Posts Tagged ‘Rosé’

Rhône Rosé Panel: Quivira, Mounts, and Skinner Vineyards

Tick Tock – the Countdown to Two Amazing Rhone tasting events continues. This next weekend , March 24-25 is the Rhone Rangers “Weekend Celebration of

American Rhones.” Over 100 domestic Producers from California, Washington, Oregon, and even Virginia assemble in Ft Mason, San Francisco for two days of seminars, winemakers dinner, auctions, and tastings.

Just one month later, April 26-28th Rhone lovers head to Paso Robles for Hospice du Rhone, “the World’s Largest International Celebration of Rhone Variety Wines.” This event is a stunning immersion of seminars, lunches, dinners, & tastings.

Each week Simple Hedonisms is celebrating with at least one Rhône wine review.


Rosé Wines – Man Up – Drink Pink. This Isn’t Your 1990’s White Zin, It’s a French Classic Wine

Photo Credit: Pink Ribbons Project

My friend Lisa Ortman of Ortman Family Cellars used to say “Man up, Drink Pink.” The myths surrounding Rosé wines are still a bit perplexing to me. Lets smash a few of them, shall we.

1. Most quality Rosé wines are dry aka not sweet.

No, not that corporate mass produced sugary garbage at the bottom of the supermarket shelf, the real stuff from your local artisan winery or imported from France.

2. Rosé is for women.

For the record men – Rosé is made from RED WINE GRAPES. The only reason its pink is because it doesn’t spend much time on the skins during fermentation, which is the ONLY reason that red wine is even red! This concept is as assanine as the thought that “real wine drinkers don’t drink white.” (Which I’d contend its the opposite if anything.)

3. Rosé is a summer wine only.

This myth is perpetrated both by consumers and by wineries, who are deathly afraid of being caught with any Rosé left by October. It’s true, a good Rosé is a great summer sipper and aperitif. But its hardly limited to that. I was amazed at my trip to France and the Rhone this January – most restaurants had more Rosé by the glass than whites, and swarthy French men bundled up in wool had no issue ordering a bottle of Pink. The higher acidity in Rosé pairs it nicely with food, and its one of my top recommendations for the winter Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays as well.

4. Rosé can’t age.

Generally the spirit of Rosé is a wine meant to be drunk young, fresh, and consumed in the first year or so of release. But many Rosé wines can actually age quite well, particularly if they are a ‘true’ Rosé – that is to say grapes picked early in the season to be higher in acidity, lower in alcohol. The acidity preserves the wine, and softens with age. Indeed a few Rosé wines I have bought and specifically but aside awhile to let the brightness subdue a bit. The freshness will tamper down a bit, and the wine will change. Generally one wouldn’t hang on to a Rosé more than a few years, but for every rule, there is an exception, especially with wine geeks.


Rhône Rosé Panel: Quivira, Mounts, and Skinner Vineyards

I recently compared three Rhône Rosé wines in an impromptu panel. I am debating putting out a “call for Rosé” as I did in December for sparkling, for a more thorough review – stay tuned. If interested, email me.

Rhône wines in my opinion, especially Syrah and Grenache, make exceptional Rosé wines. These three do not disappoint.

(1) Mounts 2010 “Pink” Syrah Rosé

I frequently wax poetic about the Mounts, and I hope to write an in depth article soon.

Watching their evolution over the last 4 years has been a rewarding experience as this four generation Grower family continues to innovate and has become a Dry Creek Valley Rhone producer to follow.

This 2010 is a wonderful Rosé of Syrah. Kudos to Dave Mounts for picking, making a true rose’, not a Syrah juice bleed off.
Bright salmon pink color. Essence of strawberry, watermelon, tomato vine, on the nose. Crisp, bright in the mouth, cherry, jolly rancher, watermelon, in mouth.

Lingering mouth watering finish. Drinkable all year round, and a few years bottle time thanks to the nice acidity. At 13% viagra for less in the usa alcohol, can drink a few of these.

