July 2016

One sniff of the Michael David Petite Petit 2014 tells you that it could only have been made in California. Well, O.K., perhaps in South Australia. Anyway, it’s a wine that brims with the sort PetitePetitFrontof full-bore, pedal to the metal, motorcycle boots in hot tar, dark, feral plummy-jamminess that you could even narrow the scope down from generally California to specifically Lodi. Right now, My Readers are thinking, “Whoa, F.K., this is exactly the sort of wine that you deplore!” It’s true, mes amis, that I prefer wines that balance elegance and power, that reveal themselves through hints, nods and nuances, but when you’re sitting down to a trencher of chili or a platter of barbecue ribs, you can toss subtlety out the window. It’s a clever concept, though I don’t know if the name or the concept came first. A unique blend of 85 percent petite sirah and 15 percent petit verdot, the Michael David Petite Petit 2014 offers an opaque yet radiant ebony hue shading to thermonuclear purple at the rim; aromas of supernaturally-ripe blackberries and blueberries unfurl an intense core of lavender and violets, leather and loam, all bolstered by a tremendous dusty graphite element, and all factors replicated on the palate, where the wine is, not surprisingly, defined by dense, dusty, chewy tannins, incisive acidity and slash ‘n’ burn granitic minerality. For all that, the wine is lively, engaging and — paradoxically — rather light-hearted. It is certainly drenched in juicy, spicy black and blue fruit flavors. Also unexpectedly, the alcohol content is only 14.5 percent, I say “only” as compared to the 15 percent and higher commonly seen in red wines from Lodi. Drink now through 2018, maybe ’19, though freshness and immediacy are essential to this wine’s enjoyment. Excellent. About $18.

A sample for review.

By “sweethearts,” I don’t mean sweet wines but wines that are so pleasing and engaging that they seem as irresistible and buoyant as a pair of young lovers, hand in hand, lightly treading the dewy grass on a bonny morning. This pair of wines, from the Anjou area of France’s vast Loire Valley region, is new to America and originates in a family-owned concern that dates to 1790. Chateau de la Mulonnière is a project of the Saget La Perrière family that owns 890 acres in the Loire Valley spread over six estates. Anjou lies southeast of the city of Angers, a beautiful town with a magnificent castle and a medieval quarter that features an array of half-timbered buildings. Vineyard cultivation and winemaking in Anjou go back to the 11th Century and except for the interregnums of war, plague and the phylloxera, have been pretty much unabated for a thousand years.

Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, N.Y. Samples for review.
The M de Mulonnière Rosé 2015, Rosé d’Anjou, is a blend of 40 percent cabernet franc, 30 percent M rosegrolleau, 20 cabernet sauvignon and 10 gamay. It offers a bright medium copper-salmon hue — it’s not nearly as pale as its counterparts in Provence and the southern Rhône Valley tend to be — and strikingly pungent and pure aromas of strawberries and raspberries, lime leaf and tomato skin, red currants and, faintly, pomegranate. The wine is quite dry, but juicy with ripe red berry flavors flushed with orange rind, flowing on a silky texture over the palate. A firm line of limestone minerality and bright acidity contributes a welcome element of spareness to a fairly ripe and fleshy rosé. Quite delightful. 12 percent alcohol. Very Good+. About $15.
The M de Mulonnière Chenin Blanc 2015, Anjou, is 100 percent varietal. The color is pale gold, lent a shimmer by a delicate pétillant quality; the nose on this wine is eminently attractive, composed of seamless notes of hay and spiced pear, yellow plums, lilac, heather and bay leaf, with a background of gunflint and graphite, all bound and permeated by a golden, slightly honeyed character. Not to imply anything sweet; the wine is seriously dry but presents a round, ripe and supple nature — all yellow fruit and meadow flowers — that slides with pure pleasure across the tongue. 12.5 percent alcohol. We drank this with swordfish — marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce and rubbed with minced garlic and ginger, seared in the cast-iron skillet– but it would be equally appropriate matched with seafood risottos, trout amandine, quenelles of pike or grilled shrimp. Excellent. About $15, representing Great Value.

