WBW

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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Announcing Wine Blogging Wednesday 80, Dry Rosé

by Tim Elliott on July 17, 2013

Back in the the first year of wine blogging (2004 for those just joining us) Lenn Thompson of LENNDEVOURS (now New York Cork Report) made a modest proposal and Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW) was born. I joined the monthly virtual tasting back at WBW 7 in early 2005 and have continued off and on over the years since and have maintained the WBW website. But interest wained in the event after Twitter tastings took hold and WBW went on long-term hiatus a couple times in recent years.

WBW logoBut the embers of WBW remained and there has been enough interest in the event recently that Lenn and I have decided to bring it back in its original, grass-roots format.

The idea is simple; each month a blogger “hosts” the virtual tasting determining the theme and posting a summary wrap-up some days after the event. On the Wednesday appointed for the tasting anyone can blog a post related to the theme and let the host know so their link can be included in the wrap-up post. Back in the day this literally meant a blog but over the years this has expanded to places like Tumblr and Google+; basically any public-facing spot on the web that doesn’t require a membership to view (so Facebook wall posts are out but you could participate on a Facebook page).

Got it?

I am pleased to announce the return of Wine Blogging Wednesday on August 14st for our 80th (non-consecutive) monthly tasting. My choice of theme was easy given the heat of the summer here in the Northern Hemisphere: Dry Rosé.

Good dry rosé is one of the most versatile wines in summer matching with light to heavy fare. But like some other wines, rosé (here in America anyway) doesn’t get the respect it deserves. So I’d like to see everyone explore beyond their regular summer rosés and try something new. It might be an obscure varietal or a region you haven’t tried before. Or maybe just kicking it old-school and picking up a rosé from Bandol, Tavel or Provence from a new producer.

Basically you can pick up a rosé wine made anywhere from any grape varieties, just make sure it’s dry.

When you post your entry, just send me your link via email (winecast at gmail dot com), Twitter (@winecast and please use hashtag #WBW80) or post here in the comments. A few days after the tasting I’ll write up a summary post and pass the baton to the next host (Lenn will host WBW 81 in September). And you can mark your calendars as all future WBW tastings will take place the 2nd Wednesday of each month.

Hope you can join me next month and beat the summer heat with some dry rosé!

WBW 74 Wrap-up: 39 Sparkling Values

by Tim Elliott on February 18, 2012

This is my fifth time hosting Wine Blogging Wednesday, our monthly virtual tasting event, but my enthusiasm has not diminished with the passage of time. In fact, since bringing back the event from hiatus it looks like the idea might be picking up some steam judging from the entires this month. While many of the bloggers are new, some of the WBW stalwarts from the past also returned.

The first post came in a week early from Dave at Toledo Wines and Vines. His choice of a Louis Bouillot Crement de Bourgogne ($18) in celebration of the New York Giants Superbowl win got the tasting off to a fine start.

Another early entry was posted by Jasmine at the Knitting 40 shades of green blog. It’s aways good to see a new perspective from outside the wine blog circle on WBW and Jasmine did not disappoint with a nice review of Barboursville Brut ($17) from Virginia.

Roddy from Sentir le Bouchon! in the UK was next with non-vintage Condesa Blanca Cava (£7/$11) which he enjoyed quite a bit.

Next was the VA Wine Diva reviewing not a wine from her home state but the always dependable Gruet Winery non-vintage blanc de noirs ($15).

Alleigh from A Glass After Work was the second to blog a sparkler from Gruet Winery, their non-vintage Brut ($14). From her review it looks like this will not be the last bottle from this reliable New Mexico producer.

Wine Blogging Wednesday founder Lenn Thompson from New York Cork Report was next with a review of Happy Bitch Wines “Happy Bitch” NV Rose ($12.50). This wine is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay from the Finger Lakes region of New York with a bit of sparkle added.

Next to post was Xandria from the BrixChicks blog, the first of three there (thanks Ladies!). She selected a Jean-Louis Denois Brut “Tradition” ($15) from France’s Languedoc. From her review, this K&L exclusive seems like a no-brainer for Bay Area or online value seekers.

The first multi-bottle entry was next from Ben at Colorado Wine Press. First of the three wines tasted was Gruet Winery Brut Rosé ($15) which was preferred over the others. Next up was Trevisiol Prosecco, Extra Dry which didn’t impress. The final wine as Domaine Chandon, Brut Classic which fared better than the Prosecco but didn’t measure up to the New Mexico sparkler.

