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Category Archives: Rose wine

Mini-reviews 83: Muscadet, Masseria Surani, Toad Hollow, Chateau Ste. Michelle

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muscadetReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

Domaine de la Quilla Muscadet 2014 ($13, purchased, 12%): Muscadet is under-appreciated in this country, not only because the name is so different but because the style — clean, tart, and lemony without a trace of softness — isn’t popular. This is an excellent example of Muscadet (made with the equally unappreciated melon de bourgone grape in the Loire region of France), though it would be better a couple of bucks cheaper.

Masseria Surani Ares 2012 ($10, purchased, 13%): Not much Italian style in this red blend from the Puglia region in the bootheel; it’s mostly fruit forward (cherry) in the international style. But as Cellar Tracker user Merky_Waters wrote: “This is a nice break from all the California blends on the market. No earth, definitely fruit forward but not too clumsy and not sweet.” Why someone in Puglia would emulate California is a question for another day.

Toad Hollow Rose 2015 ($14, sample, 11.5%): Better than previous vintages and closer to what it was when this California rose was one of the great cheap wines of all time, but still missing something — and the price increase from last year doesn’t help. You can buy much better roses for $4 or $5 less. Looks for lots of strawberry fruit, but not much else.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris 2014 ($11, purchased, 13%): One more in what is getting to be a long line of bitter, not all that pleasant sub-$15 pinot gris from quality producers. I have no idea why this is, but there is no excuse for making wine that tastes this way. The Chateau Ste. Michelle from Washington state has some apple fruit, but that’s not enough to save this white wine.

Wine of the week: Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum Rose 2014

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pigmentum roseForget all this foolishness about brose and the hipsters drinking rose and the Wine Magazines giving 90-plus scores to rose. We’re coming up on Labor Day weekend, and what better way to celebrate the end of summer than with a $10 bottle of rose, like the Pigmentum rose?

That’s because the Pigmentum rose ($10, purchased, 12.5%), made with malbec from southwestern France, does everything a great cheap wine should do. It’s bone dry, crisp, low in alcohol, and more refreshing than you’d think possible — a burst of just ripe raspberries with some minerality on the finish.

It’s a steal at this price, especially since so many roses that cost more (and sometimes one-third more) don’t offer this much value. Highly recommended, and another terrific wine from the Vigouroux family. Drink this wine chilled, on its own or with any Labor Day weekend picnic, barbecue or cookout, and even think about keeping a few bottles for the fall and winter. It’s that well made, and will almost certainly earn a spot in the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame.

Wine of the week: Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare 2014

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Vin Gris de CigareBonny Doon’s Randall Grahm is perhaps the most subversive person in the wine business, and one sip of his rose, the Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare, shows why. On the one hand, it has all of the necessary qualities for a terrific pink wine — freshness, nary a hint of residual sugar, and a certain stoniness that many of the great French roses from Provence have.

On the other hand, the Vin Gris de Cigare ($15, sample, 13%) also tastes like it will age for at least a couple of years. What cranberry fruit there is is hidden beneath the other components, and the fruit should slowly show itself over time. This is not supposed to happen with rose, which is usually made to last for just one vintage (and is perfectly fine when it does). That Grahm makes a rose that will age, and for only $15, is just another example of how sneaky he is, and how his wines almost never do what the wine business says wine should do.

Hence it’s no surprise that I enjoy them so much. Highly recommended; serve the Vin Gris de Cigare chilled, either on its own or with any summer food, be it salad or grilled fish, chicken, or beef. I drank it with socca, the chickpea flour pancake from southern France on a hot Dallas Saturday afternoon. If I wasn’t magically transported somewhere other than my air conditioned living room, the combination reminded me why pairings can work as long as we aren’t slaves to them.

Finally, a note about Grahm’s newest — and perhaps most subversive — project. He is crowdfunding a vineyard to create 10,000 new grape varieties, in the hope of finding a unique New World vinifera, something that didn’t come from Europe and so is better suited to our climate and soil. In this, Grahm figures he has a chance to explore New World terroir in a way no one ever has. That creating new grape varieties is incredibly difficult does not seem to daunt him in the least.

The project is about 35 percent of the way to its $350,000 goal — you can contribute here, and there are some impressive premiums. And, given my experience with crowdfunding, Grahm will have more fun than he can imagine. Not that I know anything about waking up at 2 a.m. to check the funding percentage.

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