Sunday, May 16, 2010

Château d'Oupia Minervois Rosé, 2009

After a cold and aggravating winter, we have made it to my favorite time of year - the transition from spring to summer. Sure, the weather doesn't know it yet, and nobody seems to want true heat yet, but the air has the right flavor. The flavor, my friends, of smoky barbecue. Time for all that moos or bleats to stampede in retreat - the pits are fired, the charcoal piled hillock-high. And what do the textbooks say to pair with grilled steaks? Zinfandel, of course, or a nice Bordeaux, or a Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, or maybe even a Brunello di Montalcino. But if you aren't grilling steaks, if your focus is instead on the humble rib, on sauces full of cilantro and tomato paste, Worcestershire and garlic, what wine holds up? None of the above, not consistently.

But rosé does. And a rosé is the focus of today's post. The 2009 Château d'Oupia Minervois Rosé, from the Minervois AOC in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, was a great find, perfect on its own but definitely possessed of the weight needed to stand up to goods from the grill. It is blended from my favorite Rhone grapes: Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, and shows deep salmon pink in the glass; excellent clarity. On the nose I found an overwhelming abundance of fresh, ripe strawberries, with a buzzing zip to back them up. Good weight, and the wine is bone dry. More bright berry fruits in the mouth, quenched by delicious acidity in a lingering finish hinting at cherries and orange zest. You can find this wine for under $15 a bottle. Try it with grilled tuna, hummus platters, salmon slathered in aioli, or babyback ribs.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel, 2007

I just love Zinfandel, as a proper Californian, and frequently linger over both the black pepper raspberry jam of lush Lodi to the anise and blackberry of a Primitivo from Apulia in Italy; whatever Zin my glass holds, my glass is full. So why the total lack of write-ups on here? My camera was never handy; my hand was shaky; my memory gone. Excuses, excuses.

Whatever the reason, my hiatus ends with this wine, the 2007 Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel. The soul of California liquified and bottled. Bold claim? I don't care. Deep inky red with hints of purple in the glass, showing extremely punchy fruit on the nose: juicy raspberries, blackberries, backed by notes of mocha and white pepper, with vanilla and other spicy hints. Nice dose of new American oak in this one. It reveals more ripe dark fruits in the mouth, with big tannins that cloak your teeth; well-balanced, but a bit lush, this wine ambles in a very satisfactory manner to a long finish. Pairs with almost anything red you would put on a grill. $13.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Tai Rosso" Rezzadore, 2007

Spring. No other time of year is as confusing as spring. First the air warms up, flowers bud, birds get territorial, jeans become shorts, jackets are flung into closets... and then it all gets rewound by the somehow-always-freezing Sundays of April and May. This past weekend was like that, beautiful Friday, cold Sunday. Everybody became confused and hostile, in need of something reliably comforting, something to pair with grilled Italian sausages or drink on its own.

Enter the 2007 "Tai Rosso," an Italian Grenache from the Veneto region, produced by Rezzadore and imported by a small company out of New Jersey (great guys, met them at a local tasting last spring, when it was too cold to be outside... interesting). A wine with gusto. A wine with spark. A wine with a nice red ruby color in the glass, hinting at tangerine, and then a veritable A-Team of aromas: tart cherries, cranberries, fresh-picked strawberries, hints of orange peel, loam... each time I open a bottle, I get a different set. These wonderfully rich aromas are followed by a bright mouthfeel, with acidity doing its two-step on the tongue while the fruit lingers with some soft tannins at the medium finish. $12. That is right, friends. $12. Buy a case.