Here’s a totally refreshing rosé wine made in the classic fashion of the South of France. The samorens2015lFerraton Père et Fils Samorëns Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2015 consists of 75 percent grenache grapes with the balance made up by syrah and cinsault. The color is a pale salmon-peach hue, a shade darker than onion skin, and the aromas of strawberries, red currants and peaches are as delicate as a ballerina’s wave goodbye; the wine admits hints of lemon zest and orange rind, as well as notes of cloves and dried thyme. On the palate, it flows with lovely, lithe tone and texture, propelled by pert acidity and a crystalline limestone element, and while being quite dry, the ephemeral, slightly spicy red fruit flavors are juicy and delicious. The estate, founded in 1946, was acquired by Michel Chapoutier in 2004. In 2013 the winery and cellars were updated with new equipment and fermentation tanks appropriately sized to their vineyard parcels. Partner growers farm using sustainable techniques while the estate vineyards and parcels under long term lease are managed by the winery using biodynamic methods. And that’s probably more than you need or want to know, but there it is anyway, because I’m interested. Drink this charming rosé through 2017 with typical picnic fare — fried chicken, cucumber or shrimp salad sandwiches, rabbit terrine, the kind of stuff you always pack in your picnic baskets — or as a very appealing aperitif. Very Good+. About $14, representing Excellent Value.

Imported by HB Wine Merchants, Pleasantville, N.Y. A sample for review.

Made in stainless steel drums and tanks, fermented with natural yeast, the Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc 2015, Napa Valley, allows the eloquence of the grape to express itself with clarity and elegance. The color is very light gold, almost colorless, but displaying an elusive shimmer of pale green; aromas of dusty lilac, pear and apricot are highlighted by notes of dried thyme and sage, heather and meadow flowers, while a few minutes in the glass bring in hints of woodsy spice and acacia. The wine is quite dry but juicy with ripe citrus and stone-fruit flavors and enhanced by incisive acidity and scintillating limestone and flint-like minerality. Though it flows with surprising density on the palate, it remains lithe and lively and vibrant. 14.8 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Craig Becker. The wine is perfectly suited for drinking with grilled fish, seafood risottos, shrimp salad and the like, through 2018. Production was 1,643 cases. Excellent. About $22.

A sample for review.

Let’s don our Seven-League Boots today and travel to Macedonia, the northern part of Greece, to taste a wine made in the Florina region, an official “Protected Geographical indication.” I’m speaking metaphorically, of course. I’m actually sitting right here at my desk in the United States of America typing away as usual, but a few sips of the Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard Malagouzia 2015 serve to transport me and my imagination to the Mediterranean basin and Macedonia’s diverse landscape. The vineyards of Alpha Estate cover about 33 hectares — slightly more than 80 acres — at elevations varying from 1,900 to 2,100 feet above sea-level. Winemaker is Angelos Iatridis. The Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard Malagouzia 2015 is 100 percent varietal, made completely in stainless steel tanks with two months resting on the lees with regular stirring. The result is a very pale gold-colored wine that offers immense freshness and immediate appeal. It’s a wine of meadow flowers and grass, hay and heather, much resembling sauvignon blanc in some ways but displaying a wild, saline edge that bolsters notes of peach and pear, touches of fig, fennel and celery leaf (with very little of sauvignon blanc’s citrus quality). The wine is quite dry, animated by bracing acidity and an element of scintillating limestone minerality. 12.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2018 or ’19. We had a few glasses of the Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard Malagouzia 2015 with seared salmon but I think it would reach apotheosis with fresh oysters, grilled shrimp, ceviche and sushi. Excellent. About $18 and Worth a Search.

Diamond Wine Importers, Chicago. A sample for review.

