Recommendations

WBW80: Dry Rosé

by Tim Elliott on August 14, 2013

Back when I first started podcasting about wine, in late 2004, there were maybe 40 podcasts in the world. But there were even fewer wine blogs and soon I discovered the monthly tasting event called Wine Blogging Wednesday joining on its eighth outing back in early 2005.

Over the years I have participated in WBW now 49 times and have hosted 6 times and I am pleased to have it return after a hiatus. The theme I chose for this outing is consistent with the wines I drink this time of year. While I do continue to drink reds, most of the time white or rosé wines are what I choose due to the temperatures outside and the food of the season. And while rosé wines such as white Zinfandel have carved out a significant presence in the market their residual sugar makes them more difficult to pair with food. So I drink exclusively dry rosé in the summer.

WBW 80 Rose WinesFor the selections made for this month’s WBW I decided to sample what is available under $10 a bottle. After looking at some local stores and big box retailers I settled on a couple of bottles from Trader Joe’s both under $6 a bottle. At this price I wasn’t looking for the best rosé but something that would complement a hamburger or taco. And I wasn’t disappointed.

The first bottle is Trader Joe’s Napa Valley Rosé 2012 ($5.99, 13.7% ABV) – It is a light ruby color in the glass with aromas typical of rosé, strawberry, cherry and citrus. There are bright grapefruit and strawberry flavors finishing dry with a touch of bitterness. I found it refreshing but a bit subdued in character but still a decent value. The varieties used were not disclosed but I assume Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon were most of the blend.

My second selection is from Spain, the Albero Bobal rosé 2012 ($5.99, 12.5% ABV) – Also a nice light ruby color the aromas here are all strawberry and grapefruit. In the glass the wine shows strawberry and lemon flavors finishing dry with nice acidity. A very pleasing rosé made from a grape I have never tried before. A win-win!

Both of these wines show how far we have come delivering value even in niches like dry rosé. I’m looking forward to reading what everyone has tried to fill out my cellar for the remaining weeks of summer. You can follow along on my Delicious feed.

Thanks also go to Lenn for asking me to host yet again who I will soon pass the baton to for hosting WBW81 next month. Look for a roundup post for WBW80 Friday or Saturday for all the rosé goodness.

Cheers!

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WBW 76: Barossa Boomerang

by Tim Elliott on April 25, 2012

Schild Estate Barossa ShirazNot too long ago I drank quite a bit of Australian wine, particularly Shiraz. Given that this grape, also known as Syrah, expresses greatness in the Barossa Valley I could not pass an opportunity to revisit this region for this months’ Wine Blogging Wednesday. Our host, Adam from Wine Zag, proposed we look for any wine from Australia’s Barossa Valley but for me only Shiraz would do, much the same way only Cabernet would do for Napa Valley. One other limitation was to choose a wine for $30 USD or less. I’m well aquatinted with great values from Barossa but have not tasted any lately so I was a little concerned as I entered my local wine store to explore the options available this week.

The main reason for my exile from Barossa and most of the wines of Australia of late has been value. There are many great wines made in Australia but far fewer under $30 than in the past (at least it seems to me). Some of this is due to shipping costs; some of this is due to exchange rates. Today the best bang for the (American) buck comes from the Iberian peninsula or lesser known parts of Italy and France. Even California, Washington State and Oregon are bringing the value in these recessionary times. But there still are some producers who are managing to bring the value from Barossa even today.

One of those is Schild Estate, a family run winery in Barossa that over delivers value if judged by the wine I tasted this evening. Established in 1952, this winery produces a range of wines but with an emphasis on Shiraz. And after tasting their entry level Shiraz today, I can see why they lavish so much attention on the variety. It is because it’s delicious.

Tasting Notes:

Schild Estate Wines, Shiraz, Barossa 2009 ($18) – Dark purple in color with aromas of cherry, plum, bacon, and black licorice. Round in the mouth with concentrated blackberry, plum and black pepper flavors finishing with savory tannins. A very nice expression of Aussie Shiraz at a stunning price.

