Yes the size of this wine container is three liters (that’s four bottles)! IT’S A BOXED WINE! Oh get over yourself; remember when everyone held their noses at screw caps? Truth be told it is actually wine in a bag and the bag is in the box. It is actually the best way to enjoy wine that has been opened already. It is O2, after all, that turns wine into vinegar, so the air in any unfinished bottle will have a detrimental effect on your wine. Wine in a bag in a box however doesn’t get O2ed. As the wine goes out, the bag shrinks. Zero oxygen! Boxed wines are great for camping, river rafting, picnics, and even just hanging out in the kitchen filling up the random glass. Boxed wines also have gone from, “Not too bad?” to, “This is really good.” This one is really good. Hailing from Portugal, the Lisboa Region (in coastal, central Portugal), this blend of 70 percent Aragones (aka Tempernillo), 20 percent Syrah, and 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon is a bit of a lighter style red, perfect for these hotter days. The Aragonez shows itself with cherry and cedar notes, the Syrah and Cab bring the weight up a bit and flesh out this wine with darker fruits and baking spice flavors. No oak, either in fermentation or aging. This is not a wine you have to think about. This is not a wine to ponder whether to pair it with porcinis or portabellas. This is a wine for the summer patio and anything off the BBQ! And you really have to work at it to empty a three liter box. Remember though it’s always good to have goals.
Lately, the law of randomness has been assisting me with my monthly wine picks, such as when I dropped a bottle & decided to write it up after becoming intrigued by the aroma and body during clean-up. Split Rail’s Daft Pink Brut Rosé caught my attention by another unplanned event, but this time it was not from my clumsiness. Several days ago, a few customers tasted some of our featured selections during a Friday tasting event and I brought up “Daft Pink.” My description of this fizzy, pink sensation intrigued the customers so much that I decided to buy a bottle and open it up to allow them to taste it. They were so impressed that all four of them cleaned out our current inventory and I took the rest of the original bottle home. Later that night, when I tried it again, the intense berry-blast of the sparkling strawberry, rhubarb and cherry drenched flavors lured me into finishing the entire bottle. Split Rail states that they use the “method-non-traditional” by deliberately injecting the carbonation, so perhaps that’s why they named it Daft, however, since that experience with the customers, Daft Pink has become so popular that we stacked it, and I’m restocking it twice a day. Daft Pink might not be an elegant Rhône-style or sophisticated Provincal rose like so many of the others, but if you want something fun and tasty and not-so-serious fizz in your mouth (like berry-flavored pop-rocks), punk-out with Daft Pink but be careful, you’ll want more!
It’s August now and it has been a brutal summer. So I asked myself, why has it been so long since I’ve written about rosé? After all, that is about all I’ve been drinking for the past couple of months. So here is Maris, a winery whose many products we have championed ever since we discovered it several months ago. We love the conscientious back-story of this winery: certified organic by Ecocert, Certified Demeter Biodynamic (the most stringent sustainable farming recognition), the winery itself is biodegradable, energy self-sufficient and has a negative carbon footprint. Even the bottles are recycled glass and the labels recycled paper. With all of those incredible eco-friendly credentials, my co-worker Bob swears that if you drink this wine, you will shave off half your time in Purgatory.
Me, I just like to drink the wine. One hundred percent Grenache Noir, the strawberry and orange zest notes on the nose are subtle but persistent and also make an impression on the palate, with fresh minerality keeping the refrain lively through the finish. This dry, berry-inflected rosé is perfect with a wide array of summer fare, and is definitely a cut or two above the casual quaffers. Come to think about it, it is comforting to know that this is a healthy byproduct of people who really do care about our planet!
One of my all-time favorite dry white wines is Muscadet from the Loire region in France. When I was last in the Loire, we drank this wine for lunch almost every day, usually with a big pile of fresh steamed mussels, which were in season at the time. The problem I run into in the shop is that when I recommend this wine, people counter that they do not like sweet wines. So, I then explain that this is not Muscat or Moscato, two wines that are usually made with some sweetness, and that Muscadet is the place, not the grape. The grape is Melon de Bourgogne and the wine is closer to Pinot Blanc in style, bone dry.
