Wine Awesomeness “Women in Wine” Month: a tale of two reds

Oye! It’s almost November. How did that happen?! I bring to you today a tale of two reds that hail from the bros over at Wine Awesomeness. Errr… well, in the spirit of disclosure, I write for these fellas at their site The Back Label, and have for years. So while I’m not their employee, I do have a vested interest in talking to you about these wines. Mostly because I’m quite fond of these dudes, and also because every time a blue box from WA shows up at my door, I am surprised and delighted at the quality of wine they’ve been able to pull together. More on that later.

The cat clearly enjoys blue box day, too.

The cat clearly enjoys blue box day, too.

First! A little information on the Women in Wine month that I helped (a little) put together for October. I’ve been jacked up on the idea of a Women in Wine theme for quite a while. Like probably over a year. I consider myself a feminist in most regards, although that word is a bit out of fashion. I studied feminist theory a little in school, and it interested me because taking a historical look at the “strings” that connect the way women are have been perceived, treated, marginalized and boxed in over the course of history is eye-opening. Things that you might not think of: the idea of “the male gaze” and things being visually geared towards a (straight) man. Once someone points that out to you, you can’t not see it everywhere. And then there are obvious little annoyances like gender pay inequality that still baffle me and make me declare myself a feminist.

I would like those chicken & waffles delivered, please.

I would like those chicken & waffles delivered, please.

All that aside, when I first chatted with Hayes over at WA about this theme, what we agreed on is this: Women in Wine really shouldn’t be a thing. Yes, women can and do make wine. What makes anyone think they can’t or don’t? Why do we need to point this out? If someone did a “Men in Wine” month it would encounter many a puzzled look.

But therein lies the point, in a way. Women in Wine is something cool to showcase. Still. Will women always be the other? And with that, we end the soapbox portion of this entry. If you like hearing me on a soapbox, check out my piece on gendered wine descriptions.

So! Now we get to the real reason you clicked on this: the wine! Lets talk about a two of the reds that came in the Women in Wine shipment…

Three Rivers Winery “River’s Red”, 2012 Washington, Columbia Valley

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When you live in Oregon and are surrounded by amazing Oregon wine, you can become entrenched in the Oregon wine bubble. That’s why its so refreshing to visit a wine like this, from our neighbor to the North. This is a blend of Merlot, Sangiovese, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Lemberger (no shit!) The Sangio lends a bright red berry component to this wine, but the nice hints of dark chocolate are all Merlot. The Lemberger (aka Blaufrankisch) threw me for a loop, but I have seen drops of it trickle down here to Oregon, so I know its out there. Winemaker Holly Turner is from McMinnville- holla! All in all, a solid little bottle perfect for weeknight consumption with just about everything. Like a weeks worth of The Daily Show episodes.

Pellegrini “Susan’s Vineyard” Zinfandel, 12 California, Russian River Valley

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Confession: I’m not typically a huge fan of Zinfandel in this price range. Give me a $50 bottle of Turley and I’ll be Zin’s biggest fan. But a lot of times I find them a one-note symphony of over the top jam/berry pie/cooked fruit/pepper/etc. and I’m just not captivated.

But this little guy? Delicious! Again, maybe I’ve been in the Oregon bubble too long, but I’m all about this big California nose right now. True to its nature, this wine is full of boysenberry, raspberry, black cherry and vanilla on the nose. The palate is where you see this wine’s self-discipline: a vein of acid carries the big fruit along, accentuating with spicy notes of black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, and chocolate covered espresso beans. Its just a touch more polished than it has to be. I love Zins with a burger or braised short ribs, and with winter almost here, the latter sounds pretty gd great.

Another fun thing for you to check out in Women in Wine month: a wonderful article about Leah Jorgensen and her brilliant Loiregon wines (these are a favorite discovery of mine since I’ve been out here). Don’t miss that one.

For real though, and no one is paying me to say this, I take my hat off to the WA team. They kill it with the wine selections and with the creative themes. Its easy to dismiss the idea of these web-based wine clubs. I’m sure there are plenty out there that just try to grab closeouts, off-vintages, bankrupt wineries, whatever- and they throw the wines out there for a high markup. That’s never been the case here, and it really shows. They seek out interesting wines and try like hell every month to make you see what’s cool about them. I have fun with it, and I’m someone who’s worked with wine for almost a decade. Yeesh, I’m old. And on that note, it’s almost 8:00pm, which means my eyes are about to give out.

Side notes: a.) no, no one paid me to write this or suggested I write this. I wanted to, and b.) these wines are received as “samples”? I guess. Whatever.

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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!