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Day Owl Rosé for National Rosé Day

9 Jun

This Saturday, June 10th is National Rosé Day. So here is a day-drinker’s rosé for you!

Day Owl Rosé 2016 by O’Neil Vintners; Parlier, California. ABV 12%. Street price $12-14/bottle.

Color is rose gold, while the nose offers strawberries, wildflower, and just a hint of earth/funk. On the palate, cherry, dried raspberries, fresh cut grass, a hint of watermelon, with notes of gravel and sandy clay on the finish, which retains a mouthfeel of the cherry flavor long past completion of the sip. Delightfully bright and oh so easy to drink, this is one of those wines where my two ounce tasting pour feels so insignificant that I  want to pour as much of the bottle into a pint glass just to quench my thirst, it’s so refreshing.

 

This rosé is made from 100% Barbera and while it can easily pair with food, it was really made to take you from just before lunch into an afternoon of day-drinking. You can safely pick up a few bottles or a case and know this is a crowd-pleaser, easy on the wallet, and easy going down.

 

 

How do I know this? Not just because I had that instinct, which I did, but suppressed. But this evening, my adult daughter  came over while I was writing tasting notes and asked for a sip. I obliged, as she has an excellent palate but often surprises me by liking different wines than I do. She tried it, and said “Oh, that’s good. I’d like more of that. As a matter of fact, I could drink that all day and be WGD. It’s delicious!”  After thinking about it for a second, I  asked if I should I assume that WGD means ‘white girl drunk’ and she replied, “Oh, yes,” laughed, turned and left.

 

Here’s wishing you a very happy National Rosé Day! And please, I urge you to enjoy, but drink responsibly.

 

 

à votre santé!

 

Ruhlmann Wines from Alsace

14 Mar

Alsace: a northeastern border area of France known for its beautifully fragrant wines. A wine region that is sandwiched between the Vosne mountain range and the Rhine river, it has changed hands between Germany and France several times throughout history, and many of the wines demonstrate Germanic or Austrian influence.

As an oenophile, I have found that many Americans are largely unaware of Alsace. When they are introduced to the wines, they often become fans. If you don’t know Alsace wines, this is a perfect introduction in the $20-and-under range for family-made, classic wines with lineage and complexity that sing of their terroir and heritage.

The Ruhlmann family has been making wine since 1688 in the Alsace village of Dambach-la-Ville, where they produce about 1.2 million bottles annually, with 40% of their products exported under the watchful eye of winemaker André Ruhlmann.

Ruhlmann Crémant d’Alsace Brut NV is a pale straw color with a refined nose of peach and fresh brioche. Gentle flavors of white stone fruit and dried apricot on the palate, delightfully dry with solid acidity and a hint of sweet honeysuckle on the top palate that makes the mouth water. A blend of pinot blanc, pinot auxerrois, pinot gris, and riesling, this sparkling wine has enough body to provide an afternoon delight or pair through dinner. $20/bottle, 12%ABV.

 

 

Ruhlmann Muscat Fleur de Printemps 2015 is the color of early morning sunshine and offers a sweet, aromatic nose of wildflowers. On the palate, it demonstrates gentle citrus, with notes of lime and starfruit. Secondary hints of yellow pear, orange peel, sodium and sand evolve as the wine warms gently. This muscat is bottled quickly to retain the powerful nose and pairs nicely with Thai, Chinese, and white meats, but I would not hesitate to open this and sit on the porch to enjoy on a carefree, sunny afternoon. 100% Muscat, 11.5% ABV, $15/bottle.

 

 

Ruhlmann Gewurtztraminer Vieille Vignes 2014 offers a pale yellow color with a spicy nose of rose bush, violet flowers, clove, and a hint of jasmine. Mature and refined green apple, lemon zest, banana peel and white pear on the robust palate give way to soaring acidity. Thirty-year-old vines show their deep roots with a finish of limestone and hints of clay and slate. This wine is powerful enough to pair with foie gras, a meat entrée, or a full-bodied cheese, and will age beautifully, showing greater complexity in 4-5 years.  Around$15/bottle, with 13%ABV.