Girl Meets Glass was next with Fleuraison Blanc de Blancs ($12). Made from Spanish base wine, it is trucked north to the Languedoc where secondary fermentation and bottling takes place. The resulting wine is delicate and might be best used for sparkling wine cocktails.

Next was Bob at 2001 Bottles – A Wine Odyssey who posted a lengthy article covering the non-vintage Evans & Tate “Zamphire” ($21) from Australia and 8th Generation “Confidence” 2010 ($22.50) from Canada’s British Columbia province. While both wines used the bulk process to add the bubbles, BC’s Confidence proved the winner in the flavor department.

Lisa from Wine Muse was next with Pizzini Brachetto 2010 ($17) a Muscato-like sparkler made from the Brachetto grape in the state of Victoria in Australia. The off-dry frizzante-style rose was a hit.

Liza from BrixChicks posted a review of the reliable Napa Valley sparkling wine from Mumm, their Napa Cuvee M ($18). The wine is another winner from this respected Champagne house who has been making sparkling wine in California for 26 years.

Thea from Luscious Lushes was next with a trio of sparklers from California and New Zealand. First up was Trader Joe’s non-vintage North Coast Sparkling Wine ($10) which sounded pretty nice for the price. Next she reviewed the reliable sparking standby from Roederer Estate ($17). And finally tasted Quartz Reef Method Traditionalle NV ($22) from New Zealand. Going for extra credit, Thea blogs another 3 wines in the honorable mention category from Mumm Napa ($15), Gruet ($14) and Gloria Ferrer ($16).

My post was next with another Trader Joe’s exclusive their Albero Brut Cava ($8) which I though was a good crowd pleaser for any celebration.

Shannon from Grape Occasions reviewed the trendy Villa Jolanda Moscato Rosé ($10) and was pleasantly surprised by the off-dry sparkler.

Posting next was Michael from Undertaking Wine with a Long Island selection, the Palmer Vineyards non-vintage Special Reserve Brut ($20). And from his review it sounds like another good option for New Yorkers.

The final post of the night was a blow-out by BrixChicks Liza and Heidi who hosted a tasting of 10 sparkling wines. The standouts where the non-vintage Gruet Blanc de Noirs ($14), non-vintage Piper Hiedsieck Champagne Brut ($15) and 2008 Taltarni “Taché” ($20) but check out their entire post for some entertaining tasting notes including aromas reminiscent of Bath and Body Works.

Posting on Wine Blogging Thursday was Gwendolyn from Wine Predator with pairings of 4 wines with various dishes. Although all the wines seemed to work with their dishes, the Trader Joe’s Blason du Bourgogne Brut Rose, Cremant de Bourgogne ($12) seemed like best wine of the quartet.

Update (I missed a post): The Wine Compass blog posted a review of Yellow Tail Bubbles ($10) which was deemed a good value.

So that concludes the seventy-fourth edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday. Overall, 19 bloggers tasted 39 wines from 8 countries. With only a few repeats there are over 30 solid choices for everyday sparkling wine.

Next month look for Joe from 1WineDude to take Wine Blogging Wednesday in a totally different direction which he will announce early next week.

WBW 74 by the numbers

Bloggers: 19
Wines Tasted: 39
Countries Represented: 8
Least Expensive: $8 – Albero Brut Cava
Most Expensive: $22.50 – 8th Generation “Confidence” 2010

WBW 74: Value Sparkling Wine

by Tim Elliott on February 15, 2012

Sparkling wine is thought of by most American’s as a luxury to be consumed on special occasions like weddings, graduations and New Year’s eve parties. And that’s a shame since sparkling wine is so versatile at the table, pairing with a wide variety of food, made all over the world and available at every price point. Perhaps it’s just too difficult for most wine consumers to get their heads around this wine as the best examples tend to be delicate and acidic with yeasty minerality that takes some getting used to. But the rewards are worth the effort to really get to know, and love, sparkling wine as it brightens up even the most challenging day.

This is the 5th time I’ve hosted Wine Blogging Wednesday and I’d like to write my theme was calculated to take advantage of the bubbly consumed yesterday for Valentine’s Day. It actually had more to do with my desire to find some new values in sparkling wine to enjoy this spring and summer where I intend to drink (and blog) a bottle each week. I chose the $25 price point to keep the wine selections inclusive of the entire world knowing this might be a challenge, but doable, even in Champagne. But it was the under $10 price point that most interested me since this means “everyday” to most of us.