A movement is afoot to create rosé wines that are more robust, darker, more flavorful and emphatic than the classical spare, delicate, elegant models that originate in the South of France or the Loire Valley. At the same time, there’s quite a push to produce more rosé wines across the board, as wineries and estates around the world became aware, over the past decade, that Americans now love rosé. And let’s face it, friends, the American palate rules the world of wine. Today’s post looks at 15 examples of rosé wines from various regions in California, Italy, France, Spain and Argentina. The ratings for these wines range from Excellent down to Good, an indication as to quality and perhaps some wrongheaded choices in terms of grape varieties. I think, for instance, that the malbec grape isn’t a rational choice for rosé, perhaps being inherently too rustic. The best rosés still derive from the prototype varieties of the Rhône Valley and Provence — grenache, cinsault, mourvèdre, syrah — and from pinot noir, as in Sancerre, and yet I’m constantly surprised what great rosés can be made from outliers like refosco and tempranillo. So, I say to the winemakers of the world, Experiment, go ahead and surprise us! But keep it simple. The best rosé wines offer direct appeal; a finely-woven and fine-boned fruit, acid and mineral structure; and pure refreshing deliciousness.
These wines were samples for review.
Aia Vecchia Solidio Rosato 2015, Toscana, Italy. 13.5% alc. 90% sangiovese, 10% merlot. Medium copper-salmon shade; spicy and peppery (white pepper), strawberries and raspberries, both dried and macerated; notes of melon and sour cherry; fairly earthy and a bit too rooty; lacks charm and finesse. A first rosé for this estate, not exactly a success. Good only. About $14.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
Alta Vista Malbec Rosé 2015, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina. 12.5% alc. Bright medium copper-salmon hue; vivid aromas of strawberry, raspberry and tomato skin, with a fairly lush texture; a bit too florid and blowsy … and with a sweetish finish. Doesn’t work. Good only. About $13.
Kobrand Wine and Spirits, Purchase, N.Y.
Chronic Cellars Pink Pedals 2015, Paso Robles. 12.4% alc. 89% grenache, 11% syrah. Delicate salmon-pink shade; yes, petal-like — heehee — as in roses and violets, with notes of peach and cherry, some melon comes to the fore; engages the palate with bright acidity and a hint of graphite-dusty tile minerality, but mainly this is fine-boned and honed. Very Good+. About $15.
Cune Rosado 2015, Rioja, Spain. 13.5% alc. 100% tempranillo. Vivid scarlet with a pink-orange blush; pure strawberry and raspberry with a tinge of melon; bouquet is as fresh as raindrops on roses, but this is fairly robust for a rose and even exhibits a bit of tannin and a definite saline-limestone edge, like a seashell just plucked from the waves; a note of peach comes up in a dry, almost chewy package. Unusual, but Very Good+. About $13.
Europvin USA, Denver, Colo.
guogal rose
E. Guigal Rosé 2015, Côtes du Rhône, France. 13.5% alc. 60% grenache, 30% cinsault, 10% syrah. Pale salmon-pink color; peaches, watermelon, raspberries; touches of raspberry sorbet, lilac and talc; crisp and clean but moderately lush; notes of strawberry leaf and sage; tasty and nicely balanced. Very Good+. About $15.
Vintus LLC, Pleasantville, N.Y.
lazy creek rose
Lazy Creek Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir 2015, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County. 14.2% alc. Pale copper-salmon color; a subtle and delicate melange of strawberries, raspberries, orange rind, heather and meadow flowers; these fruit flavors feel lightly spiced and macerated, balanced by bright acidity and a pointed element of limestone and flint minerality; lovely balance and texture on the palate. Excellent. About $22.
