Bacchic Reflections

    When you find optimum quality in a vineyard--a natural equilibrium that the grapes of a region have--the wine has an internal grace that no amount of improvising can bring about.

     Give me books, fruit, French wine and fine weather and a little  music out of doors.
                                                  John Keats, letter to his sister Fanny
                                                      August 28, 1819

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Reds worth cellaring...Cabs, Pinots, Other
                            B.E.'s Cellar Notes

Special Aged Wines:   B.E.'s Discoveries

Virginia/North Carolina:   B.E.'s Discoveries

Interesting Links:   see  Other Interests

Wine Books for Wine Lovers
            see B.E.'s Wine Tips

Articles by B.E.   see  B.E. in print
      Starting a Wine Cellar:   B.E.'s  Wine Tips
      Wines for aging:  see B.E. Cellar Notes
B.E. on organic and biodynamic wines
                  see  article

Focus:  Dry Rosés
It only took a quarter century! That's how long I've been touting these wines as great summer quaffs. Interest has been growing steadily over the last few years and--finally-this week CNBC-TV declared: they've arrived. This week I counted some three dozen at Whole Foods.  Wine Authorities in Durham and Raleigh has its "Rosé Garden." People have at last cottoned onto the allure of dry pinks--light, refreshing, versatile with a myriad of summer foods, and delectable quaffs just on their own. So, among the dizzying array--which to choose? 
I suggest a mixed case (or two, since you'll likely go through a case in a matter of weeks, or less). Try lots of different ones--but be sure to include these (prices $13 to $22--no need to  pay more!), all 2016s, all dry:
Domaine du Père Caboche 2016    Vaucluse**+   Big and bold, can handle grilled chops, roast pork or duck; goat cheese.
Whispering Angel 2016 **+    Côtes de Provence   From Caves d'Esclans, a centuries-old property acquired in 2006 by Sacha Lichine. A blend of Rhône grapes, mainly grenache, this pale coral blush is a charmer, fresh, crisp and balanced. Bravo, proprietaire Sacha!
Commanderie de Bargemone Coteaux d'Aix Rosê 2016   Provence **+  Another pale one, but in hue only; fragrant and lively, smooth and round.
Barrymore Rosê of Pinot Noir   Monterey, CA *** I'm partial to dry pinks made from pinot noir--something about that enticing raspberry fruit that invariably comes through in aroma and flavor -- and this one delivers. Good acidity, too.
Guigal Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé    Rhône Valley **+  Rich coral color, very fruit forward, a hint of sourball candy but fresh and smooth.
Pedroncelli Dry Rosé of Zinfandel    Dry Creek Valley **+  Deepest in color, a vibrant cherry red, with bold flavors of raspberry and black cherry, full-bodied and hearty enough to suit grilled meats on nights too hot for big reds. Great for roast pork or duck, too.
Château de Trinquevedel Tavel   Rhône Valley ***  The quintessential original of dry pinks from the south of France, made from grenache--sunset coral with a burst of vibrant spicy fruit, intriguingly complex--great for grilled salmon.
Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare  Central Coast **+    California's answer to Tavel, simpler perhaps but eminently quaffable, mostly grenache with grenache blanc, cinsaut, carignane. Consistently appealing.
Marqués de Riscal Rioja Rosado    Rioja, Spain **   Again, quite pale but not in flavor--ripe berries and a touch of amaro, a faint bitterness that appeals to some and gives the wine a tangy character.
       There are dozens more--let me know one you've liked:

Wine Buy(s) of the Week:
Dry Creek Vyd 2016 Sauvignon Blanc   Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma   $17-20***   A healthy dollop (12%) of sauvignon musqué lends a spicy floral aroma that to this very attractive Sauvignon. Full-bodied and intense, it's a good choice for grilled shellfish, such as scampi, as well as other seafood dishes. .Drinks deliciously.

Martin Ray 2016 Sauvignon Blanc  Russian River Vally  $18-20**  $17.49 at Total Wine.  Sonoma is known for racy Sauvignons with more than a hint of grassiness; this one has a little more richness, due no doubt to the cool recesses of  RR Valley. where the grapes are grown.

Pedroncelli 2016 Sauvignon Blanc   Dry Creek Valley   $15**+  Pedroncelli has long produced classic Sauvignons -- this release commemorates Jim Pedroncelli (a living legend in California wine) on his 90th birthday. A big more generously flavored than many Sonoma Sauvignons but a very appealing match for fish and  seafood, as well as for sipping on its own, and a great value.  Many happy returns, Jim!

Sancerre 2015 Gérard Fiou   Loire Valley **+    $21.99 
It's rare to find good Sancerre at this price, so you might want to grab this one as we move into Spring and wonderful seafood. This highly aromatic wine, from a vineyard studded with limestone rock, has very enticing  scents of mineral and citrus blosooms  and an intriguing hint of gunflint on the finish (the winemaker smacked together two rocks from the vineyard that gave off a definite smell of gunpowder!). Excellent value.