 

 

Ruhlmann Riesling Vieille Vignes 2014 is pale straw in color. On the nose, faint lychee, lime zest, passion fruit, and hint of limestone. In the mouth, lemon-lime, pear, and lemongrass are followed by notes of clementine and lychee. Searing acidity powers through the full-bodied palate without heat ever crossing the back or top palates, while notes of gravel and clay round out the reserved finish. Delightful now, and will only improve with age. $16/bottle, 12.5%ABV.

 

And finally,

Ruhlmann Crémant de Rosé NV “Harmonie de Rosé” is 100% pinot noir, with tiny effervescent bubbles and a hue that verges between salmon and pale orange. The nose offers young raspberries and baking spice, while the palate is pure strawberry, slate and limestone. What’s not to love? $23/bottle, 12%ABV.

 

If you love Alsace already, then you should add these wines to your list or cellar. If you are new to Alsace wines, these are a perfect introduction to the region you can enjoy and share with friends. 

à votre santé!

 

A Rosé By Any Other Name

4 Sep

Sanford 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sta Rita Hills, Lompoc, CA. 13.5% ABV, MSRP $30/bottle. Sample Provided by Terlato Wines.

Delicate salmon pink in color. Nose of fresh strawberries and honeysuckle. On the palate, young strawberries and searing acidity are a lovely match: the delicate but clean crisp and fresh flavors wash the back and palate leaving a hint of sweet strawberry and dried cranberries on the top palate while the mouth is left taut & thirsting for the next sip of wine or bite of food. Secondary notes include just a touch of heat, clay, limestone and sodium minerality with a steely focus and driven red fruit. Oh yum. This has the upfront, direct SMACK in the face of both flavor and acid that so many of the Provence rosés lack. What a lovely wine this is, and I’m also frustrated because my top three rosé wines have just had changed lineup. Dammit. Slide into home, Sanford. Nicely done.

Sanford Pinot GLass - 1

This is a spectacular rosé, and no wonder Steve Fennell hasn’t had time to warn me about this wine- he’s too busy making this estate grown baby, which is an offshoot from Sanford’s classic pinot noir grapes, while he’s making the dozen or so other wines to fill the demands of the wine club clientele.

Yum, and darn. There are so many great food pairing options for this wine, it’s easier to say “think pink!” than to start to list them. But I’ll try: appetizers, fish, salads, shellfish, pesto- and herb-based pastas, white meats, ratatouille, cheese, greek food…I could go on and on, and even my WIFE loves this wine. My real problem is: how do I sneak a case into my house without her seeing it?

Rose bottle - 1

à votre santé!

Iconic Wines go Lodi!

4 Jul

I’m a fan of small, independent winemakers. Over the last couple of years I’ve been fortunate to try wines from Iconic and quickly became a fan of their Heroine Chardonnay (my original review of Heroine Chardonnay is here).

So of course, I jumped at the chance to taste their current lineup and meet winemaker Birk O’Halloran and his partner Karl Antle from Iconic Wines on a crowded Times Square rooftop.

17 floors above Broadway, it’s much quieter without traffic but like fighting through a crowded, subway-car-like-bustle to get close to the wines being poured. Grabbing a plastic cup of pink wine, it would be easier to down it and ask for another like black and white movie scene featuring a gunfighter in a saloon. But this is an entirely new situation. So I sipped…at first… before asking Birk for another. And I understood why the line for the wine was wrapping down the side of the building past the bocce court to the elevators.

 

Birk

Birk O’Halloran, star winemaker, sporting (1) a bottle of Secret Identity rosé, (2) a bottle of Heroine chardonnay, and (3) a Jamie-Lannister-from-Game-of-Thones-styled-beard. Beard not for sale on line (currently) at http://www.IconicWine.com. 

 

Rose Front

Shhh! It’s so darn tasty, it’s a secret! 

Rose Back

Enter Secret Identity Dry Rosé 2015. MSRP is $18, and a mere 11% ABV, the winemaking details were a real surprise- the grape blend includes zinfandel and syrah! To the casual drinker, what you need to know is that this is a superbly dry, crisp, light, delicious rosé. You would be shocked to see an entire rooftop of NYC power-brokers drinking this, but believe me, they loved this wine as much as I did. It will rock with seafood, appetizers and light entrées but I doubt the bottle will last that long. It will delight your palate, disappear almost magically from your glass, and you will find yourself wishing you’d picked up several bottles.