Sadly the Mounts are down to about a dozen cases, and there is no 2011 Rosé. I only hope they make it again for 2012. Pretty please? At least hold 6 more 2010 bottles for me.


(2) Skinner Vineyards 2010 Grenache Rosé

A winery in the Sierra Foothills I have my eyeballs on. This Rosé is mostly Grenache with a touch of Mourvedre.
Color – clear, salmon-strawberry color. On the nose -cherry, red fruit, hint of watermelon,

tomato vine, red hard candy
Palate – Enjoyable, food friendly, excellent acidity. Cherry, hard candy vibrant front palate , pleasant mid palate, and a lingering finish with notes of spice & hazelnut.

Would pair well with many foods and cheeses.

(3) 2011 Quivira Rosé

Quivira is another of my favorite Dry Creek Rhone producers and new winemaker Hugh Chappelle continues to do great things as Quivira lets him be the creative artisan he wishes to be.

Quivira’s newly released low production rose’ – never lasts long. New in screw top this year.

Like last year, heavily Mourvedre based, unlike Grenache based Rosé of years prior.
Light, bright, pink in color. Nose of watermelon jolly rancher and strawberry. Wonderful in the mouth, watermelon, white peach, red fruits. Mouth watering acidity that lingers on finish.
13% alc. Fresh. Bright. Fun.


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Tasting Notes: 2009 Sainte Leocadie Minervois Rosé

Wine of the Week – Foppiano Vineyards 2010 Estate Rosé

Tasting Notes: Ortman 02 Series Grenache Rosé – Paso Robles

Wine of the Week – Carol Shelton 2010 Rendezvous Rosé (Mendocino Carignane)

Wine of the Week – Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris De Cigare, Rosé

Wine of the Week: Baxter Winery 2006 Carignan – And the Rhone Countdown Begins



Tasting Notes: 2009 Sainte Leocadie Minervois Rosé

It's been a great year for California dry rosé – more and more producers are making a high quality rosé, and selling them for under $20, and finding they are often gone by end of summer. (Which for the record, a great rosé is drinkable all year long. ) But I always dabble in rosé from France, especially when dollars are tight. One can often find a good bargain for $8-12. Unfortunately it seems some producers are creeping up in alcohol, catching the US, who on the other hand, some producers here (like Breggo) are make great rosé under 13% alcohol.

I grabbed this wine online during a big K&L Wine sale – one of my favorite wine merchant in San Francisco. I love

their will call order method:  I can place orders online as I wish, then pick them all up will call once a month.

When I saw a French rosé, marked from down to $5.99 from $10 and made from my beloved Rhones, (40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 20% Cinsault), I said what's to lose? If its not great I'll mix it with some club soda and ice and lemon and make a cocktail.

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pan” style=”font-size: 15px; font-weight: bold;”>Tasting Notes: 2009 Sainte Leocadie Minervois Rosé 

To The Eye: An interesting salmon color, almost orange.

On The Nose: Strawberry, hint of watermelon, spice

In The Mouth: Generally easy to drink. Red fruit, spice, good density. The finish could be a bit better, and feels a bit bigger than 13% alcohol, but its expressive, easy to drink, and would pair well with a pizza, salad, some spiced (not hot) fare – versatile.

Recommendation: Its not going to win an Academy Award, but for the money, it's worth buying a bottle. Or two.

Where to Buy: Online (or in store) at K&L. Less than 100 bottles appear left.

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Wine of the Week – Foppiano Vineyards 2010 Estate Rosé

If you listened in to last weeks KRSO Drive at 5 Wine Wednesday Show, which I guest host, this week we interviewed Foppiano Vineyards, and I teased they were also my planned wine of the week…..Tada – a few days later than planned, here it is.

