Last week, I published the first half of my reviews of ten wines sent to me by the fine folks at Quintessential, a family owned and operated import and marketing company that focuses on family owned and operated wines from around the world.
They sent me wines that they thought would be particularly appropriate to pop open to celebrate Valentine’s Day (which is tomorrow, but of course you knew that). They figured that given my international reputation as a hopeless romantic, I would be the perfect person to review these wines.
Actually, as I am fairly certain that I have no such reputation anywhere including my own home, but who knows? After these reviews, maybe all of that will change…
…or maybe not.
I decided to approach each of these wines first on their merits as a wine and then its potential to be a catalyst to reverse the general malaise reserved for Valentine’s Day in our household, a factor that I call the VDQ (Valentine’s Day Quotient)–the higher that number, the more potentially “romantic” the wine.
The first three wines this week are sparkling wines, and given that my personal motto is “If it doesn’t sparkle, it doesn’t matter” sparkling wines are inherently more “romantic” than still wines.
2015 Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Cap Classique Rosé, South Africa: Retail $24. 63% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinotage, 2% Pinot Meunier. When I reviewed the first half of these wines sent to me by the fine people of Quintessential, I mentioned that the rosé version of this wine (or any sparkler, for that matter) is categorically sexier than the non-rosé. Why? I am not entirely sure why, but my wife says it is, so, well, that is the way I am rolling. Pale orange to salmon color–certainly on the lighter and drier side of rosé, with strawberry and wet flint. On the palate, that flinty, mineral aspect is at the front, followed by nice strawberry, plenty of sparkle, and nice acidity. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points. Well, tasting the wine, looking at it in the glass, I decided that I agree with my wife (one my call me many things, but hopefully “idiot” is not one of them)—rosé sparkling wines are sexy. VDQ: 9/10
2015 Gustave Lorentz Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé: Retail $25. 100% Pinot Noir. I am a Champagne snob, there is no doubt–I am biased and inherently prefer sparkling wines labeled as such over those that are not. On those occasions that I opt for a sparkling wine from outside the Champagne appellation, I usually opt for a Crémant (a sparkling wine made in the same fashion as champagne, but from elsewhere in France). And when I opt for a Crémant, I get all giddy inside when I see one from either the Loire Valley, the Jura, or my former home, Alsace. That is the origin of this wine, from one of the leaders in Alsatian wine production. Deep pinkish orange hue with sweet strawberries, cherry, and wet rock. The cherry morphs slightly into maraschino and becomes quite deep, if a little sweet. Nice. I put a stopper in the half-full bottle and tried it again the next day. Wow, even better than the previous night with more strawberry on both the nose and the palate. Outstanding. 90-92 Points. OK, the overnight transformation adds an interesting aspect to the VDQ–without getting too graphic, if you plan on being with your evening Valentine’s date for breakfast, well, save some of this wine for the morning (but if you use it for a mimosa, I might have to threaten you with some bodily harm–it is much to good). VDQ: 9.5/10
2016 Luca Bosio Moscato DOCG: Retail $18. 100% Moscato Bianco. Just about a decade ago now, Moscato was the hippest wine on the planet with Drake and Lil’Kim singing about the sweet, low-alcohol, effervescent wine with roots in Asti, in the Northwest corner of Italy. Citrus, floral, and honey on the nose with a delicate sparkle. Sweet, but far from unctuous, there is nice fruit (peach, lemon, melon), and nice depth. This is one of the better Moscatos I have had in a while and it was a big hit with my mother-in-law who thinks Drake is a male duck. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points. This is a tough wine to rate on the VDQ since I just mentioned my mother-in-law and at 5.5% alcohol it is unlikely to have an inebriating effect, which could either be a good or bad thing based on your relationship with your Valentine’s date and your overarching goal. VDQ: 6.5/10
These next two wines landed on my doorstop just as I was contemplating a project focusing on the Wines of Lake County (yes, I will come up with a better title). With land prices in Napa and Sonoma escalating beyond the reach of even the more successful hedge fund managers, many are turning to Lake County for (slightly) more affordable vineyards.
2017 Two Angels Sauvignon Blanc High Valley, Lake County: Retail $16. Screw Cap. Grapefruit and melon dance out of the glass fervently with touches of peach. Tart and angular with plenty of fruit to balance out the acidity. A solid SB. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points. The Rubensesque cherubs on the label might just encourage your Valentine’s date to contemplate procreating. Hopefully that’s a good thing. VDQ 6.5/10.
2015 Two Angels Petite Sirah High Valley, Lake County: Retail $24. Screw cap. I am not a typically a huge fan of Petite Sirah as a variety as it is usually fairly big, brooding, and boisterous (and I aim to never be all three of those at the same time). Well, this wine falls into that assessment to a certain extent. Even though it is not my jawn (Philly term), it is still a good representation of Petite Sirah: quite dark with ebullient black cherry, ripe plum, and blackberry jam. There is also a bit of vanilla, but it is left yearning for attention behind all of that fruit. The palate adds in some spice and some tannins on the back-end, but make no mistake, the big fruit is the show here. Very Good. 87-89 Points. If either in the Valentine’s Day party likes big, fruity wines, this is an obvious choice—and this wine screams “passion” so, well, you can fill in the rest. VDQ: 7/10.