14.5% ABV
Screw cap closure
Rating: ★★★★☆
Score: 90

Thanks go to Adam for hosting this month and for provoking me to taste a Barossa wine and blog about it. Stay tuned for next months edition of our global virtual tasting to be announced soon.

WBW 71: Rhones Not From The Rhône

by Tim Elliott on March 16, 2011

When Wine Blogging Wednesday founder Lenn Thompson asked me to host this months’ tasting I was both honored and nervous. What theme would spark new participants to join the monthly virtual tasting? How could I come up with something original after 70 tastings? But after sharing three ideas on Twitter direct messages, we were set on, “Rhones Not From The Rhône.” When I announced the theme 3 weeks ago, I even put a bit of a spin on challenging tasters to look beyond the widely available Syrah/Shiraz and Grenache to try something new. How hard could it be to find a wine that matched this theme?

Well, as it turned out, somewhat more difficult than I had imagined when I came up with the idea; at least here in suburban Minnesota. After visiting a few stores in my area it was clear the selection was limited for Rhone varieties outside of Syrah/Shiraz. Sure I could have picked up any number of Viognier from California or Australia. Or some Mourvèdre. There was plenty of Grenache also on offer, most of which coming from Spain. But I was in the mood for something a bit more obscure so I could hold my head high as this months’ host. That’s when I spied a bottle of Cline “Ancient Vines” Carignane. “Perfect” I thought as the California producer makes a number of Rhone-style wines that are widely available and usually reliable choices. And Carignane is one of my “underdog grapes” that I don’t drink enough of. To top it off, I’ve never had Cline’s Carignane before.

So last night I opened the bottle and was immediately put off but the nose which was lean and, frankly, stinky. And not in a good way. Something was definitely wrong with the wine but I couldn’t put my finger on it. In the mouth the wine still had plenty of fruit but lacked the varietal character of the grape. And the finish was off. Since the wine was from the 2007 vintage and was purchased at a wine warehouse-style store, I chalked this up to bad storage. So I decided not to review that wine tonight and find another selection.

Writer's Block Roussanne labelA visit to yet another wine store yielded several options; all white. After considering a couple Viognier/Marsanne blends, I settled on a Roussanne under the “Writer’s Block” brand. I know every winery has to find an angle to sell their wines at retail but I almost didn’t pick this wine due to the label featuring William Shakespeare. The nonsense on the back label which didn’t really relate to the wine directly also didn’t help. But the attractive $7.99 close out price was the difference here as I’ve never tasted a sub-$10 California Roussanne before.

A bit of Googling turned up that Writer’s Block is a brand from Steele Wines and is almost exclusively focused on Rhone varieties (had the store stocked their Counoise, I would have been all over that wine). Steele is a moderate sized winery in Lake County started by Jed Steele after a nine year tenure at Kendall-Jackson. Steele makes a wide assortment of red and white varieties from vineyards in Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Mendocino and Lake Counties under the Steele, Shooting Star and Writer’s Block brands.

Tasting Notes:

Steele Wines “Writer’s Block” Roussanne, Lake County 2007 ($14) – Golden yellow in color with aromas of pear, honey, green tea and oak toast. Rich and oily in the mouth with green apple, orange and butterscotch flavors finishing with a nutty note and good acidity. A well made Roussanne that will continue to be interesting for some time to come. A great value at their standard $14, but a steal (pun intended) at the $7.99 closeout price I paid.

13.5% ABV
Composite cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆
Score: 88

adegga listing
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Buy this wine online

Thanks once again to Lenn Thompson from the New York Cork Report for coming up with the idea for Wine Blogging Wednesday and for allowing me host a 4th time. Be on the lookout for the announcement of WBW72 from Richard at The Passionate Foodie which will include a fund raiser for Japan relief efforts.

