenin seems to have the adoration of many wine nerds, and with good reason. They’re incredibly versatile, and while the Loire is considered the “true” home of Chenin Blanc, I’m also often mucho impressed with South African versions. So the Vouvray region produces a lot of sparkling wine (sparkling Chenin- also a YES), but the still versions are freakin’ awesome too. They are made in a wide variety of styles ranging from dry to sorta-sweet to dessert-sweet. All are fantastic. Chenin is naturally very high in acidity, so even the sweet versions never feel syrupy. And they have, arguably, some of the best ageability in the world.

But anyway, WHY do I adore this particular one and what does it taste like? First, the nose. Oh! The nose. Honeysuckle, lime zest, nectarines, quince, maybe a touch of candied ginger, fresh flowers, clean sheets and a vague nutty afterthought. The palate is all about lightening-like acidity. It will cut through anything. You get a nice tangy pop of green apple and lime as you sip. With the intensely fragrant nose, you might expect this wine to be sweeter; and while it does have (as far as I can tell) a bit of residual sugar, the acid is really what stands out here. The finish is a bit chalky, which just leaves me wanting more.

This wine is imported by Vintage 59 Imports, who are no strangers to good French wine.

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So now that you know that you need this wine, let’s go back to the title of this post: “I’m. So. Fancy.” Have you heard this song? This is one of those pop culture phenomenons that I happened to catch after listening to the radio a lot while painting my bathroom last weekend. I heard it about 1,000 times. Normally I might’ve missed it altogether, since I’m in my 30’s and therefore extremely uncool (not). I’m still not sure whether it’s cool to like this song or not, but I will say that it stays in my head for hours at a time. And when I heard it, I thought of this wine. Because it’s fancy.

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Just watched the video this morning. It has some distinct Clueless references, although I doubt its target audience has ever seen Clueless (how sad it that?). Did any one actually GO to high school with girls that looked like this? I kinda doubt it. After a bit of Googling, it seems like this poor girl is getting ripped by online commenters, disgracing her “rapping” abilities. Mind you, I never said I liked this song. Just that it gets stuck in my head. And isn’t that all it takes to be considered a successful pop phenomenon?

So when’s a good time to come try the Charles Bove? TOMORROW! July 12th. 12-2pm. At the Wine Sale! We actually sold out of this wine at the sale 2 weeks ago. It’s that good! It retails for $17, but there’ll be a discount at the sale tomorrow. Truthfully? I think I’d pay $22 for this wine. Dollar for dollar, it’s an absolutely insane value.

YOU’RE GONNA LOVE IT!

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!