May 2017

Here’s a terrifically appealing rosé wine from Umbria, offered at an irresistible price. The Falesco Vitiano Rosato 2016 is a blend of 30 percent each sangiovese, merlot and cabernet sauvignon with 10 percent aleatico, a grape little-found outside of a band that crosses Italy mid-shin to calf and reaching down to the heel. The color in the accompanying image is deceptive; the wine is actually much paler and more delicate in the light peach-melon range. Peaches, as a matter of fact, and strawberries, lightly etched with watermelon, characterize the wine both in the nose and on the palate, along with notes of heather and dried thyme, pink grapefruit and damp slate, all energized by a firm sweep of taut acidity; a hint of limestone draws the finish out nicely. All of these elements, as well as a texture balanced between lush and lithe, are melded with utmost elegance and ethereal grace. 12 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $12, representing Raving Fine Value.

Leonardo LoCascio Selections, Winebow Group, New York. A sample for review.

The Lioco Sativa Carignan 2014, Mendocino County, is the kind of wine that pushes all the right buttons for me. Made from 70-year-old, liocohead-pruned, dry-farmed vines at elevations that range from 2,200 to 2,400 feet atop Pine Mountain, and seeing only neutral oak for nine months, the wine is a unique yet entirely authentic expression of the carignan grape. The color is an intriguing dark ruby-purple that shades to a magenta rim; aromas of tar and violets, sage and heather, spiced and macerated black currants and blueberries are woven with notes of graphite, lavender and mocha and hints of wild red berries. It’s a robust wine, dense and meaty but not opulent or overpowering; rather, it toes a fine line of texture and structure that gives it impressive heft along with an almost elegant fleetness. Oh, yes, it sports dusty, graphite-edged tannins and vivid acidity, but those essential factors are at the service of red and blue fruit flavors that feel ripe, spicy and deeply savory, with a background of balsam, black olives and loam. 13.4 percent alcohol. Needs a medium-rare ribeye steak, hot and crusty from the grill, or similar red-blooded fare. Drink through 2020 or ’21. Production was 650 cases. Winemaker was John Raytek. Excellent. About $30, a local purchase at $32.

The winery website indicates that the version of this wine from 2015 is available.

Happy 50th Anniversary to one of my favorite white wines, the Vietti Roero Arneis, just released in its manifestation from 2016. Credit Alfredo Currado for rescuing the arneis grape from obscurity, now with its own appellation in Piedmont’s Roero region, DOC in 1985 and DOCG in 2004. While Vietti is well-known for its single-vineyard Barbera and Barolo wines, the delicious Roero Arneis is a white wine you could sip for hours, as we do at a local Italian restaurant we frequent. The Vietti Roero Arneis 2016 is fresh as a daisy and clean as a whistle, yet it subtly evokes more serious aspects as the moments pass. The color is light but bright straw gold; aromas of roasted lemons, spiced pears and hay are woven with blithe notes of cloves and dried thyme, quince and ginger; an element of green tea and lemongrass lingers tantalizingly at the circumference. A lithe and supple texture glides over the palate in silky fashion, though spiked with crisp acidity and a burgeoning limestone and flint quality that provides a scintillating edge to spare stone-fruit flavors; the finish achieves a state of pure smoky mineral elegance. Great as aperitif but also with frito misto, calamari, simple seafood and fish preparations, grilled vegetables. Now through 2018. Excellent. About $23.

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

When I posted a picture of the Domaine Allimant-Laugner Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé on Facebook recently, someone responded, “I could drink this stuff all day long!” I agree. We’re big fans of Crémant d’Alsace at our house and especially the rosés. This one is 100 percent pinot noir, aged 11 months in the bottle before release. The color is very pale copper-salmon, animated by a lively stream of tiny glinting bubbles; scents and flavors of raspberries and red currants are woven with bracing notes of lime peel and grapefruit rind, heather and toasted hazelnuts, all bolstered by chiming acidity and a scintillating tide of limestone minerality. Above all, this dry crisp rosé sparkler displays tremendous verve and personality, as fresh as Spring on the palate. 12.5 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $21, representing Great Value.