Luigi Bosca A Rosé Is a Rosé Is a Rosé 2015, Mendoza, Argentina. 12% alc. 60% pinot gris, 40% syrah. The rather defensive name of this wine probably derives from the fact that it consists of more white wine than red wine in a quite unusual blend. Very pale smoky topaz-onion skin hue; melon and strawberry, delicately etched with tangerine and lemon balm, a hint of jasmine and red currant; the pertness of pinot gris with syrah’s alluring slightly dense texture; the finish offers the tang of lime peel, pomegranate and pink grapefruit. Intriguing. Excellent. About $22.
Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York
Masi Rosa dei Masi 2015, Rosato della Venezia, Italy. 12.5% alc. 100% refosco grapes. Beautiful coral-pink color; pure strawberry and melon, with touches of almond skin, faint peach and Rainier cherry; lovely balance between a delicate nature and deeper intensity; attractive rainy-dusty-lilac aura and a very dry finish. Just terrific. Excellent. About $15, marking Great Value.
Kobrand Wines and Spirits, Purchase, N.Y.
McBride Sisters Truvée Rosé 2015, Central Coast. 12.5% alc. 92% grenache, 5% syrah, 2% tempranillo, 1% roussanne. The color is a very pale Mandarin orange hue; the wine is very delicate, absolutely lovely; whispers of cherries and red currants open to notes of lilac and lavender, with nuances of talc and limestone; the floral element grows into an aura that’s tenderly exotic, while the wine remains dry, crisp and vibrant. Excellent. About $15.
Castello Monaci Kreos 2015, Salento, Italy. 13% alc. 100% negroamaro grapes. Bright salmon-pink color; peaches and melon, ripe strawberry and tomato skin; undercurrent of damp stones; vivid acidity; slightly saline, loamy finish. Very Good. About $16.
Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York.
Bodegas Muriel Rosado 2015, Rioja, Spain. 13.55 alc. 50% tempanillo, 50% garnacha. Smoky topaz-copper hue; peach, strawberry, orange zest; dusty gravel; lithe, fluid, tasty, lovely body and surface; juicy core of pink fruit but quite dry and classic in its delicacy and lightness; impeccably balanced between a nicely lush texture and vivid acidity, leading to a spare, chiseled finish. Very Good+. About $12, so Worth Buying by the Case.
Quinessential, Napa, Calif.
Pedroncelli Winery Dry Rosé of Zinfandel 2015, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. 13.9% alc. Bright cerise-mulberry color; melon and raspberry, thyme and sage, orange rind, pomegranate and mint and a whiff of white pepper; fairly intense for a rose, very dry, mouth-filling, not quite robust; chiseled acidity and flint-like minerality yet generously proportioned. Excellent. About $12, a Fantastic Bargain, buy it by the case.
Q rose 15
Quivira Rosé 2015, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. 13.5% alc. 988 cases. 55% grenache, 20 mourvèdre, 10 syrah, 10 counoise, 5 petite sirah. This aged four months in neutral French oak barrels. Light salmon-copper hue; peaches with notes of strawberries and raspberries, damp stones and hints of dried thyme and sage; very dry and flinty with bright acidity and a jewel-tone of cherry-pomegranate at the core. Excellent. About $22.
Real Compañia de Vinos Rosado 2015, Meseta Central, Spain. 13.5% alc. 100% garnacha grapes (grenache). Florid copper-salmon color; starts out pretty, with rose petals and violets, strawberries and raspberries, orange rind and dried mountain herbs; needs more vibrancy, more nerve and bone. Pleasant though. Very Good. About $10.
Quintessential, Napa, Calif. The label image is one year behind.
The Seeker Rosé Wine 2015, Côte de Provence, France. 13% alc. Grenache and cinsault. Very pale onion skin hue; a very delicate amalgam of hints and nuances, with notes of strawberry and raspberry, melon and dried thyme in a crisp lithe package that concludes with a slightly chiseled flinty edge. Pretty classic and very pretty too. Very Good+. About $14.
Kobrand Wine and Spirits, Purchase, N.Y.