115 Harvests Under Their Belt

Courtesy of Foppiano Website

Foppiano is one of those comeback stories I love to see. The story of Foppiano Vineyards is a family epic full of tradition, perseverance and contributions to the history of Sonoma County and the wine industry.  Founded in 1896 by Giovanni Foppiano, Foppiano Vineyards is one of Sonoma County’s oldest continually-operated, family-owned wineries.

California and Sonoma has a fair number of seasoned wineries, and sadly some don’t innovate along with times, and sometimes fade into the twilight. It has been exciting to watch Foppiano these last 18 months innovate and inject new blood and outside talent (new winemaker Natalie West and Marketing/Media Guru Taylor Eason, to name two) as well as retain and leverage their deep Russian River Valley heritage. (A note to Foppiano – put these people on your website – its a positive – their story is now your story.)

Foppiano is on the move, their wines are one to taste and to watch. Their Pinot Noir was a RRV judges favorite in the elimination round of my Pinot Smackdown tasting, and is a great value. Their new Lot 96 Petite Sirah jug program is brilliant, and an amazing value, and this Rosé is a find….well while its left.

Wine Review: Foppiano Vineyards 2010 Estate Rosé

This rosé is a unique combination of Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir, the two flagship red varieties of Foppiano. I was curious how the combination would turn out, and very pleased with the results.

To The Eye: A dark rose’, almost light red. Not surprising given the Petite Sirah component. Clear and vibrant.

On The Nose:  Expressive nose of cherry, spice, strawberry.

In the Mouth: The combination of Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah is suprising and brilliant. The Pinot Noir provides nice fruit, acidity, and a subtle touch, the Petite Sirah some color, structure, and complexity. Its a winning combination with a mouthful of red fruit, cherry, and citrus. Pleasant in the front palate, nice weight in the mid palate, and good acidity makes for a mouth watering finish.

Recommendation: Get over your thing about Rosé – real wine drinkers seek Rosé far and wide; and its enjoyable all year long, not just for summer. Except this one may not be, as only 20 cases  (of the 180 made) are left in the tasting room. Buy some, now. Highly Recommended – 91 points.

Where to Buy: Online or in the Tasting Room. A buy at $15. Media Sample.

Video Tasting Notes: Check out Taylor Eason and Natalie West in this Informative Video on the Rosé


Visit Foppiano and ‘The Eastside Bunch’

Foppiano is one of 12 wineries in a fun group called the “Eastside Bunch”  October 29th is the “Eastside Bunch Bounty of Harvest.”

Cruise through all the Eastside Bunch wineries on and off Old Redwood Highway south of Healdsburg to celebrate this year’s grape harvest in the beautiful Russian River Valley. Taste wines from all 12 member wineries and nosh appetizers to raise funds for the Redwood Empire Food Bank. PLUS, a new addition

to the Eastside Bunch event line-up: Check off every winery in your Eastside Bunch Passport and gain a chance to win a mixed case of wine from all the participating wineries. $20 in advance,  $25 at the door, $10 for designated driver tickets – Check in at any Eastside Bunch Member winery.

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Tasting Notes: Ortman 02 Series Grenache Rosé – Paso Robles

Last Friday was International Grenache Day – not as prevalent as Cabernet Day – but people celebrated all over the world, abd hundreds of thousands of people were reached via Twitter during this celebration.

I held a walk around tasting  for 9 wineries and 80 people hosting vintners QuiviraRidgeMountsSheldon, Wind Gap Wines,  Baiocchi Wine, R2 Wine Co, and last minute entry Stage Left Cellars. More on this in an article later this week.

To compliment this tasting, the Ortman Family was nice enough to send rose’ samples to share, which I splashed in peoples glasses as a

palate cleanser and kickoff wine, for save one exception, we had reds all being poured.

The 02 Series

I am a fan of the o2 Series and its concept, and loved the Ortman Cuvee Eddy, 02 Series, San Luis Obispo County Rhone blend when I reviewed it last December.  What is o2?