In addition to Heroine and Secret Identity, Iconic has launched a new SK line- the Sidekick wines!

Iconic’s Sidekick or SK category, starting with SK (Sidekick) Chardonnay.

Sidekick Front

Sidekick back

 

2014 SK Sidekick Chardonnay, Napa, CA. MSRP $18, 13%ABV. Beautiful aromatics of honeysuckle, apricot and hay. The palate features stone fruit: crisp green apple and white pear with even acidity and a floral aftertaste. Stainless steel fermentation unlike their flagship Heroine Chardonnay which is matured in oak- because every hero needs a sidekick! A perfect introduction to California chardonnay, and a great primer for Heroine- to which you might become addicted. Yeah, I went there. And that’s how I treat bottles of Heroine Chardonnay in my cellar.

 

Iconic Wine 2014 SK Sidekick Cabernet Sauvignon. Because LODI! 

Iconic Cab front

iconic cab back

Lodi’s cabernet grapes are the star of this new wine for Iconic. Bold plum and blackberry lead on the front palate, followed with cassis and black earth. Silky tannins with notes of cedar, anise, granite and potting soil. Great on its own or with red meat, and at $18/bottle MSRP, it is a tremendous value- a real steal in California Cabernet!

Each time I have tasted Iconic’s wine, I have been impressed by the flavors, attention to detail, structure, and my overall enjoyment of their products. One of my surprises came when I included the 2013 Heroine Chardonnay in a neighborhood tasting where it was unanimously the public’s preferred wine in a tasting of pricey, worldwide options. I hope you take an opportunity to find their wines (currently in more than 37 of NYC’s finest restaurants) and other locations, found here.

I’m especially excited about Iconic’s relationship with Lodi in choosing great fruit for their wines. I have been a fan of Lodi for a while, but I the upcoming #WBC16 Wine Bloggers Conference. I will be participating with over a hundred other wine bloggers, meeting with Lodi winemakers, and tasting their wares.

Heroine Label

The Heroine Wine Label. What’s better than a superhero? A super Heroine!

à votre santé!

Recanati: Worlds Collide, Part 2

22 Feb

This is the promised follow-up to a tasting I did with Recanati Winery. If you missed  that post, you can read it here

After meeting Lenny and Gil from Recanati Winery, I was determined to find their wines locally in NY. It did not take me long. While running errands, I made a stop at Mayfair Wine & Liquor on Union Turnpike in Queens, NY, and hit on my first try.

Wandering the aisles, I picked up a bottle of Recanati Rosé and took it over to chat with John, the store owner. John is used to me trying his new wines, inquiring everything about his products as well as his sales trends.

He looked at the bottle of rosé in my hand. “Ah, that’s very good,” he told me, “An excellent value and compares well to Loire Valley rosé. I also have others from this winemaker.” He waved me over to another area of the store, showing me Recanati reserves, blends, and single grape wines.  “They sell very well, from the basic blends I sell at $11/bottle to the special reserves. They make some excellent wines across the board, and people come back for more.” I picked up the Yasmin Red. “That is tremendous value, I sell it for $11/bottle; it drinks like wine that sells for $25-30. And their reserve wines, which goes in the low $20’s, are just excellent wines. Forget that they are kosher,” he says with his hands gesturing me to pick one up, “they are excellent wines, whatever you compare them to.” I smiled & nodded, but didn’t want to let him know I had tasted Lenny and Gil’s line just a few days prior. I picked up the rosé, the Yasmin red, a syrah, and the reserve cabernet, the latter two I had tasted previously and just wanted to enjoy again. (Now, come on, every bottle I drink can’t be a wine review. Sue me, I’m paying for them.)