Vigneron Imports, Oakland, Calif. A sample for review.

This survey of 12 rosé wines began as a Weekend Wine Notes post, but here it is, Wednesday, hardy the weekend at all, so I’m keeping the usual Weekend Wine Notes format but dropping that designation. We touch many styles of rosé wine amid this roster as well as many far-flung geographical regions. The grapes involved are also of broad variety, including merlot, pinot noir, tempranillo, grenache, syrah and even cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. While a few of these rosés could tolerate aging beyond this calendar year, all are really intended for immediate appeal and consumption, whether your choice of venue is the porch, the patio, by poolside or on a picnic or just standing around the kitchen while someone prepares a light Spring or Summer meal. Prices range from about $10 to $28, so nothing outlandlish. The point is to enjoy, while consuming in moderation, of course. These wines were samples for review.
Angeline Rosé of Pinot Noir 2016, California. 12.5% alc. A lovely pink-melon-coral hue; notes of slightly candied strawberry and raspberry with a hint of pomegranate; a kind of chalk-warm, dusty roof-tiles minerality; just a touch of dried herbs. Simple, direct and tasty; a crowd-pleaser for sure. Very Good. About $13.
Domaine Bila-Haut Les Vignes Rosé 2016, Pays d’Oc. 13% alc. 78% grenache, 14% cinsault, 8% syrah. Lovely pale pink hue with a slight coral cast; very delicate notes of strawberry and blood orange, cloves and seashell; undertones of red currants, meadow flowers and heather, buoyed on a lithe crisp texture that’s silky smooth and a chiseled foundation of chalk and flint; the finish brings in a touch of peach. One could happily drink this throughout the Summer. Excellent. About $15, marking Great Value.
Sera Wine Imports, New York.
Bridge Lane Rosé 2016, New York State. A label from Long Island’s Lieb Cellars. 11.9% alc. 49% cabernet franc, 29% merlot, 16% malbec, 4% pinot noir, 2% petit verdot. Very pale onion skin hue; quite dry and spare, with nuances of strawberry and melon, peach and pink grapefruit; crisp acidity keeps it lively and appealing, over an undercurrent of clean limestone minerality. Very Good. About $18. Also available in 3-liter boxes and 20-liter kegs, so party on, rascals.
Chateau de Campuget Tradition Rosé 2016, Costières de Nîmes. 13% alc. 70% syrah, 30% grenache. Very pale copper-onion skin hue; delicately touched with red currants and raspberries, a hint of orange zest and rose petals; quite dry but pleasingly ripe, slightly stony, like warm roof tiles, brisk acidity for crispness and animation, grapefruit and limestone finish. Very Good+. A Steal at about $10.
Imported by Dreyfus & Ashby, New York.
grgich rose
Grgich Hills Estate Rosé 2016, Napa Valley. 13.1% alc. The first rosé from this venerable winery. 45% merlot, 31% cabernet sauvignon, 9% cabernet franc, 6% petit verdot, to which Bordeaux grape varieties are blended 8% zinfandel and 1% gewurztraminer. A riveting deep salmon-magenta hue; strawberry, tomato skin, rose petals and raspberry leaf; spicy and savory, with lip-smacking crystalline acidity and an intriguing warm brick-damp dust sense of minerality; blood orange, Earl Gray tea and heather dominate from mid-palate through the finish. A terrific and highly individual initial effort. Excellent. About $25.
illahe rose
Illahe Vineyards Tempranillo Rosé 2016, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 12% alc. 500 cases. Very very pale onion skin hue; very clean and dry, crisp and spare; delicate, indeed, ephemeral notes of strawberry and raspberry, something citrus, like orange rind and lime peel; notes of pomegranate and rhubarb; quite sleek and subtle, propelled by crisp acidity and a chiseled limestone-flint edge. Very Good+. About $17.
Maculan Costadolio 2016, Breganza Rosato. 12.5% alc. 100% merlot. Production was 1,000 cases. Pale coral-onion skin hue; very spare and delicate, animated by spanking-clean acidity; hints of dried red raspberries and currants, with a note of melon and dried herbs; a little brushy and heather-ish; crisp limestone and flint minerality, slightly saline finish. Super attractive without being pushy. Very Good+. About $15.
A Leonardo LoCascio Selection for Winebow Inc., New York
Martin Ray Winery Rosé of Pinot Noir 2016, Russian River Valley. 13.2% alc. Very pale copper-salmon color; strawberry, raspberry and orange rind; a brushing of dried thyme, a light touch of dust and graphite; ripe and tasty but spare and reticent; attractive lithe supple texture. Very Good+. About $25.
Stewart Cellars Rosé 2016, Sonoma Mountain. 13.5% alc. 100% pinot noir. Very pale watermelon pink; really delicate and ethereal notes of Stewart_Logo (1)raspberry, rose petal, pink grapefruit and blood orange; undertones of watermelon, cloves and Earl Gray tea; quite dry, spare yet, paradoxically and delightfully, lush on the palate, animated by crisp acidity and dusty seashell minerality; elegant, charming, beautifully structured. A superior rosé. Excellent. About $28.
Wölffer Estate Summer in a Bottle Rosé Table Wine 2016, Long Island, N.Y. 12.2% alc. A unique blend of 54% merlot, 24% chardonnay, 11% cabernet franc, 6% gewürztraminer, 4% riesling and 1% vignoles. Onion skin hue with a light copper tinge; sprightly, spicy and slightly peppery, with ineffable layers of smoke, melon, raspberry and grapefruit; super fresh and refreshing, with heft and body that flow blithely on the palate. Delicious. Excellent. About $24.
tongue dancer rose'
Tongue Dancer Wines Rosé of Pinot Noir 2016, Putnam Vineyard, Sonoma Coast. 14.5% alc. Production was 90 cases. Bright copper-coral color; an unusually savory and fleshy rose, lithe and supple on the palate, with scents and flavors of strawberries and raspberries, melon and cloves, pomegranate and wild thyme; a filigreed background of limestone and flint minerality and bracing salinity. A superior rosé. Excellent. About $25.
Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel 2016,
Côtes de Provence. 13% alc. Grenache, rolle (vermentino) and cinsault. Whispering, indeed, from its very pale onion skin color, to its delicate hints of orange rind, strawberries and cloves, to its dry, spare, elegant texture: a rose of nods and nuances, except that all aspects are bound and energized by taut, vivid acidity and a limestone structure of lacy transparency; flows across the palate like ethereal peach nectar. Excellent. About $22.
Imported by Shaw-Ross International, Miramar, Fla.