Wines that are fresh, affordable, delicious, coming from a small family owned winery with 40 harvests under its belt.

Review:  Ortman 02 Series Grenache Rosé – Paso RoblesTo the Eye: Dark Salmon, Watermelon Flesh colored

On the Nose: Peach and Strawberry fill the nose.

In the Mouth: Bright, vibrant, refreshing. Watermelon, citrus. Juicy mid palate, lingering acidity on the finish. This wine is easily downed solo, but would pair with with oysters, salads, grilled chicken or fish, BBQ with tomato sauce, pizza. 14.5% alcohol.

Recommendation: As Lisa Ortman says:

A word from the ladies of Ortman Family Wines: Man up and drink pink!

90 points –  A recommended, high quality, value priced rose’. $16 online, and it appears they currently have great shipping specials – 1-5 bottles shipped to CA is $12, and shipping for 6+ bottles is only a penny. (Welcome to California ABC laws.)

There was only 90 cases made of this great summer sipper – grab a few. And lets get another thing straight –  Rosé is not just for summer – that’s about as true as bubbles are only for holidays. You can enjoy rosé any time of year, and its an especially great food pairing, value priced wine for the holidays – stock up and drink pink!

Info and purchase here. 


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El Dorado of Wine: Exploring Calaveras Tasting Rooms

I visited a number of tasting rooms in and around the gold rush town of Murphy’s CA this weekend. My brother raised his children in Murphy’s but I hadn’t been back in nearly 10 years. When they were little, there were 3 or 4 wineries in town. Now there are well over 20, with new and expanding grape cultivation evident on the drive up Highway 4. Down in the valley, the road is lined with apple and peach orchards as it always was. As it reaches the higher elevations of the Sierra Foothills, Highway 4 gives way to glimpses of vineyards and new plantings between rolling hills.

Many wineries have opened tasting rooms on or near Main Street in Murphy’s. If the July 4th weekend was a bellweather, this once declining community is now a thriving village of cafes, bistros, boutiques and wine establishments, all grown up around the tasting rooms. Great care has gone into establishing the atmosphere of each room.

Day One:
I loved the intimate and funky Zucca Mountain Vineyards tasting room with it’s cool, dark stone cellar, wall of awards, and an afterhours patio with music and misters on a 100-degree plus day. Their 2008 Barbera was smooth, forceful and balanced with soft wood tones. It stands alone but calls out for a food pairing. Zucca smartly distributes recipe cards keyed to their wines. I picked up the Steak with Horseradish-Chive Sauce to be paired with the 2009 Sangiovese, complete with photo of the mouth-watering steak. Other Italian varietals produced by Zucca include Sangiovese, Dolcetto, and Sorprendere.

Newsome-Harlow tasting room, just a couple doors up the street, was the polar opposite of Zucca, with equal appeal. Enter through an enclosed patio lounge complete with fire pit, which opens onto their food franchise, The Kitchen to the north and the Tasting Room to the east.  Lots of natural light through ample glass, zoned lighting and wood floors complete the euro high-tech look and feel. I wanted to taste with small plates but The Kitchen was only open until 3pm (in a week or two they will open for dinners).

I really liked the wines at Newsome-Harlow. The tasting room personnel were top-notch. They explained that this is the label of local Scott Klann, winemaker at Twisted Oak and Tanner. I didn’t have a chance to taste Tanner but between Twisted Oak and Newsome-Harlow I sensed a vast repertoire of styles emanating from Klanns’ wine-making influence.

Newsome-Harlow 2010 Sauvignon Blanc is classic grapefruit SB of which I am a huge fan. The wine was pure, simple and refreshing, a perfect synonym to the scorching weather outside.  The 2010 Rose of Grenache (10% Zin) was also a winner

at 13.2% alcohol. I took home a bottle of each.  NH featured a trio of Zinfandels, one from each of the Sierra Foothill regions – Amador, El Dorado and Calaveras — which makes for interesting tasting room discussion. I particularly liked the 2009 Donner Party Zinfandel from the local Dalton vineyard, described as “not for the faint of heart.” I really wished The Kitchen had been open when I got to tasting these Zins!

