Showing posts with label wine for summer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine for summer. Show all posts

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Chillable Red Wines For Summer

Summertime's warm weather and outside gatherings always leave people throwing a case of beer into a washtub of ice.  Red wines typically don't translate well to a backyard barbecue.  However, here are a pair of reds that take a chill very well.

They are made by Thacher Winery and Vineyard, a boutique producer in Paso Robles' west side.  Winemaker Sherman Thacher and Assistant Winemaker Daniel Callan are working with an admirable collection of grapes, from Chenin Blanc to Cinsault, from Négrette to Nebbiolo, from Viognier to Valdiguié.

The Thacher 2019 Cinsault was grown in the Glenrose Vineyard in Paso's Adelaida District.  Those Cinsault grapes came from a cutting taken off of a vine that was in an old UC Davis experimental station, a vineyard which had fallen from university ownership in the early 1900s yet was rediscovered in 1961 and found to be thriving.

The grapes were foot trodden and fermented whole cluster.  The wine was allowed to achieve malolactic fermentation in neutral oak barrels for four months, then racked into large concrete tanks where it aged for a year.  Alcohol sits at 13.5% abv and the wine retails for $36.

This wine has a medium garnet tint to it, but is full red, not rosato red.  The nose is amazing - there is a bit of raspberry, a touch of redwood and a hint of cinnamon.  I don't recall ever smelling a wine like it.  On the palate, again, amazing.  Red berries of some sort dominate - like the kind we would pick along the railroad tracks in East Texas - and there is a mild tartness and peppery quality.  The tannins are firm enough for those burgers from the grill and the acidity is refreshing.  Chill this for your backyard barbecues and everyone will want to know what it is, and where they can get some.

Thacher’s 2020 Valdiguié Nouveau hails from the Paso Robles Highlands District, the Shell Creek Vineyard.  For a century, Valdiguié was thought to be a clone of the Gamay grape, grown in Beaujolais.  It was known as Napa Gamay.  Growers and winemakers love it, but most of the vines were ripped out when Cabernet Sauvignon became the grape of the day in California wine.  It is almost extinct today.

The grapes were fermented as in a Beaujolais Nouveau - carbonic fermentation in a tank, whole cluster, and spent seven weeks on the stems and skins.  The wine was then racked to neutral oak, where malolactic fermentation happened.  The wine stayed in oak for five months.  Alcohol is low, at 12% abv and it retails for $28.

This wine is medium dark red in the glass and has a nose of strawberry and cherry, with an earthy element added to it - sort of a Beaujolais feel.  The palate offers up brilliant cherry notes and a racy acidity, along with rather firm tannins.  The oak treatment - only five months neutral - make this a great choice for backyard cookouts this summer.  Don't be afraid to ice down this unusual grape.  Valdiguié is almost extinct, I'm told.  It was once called Napa Gamay.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer Wine: Bonny Doon Vin Gris De Cigare

Summer is generally considered rosé time, although I have noted - many times before - that it will serve us well any time of year. I always say the best day of the year for a nice, dry, pink wine is the day after Thanksgiving. It's a perfect pairing with those leftover turkey sandwiches after hitting the Black Friday sales or watching a few of the dozen or so college football games with a salami and a cheese ball.

The Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare is a perennial favorite, always delightful and elegant, always a Randall Grahm-sized slice of Rhônicity that's pretty in pink.

The '14 Vin Gris de Cigare is made from eight different Rhône grape varieties of the Central Coast - 35% Grenache, 18% Mourvèdre, 16% Grenache Blanc, 12.5% Roussanne, 8% Carignane, 8% Cinsaut, 1.5% Marsanne - whew - and 1% Counoise. This rosé has a 13% abv number and sells for $18. The iconic label art by Chuck House recalls the red and white relatives of this pink Cigare.