Dry, crisp, bright melon and lime fruit and fresh, lively acidity make this a great wine with any shellfish dish, but I served it with a cheese course and it was a big hit there as well. Made from old vine fruit and aged Sur Lie (on the yeast) in stainless steel tanks to add more complexity to the mid palate. If you have not tried Muscadet in the past you will be hard pressed to find a better choice than this to be your first, as 2015 was an excellent vintage. If you are a fan of Muscadet already then you should just come in and buy a case while you can, this is a bargain.
There’s a comedic skit that asks if some “stuff” is good and the answer is, “I got this ‘stuff’ from the girlfriend of the roadie who takes care of the drums for that famous drummer who knows Mick personally! Of course it’s good.” Well Mick’s not involved in this wine but Christophe Baron, who makes the famous Walla Walla Cayuse wines, is (Read Rockstar winemaker status!). The Reynvaan family and the Barons are such close personal friends that their vineyards are right next to each other. Result of a Crush is a new project for the Reynvaans. This Syrah, Viognier, Cab blend from Columbia Valley is not from the Rocks AVA, where both the Reynvaan and Cayuse vineyards are, but hints of its pedigree do show through. Is it good? YES! No, it is not a $120.00 Cayuse or an $85.00 Reynvaan and you can tell; but it does show expressive dark fruits with a meaty, smoky, kalamata olive finish. It may not come from the girl who knows the brother of Reynvaan’s cellar rat, but at $32.00 it’s a deal even Mick would appreciate!
Let me start by saying I occasionally feel some sympathy for my co-worker Dave Kirkpatrick. Dave is the one who puts together copy for our newsletter here in the Wine Shop, and when it comes to getting our wine picks written and submitted in a timely manner for his review, I feel like Dave has the unenviable job of ‘gently prodding’ some of us procrastinators. I would equate it to herding cats!! So when Dave kindly reminded me that my wine pick was needed ASAP, I hadn’t yet put much thought into it, and I grabbed a bottle of wine from our Backwall Bargains (all wines under $10, check it out if you’re looking for a good value), one that I hadn’t tasted and was curious about. I’ve done some reading about the Bobal grape, but have never had a wine made from that variety. The grape is actually the third most planted grape in Spain behind Airen (a white grape), and Tempranillo. In the past, due to its vigor, Bobal has mostly been used to make inexpensive jug wines, but if the vines are farmed a bit more aggressively (by dropping excess grape clusters and trimming excess shoots and leaves), the grapes ripen much more evenly and with increased concentration, ultimately making some excellent wines. I didn’t know what to expect when I opened this bottle, but I’m glad I did! My first thoughts were that the wine was kind of like Garnacha on steroids. Meaning that it was relatively soft, with a flavor profile very similar to Garnacha—lots of dark fruit, kirsch, baking spice, and a rustic leathery note—but the wine is higher in acid with slightly firmer tannins. It reminds me of some very good Côtes du Rhônes I’ve had over the years. I drank this wine with steak, roasted red pepper puree, and roasted root vegetables. It worked perfectly. Very simply put, I think this wine is a great value. Cheers!
Now well into drinking whites and rosés for the summer, I chose an unusual but delicious wine that’s perfect for the season. From a small production, certified sustainable winery called Left Coast, the White Pinot Noir is one of the most interesting wines that I’ve tried recently. It has very little skin contact with the grapes, the result being a full-bodied white wine with just the slightest hint of color. The wine itself is perfumed with fresh scents and mirrored flavors of Rainier cherry, peach and poached pear. Rich and broad with bright, balancing acidity on the palate and a lingering mineral finish, definitely give this one a try this summer.
Gerard Raphet, based in the village of Morey Saint Denis in the heart of Burgundy, has been a staff and customer favorite for many years. He is said to be a farmer first, but he happens to farm some very well-located plots in some of Burgundy’s greatest Grand Cru vineyards. He is a man of few words and he doesn’t really care what wine writers and wine critics have to say. He only cares about making his wines in a style that he likes to drink. The good news, it’s a style we like to drink too. His entry level Bourgogne shows his heart and passion every bit as much as his lofty Grand Crus. It’s a wine that we buy and sell in quantity every year, but this year (2015) is special. It is a fabulous year for red Burgundy and this is the best rendition of this wine that I have ever tasted. Raphet’s wines are always “pretty” but this is also more serious: crystalline red berry fruit on the hauntingly pure palate, but with a subtle sense of the soil. This could be nothing other than Burgundy. I’ve got my half case, so don’t hesitate. This vintage will disappear fast!