A galactic opposite Tasting Room experience was Ironstone, where the entry is through theme-park-like gates. In fact, the winery’s Amphitheatre hosts a complete season of fireworks, concerts and performing arts (Sammy Hagar plays in Sept).  The staff was friendly and knowledgeable, a snack and sandwich bar is housed right in the large tasting room, and the beautiful shaded gardens are an oasis of coolness on a hot day. To top it off, the wines are nicely made and range from value-priced to fine wines.

Day Two:
I visited the new Twisted Oak Winery in-town tasting room. It’s across the street from the former location, in a lovely Victorian cottage where most of the inter

ior walls have been removed to make one big bright light room. I was very well taken care-of despite the holiday crowds. Having followed Twisted Oaks’ Jeff Stai “El Jefe” on Twitter since my earliest wine tweets, I felt an obligation to be thorough. I tasted the entire list, which is amazingly long (12 wines were pouring) and diverse (3 whites, 7 blends, over 14 varietals) for a small-production (5000-8000 case) winery.

Another 100-degree day, and I was finding a dearth of whites. So I really enjoyed the Twisted Oak 2010 Calaveras County Verdelho and appreciated the light touch (13.6% alcohol). Of their many reds, I was partial to the 2008 Calaveras County Parcel 17 – a finely tuned and approachable blend with cranberry notes – of Mourvedre, Carignane, and Graciano all sourced from a single parcel of a Calaveras vineyard.  This wine has won best of California and Double Gold at the California State Fair and a Gold Medal at the Orange County Fair. Even thought it’s not the biggest, slamming-est Twisted blend, t’s good to know I’m not alone in my tastes …

Twisted Oak has branded a kick-ass wine-making style which was evident in the dramatic acids of the 2010 Calaveras County Viognier. And in the 2008 Calaveras County Torcido that ROARS into the mouth like a forest fire in the pines.  Torcido means “Twisted” and it’s made up of “estate-grown Garnacha blended with a little Petitie Sirah.” Wines like these beg for food; I’m thinking to pair the Viognier with hotly spiced Thai.  I’m open to suggestion on the Torcido … perhaps a fire extinguisher?

@Twisted_Oak — @eljefetwisted

Another novel approach to tasting was the Allegorie Tasting and Art Gallery. Here an artistic couple have designed a line of wines that pair with their art.  Their wines are made by Jonathon Phillips of Val du Vino Winery (Murphy’s), in very low case production and available only in the gallery.  The 2009 Allegorie Calaveras County Grenache is one of the best I’ve tasted.  Ever.

In an homage to Spain, Metate Hill Vineyards tasting room boasts soft archways and cool tile counters to highlight their focus on artisan produced Spanish varietals. Two treatments of the same Albarino wine were tasting: The 2008 Albarino Acero – aromatic and clean-finishing, and the 2008 Albarino Barrica — from the same pressing using different fermentation and aging techniques.  Followed by 2008 Carinena Rosado, a boldly dry rose’ with tones of bramble bushes and pepper that produced a lingering refresca against the blistering heat of the afternoon. I took home a bottle, hoping to recreate the sensation.

I was fortunate to taste a couple of not-on-the-list wines: a 2008 Metate Hill Carinena (aka Carigniane) I would describe as a pure expression of the varietal character of the grape.  Then, a very special 2008 Graciano, a joyous wine with a soft mouth feel and full fruit ripeness and yet a serious intensity, moderated nicely.  The grape is from the Rioja region of Spain.  I noticed it in the Twisted Oak Parcel 17 and again at Metate Hill. I think I’ve just discovered another varietal preference!
Metate Hill on Facebook

Two words sum up my visit to Calaveras: Atmosphere and diversity. Atmosphere for the effort taken by the wineries to create unique tasting room experiences. Diversity for the range of varietals and winemaking styles – including Italian, Rhone, and Spanish — represented in the tasting rooms of one small town. I think the food pairing and access to food for tasting here in Calaveras, where there’s such a proliferation of food wines being poured, is a very important strategy not yet addressed by most of the tasting rooms.  These are a just a few of the rooms I had time to visit on a 36 hour trip. Others called out to me and I promise to see them on my next trip. Which may be soon!

