A Wine Tasting for All Budgets

After two less than impressive bottles, we decided to combine two weeks of tasting notes for an exciting six offerings, all of which are newly in the past few weeks. Spanning rosé, Champagne, New World reds, and pet nat bubbles, the wines this week are lively, just a little bit funky, and all kinds of audacious. You may have noticed the d.b. schmitt rosé taking over Instagram lately or seen that Olivier Horiot Soléra Champagne calling out your name. (After having it, we definitely wouldn’t suggest waiting for any special occasion to try it out.) Join us as we dive into layers of fruit, acid, minerality, vegetal qualities, even a little whiff of curry spice. Whatever tickles your fancy or budget, we have it this week!

Weingut Schmitt Rheinhessen Rose '16

Weingut Schmitt Rheinhessen, Rosé (2016)

We start off with one of our favorites for the past two weeks: a German rosé that’s a mix of grapes you might not be familiar with. Merlot, Pinot Noir, Blauer Portugieser and Dornfelder all combine to create something that’s a beautiful cloudy pink in the glass. Upfront is a fragrant nose whose complexity is exciting to keep returning to with each glass one. On the palette, there is a fuzzy pink grapefruit and wild strawberry interplay happening upfront. But the tartness of the wine and an extremely fresh liveliness that hold on into the finish are what make this wine a special treat. It’s hard to convey exactly how lip smacking good this is.

Aphros, Vinho Verde Pet Nat Phaunus (2016)

Aphros, Phaunus Pet Nat (2016)

Portuguese wines are criminally underrated and this pet nat from Aphros made with 100% Loureiro grapes is no exception. On the nose, you have a salty, almost metallic, saffron paella notes. Upfront on the palette, you get juicy fruit: a lovely blend of cranberry, raspberry and strawberry that intermix as the wine opens. There is also a nice acidic structure that is countered by cinnamon notes and a bit of tonic bitterness that creeps in subtly at the end to add more depth on the finish.

Swick Wines, Ellaguru (2017)

Swick Wines, Ellaguru (2017)

The deep color betrays the crazy fresh taste of this wine that is part of a trend straddling the boundaries of a light red and rosé. Clocking in at only 10% it might appear to be a rosé but it also manages to possess a little bit more body than a traditional red. The nose is all about the juicy strawberry and tart cherry to follow when it first hits your palette. There are also some lovely gin botanticals that provide a bit of bitterness and vegetal depth without overwhelming things with too much tannic grip. This wine, despite its low ABV, is very dry and precise on the finish and brings in a subtle funkiness. There’s a lovely finesse here that we’re excited to see from the Swick wines.

Les Vins Contés Pow Blop Wizz (2017)

Le Vins Contés, Pow Blop Wizz Pet Nat Rosé (2016)

Though we’re not fully sold on Olivier Lemasson’s still wines, we are willing to say he’s a master of all things bubbly. This sparkler is a gorgeous pale pink in the glass with soft bubbles. On the nose we get elegant, fruity soda notes. Juicy, red strawberry fruit is upfront followed by some pleasant acidity. Like all of Lemasson’s wines, the funk soon emerges but it is successful here with the continuation of acid and some tannic grip that builds. It also finishes in a mouthwatering and lightly sweet way without being cloying. It is perfect for any occasion but truly great if the temperature hits 80 degrees or above.

St. Reginald Parish, The Marigny Pinot Gris Carbonic Maceration Willamette Valley (2017)

St. Reginald, Pinot Gris Carbonic Maceration Rosé (2017)

Over at St. Reginald, they’re crafting some of the most quaffable and dynamic wines from the Pacific Northwest. This rosé follows that pattern, being anything but conventional. In the glass, it’s a deeper pink in color with some floral characteristics on the nose. Upfront, we get pronounced red cherry fruit and a nice acid. But the star of the rosé is the mid palette with lime, pithy grapefruit bitterness and more herbaceous, savory soft earth notes that build into a clean, refreshing finish. It’s fantastic the winemaker manages to capture depth without being tannic at all. This is another perfect hit for a warm summer night or BBQ.

Olivier Horiot, Champagne Soléra (NV)

Olivier Horiot, Soléra Champagne (NV)

Olivier Horiot is a master of Champagne and is perhaps best known for his single varietal offerings. With his Soléra style, he blends of all seven grape varietals from Chamagne, removing wine for release from the last of a series of barrels that contains a blend of every vintage since the solera was started. When done well, this method creates wines of exceptional depth, which is true of Horiot’s efforts. Upfront on the palette, there are lovely curry and cumin aromatics with some soft oxidative truffle qualities as well. On the palette, we taste dark juicy berries, some nuttiness and refreshing citrus zest into a long finish. The density of this wine is memorable but it manages to have so much racy acidity that it never feels too hard to decipher.

Join us next week as we dive into an exciting new offering from Martha Stoumen, a wine that’s aged under water, and two other mystery options. Happy sipping!

It’s All About the Blends

Mercury has been in retrograde, which is why we’ve noticed a lot of frantic energy. (The endless number of chilly, overcast days doesn’t help!) In order to distract ourselves, we’ve started diving into three of our new springtime arrivals – two from France and one from Oregon that blend 10 different grape varietals into just three bottles. The results are unexpectedly mouthwatering and showcase the ability by winemakers to make blends seriously delicious.