Albero Brut CavaSo my search took me to Trader Joe’s, the value grocery store that has a reputation as a decent place to find wine values. While TJ’s might not deliver great wine values since they became the house of Two Buck Chuck, their sparking wine selection is still pretty solid. So after looking at their Crement de Bourgogne choices I have had, and enjoyed before, I picked up a Cava for just $7.99 as my choice tonight.

Albero Brut Cava ($8) is an exclusive of Trader Joe’s here in the U.S. made by Bogedas Iranzo, the oldest Spanish winery dating back some 677 years. Before you think Christoper Columbus drank sparkling wine from this estate, a quick aside to the history of bubbly.

Although wine with bubbles has existed since antiquity as a by-product of fermentation, it was only until glass blowing technology could withstand the pressure in the bottle before this style really emerged. Counter to the legend that this wine emerged in Champagne from the cellar of monk Dom Pérignon, sparkling wine was actually first made on purpose in Italy in 1622. But it was glass blowing technology developed in England in 1662 that made this country the true founder of sparkling wine almost 80 years before Dom Pérignon first drank “stars”.

Cava is the name given to sparkling wine made in Spain. It mostly comes from the Penedès region in Catalonia, just south of Barcelona. Like in Champagne only certain grapes are allowed in Cava but until recently these have only been native Spanish varieties. Keeping it old school, the Albero Brut Cava is a blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo.

The wine is golden straw color with a medium bead of fine bubbles that dissipate quickly in the glass. It has green apple, stone and baking bread aromas. Bright apple and citrus flavors finishing dry with hint of minerality and nice acidity on the finish. A nice crowd pleasing sparkler at a good price.

11.5% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆

Thanks go to Wine Blogging Wednesday founder Lenn Thompson for asking me to host again. I’m looking forward to next month already.

Announcing WBW 74: Value Sparkling Wine

by Tim Elliott on January 23, 2012

One of the wine trends from 2011 is the rise of Champagne with American consumers up over 20% from  2010. Another trend was Moscato coming out of nowhere to become nearly an overnight success. This could be in part due to the charms of the lightly sparkling frizzante made from this grape in Italy.

Sparkling wine is one of the most versatile at the table with styles to pair with nearly every dish. From bone dry to sweet, single variety to blend, sparkling wine is something we should all drink more of. And it’s made all over the world using the classic process perfected in Champagne. In Germany it is known as Sekt, Spain calls it Cava, in Portugal it goes by Espumante, and in Italy Spumante covers a lot of ground. But great sparkling wine is also made in the New World with world class wines coming from California, New Mexico and Australia. I even hear some very nice sparkling wine is being made these days in England, the country who started the style back some 400 years ago.

So the theme of Wine Blogging Wednesday 74 is Value Sparkling Wine.

Just pick a sparkling wine from any appellation, made from any grape but make sure it sells for $25 or less a bottle (€20, £16). This should open up a lot of interesting selections, from Crémant de Bourgogne, to Cava, to California & New Mexico sparkling, sparkling Shiraz, to even well chosen grower Champagne. Just post your notes by February 15th and ping me @winecast on Twitter or email me with your link at winecast (at) gmail (dot) com. I’m hoping we can once again circle the virtual wagons and taste some great bubbly.

Join us.

WBW 73: My Wine Spark

by Tim Elliott on January 18, 2012

I first found out about Wine Blogging Wednesday in late February of 2005 when Andrew from Spittoon sent me an email inviting me to participate in WBW 7. Back then the wine blogging world was a small group of sites and we frequently commented on each others posts and traded emails. I was intrigued with the idea of a monthly virtual wine tasting event and have participated in 46 of the 72 past events, hosting 4 times. This month’s host, the writer behind the Corkdork blog, has asked us to revisit the wine that first sparked our interest in wine.

My story starts in 1979 when I was in college. At only 19, I was under the legal drinking age in California where I was born and went to school but I spent summers in upstate New York where the drinking age was 18 at the time. Over the summers of 1979 and 1980 I tried just about every form of alcohol but settled mostly on beer as mixed drinks never appealed much too me and the wine I had locally was mostly from Taylor and not very appealing. Since I was summering in Rochester, New York just a short drive to the Finger Lakes AVA you might think it was this regions’ wines that sparked my interest first but, sadly, it was not. But my early experiences while in New York did plant the seeds that bore fruit when I turned 21 and was back in California.