If you’re going:

The Calaveras Winegrape Alliance (CWA) has an excellent and informative website with a great map of area wineries.

Events upcoming: Any of these would be a good reason to take a drive Calaveras and visit some of the tasting rooms.

July 22 CWA hosts a tour of six Calaveras vineyards with world-renowned viticulture specialist and Professor Emeritus at UC Davis, Dr. James Wolpert

July 31, Steve Miller Band at Ironstone Amphitheater

August 13, Cave-Looting Extravaganza at Twisted Oak Winery

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Wine Review – Charity Case Rosé – Napa Valley

Napa Valley – California's most renowned wine region, commanding the highest prices for wine in the state. And the source for tonight's review of Charity Case Wines, both somewhat ironically a value at $12 a bottle.

About Charity Case

The Charity Case Foundation is a movement that was conceived by winemakers from Napa Valley. All juice and fruit donated by Napa Valley wineries and growers goes into small batch, hand made wines with all net proceeds going to non-profit organizations serving children bupropion sr 200mg reviews and families in Napa County. There is no overhead, or charges, all money is for charity, for children.

Charity Case 2008 Rosé

I love the story behind this wine. Many winemakers and industry people (self included with 3 rosé this year) will make a small amount of rosé to enjoy. Sitting around one nig

ht drinking one of these 'science projects' the idea of blending juice from several sources and varietals might be a hit, and this rosé was born.

Color: Dark salmon pink, almost orange.

On the Nose: Modest nose of strawberry, with hint of red apple.

In the Mouth: Expressive in mouth. This rosé was fermented in neutral oak adds a nice texture, mouthfeel. This is a bit bigger rosé, which will pair with a broader array of foods. Alcohol is 14%, not crazy for California rosé, but be careful, this wine goes down easy! Lots of red fruit – strawberry, raspberry. Nice acidity means this wine lingers on the finish. And then you reach for more….

Recommendations: Recommended buy.  California Rosé usually runs in the $16-$22 price range, so $12 for a quality quaffer is a good value.

Where to Buy: Online – click here

(They also make a Sauvignon Blanc for same price, will be reviewing soon.)

Cheers and thanks for reading!


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Wine of the Week – Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris De Cigare, Rosé

It’s the time again, wineries are releasing their new 2010 Rosé. It’s been great to see dry (non sweet) rosé wines come back into vogue and many producers I have spoke with have increased production this year. (My apologies to readers for lack of posts and reviews. The double edged sword of gaining in visibility is being pulled in many directions, as well as a very demanding regular job.)

Shattering Rosé Myths

“Real wine drinkers don’t drink Rosé.”  When I hear that (or the same comment on white) I quietly cheap cialis gnash my teeth, weep for the ignorance, and hope that one day someone or something will enlighten them. Don’t choke on that Cabernet.

Rosé is made from red grapes. If you go to a wine tasting, pouring white, pink, and reds, you will notice they are poured in THAT order.

Most Rosé today  is not your sweet, white zin ‘blush’ wine, its juice pressed off of Red wine grapes after some skin contact, and fermented dry, just like your normal red or white wine. Its meant to be drunk only lightly chilled, and enjoyed as an apertif or with a variety of foods, especially summer grilled fare.