Unlike designations for, say, Sonoma County or Mendocino County, the Napa County indication on a sterlingwine label is rare. That’s because the world-famous Napa Valley AVA and its sub-AVAs occupy most of Napa County, from top to bottom and side to side, except for Lake Berryessa and an area in the northeast, beyond the Chiles Valley sub-AVA. So the designation on the Sterling Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Napa County, probably involves a cross-county origin for the grapes, with Napa County providing the preponderance. This is a sauvignon blanc that offers terrific character and personality for the price. The color is very pale gold; aromas of tangerine, lime peel and pink grapefruit are permeated by notes of grass, hay and heather, wrapped in an intensity of talc, graphite and gunflint. Give this a few minutes, and it unfurls hints of pea-shoot and caraway, fig and sun-warmed leaves. A nicely powdery texture bathes the palate, as well as juicy citrus and stone-fruit flavors, but riveting acidity brings liveliness and crispness, while the finish dredges from a deep grounding in limestone minerality. 13.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2017 as a pert and sassy aperitif or with grilled fish or seafood, chicken salad or shrimp salad. Excellent. About $18.

A sample for review.

Here’s a white wine, made from verdicchio grapes, that would be terrific with fritto misto di mare, the Italian dish, usually an appetizer, of mixed fried fish and seafood. The Garofoli Macrina 2015, from the seacoast Marche region, carries a long designation: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore. The estate is operated by the family’s fifth generation. Made all in stainless steel to ensure a sense of freshness and immediacy, the wine offers a pale straw color and appealing aromas of roasted lemon and lemon drop, thyme and heather and a pleasantly dusty flinty aura in the nose and on the palate, where it’s saline and savory, lively and engaging. A few moments in the glass unfold hints of leafy fig and pear elements. The wine is quite dry, spare, lithe and highly quaffable. 13.5 percent alcohol. Drink through 2017 into 2018. Very Good+. About $14, marking Real Value.

Imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

Now that the maniacal devotion to Beaujolais nouveau seems to be diminishing, people who love Beaujolais_Village_btl_535pxBeaujolais can order and drink the real stuff without feeling abashed. The region, south of Mâconnais in central-eastern France — there’s actually a continuous narrow geographic and vinous entity that extends from Burgundy south through the Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais and Beaujolais — produces wine in three qualitative categories: basic Beaujolais (the grapes generally comes from the south or Bas Beaujolais); Beaujolais-Villages (the grapes are a blend derived from slopes in the northern area of Beaujolais); and Cru Beaujolais (which comes from vineyards in one of 10 villages in the north that have their own AOC status and display the name of the village on the label). A tiny amount of Beaujolais blanc is made from chardonnay grapes, but the rest of these are red wines made from the gamay grape, or as it is formally known gamay noir à jus blanc. Our wine today is the Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2014, a wine that includes dollops of juice from Cru vineyards. The color is dark ruby shading to a lighter violet rim; aromas of freshly-picked black cherries, raspberries and plums convey a pleasing freight of woody spices and a dusting of sage and thyme. This is a dry wine, almost succulent in its black and red fruit flavors but checked by bright acidity and a hint of lean, graphite-infused tannins. As moments pass, the wine expands its offering of floral elements in rose petals and lilac. 12.5 percent alcohol. A truly charming wine with intriguing dark edges and corners. I drank a glass or two of this wine last night as accompaniment to a summery pasta with an uncooked sauce of fresh tomatoes, endive, garlic and basil, marinated in olive oil, red wine vinegar and red pepper flakes. Now through 2017 into 2018. Excellent. About $14, a Distinct Value.

Imported by Kobrand Wine and Spirits, Purchase, N.Y. A sample for review.

I write so much about cabernet sauvignon wines from Napa Valley — collectively they form a sort of irrevocable juggernaut — that I thought it might be appropriate to touch on a cabernet from a different area in California. The Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Paso Robles, derives from two sub-AVAs in that Central Coast region, Santa Margarita Ranch and Estrella District. The wine matures for 14 months in neutral French and American oak barrels; winemaker Brian Terrizzi generally eschews the use of new oak. The color is dark ruby-purple with a vivid magenta rim; it’s a real “plums and roses” cabernet, bursting with ripe, fleshy red and blue fruit scents and flavors with after-thoughts of rose petals, lavender and graphite. Ripe and fleshy yes, even spiced and macerated, but not blowsy or bosomy, because the wine maintains a steady ferrous line of vibrant acidity and dusty tannins for structure. A few moments in the glass bring out notes of sage and boxwood, cranberry and blueberry, briers and brambles, and the fruit and mineral drenched finish features a core of espresso and mocha. The alcohol content is a sensible 13.5 percent. Drink now through 2018 to 2020 with burgers, steaks, braised short-ribs and other hearty food of that ilk. Very Good+. About $18, representing Real Value.

A sample for review.

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