Anders Steen mixing juicy fruit, salt and tannins together creates a rosé that almost feels like a light red. Minimus takes “entry level” Oregon wine to the next level, tempering the power of their high ABV wines. And Raphaël Bartucci gives 40 grams of residual sugar life in sparkling candy form.

Anders Steen Il va, ca va Je vais, je sais (2016)

This co-fermented blend of Carignan, Viognier and Chardonnay straddles the boundaries between rosé and light red. It features an electric acidity upfront and a pop of tart red fruit. This is followed by a quick transition to a funky, salty mid-palette that was delightfully unexpected. As the wine mellows out over time, you get a touch of minerality, a subtle, restrained tannic trip and a finish that ends with some gentle, slightly sweet strawberry notes. This is wonderfully experimental wine but it still manages to find the right harmony between the different elements. We’d recommend saving the whole bottle for yourself.

Minimus Rock Well (2016)

Minimus Rock Well, Red Wine Blend (2016)

It’s hard not to want this wine from the label alone, which features a disco ball ice cream. This is blend of red and white varietals in the following breakdown: 40% Tempranillo, 26% Sauvignon Blanc, 14% Viognier, 16% Syrah, and 4% Chenin Blanc that are blended after fermentation. It features earthiness on the nose, bright red fruits and a high-toned acidity. This is followed by gentle tannins but the wine soon softens into a dry finish, with some vegetal notes and a subtle floral quality that lingers at the end. For a wine at 14.2%, this is surprisingly light on its feet and could likely do well with a few years aging given that it reached its optimal balance of flavors a few days after the bottle was opened.

Bartucci Bugey Cerdon (NV)

Raphaël Bartucci Bugey-Cerdon Pet Nat Rosé (NV)

Bugey-Cerdon is known for its characteristic low ABV, semi-sweet sparkling wines, and this example from Bartucci does not disappoint. A blend of 80% Gamay, 15% Poulsard, 5% Chardonnay, this 9% ABV rosé sparkler is perfectfor anyone with a little bit of a sweet tooth. Think strawberry aromas with cranberry acidity upfront, followed by plush raspberry and strawberry notes, a smack of Juicy Fruit gum and finish that builds slowly into a mineral grip and gentle pepper notes by the end. As we wrote when we drank it: pure fun! pure joy! This is spring and summer distilled into a bottle.

Join us next week as we shift our focus to those 85 degree days and down a bunch of bottles of summer-ready wines, even if that nip in the air hasn’t quite disappeared just yet!

It’s All New World Experimentation

This week’s theme has been new world experimentation, which is one of our favorite ways to explore wines. Even if the results don’t always deliver exactly what we expect, we’re excited by the earnest efforts of these winemakers to present something we haven’t ever tasted before. This week we concentrate our efforts on two California wines featuring the classic grapes Riesling and Cabernet Franc and a Spanish rosé made from Tempranillo that adds a new dimension to the style.

The end results? One part tart, salty and savory. One part green pepper, crunchy fruit and acid. One part blackberry, vegetal and funky. These wines drink young but they have the structure and power to hold up over time.

Haarmeyer Wine Cellars, St. Rey Riesling - Wirz (2016)

Haarmeyer Wines, Wirz Riesling (2016)

We typically find ourselves gravitating toward New York State Rieslings but the trend seems to be catching on in California. Sometimes the results are weird and surprising. Sometimes, as is the case with this wine, the results are more classic. When we first started this wine, we smelled lovely round fruit and a touch of honeyed sweetness on the nose. On the palette, tart green apple dominated with acidity upfront but things started to soften quickly, with a pronounced salinity building through the mid palette before things turn decidedly more savory, but still clean and not overly rich, into the finish. Even after three days of the bottle being opened, the wine showed life, which signals aging potential.

MicroBio Wines, Correcaminos, Rosé (2017)

Microbio Correcaminos Rosé (2017)

Love them or hate them, Microbio are leading the way in the lowest intervention Spanish wines. Their latest rosé vintage is a bit wacky, we’ll admit, but the balance between fruit and funk really make it stand apart from the rest of the clean and lean prop of French rosés that are beginning to populate the shelves. Interestingly, the wine pours almost silently and a bit viscously into the glass, in an electric deep pink color. The nose matches the palette, whiffs of earthy funk meet juicy strawberry and blackberry fruits. Where other acids go lean on the acid, this one starts to build the vegetal notes, adding a bit of bitterness that is unexpected. After this, a generous funk builds: bits of earth and barnyard that you might look for in a red wine.

Methode Sauvage, Alegria Vineyard Cab Franc (2016)

If there was an honorific we’d give to Methode Sauvage it’d be Cab Franc King. If Cab Franc isn’t your thing, we wouldn’t recommend buying this wine. It’s note because it’s bad but because it’s very Cab Franc in the best possible. A rich inky purple in the glass, the wine smells like forest floor and green pepper on the nose. On the palette, we get juicy dark red fruits, a lovely acid and more of those crunchy green pepper notes. As you’d expect, there is a strong tannic backbone to this wine that builds into the finish, but it never feels overpowering, which is a testament to a well-made wine. The finish doesn’t offer too much but it is super clean and dry, which is a refreshing way to end such a flavorful expression of Cab Franc.

Join us next week as we travel to Bugey-Cerdon for their characteristic sweet and low ABV sparklers, a little of co-fermented magic out of Oregon and a rosé with an understated label that we can’t wait to try.

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