Shooting Star is the second label of Steele Wines, both under the watchful eye of the ubiquitous Jed Steele, who has been a leading blue francfigure in the California wine industry since the late 1960s. I’ll have more to say about Steele Wines and different selections from Shooting Star in the next few weeks, but today I want to feature a particular bottle as Wine of the Day. The Shooting Star Blue Franc 2013, Washington State, is made from the blaufrankisch grape that is indigenous to areas of Austria, is found in Germany under the names lemburger and limburger, and for some reason in small quantities in Washington State, where it generally carries the Lemburger name. Perhaps the marketing is not ideal, since that’s also the name of a very stinky cheese. Jed Steele, for his bottling, referred back to the Austrian name, trading on verbal and visual puns at several levels, and came up with the name Blue Franc. Though the grapes derive from the well-known Horse Heaven Hills vineyard in the Destiny Ridge AVA, the wine carries the general Washington State designation. It sees no oak aging. The color is dark ruby-mulberry; pungent aromas of cloves and lavender, macerated black currants, blueberries and plums, are permeated by notes of oolong tea and orange rind, tar and loam. Vigorous acidity and dusty tannins laced with graphite minerality form the foundation for tasty black and blue fruit flavors keenly etched with wild cherry, dried thyme and black pepper. It’s a robust and rustic wine in the best sense, wholly satisfying as accompaniment to all sorts of grilled fare — ribs, pork chops, steaks, burgers — as well as hearty pizzas and pasta dishes. Now through 2019 or ’20. Very Good+. About $14, representing Great Value.

A sample for review.