Rhone Rosé

Rhone red wines make wonderful Rosé, generally much better than Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet, Merlot etc. (Although you can find them.) Recently I tried the new Syrah Rosé from Mounts Family Winery and the Rhone blend Rosé from Quivira, both Dry Creek Valley producers, both under $20, and both I don’t expect to last long. I will endeavor to review these as well, but consider this a strong recommendation.

Grenache can make an exceptionally wonderful Rosé, so I was pleased to see the new Bonny Doon Vin Gris was 71% grenache. What is more intriguing is the percentage of Rhone whites blended in, in this case 16% Roussanne, and 11% Grenache Blanc. (also 2% Mourvedre.) Something I will have to remember for my own home Rosé science projects.

I could barely keep this gem in the glass as I was reviewing it, it’s so highly drinkable. I thought it a perfect ‘Wine of the Week.’ I have also been asked why I don’t review more wines under $20, so Ta Da – here is a winner!

Review: Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris De CigareBonny Doon Vineyard 2010 Vin Gris

To the Eye: Gorgeous, light salmon color

On The Nose: Red fruit, rose petals,  and strawberry on the nose

In The Mouth:  Apple, red fruit, modest citrus touch of stone fruit. Mouthwatering, balanced acidity is heavenly when combined with the mouth feel from lees (yeast sediment) stirring.   This is a practice often done in white wines to add texture and mouthfeel, and works very well here. I suspect the Roussanne also adds some richness.) Good minerality (think wet stone) contributed from whites. Glad its only 12.8& alcohol, as it goes down easy.

Food Pairing:  Ridiculously quaffable solo. I am sure it pairs with all kinds of foods, but right now I am embracing it with only my taste buds. I’d go for grilled fish, chicken, veggies, if any is left.

Recommendation: Buy. Now. Usually for Rosé the rule of thumb is to consume that year, but some do age, and indeed Randall Grahm recommends “Delicious today but will develop added richness and aroma with an additional 6-12 months of bottle age.”

93 points.

Where to Buy: Online from Bonny Doon. $15. (Not a typo.) (Possibly some retail – was surprised K&L Wines didn’t.)

As I wrote recently in the article ‘‘Shipping Included’ – the Future of Direct to Consumer? An interview with Bonny Doon Vineyard’ Bonny Doon is taking an aggressive approach to shipping costs. Earlier this year, shipping was included for $99. For the month of April its included in a case. Mix and match, they have many great wines under $20. And join the wine club to save another 15%. It feels like robbery. (I just received a mixed case.)

Wine Geek Info:

  • Varietal Blend: 71% grenache, 16% roussanne, 11% grenache blanc, and 2% mourvèdre
  • Appellation: Central Coast, California
  • Alcohol by Volume: 12.8%
  • TA: 0.45 g/100 ml
  • pH: 3.5
  • Production: 3,298 cases

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Romance with Rosé – DUNSTAN, Durell Vineyard 2009 Rosé of Pinot Noir

The world through DUNSTAN Rosé glasses

Ever since I had a taste of DUNSTAN Rosé at a summer wine event, I lusted after this wine.  Finally I caught up with it at the launch of the 2009 vintage.  I got to explore what it was about my first taste that made this wine so memorable.  In the process I spent time on the Durell Ranch where the grapes are grown and learned the story behind the wine and it’s label.

Like most romances, this one begins with the visuals. An extraordinary salmon-peach wine color radiates through clear glass, with a silver foil that seems to reflect the color of the wine.  Label information is spare … an ethereal horseshoe shape etched in metallic ink and a website address on the back. At this point, we don’t know from which type of grape this Rosé is made, which process is used, nor anything about it’s character. But I am only more enchanted and more curious.

I went over to meet with Chris Towt, who in partnership with Ellie Phipps Price make wines from a single block of the Durell Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast wine-growing region.  I learned that the object of my desire is a Rosé of Pinot Noir, from grapes planted by Phipps Price in 2005, resulting in this first vintage in 2009.  This silvery liquid is produced using the saignée (pronounced ‘sonyay’) method that involves making rosé from red grapes by bleeding off some of the juice after a limited time in contact with skins. Since skin contact is what gives color to wine, limiting time “on the skins” results in the many shades of Rosé you see in the marketplace. (The two other methods of making Rosé are vin gris – where red grapes are pressed to yield lightly-colored juice; and blending – where red and white wine or juice is blended together.)