 

2014 Recanati Rosé, Galilee, Israel. 13% ABV, $14/bottle at Mayfair Wine & Liquor. 

Color is a medium-clear and very ruddy pink: an amaranth/magenta center blending out to a clear edge. The aroma shows fresh strawberries with a hint of gardenias. In the mouth, tart raspberry and dried cranberry notes dominate with a spice balance. Good acidity and strong tannins emanate from the side palate for a satisfying, clean finish. This wine is a blend of 70% barbera and 30% merlot grapes, which gives more body and pairing opportunities while still being a nice wine to enjoy on its own. Mental note: I should try this with turkey & cranberry sauce for a possible Thanksgiving wine. Very nice!

rose

 

2014 Yasmin Red Blend by Recanati Winery, Galilee, Israel. 14% ABV, $11/bottle. 

Color is deep garnet at center shifting to ruby with medium opacity. Red currants, jasmine, and hint of almond on the nose. On the palate, red plum, cassis, black pepper and baking spices are followed by a hint of cherry pie and a note of chalky limestone. This blend would be a perfect house red, as it has the flexibility to pair with most styles of food from white meats to game to a roast, and just the hint of sugar that would allow it to pair with a vegan roast vegetable platter.

Yasmin

 

I am constantly reminded while enjoying these bottles (as well as the middle and high end wines from Recanati) that these wines compare better to European and New World wines more than they do to other Mediterranean wines I’ve previously enjoyed. I had several bottles open at a time and they maintained quality and freshness over several days when stored in the refrigerator after opening. The fact that they are kosher wines from Israel are a secondary bonus to those who want kosher wines, when ultimately they simply stand on their own, and compare beautifully to well-made wines from across the world.

 

reserve

shiraz

à vôtre santé!

 

Rosé, Rosé, Rosé! (and…Rosé!)

13 Aug

I love sharing off-the-beaten-path wines that you should not miss. While I love the pink wines of Provence, that is not the only rosé region in the game. Here are four rosé wines you will enjoy in varying styles and flavors!

 

Château D’Aqueria Tavel Rosé 2013, Rhône, France. 14%ABV, $18-20/bottle online.

A lovely cerise pink in color, nose of watermelon and fresh cut grass. In the mouth,  gentle strawberry and raspberry cross the palate and meld into red plum and young cassis. Medium finish with notes of calcium, sodium and clay. A delightful, aromatic, and complex rosé not only for the summer months, this could play a lighter foil to the stunning Napa rosé I serve at Thanksgiving.

Tavel Rose

 

Renegade Wine Company Columbia Valley Rosé 2014, WA, USA. 11.3%ABV, $14-16 online.

Pale salmon in color with a subtle summer garden bouquet, watermelon and strawberry fill the mouth with just a hint of sweetness in the background, but no sugar. Renegade indeed! Crisp and a clean finish, the wine is unexpectedly tasty and a real surprise at how much fun it is to enjoy.

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Les Hauts de Smith Rosé 2014, Bordeaux, France.  13% ABV; $17/bottle.

Coral in color, the nose offers rose bush and dried figs. In the mouth, muted red fruits, perfect acidity, mid-palate tannins and a mineral backbone show refined, classic winemaking. This is an under $20 rosé that compares beautifully to wines two and three times the price- as subtle as it is, I did not want to put down the glass.

LesHauts Rose

 

 

Antorini Tenuta Guardo Al Tasso Scalabrone Rosé 2014, Bolgheri, Italy. ABV 12.5%;  $18-26 online.

Nose of ripe white peaches, with delicate red fruit on the palate. Clean finish. Balanced acidity, a refined and subtle wine. Delicately complex, flexible to be able to handle many chores. When I served this to a group to was the wine people were reserved about initially and gravitated to later, enjoying it more with food and as the night progressed. It is a keeper.

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What’s your favorite rosé?

à votre santé!

Grange des Dames Ventoux Rosé

18 Jul

Grange Des Dames Ventoux Rosé 2014; Rhone, France. $12/bottle online; 13% ABV.

Delicate pink in color with a nose of fresh strawberries and rose blossoms. Dry on the palate, an ideal food complement: direct, supple, and refined. Blended from 60% grenache noir, 20% cinsault, and 20% carignan. Like a ray of late afternoon sunshine, a delightful moment on the palate before I hungrily downed the sip and looked for another. For several days after long work hours, I enjoyed coming home to this wine and didn’t wait for food to enjoy a glass, though I appreciated it just as much with food and again afterwards with a gentle goat’s milk cheese. The expressive red fruit, floral bouquet, and balanced acidity make this wine so easy to drink that I wish I had several bottles to share with friends this summer.

