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Tuesday, 23 September 2014 08:35

September 19, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

HEURE DÉTÉ bottle Picmonkey

2013 Heure d'Été


Le Domaine des Diables

Côtes de Provence

Alcohol: 12.5%

Suggested Retail: $23


“From the very light color of this rosé, one might dismiss it as insufficient. That would be unfortunate. Even though quite a light shade of pink, there's plenty of personality in the Provençal rose. A blend of Cinsault (50%), Syrah (30%) and Grenache (20%), the Heure d'Été has a lovely bouquet that reminds you that it's not just something designed to be only light and refreshing. It's real wine. Forward floral aromas of strawberry and a bit of raspberry. Those fruit qualities are repeated in the taste. There's a hint of sweetness, but it serves more to create a fullness in the mouth, rather than a lingering sweetness on the finish. Tasted good with the first sip and sustained that standard through two glasses. A worthy rosé to pair with lighter foods through early autumn.”

Food Affinity: “Pissaladière. Grilled eggplant. Prawns and simply-prepared shellfish. A platter of jambon, some cheeses, cornichons and green olives.”

Friday, 22 August 2014 20:00

August 22, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

ValleyMoon Rosato 2012 Picmonkey

2012 Rosato di Sangiovese


Valley of the Moon Winery

Sonoma Valley

Alcohol: 13.9%

Suggested Retail: $18


“The linguistically-challenged can translate Rosato di Sangiovese as a rosé wine made from Sangiovese, the grape variety responsible for wonderful Chianti in Italy, but one that hasn't reached those heights as grown and vinified in California.

“Color is fairly deep—we'd describe it as between salmon and hot pink. Aromas of Maraschino cherries and an orange slice as found in a Shirley Temple, followed by flavors of Bing cherries and strawberries. There seems a little residual sugar, but it gives a richness and full-feeling in the mouth, without any cloying in the finish. (At 13.9 alcohol, this wine isn't big by California standards, though quality rosés from Europe would be a point or point-and-a-half lower in alcohol.) This rosato could be appropriate as an aperitivo or poured with a main course.

“We wish we could encounter more wines like this one. Shop around—we found it at $7.99 at one big retailer.”

Food Affinity: “Reviewer enjoyed this wine with grilled pork chop, but kept thinking it would be great with Lobster Newburg, that classic dish from another era.”

Saturday, 14 June 2014 01:05

June 13, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Espiral Rose Picmonkey

Vinho Rosé (N/V)




Alcohol: 10%

Suggested Retail: $4.99


“We don't ordinarily review house wines or beer products from breweries that sell only their own products. It's not that these wines and beers aren't good, it's just that many of our readers may not have ready access to them. To the best of our knowledge today's 'Pick' is sold by just one company—but Trader Joe's has many locations in California, so we bend our rule.

“This week we're all about colors. This rosé is actually a 'green wine.' But there are white versions of this Portuguese green wine and even some red version of the green wine, though we don't necessarily recommend those for Christmas celebrations. Confusing, eh?

“Our 'Pick' is a variation on the Vinho Verde theme. This is a delightful category of easy-drinking and food-friendly wines made in Portugal. Actually, the green aspect refers to the youth of the wine, not its color. Most wines made in this style are whites, though rosés (this week's example) and reds can also qualify as Vinho Verdes. The Espiral rosé is a vibrant deep pink/coral color. There isn't much aroma and the flavors are more restrained than powerful. What's there is a nice strawberry influence in a crisp, low-alcohol package that has a not-quite effervescence and finishes dry. An excellent 'summer quaffer,' it's also a great companion to food. The flavors are bright and won't overpower anything you pair with it. Good acidity and a slight 'spritz' make for a clean offset to many summer dishes. Your Taste California Travel reviewer once shared a table in a Lisbon restaurant with several American wine writers when (white) Vinho Verdes were poured more-or-less as an aperitif. Our Portuguese hosts wanted to move on to more 'serious' wines to go with our mostly-seafood dinner. The guests, all used to bigger whites, preferred to stick with the delightfully simple Vinho Verdes.”

Food Affinity: “Caldo verde (a Portuguese kale soup), grilled prawns, razor clams, carne de porco de Alentejana—or many American dishes, too. The crisp acidity would cut through some battered or slightly oily dishes.”

Saturday, 31 May 2014 13:28

May 30, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Miraflores 2012 Estate Rose Wine Picmonkey

2012 Estate Rosé Wine



El Dorado County

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $18


“Vibrant color hints that this might be a rosé with a little more personality than most. While there would be nothing wrong with knocking back a couple of glasses by the pool, there's enough substance in this dry rosé to regard it as worthy of more serious applications. It is made from Barbera grapes grown on the Miraflores estate south of Placerville in California's Sierra Foothills. Raspberry, cherry and a little blackberry are evident in the aroma and these qualities are repeated in more vivid form on the palate. There are those who dismiss rosés as merely insufficient red wines, or worse—insufficient and slightly sweet red wines. This wine might cause them to rethink those attitudes. There's enough fruit for the wine to stand on its own and its good acidity makes it appropriate to pour with food.”

Food Affinity: “We enjoyed this wine with garlic and rosemary marinated grilled chicken We think it would also be a winner with sardines grilled over an open fire. While not big enough to pair with beef, it would work with spare ribs and maybe even lamb riblets (also grilled).” 

Sunday, 08 December 2013 13:22

December 6, 2013 Wine Pick of the Week


River Road Rose of Pinot Noir bottle and glass Picmonkey

2013 Rosé of Pinot Noir


Producer: River Road Vineyards and Winery

Appellation: Russian River Valley

Alcohol: 13.2%

Suggested Retail: $14.99


“We really like rosé wines and we were intrigued by the thought of a rosé done in a style like the French Beaujolais nouveau, a red wine made from Gamay grapes and traditionally released just a couple of months after harvest. That wine, supposedly a harbinger of the quality of the vintage, is meant to be drunk within the first year of its life. It's usually bright and fresh and is a good option for accompanying roast turkey and cranberry sauce.

“Rosés as a class are, at best, subtler versions of red wines. We love Pinot Noir, a red wine grape, but its charms are also subtle. And nouveau style wines aren't known for developing the sophisticated and nuanced qualities of wines meant for the long haul. So before opening this bottle we had apprehension that it might be an interesting concept that would be hard to pull off.

“The 2013 River Road Rosé of Pinot Noir shows an attractive pink color. A faint aroma of strawberries greets the nose. There's some fruit reminiscent of the taste of Pinot Noir as vinified in a traditional manner, but not much of it. There's a fullness in the mouth and a pleasant, soft finish. It may develop more personality with additional time in the bottle. However, when we tasted it on December 6th we found it innocuous, but not exciting. If you're shopping for a rosé there are many options out there, and many of them at lower cost.”

Food Affinity: “Lighter fare such as Chicken salad, poached salmon, sautéed abalone."

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