Chateau Graville-Lacoste 2015 Graves Blanc   Graves, Bordeaux    $17 -20***  Do you like sauvignon blanc? Then you'll love this wine (a Kermit Lynch import) from the Graves region of Bordeaux--it's actually 75% sémillon, a noble partner for sauvignon-- and its sleek structure  teems with fresh, tangy fruit and accents of lime and greengage plums; a broader flavor profile than many Sauvignons and a very appetizing finish, i.e., "one sip invites another.". Outstanding for shellfish! And a great value....often on restaurant wine lists (such as Revolution), so look for it.


Domaine Cabirau Cotes du Roussillon 2016  Rhône Valley   $18
A hearty red made from grenache, syrah and carignane--great for summer grilling--a newish label and currently available at Chapel Hill Wine Co.

Mulderbosch 'Faithful Hound' 2014   South Africa  $17-20**   This solid Bordeaux blend (cabernets, merlot, malbec) is great for grilled meats or a savory cheese platter. Ripe berries, a hint of licorice, nicely robust--a very popular red in the U.S.
Sancerre Rouge 2014 Gérard Fiou   Loire Valley**+  $24.99 
on sale this week at Chapel Hill Wine Co. The limestone soil in this part of the Loire produces a lighter style of Pinot Noir, This Pinot is quite charming, lively and very drinkable--and an excellent value. The lighter style is versatile with food--such as grilled salmon, roast chicken or pork, milder cheeses.

Chinon 2015 (or 2014) Olga Raffault 'Les Bernabes'   Loire Valley     $16-18**+  Juicy, round, smooth and quite capitivating. A new generation is in charge at Olga Raffault and this young Chinon, made from cabernet franc, bodes well; it has lovely red currant  flavors, nicely balanced to enjoy now--especially with pork, veal, sausage, roast or grilled chicken. Widely available at good wine shops, which can order if it's not in stock.

Dry Creek 2015 Zinfandecl Heritage Vines   Sonoma . $19-21**+  Dry Creek Vineyard, which celebrates its 45th year in 2017, has long been noted for Zinfandels, the Heritage Vines series is consistently well-balanced--drinking well in its youth with the capacity to age, 5 to 7 years at a minimum, and likely longer.  20% petite sirah makes the 2015 dark and rich, but this Zin is lapped in lovely boysenberry and black raspberry fruit, smooth and tasty.-- highly versatile with food--especially roast chicken or pork, grilled sausages, meat pizzas and pastas.

Olema 2014 Pinot Noir   Sonoma     $20**+ 
  A concsistent pleasure in Pinot Noir--maybe because 50% comes from Russian River Valley, lending a dark berry juiciness that's very appealing. An excellent value in Pinot Noir!

Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon 2014   Sonoma   $18-21**+   More fruit intensity here--black cherry, smoky blackberry, licorice make this Cab a handsome choice for roast beef or lamb. Had this more recently--very much a hit with beef stew!

Davis Bynum  2014 Jane's Vyd Pinot Noir   Russian River Valley   $28-32**+  Rich dark cherry flavors, fine balane and length. The lush texture especially charming--excellent choice for roast pork loin and gamebirds..

Mabileau Bourgueil 2014   Loire Valley   $15**+   Made from organicallhy grown grapes in the Touraine region of the Loire, this fruit-forward, well-balanced Cab Franc is a terrific value. Bourgueil (pronounced "boor-gay-ee) generally produces wines less tannic than nearby Chinon (also cabernet franc) and more accessible for drinking on release. 


Bubbles.........I always have one on ice, just in case.
Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé   Carneros **+ $20-29  This sparkler--the flaming color of sunset--is lively and crisp with bright berryish accents. Made from pinot noir, a grape that excels in the cool Carneros region of Sonoma County.  Quite delicious.

If you need proof of global warming, keep an eye on the emergence of  fine sparkling wine from--of all places--the south of England! I've tasted a couple of these wines recently, Gusbourne Brut, grown on an estate in Kent, and Bride Valley Blanc de Blancs from Dorset. They are excellent--and very Champagne-like It used to be too chilly here for vinifera grapes to ripen well, but cool climate varieties like chardonnay and pinot noir are now thriving in  Kent, Sussex, and Dorset. Plus, they share the chalky limestone soil that lends Champagne its distinctive character. These areas were once part  of vast seabeds. Pinot meunier also appears to do well and is a component of several of the British sparklers.  If you spot these wines,  try them!
Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs Brut, North Coast  $25-30***  An elegant sparkler, possibly America's best, certainly the closest to French Champagne. Excellent balance, great depth and long finish. A superb aperitif.
Gloria Ferrer 'Royal Cuvée' Brut 2007   Carneros, Sonoma  $22-26.**+  Consistently good, and consistently a medal winner in national wine competitions--bright and fresh, good balance and length;  very good with smoked salmon and other saovry hors d'oeuvres. Note: it made for spectacular Champagne Cocktails on New Year's Eve (2016).
Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs NV, California, $18-22**+  Tiny bubbles, bright, clean fruit, dry and quite delicious. Keep this sparkler on hand  as a great aperitif, year-round.  I've tasted this wine several times with great pleasure. An excellent value, too.
Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut Rosé  $24-30***  Chandon's top cuvée--a dry pink, very elegant with a delicate scent of strawberry; tiny stream of bubbles, long in finish. A delicious match with smoked salmon!!!

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                                                                                                                                             ©Barbara Ensrud