Ventoux Rose

à votre santé!

Spring Values & Delicate Flavors

15 Mar

Cartlidge and Browne 2011 North Coast Chardonnay, Healdburg, CA. 13.5%ABV, $11/bottle locally.

The color is pale sunlight and is matched by a delicate, lemony nose with a hint of lavender. Meyer lemon and green apple fruit are up front; both fruit and cutting acidity balance nicely and are sharply tart on the back palate with a medium residual finish. Good minerality, focus and clarity on the finish, followed by notes of baked bread and hint of young oak.

Ideal for late afternoon or as an aperitif, this will pair nicely with fish, white meats, and simple pasta dishes. I enjoyed this wine with baked cod served with dill and lemon, boiled potatoes and steamed broccoli. It was an ideal match of clean, pure flavors. This chardonnay is definitely made in a classic style, and is a good choice for white wine drinkers who enjoy taut, focused wines that stay lean and muscular without drifting into the savory, buttery styles. At this price, it provides an excellent value and reminds us that California’s wines can also be enjoyed at “vin du table” pricing.

IMG_1121

 

Chateau Montaud 2013 Côtes de Provence Rosé, Pierrefeu du Var, France. 12.5% ABV, $10/bottle locally.

The color is light pink. Fresh rosebush, passion fruit and a hint of violet on the nose. Delightfully clean with a hint of orange peel; bright with good clarity. No wood influence shows on this pure and young rosé. Drinks like a beam of sunshine, gentle finish with stone, bright and lingering fruit on the tongue. A delightful choice to enjoy spring weather and pair with light food options. Looking for a nice, very affordable bottle of pink sunshine from Côtes de Provence? This might be the bottle to make your spring!

IMG_1122

à votre santé!

That Time of Year: 2014 Thanksgiving Postmortem

29 Nov

For lovers of the grape, “holiday” means wine time! When chance put a perfect Halloween wine in my hands, I wrote about it (here). But this fall, I found myself somewhat reluctant to write about the biggest food holiday we celebrate: Thanksgiving. Every year I write about what I’m serving, and make suggestions to the myriad friends and lurkers who have come across me in person, at a wine event, on Facebook, WordPress, or via the ‘net. So why was I reluctant to talk about my plans for Thanksgiving wines this year?

*The four wines are I usually serve are: 1) a fun white, 2) a serious white, 3) a delicate red, and 4) a bold red. -JvB UnCorked

What would my four wines be thus year? Last year I had six wines, (one held in reserve for a guest who didn’t make the meal after all) but this year was a serious question. I’ve had some great wines over the summer and fall that made me re-think my choices.

Furiously working on the broadcast of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, and dinner was (thankfully) not at my home this year, yet the wine is still my domain. Because pre-production and broadcast equates to very long hours of hectic work, I planned to serve wines from my cellar, so that removed a lot of options from contention. I had been deep in thought about the stunning pinot noir wines I tasted from Santa Barbara and Central Otago, New Zealand this year. In SB County I had been impressed by Fess Parker, Cottonwood, Blair Fox, Au Bon Climat, and Ken Brown, -just to name a few of the SB wines. Some specific bottles were so shockingly good they just haunted me, such as the Dominio del Falcon from Sanford  as well as Pipeclay Terrace and Long Gully Pinots from Mount Difficulty, and wines from the Otago NZ crowd like Felton Road, Quartz Reef, Rippon, Amisfield, and Mud House.  

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MtDifficulty

 

I was also spoiled by a hot summer of killer treats, and these wandered into my thoughts as I considered what to serve.

Starting with the reds: the delicate red was in contention. I usually serve a bright and acidic pinot, gamay, or cru beaujolais but I kept returning to this crazy idea of serving an Aussie sparkling shiraz called The Red Brute from Bleasedale Vineyards I tasted earlier this fall. Sometimes I have to take a chance, right?