Mas Des Dames, Rose, Coteaux Du Languedoc 2009

by Tim Elliott on March 3, 2011

Outside here in Minnesota it’s in the mid 20′s Fahrenheit with a thick snowpack. It is far from springtime here but a bit of spring can be had here inside a bottle of dry rosé. Every spring and summer I resolve to drink more rosé but for one reason or another rarely do. So I thought I would start a bit early this year even if it’s not seasonable outside yet.

Mas Des Dames Rose bottleRosé wines are a misunderstood lot here in the U.S. where most people think of them as off-dry or even full-on sweet “blush wines.” The most cliche of these is the white Zinfandel which is still a staple on many an American table. Dig a bit deeper in a good wine shop you will find several good dry rosé wines that pair well with food and deliver a unique flavor spectrum that is not quite white but clearly not as heavy as a red. The result is the perfect spring/summer wine; at least for me.

Rosé has a long tradition in southern France. But the people behind this wine are relative newcomers. After leaving a career in advertising in Amsterdam, Lidewij van Wilgen moved her family to France’s Languedoc to start Mas Des Dames in 2002. The 18th century farmhouse that serves as the winery is surrounded by 14 hectares (35 acres) of vines mostly planted to Rhone varieties. Organic methods in the vineyard and traditional vinification techniques are used to make the wines. And based upon this rosé, I’m looking forward to tasting their other wines.

Tasting notes:

Mas Des Dames, Rosé, Coteaux Du Languedoc 2009 ($16) – A blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah. Clear salmon-ruby color with aromas of strawberry and citrus. Crisp grapefruit and strawberry flavors finishing bone dry with bracing acidity. Very refreshing and pairs very well with food. Only 500 cases produced.

13% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆
Score: 89

adegga listing
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Davis Bynum, Pinot Noir 2008

by Tim Elliott on February 21, 2011

Davis Bynum Pinot Noir 2008Davis Bynum is a venerable name in California Pinot Noir having made their reputation back when Joseph Swan was still with us. Founded in 1973, Davis Bynum was the first to produce a single-vineyard Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley; from the now legendary Rochioli Vineyard. And this heritage lives on even after the sale to Rodney Strong Vineyards in 2007. From this tasting, and  a time or two in their tasting room, the wine in the bottle continues to live up to their well earned reputation.

Tasting notes:

Davis Bynum, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2008 ($35/sample) – Dark garnet in color with aromas of black cherry, earth, sage and fennel. Tight raspberry fruit flavors with nutmeg and a mineral note finishing with moderate tannins. Needs a bit more time in the cellar to come around or 2 hours in a decanter.

14.9% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆
Score: 89

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Glen Ellen, Petite Sirah 2007

by Tim Elliott on February 15, 2011

Glen Ellen Petite Sirah 2007Wines in the “fighting varietal” section of the wine store don’t get a lot of wine blog love. Nor do they get reviewed very much in the mainstream wine press leaving the inquiring consumer to consult Google for information. And I get a lot of incoming search traffic every time I review such a wine.

But I’m not reviewing this wine for the traffic but because it surprised me at how drinkable an industrial California $5 wine can be. Glen Ellen as a fighting varietal brand has been with us since the mid-1980′s producing a number of different wines available mostly in 1.5 Liter bottles. But it has been only recently that they have been relaunched as a sort of second label of Concannon Vineyards, the first producer of varietal labeled Petite Sirah. And judging by this effort, some of the winemaking practices for the variety have rubbed off.

Tasting notes:

Glen Ellen, Petite Sirah, “Proprietor’s Reserve” 2007 – ($10/1.5 Liter/sample) – Ruby-purple in color with aromas of blueberry and strawberry. Bright blueberry and plum flavors with a nice red fruit finish and no tannins. A fruit bomb a lot of people will like and a terrific value.

13.5% ABV
Synthetic cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆
Score: 85

Buy this wine online

adegga listing
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