This wine is a very pale pink, like the inside of a sea shell. There is a fair amount of salinity to go along with that shoreline appearance, too. A nose of strawberries and cherries has just a slight green quality to it, while the acidity-fresh palate shows red fruit in a salty, earthy setting. A perfect match for anything from the sea - it's elegant, it's complex, it's refreshing and I'm doon with it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare 2013

Spring is official now, although it may not feel like it yet where you are.  In Southern California, the shading between seasons is not so dramatic as it is elsewhere, but we still know when it feels like a rosé.  Yes, it feels like a rosé pretty much all the time.  Look for some great rosé wines to be featured under the "Drink Pink" heading on Now And Zin Wine as we work our way towards summer.

A rosé wine has a tough job to do.  It needs to be serious wine, but it needs to be fun, too.  Too much serious, not enough fun.  Too much fun, that's bad, too.  Bonny Doon's Vin Gris de Cigare gets the balance right - serious fun.

The bottle's front label is adorned with the famous "flying cigar" shining its illegal light over a French vineyard.  As described on the back label, "Vin Gris de Cigare is the pink analogue of Le Vigare Volant, our flagship named in honor of the cigar-shaped alien craft banned from landing in the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape by decree of the village council in 1954."  The wine is made by using "the lightest pressings of a noir."  The label also boasts that this is a "pink wine of the earth."  If all that doesn't add up to serious fun, then the concept must be alien to you.

The rosé bears a modest alcohol content of only 13% abv - so you can have two percent more fun than with a Zinfandel - and is produced from  55% Grenache, 23.5% Mourvèdre, 10% Roussanne, 7% Cinsault, 2.5% Carignane and 2% Grenache Blanc grapes.  It's a veritable smorgasbord of serious Rhône varieties.  So that as many serious wine lovers as possible could have fun with a bottle of their own, 14,800 cases of this wine were produced.  A sample was provided to me for the purpose of this article.

Light pink in color, the nose shows slightly earthy strawberry notes - always a great start for a rosé.  It gets better, though with a hint of smoke here and a whiff of spearmint there.  Gettin' serious up in here.  The palate's fruity fun is balanced by a serious savory nature, a gentle earthiness.  The acidity is substantial, but this wine opts for a creamy presentation owing to the fact that the lees - yeast cells used up in fermentation - are stirred periodically through vinification.  

Vin Gris de Cigare is serious, without losing sight of the fun.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Drink Pink: Blue Plate Rosé 2013

Spring is official now, although it may not feel like it yet where you are.  In Southern California, the shading between seasons is not so dramatic as it is elsewhere, but we still know when it feels like a rosé.  Yes, it feels like a rosé pretty much all the time.  Look for some great rosé wines to be featured under the "Drink Pink" heading on Now And Zin Wine as we work our way towards summer.

Who better to make a wine for summer than the Picnic Wine Company?  Their Blue Plate Rosé is branded after the restaurant world's blue plate special, a cornerstone of American flavor and value.  They have both ends covered with a very tasty wine for $12 a bottle.  The company also makes a Chenin Blanc and a Grenache.

Their rosé wine is made nearly completely from Grenache grapes of Lodi, California.  There is a five percent splash of Napa Valley Flora grapes.  Well, I had never heard of Flora grapes, either.  Turns out they are a cross between Gewürztraminer and Sémillon, designed to inherit the spice of the former and the body of the latter.  That five percent comes across stronger than you might think.  The wine has restrained alcohol at just 13%, and only 700 cases were made.  Don't be late for the picnic.

With an inviting color that lies somewhere between rich salmon and light coral, this wine looks like the real deal before you get close enough for a sniff.  That sniff, when you are close enough, is even more inviting.  Strawberries, watermelon and lemon peel aromas pretty much pave the way for summer.

The flavors on the palate will rival your picnic.  Strawberries again, with brilliant cherries and light spices are topped off by a ripping acidity that fits with whatever is in that basket on the blanket.  The strawberry lingers on the palate longer than a summer sunset.

There will be more rosé wines coming as we countdown for summer on Now And Zin Wine.  Stay tuned.  These aren't summer reruns.

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