The Saar Valley is one of the least-known of Germany’s wine-producing regions, though the name used to be integral in the overall suhwar13bottleappellation Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. (After 2007 called just Mosel to be consumer-friendly.) To make its acquaintance, I would suggest the St. Urbans-Hof Nik Weis Wiltinger Alte Reben Riesling 2015, classified as Kabinett Feinherb, meaning that it’s a bit drier than most Kabinett rieslings. “Wiltinger” is the village associated with the vineyard; “alte reben” indicates old vines, in this case dating back to the early 1900s, at least in some portions of the 22-acre parcel, which lies on iron-rich Devonian slate. Dry the wine might be, but, gosh, it’s a real sweetheart. The color is a pale straw-gold hue; beguiling aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle, peach and lime peel are wreathed with notes of heather and lemongrass, green apple and mint, this panoply segueing seamlessly to the palate, where elements of roasted lemon and spiced pear are bolstered by a burgeoning tide of limestone and flint that attains a state of pure minerality. All these qualities culminate in a blithe yet savory finish characterized by grapefruit rind and bracing smoky salinity. 10.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2020 or ’22 with grilled trout, fish and seafood stews and risottos or as a delightful aperitif while cooking. Nik Weis is owner and winemaker of St. Urban-Hof. Excellent. About $18, marking Great Value.

An R. Shack Selection, HB Wine Merhants, New York. A sample for review.

No, film buffs, I am not referring to the great and controversial film by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, released in 1990, but to this pair of wines that feature tied-up and chained captives on their labels, reproductions of etchings by Goya, and are named The Prisoner and Blindfold. Not surprisingly, the wines, a red and a white, are bold, passionate and vivacious, qualities that work for the red but not, as you will see, for the white. As often happens in California, the tale of The Prisoner is complicated. Dave Phinney created this popular zinfandel blend shortly after founding Orin Swift Cellars in 1998, increasing sales to about 80,000 cases annually. He sold the brand to Huneeus Vintners early in 2010, who in turn sold The Prisoner Wine Company to Constellation Brands in April 2016 for about $285 million. Meanwhile, Phinney sold Orin Swift to E&J Gallo in June last year. There’s a lot of money flowing around the West Coast, I’d say. Winemaker for The Prisoner Wine Company is Chrissy Wittmann; consulting winemaker is Jen Beloz. These wines were samples for review.
First, the good, and My Readers will be surprised, because I don’t typically endorse a wine bearing alcohol degrees of 15 percent or higher. The Prisoner Red Wine 2015, Napa Valley, is a bold and exuberant blend that emphasizes zinfandel with the fairly unusual addition of cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah, syrah and charbono; the wine aged an unspecified amount of time in French and American oak, 30 percent new barrels. The color is opaque black-purple with a magenta rim, dark as a dungeon, you might say; a big snootful of graphite, lavender and wood-smoke assails the nose, woven with very ripe and spicy black currants, blueberries and plums; a few minutes in the glass bring in notes of cherries, iodine and fruitcake, with the latter’s component of figs, dried fruit, brandy-soaked raisins and baking spices. The wine displays undeniable grip and power, a tide of bright acidity, rollicking velvety dust-and-leather-girt tannins and a granitic edge, all the while allowing its elements of ripe black and blue fruit flavors plenty of play. 15.2 percent alcohol. Grilled ribs, perhaps, or pork chops rubbed with cumin and smoked paprika? Here’s your wine. Now through 2020 or ’21. Excellent. About $47.
The Blindfold White Wine 2014, carrying a general “California” designation, is predominantly chardonnay, with some chenin blanc and a coalition of Rhone varieties — roussanne, viognier, grenache blanc and marsanne. The wine aged for 10 months, 85 percent in a combination of French and Hungarian oak, 25 percent new barrels, and the rest in stainless steel. Sounds like a recipe for an interesting, even intriguing white wine, n’est-ce pas? Unfortunately, this one embodies everything that I abhor about overblown, exaggerated white wine from the Golden State, exhibiting all the unbalanced qualities of strident spice, cloying floral nature, over-ripe tropical character, butterscotch, toffee and burnt toast that make such wines undrinkable. Someone must like them, but I am not a member of that cohort. Not recommended. About $32.