After a couple years studying film at UC San Diego, I transferred to California State University at Chico. This was about a 3 hour drive to Napa Valley but as college students we had plenty of weekend time and my Datsun got very good gas mileage. We also heard wineries didn’t charge anything for tasting which fit our budget perfectly. So one Saturday not long after my 21st birthday in late 1981 my girlfriend and I drove to the Napa Valley to wine taste. Back in those days I knew nothing about wine. In fact, I was so ignorant that I mispronounced most of the grape varieties (Meer-lot, anyone?). It was with this lack of sophistication we ventured up Hwy 29 and pulled into our first winery. If memory serves this was the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville where we not only got an interesting tour but a very informative guided tasting. And the wines tasted pretty good, too, particularly the whites (Mondavi Fumé Blanc is still a sentimental favorite). I also remember visits to Sutter Home (pre- “Home of white Zin” days) and Louis Martini on this first visit. We liked a lot of the wines with our favorite being the Sutter Home Muscat (now somewhat ironic given Muscat’s resurgence in popularity over the past year). Anything white and sweet filled the bill. Everyone starts someplace.

Grgich Hills ZinfandelMonths past and we revisited Napa Valley a few more times. As we gained a bit more knowledge and confidence we visited new and different wineries. One of these was Grgich Hills Cellar right off the main highway that runs north to south on the western side of Napa Valley. This was in early 1982 and the winery had only been open for 5 years. I remember entering the nondescript tasting room and tasting their Chardonnay. And while this wine was very good it was their Zinfandel that first sparked my interest in wine. Poured by a jovial man in a beret, the wine burst with red fruit on the nose and in the mouth finishing with supple tannins that seemed to melt like bittersweet chocolate. I had tried Zinfandel before but this wine was the first that truly spoke to me and compelled me to learn more about the variety. It was a couple years later that I figured out the man in the beret who poured me this Zinfandel was none other than winemaker Mike Grgich.

Four years later the second wine spark happened. By then I was working for Kodak and we had lived in Rochester, New York for a year and a half. This was the time I first discovered Finger Lakes Riesling and we spent many weekends tasting along the wine trails there. But it was not the local wines that produced this second spark but a well-known Napa Valley Cabernet. Over the previous 4 years I had read several wine books and had tasted a lot of wines. And while I still liked Zinfandel quite a bit drinking Lytton Springs vineyard as often as I could afford it, Cabernet Sauvignon was my latest obsession. I read all about the top Napa Valley Cabernets and drank Bordeaux as often as I could. I had received an award at work that was a gift certificate to a nice local restaurant with a very good wine list. I thought I might find a nice red Bordeaux to match with my prime rib as there were not a lot of California Cabernet on upstate New York wine lists even in the mid-1980′s.

Heitz Cellar Marthas Vineyard Cabernet 1974So imagine my surprise when I saw Heitz Cellars Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet from the 1974 vintage on the list. And it was even available by the glass at the absurd price of $25 for a small pour ($52 in 2012 dollars according to WolframAlpha). It took me only a millisecond to order this glass since we were spending Kodak’s money and I couldn’t imagine ever seeing this wine by the glass again (I haven’t). And the wine didn’t disappoint. I still remember the aromas of mint and eucalyptus that this vineyard is known for along with tobacco and a pleasing earthiness. In the mouth this wine defined Napa Cab to my developing palate. Cassis, blackberry, and spices finishing long with great balance. I can’t remember the level of tannin but I think they were still settling down as the wine was only 12 years old at the time I tasted it.

I would have liked to have revisited one or both of these wines but I’m afraid the Heitz Cab is selling for $800 a bottle and I would bet the current vintage of Grgich Hills Zinfandel is vastly different than the 1978 or 1979 I tasted at the winery. But I don’t think this matters much as these wines live in my memory as turning points that made me want to learn more about wine. Eventually this led me to start this blog in order to have a place to send friends who were always asking about which wines to buy.

Without Wine Blogging Wednesday I probably would not have told this story. Thanks go to the Corkdork for hosting and for a great theme. A lot has changed in the nearly 7 years I have participated in Wine Blogging Wednesday but there is nothing like it. Hopefully this will again be a monthly feature here if we get enough bloggers participating.