Pinotage is one of those grapes that has a real problem with being in vogue. Over the years, this South African varietal has come and gone in favorability, leading to rapid expansions and contractions in the number of bottles in the market. Usually on the cheap end, Pinotage is pretty unique, offering tobacco, spice, hoisin, and somewhere in there, a blackberry. As Pinotage has an incredibly dark skin, it’s normally made into a somewhat dense red, not a rosé. 2015 The Beach House therefore is something of an unusual bottle at under a ten spot, a Rosé pinotage, but can it balance fruit and spice while staying refreshing? Hot on the Beach
Rosé is supposed to be a refreshing style of wine, made by pressing red grapes, and not letting them rest on the skins as long as to make a red. While new world producers tend to like short, cute names, like 3 Girls or Maxwell Creek, old world producers have an engrained tendency to create more distinguished names. With another mouth full of a name, 2013 Les Dauphins Côtes Du Rhône Reserve is one of a few international selections available at under a $10 bill. Can France usurp Portugal’s recent success, and deliver on lineage? Portugal is on fire!
Sometimes, wine brands are hard to track down. As is the case of 2014 3 Girls Rosé, a wine which unfortunately happens to have one of the least searchable names I’ve run across. Despite not being particularly googleable, this wine seems to have hailed from Oak Ridge wineries, who have since scrubbed any trace of the 3 Girls from their website, except perhaps in the descriptions stuck in the search crawler. While this is inconvenient if you’re in the store, it’s not such a problem if you run across 2014 3 Girls Rosé at a party. But should you drink it? 3 Girls Walk Into A Bar…
Over the past week the summer air has been intoxicating, and in an urge to prolong the feeling, I’ve decided to dig deeper into rosé. The often maligned category of wine is still suffering from the image it gained in the 1980’s with the rise and fall of White Zinfandel. The cloyingly sweet wine was inspired by the glut of Zinfandel hanging around, and the need to sell it quick without a lot of processing (White Zin is a press and go kind of wine). Not all rosés are sickly sweet though, in fact, many lean toward the dry side of the spectrum. Hailing from Napa Valley, 2013 Maxwell Creek Rosé claims to be balanced and fruit forward, but does it avoid the pitfalls of it’s sickly sweet relative? This isn’t your average Cali rosé
Something about summer is just perfect for Rosé, but there’s not much time left until the leaves begin to turn. While Portugal is the hot region right now, it’s far from the only place you can get Rosé. If the old world (Europe) is known for minerality and earthiness, the new world (US, Australia,etc) is known for fruit forward. So can 2014 Sofia Rosé provide a fruity counterpoint to Espiral Vinho Rose? Rosé for Today?
Portugal is a region on fire in terms of wine right now. In the past couple of years, Portugal has been making not only its famous Porto, but deluging the world with cheap, world class reds and whites. How have they done it? To start with, they’re stopped randomly replacing vines with other random vines, and instead started actually planting blocks of similar vines. As they’ve done so, they’re moved away from some traditional grapes, and moved more toward what’s best suited to the climate and the style of wine they’re trying to create.
Vinho Verde isn’t immune to this, and the increase in Alvarinho (Albariño) over more traditional grapes has pushed some producers of this refreshing white to new heights of improved quality. Great news for white drinkers, right? But what if you’d like red wine, but aren’t in the mood for red given the heat? Well Espiral Vinho Rosé might just be the answer for you. Give Rose A Chance
Mano a Mano was the first bottle of wine I bought from Costco, but it occurred to me that it might not be the most representative of the club retailer. Costco’s store brand, Kirkland, has more than once made the assertion that their wines are not only good, but frequently sourced from well known names with high quality. With that in mind, their 2009 Kirkland Rioja Reserva, has all the seals of Rioja, indicating that this Tempranillo based red has all the requirements to be certified as a Reserva in Rioja. In other words, Kirkland (Costco) has ensured it’s had its 3 years of aging, at least one of which was in oak (in this case 2 in American and French oak).
With quality front of mind, and price at the unheard of level of $7 a bottle, can 2009 Kirkland Rioja Reserva deliver a great experience on budget pricing?
Spain on a budget?
For the first time, it seems, it’s actually summer in Ohio. While much of the central plains and East coast have been broiling for sometime, Ohio seems to have been cursed to languish in the mid-seventies for the better part of the summer. As a recent transplant to the area, I understood that this was the one month of year we had brokered with the weather gods to truly enjoy the weather in the region. Regardless of the weather, the summer wine season is still in full swing, and when it gets this hot, it’s time to break out something refreshing. Summer time is a fine time for wine…
My kingdom, my kingdom, for a Viognier that can convey the beauty and elegance of this often overlooked, and unappreciated grape. The more common blending partner to Chardonnay, Roussane, and others, Viognier has the power as a young grape to have the grace and balance of a ballerina, and all the floral touches of a wedding. While the most famous hails from Condrieu in France, Viognier radically grew in California along the central coast in the early 2000’s. Thanks to California’s good growing season in 2013, 2013 Honey Moon Viognier could prove quite good, if it isn’t too old after two years. How well has it aged?
When I last left this site, I had been writing in Maryland, who mercifully didn’t have a state a controlled liquor authority, but had one of the most complicated country liquor systems I’ve ever heard about. This meant that in addition to baffling changes in the availability of various beer, wine, and spirits induced by driving 15 minutes, that occasionally the bar down the street would get unlabeled kegs of beer and sell them as such (I love you Quarry House!). Moving back to Ohio, liquor is once again state controlled, if sold through agents of the states, meaning that wine is available in plenty of places including, such as grocery stores, gas stations, and Costco.
But wait, wine? At Costco?! Having seen the CNBC special on Costco, I know that their buying process is particularly refined, so having recently obtained a membership, I figured it was worth putting it to the test. At a cursory glance, the selection is fun, ranging from $5 – $10 bottles to $180 bottles of Dom. Looking for a cheap thrill, I picked up 2011 Mano a Mano Tempranillo which was rated 90 pts by Stephen Tanzer. So does warehouse pricing really deliver wine shop quality?