The serious red has lots of options but can be a tough choice, when you have my wine cellar. I have some nicely aged reds (like the 2000 Pomerol, or 1996 Cos D’estournel, and other earlier delights) but knowing the guests who would attend, I kept thinking that one of the 1.5L northern Rhône bottles I have on hand would pair best. The Pierre Gonon syrah is a juicy black currant delight with tons of darker notes of earth and leather, good acidity, and is a crowd pleaser. While I consider this vintage too young for a red meat entrée, given this meal, it will provide a perfect pairing, and I know people will adore it.

Having waffled on my traditions for those two, I have to sit back and slow down for a moment. There are three more wines I need to consider, one is the delightful rosé from Modus Operandi Wines that blows away most wine drinkers at the table. It always goes something like this:

Guest: “Sorry, I don’t like rosé.”

Me: “No problem, just humor me and take a tiny taste of this, then we’ll move on.”

Guest: “Oh, ok. (sip). Oh. Wow, that’s really good. May I have that?”

Me: “Of course!”

But having enjoyed so many great rosé’s this summer and fall, in my mind even my kick-ass Modus Operandi rosé was in question after being impressed by this inexpensive sleeper rhône rosé, Belleruche Rosé from the Côtes du Rhône just recently. I really enjoyed it, but was not sure it could stand up to the red meat in the soup or the savory flavors on its own. I decided to stick with my gut on this and transferred the Napa 2012 Modus Rosé from the rack in the cellar to the safety of my six-slot wine bag.

I also wondered about the red and white blend from Tess Vineyards that I found on Underground Cellars. It’s a little bit of a lot of things, and its fresh and light yet fruity and fun. But I feared a red/white blend would be too much of a challenge for some of the older & traditional crowd at the meal, so I decided to hold that for a tasting I’ll host  in the next few months.

Tgiving Reds

 

I needed a simple solution for at least ONE of my wines! So the “fun” white was easy: Leitz’ Dragonstone riesling from the Rheingau. It offers great minerality, white stone fruit, a touch of sweetness, and a crisp finish.

On to my final tough choice, the serious white. My go-to here is a Bordeaux blend, and my cellar has some great choices. I opened up a couple of crates and looked at options while thinking about the total wine lineup, and I went with a choice that for me seems out of left field:  I took a bottle of my ’09 Vintage Tunina from Silvio Jermann that is huge, rich and creamy.  I adore this classic IGT blend of white grapes, and I could not think of a better meal to pair it with that Thanksgiving dinner.

Tgiving Whites

 

I finally sat back and was able to breathe. This year’s Thanksgiving wines, all told. Wines from Germany, Italy, USA’s Napa Valley, Australia, and France: a true melting pot, just like NYC.  For me a few surprises, but lots of tradition. Something for every palate, and the only repeat is my favorite rosé.

TgivingWines

 

 

As I had hoped, when the day arrived, the wines were a hit. Everone who tried The Brute sparkling shiraz was surprised how savory, dry and refreshing it was, and both it and the rosé paired amazingly well with the first course, a beef vegetable soup, and the main meal. The Gonon Saint-Joseph was the crowd pleaser I expected, pairing beautifully with the meal, while the non-drinkers enjoyed the riesling and the vintage tunina held court nicely. My wife’s ninety-one year old uncle said to me, “you brought a lot of wine, you might have a little left over at the end of the meal”, but I told him not to worry. Like the leftovers from the meal, I was sure they would not last long.

à votre santé!

 

Belleruche Rosé from Côtes-du-Rhône

3 Nov

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Belleruche Côtes-du-Rhône 2013, M. Chapoutier, Rhône, France. 13% ABV. $13 at Wine & Spirit Company;  Online pricing from $10-14/bottle.

Color is a light blush, with a nose of young red raspberry and strawberry. In the mouth, red plum and a hint of strawberry, without the sweetness. Good blend of acidity, delightfully dry finish with notes of saline and sandy clay. A good wine to have on hand for the fall season, at this price is an easy contender for your late afternoon aperitif, early evening meal pairing, maybe even your Thanksgiving meal. My preferred Thanksgiving rosé is much more expensive, but this is flexible and leaves the mouth fresh and ready for the next bite. Try it: like great literature, it will grow on you, a wonderful value in Côtes-du-Rhône.

à votre santé!

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