The DUNSTAN Horseshoe

The website tells the Dunstan story in the words of Ellie and Chris: “You’ve seen a horseshoe hanging above a doorway — a symbol of protection and luck.  According to 10th century legend, a blacksmith named Dunstan was visited by the Devil to have his shoes reset.  While fitting the shoes, Dunstan quicked the Devil who implored for the shoe to be removed.  Dunstan agreed, but only after the Devil promised never to enter a dwelling with a horseshoe hanging above the door. When we were first planting the Ranch House Block at Durell, a very large horseshoe was unearthed.  Rusted and obviously very old, it served as the inspiration for the name of our new wine.”

The Durell Vineyard

Ranch House Block at Durell Vineyard

The Durell Vineyard is so well-known as an origin point of fine wines of distinct complexity that many wineries include it on their labels. And many award-winning wines have their genesis from these 400 acres. I’ve even seen it advertised along the roadside, such as the “Durell Pinot” sign outside Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma Valley. Don van Staaveren is the winemaker for Dunstan. He was winemaker at Chateau St. Jean from 1985-1997, and has been making wines from Durell grapes for many years.  How did DUNSTAN decide to make a Rosé? It was van Staaveren’s idea. DUNSTAN is getting such good feedback, they are already planning for more cases of Rosé in the coming vintages.

DUNSTAN’s Ranch House Block of the Durell Vineyard is planted in 3-1/2 acres of Chardonnay and 5 acres Pinot Noir grapes. The DUNSTAN launch also saw the first release of their 2008 Chardonnay and 2008 Pinot Noir.  The way the DUNSTAN horseshoe image is carried out across the bottles makes for a stunning trio – golden Chardonnay with gold foil, gold metallic ink, and Pinot Noir in a commanding black bottle with black foil. The wines can be purchased at the DUNSTAN online store.

Dunstan the Pony

Dunstan the Pony

Towt and Phipps Price share a love of horses and ride regularly on the property. We stop by the stables to greet Dunstan, a little Indian pony Ellie purchased at auction from the BLM Colorado Wild Horse Inmate Program. Ellie is actively involved in rescue efforts and recently was instrumental in saving 172 wild horses from going to slaughter at a Nevada auction as part of the Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue. Dunstan rushes up when he sees Chris and – now completely tame – responds affectionately to a nose rub and a handful of fresh hay.

DUNSTAN is open by appointment only for tours and tasting. Call the winery at 707.933.3839 or email to schedule.


Wine: 2009 DUNSTAN Rosé, Durell Vineyard, Sonoma Coast

Color: Salmon, silvery apricot

Aromas: Layers of floral melon, butterscotch, and a hint of mint

In the Mouth: There’s a soft mouth feel, a pleasant viscosity. Front of mouth is fruity, distinctly strawberry. Fleeting taste of bacon at the back of the mouth, with a lingering mineral finish that expands and contracts … like an almost-remembered summer day. Refreshing, addictive.

Pairing: Salmon and tuna sushi, thin sliced cured meats and melon, white mushroom and cream sauces, herb-roasted poultry.  The romance of this Rosé lends itself well to a picnic, BBQ, or festive holiday table.

Wine Geek Details:

Alcohol: 14.1%
Hand-harvested, Sept 9, 2009
Brix: 25
TA: 0.82 g/100ml
pH: 3.45
Acreage: 5 acres Dijon clones (115, 667, 828, Clara, and Swan)
Aging: 50% neutral oak / 50% stainless steel
Cases Produced: 59
AVA: Sonoma Coast
Winemaker: Don van Staaveren

$24 Retail

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