Over the course of a week, I taste a bunch of wine, usually with friends, and almost always with my wife. Here are some of the wines we tasted over the past few weeks. These are wines that were not sent as samples—in most cases, I actually paid for these wines (although a few have been given as gifts).
2016 Brigaldara Ripasso della Valpolicella Classico Superiore: Retail $25. 40% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, 5% Molinara, 5% Sangiovese. I was at Italy’s biggest wine trade show, VinItaly, and I had several spots available in my wine suitcase. I ventured into SignorVino, which is strategically located on the edge of town in Verona, at the crossroads of nearly every destination. I bought three bottles of a Chianti Classico that I had tried on my travels through Tuscany. At the register, I noticed a display of this wine which was regularly 20€ a bottle, but was on sale: 3 bottles for 29€90. How bad could it be? I rarely buy wine these days that I did not know well or had at least tasted, but this wine called to me–I had tried many a Ripasso over the course of the previous three days and enjoyed them. Upon return home, I could not wait for the requisite couple of days before popping this puppy. On the first night? Horrendous. OK, maybe not quite that bad, but close–disjointed nose, unbalanced palate, disturbing finish. On the next day, watching Anthony Bourdain in the Alps, I returned to the wine. Wow. What a difference 86,400 seconds can make. Not the best Ripasso I have ever had, but man is this good: stewed raspberry and cherry on the nose, with a touch of spice. On the palate, nothing short of delicious, sweet fruit flavors, good acidity, depth of flavors, just short of a Whoa. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2013 Onesta Cinsault Rosé Bechtold Vineyard: Retail $25. I had a bottle of this vintage a few months ago and I was impressed. Well, six months later and this wine might be getting better. 120 year-old vine Cinsault from one of the more storied vineyards not just in Lodi but all of California, this True Rosé (i.e., not a saignée) is remarkable. Still great fruit but evolved, more subtle, and much more in harmony with the other flavors of red licorice, rose petal, and hyacinth. Like the fruit, the acidity is still alive and well, but more in balance. Lengthy, incredible finish. Who says rosé can’t age? Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2011 Mer Soleil Chardonnay Silver Unoaked: Retail $25. While previous bottles of this wine that I picked up from Last Bottle have been either too stiff or too robust, this seems to be just about right. Sure, there is now a bit of color, but it’s paired with plenty of pineapple and a touch of lemon. Tart on the palate with balance and depth. Yowza. This held its own against the Clos Pepe Chard that we opened simultaneously, which was a surprise. A pleasant surprise. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2015 Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Rosé: Retail $25. Another True Rosé with a bit of age on it that is still going strong. Bright pink with a slight orange hue a fabulous nose of strawberry and melon. On the palate still fruity and very much alive. More proof about True Rosé being able to last well beyond release. I just wish I would have saved a few more of them to try again next year. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
WINE OF THE WEEK: Generally speaking, rosé wine is an incredible bargain. Why? There are a couple of reasons. First, rosé wines are rarely aged for longer than a few months; most often they are on the market within six months of harvest. Aging wines, which often includes the use of expensive oak barrels, is costly. Second, good rosé needs to have relatively high levels of acidity, so many winemakers pick the fruit for their pink wines several weeks earlier than they would for a red wine (as grapes mature, sugar levels increase and acidity goes down). As such, rosés are often made from areas of vineyards that do not always ripen enough, and thus the fruit can be slightly less expensive. Perhaps the biggest reason that rosés are less expensive? There still is a stigma: pink wine = cheap wine. While that is gradually changing, for now, great rosés can be had for $25 and under.
For a few years I have been harping on the idea of True Rosé–rosés that have been intentionally made–not a saigné, a byproduct of red wine production where some juice is drawn off a red wine to further concentrate flavors and depth. Previously, this “bled” off juice (saigné in French), was simply discarded or sold off as bulk wine. Now, winemakers take this previously discarded juice and vinify it into a rosé. The problem? Many saigné rosés lack the requisite acidity to make a high quality rosé wine. So I get excited about True Rosés, and I had two of them this week, both worthy of Wine of the Week honors. In the end, I selected the 2013 Onesta Cinsault Rosé Bechtold Vineyard–a five year-old pink wine that is still this good? Perfect proof that well-made True Rosés can age gracefully.
What was your Wine of the Week?