Category Archives: What We’re Drinking

Rosé goes mainstream!

It’s so exciting when a wine that was once mis-understood goes mainstream. That’s how we feel about rosé this year. Sure, dry rosé sales have been climbing for over a decade, with lots more consumers drinking and appreciating the delicious pink drink, but only recently has dry rosé become what we’ll call, “mainstream.” How do we define this? While there is no exact definition, I like to call something mainstream when it hits pop culture. And that’s what rosé has done. Can you imagine one of the cast members of “Friends” popping open a rosé for a date and making it look cool? Though on the rise, dry rosé was not quite there yet in the 90s. But perhaps now it is!

Check out this great clip of the show, “Up All Night”, with Maya Rudolph, as it showcases the Whispering Angel Rosé, a wine we feature today, the last day of July!

Though Maya claims to drink this wine “like kool-aid,” we can tell you that the flavors are anything BUT! True to Provence rosé style, the color is light salmon, or “onion skin,” and the nose is rich berry, light flowers and stone mineral notes. The palate delivers what a good dry rosé should – lots of berry fruit, a strong acidic backbone, and lingering finish. Whispering Angel, however, gives you a bit more, with its texture. Still bone dry, still berry/floral/mineral driven, this wine has an absolutely gorgeous, silky-smooth texture that keeps going and going.

Though I don’t drink Kool-Aid, I could say that I could drink this wine like Pellegrino (and I drink a lot of that).

 

Zinfandel. A History


Today, we feature stellar wine that highlights some of the best of Zinfandel, and that is the Kunde Family Estate Zinfandel.  One thing I love about Kunde is that they own all of their vineyard land – that means they have complete control. The 2006 Zinfandel showcases exactly why Sonoma Valley is an ideal place for the grape, and the complexity it can gain with a few years of age. So with that, let us give you a little history of Zinfandel!

Origin: Croatia
Hot Spot: California, Southern Italy
Synonyms: Primitivo, Plavac Mali

Zinfandel is often touted as the ideal grape for 4th of July BBQs and even Thanksgiving dinner as it is the quintessential “California” grape. So how did a grape variety from Croatia come to be known as the “California Varietal?” Wine grape historians (not their technical name but we’ll call them that) traced the variety back to the 1820s, when it was imported from an Austrian nursery and found a home somewhere on the east coast of the US.  About the time of the Gold Rush in the mid-1800s, Zinfandel found its way to the west coast.  By the late 1800s was the “it” grape, partly due to its productivity and sturdy constitution. Even during prohibition, Zinfandel remained popular for home winemakers, which is one reason you see such very old Zinfandel vines.

In the 1960s, researchers recognized that Zinfandel and Primitivo contained the same “grape” DNA. Then in 2001, researchers did some “fingerprinting” on a few old vines in Croatia. Turns out that Zinfandel is a version of an ancient grape called “Crljenak Kaštelanski.”  And yet, it is still known as the classic California grape. You may see some plantings in Australia and even Europe, but for the most part, Zinfandel has stayed true to its California base.


And what about White Zinfandel? Zinfandel is a red grape – always has been – but in the 1960s and 70s, Americans preferred white wine. So in 1972, Bob Trinchero launched what turned out to be one of the largest successes in the wine business. Using free run Zinfandel juice, with a little added sweetness and occasionally some more aromatic white varieties, White Zinfandel skyrocketed in popularity and sales.  The craze for this slightly sweet, lightly pink wine brought awareness to Zinfandel, even the original red kind. Advocates of the grape began to protect the vineyards, particularly the old vines from before prohibition.

Defining Traits: Big, bold, jammy, spicy, brambly
Depending on where it is grown, the age of the vines, and the methods of the winemaker, Zinfandel can vary in its flavor profile. It’s a sturdy grape, so its rare to find a “light-bodied” Zinfandel, but you’ll find a range of styles, from elegant to spicy to brawny to jammy. Typical characteristics include spice, jam, all sort of wild berry flavors, pepper, leather and sometimes a bit of oak notes.

So we raise or glass to the American grape from Croatia – To Zinfandel!

Creating that perfect case

Let’s say you could only order 12 bottles, but you wanted a bit of every style. How do you build that “perfect” case. Since it differs for everyone, we are here to help give you some guidelines, but let you choose the exact bottles! Check out our selections of wines for the perfect case. Order one of each or a few of your favorites. Today we’re offering 10% off a case of wines from our selection. Here’s what we’d pull together – 2 sparkling, 3 whites and 7 reds. Of course a perfect case for you may be all reds. Or no sparkling wines. Or somewhere in between. So mix it up and make it your perfect case. Some ideas for you…

Sparkling
Prosecco: Always a great wine to have on hand for guests or popcorn 🙂
Other Sparkling: We love Cremant d’Alsace – a great bubbly from France without the Champagne price.

White
Riesling: It’s about having a great food wine, and Riesling offers that.
Pinot Gris: Oregon is the perfect place to snag a richly textured yet refreshing Pinot Gris.
Chardonnay (or other rich white): Because you have to have a Chardonnay in the line up… If not Chardonnay, a decadent Viognier blend.
Chenin Blanc: Underrated, great value and terrific food wine!

Reds
Pinot Noir: Whether you are an Oregon or California follower, a great new world Pinot is a perfect wine for a case. On some days a case of Pinot is my perfect case…
Red Rhone blend : From Australia, California or the Rhone, this style of wine is one of those perfect food wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux blend: California makes some great ones, though you’ll find delicious examples of this grape just about everywhere! We selected our favorites in this Perfect Case list.
South American blend: Between Malbec and Carmenere, South America has some incredible wines. They are mixing it up and making delicious blends, which our some of our (and the critics!) favorites right now.
Italian Gem: Have to have an Italian red in the mix. Great food wine, classic example of old world style.
Aussie Shiraz: Gone are the it-tastes-like-a-$10-wine and here are some great examples of quality Australian wine – it’s what they do best!

Enjoy building your case!

Why we should drink more affordable Bordeaux

When we hear Bordeaux, many of us imagine large chateaux and even larger price tags. We think of complex classification systems and confusing labels. Most of all, we think of unapprochable wine – the expensive stuff needs to be put in the cellar (not to mention that it’s just expensive) and the cheap stuff is just… cheap. But there is such a wealth of wine from Bordeaux that neither needs age nor a fat wallet. All it needs is a good meal.

Wines of Bordeaux are extremely food-friendly. They are often lower in alcohol and high in acidity (two necessary aspects when pairing with food). Most Bordeaux is made to be drunk when young – no cellar time necessary. So for those of us looking for a great bottle to go with dinner, Bordeaux is an excellent choice. If you are nervous about navigating the world of Bordeaux and searching for a great wine under $50 that fits your palate, here are a few suggestions.

– Entre-Deux-Mers – translates to “between two seas.” This region produces excellent and crisp white wines, great for pairing with seafood or as an aperitif. Not only that, but they carry a very lovely price tag (under $15).

– Right Bank – if your palate tends to softer, more elegant reds, look for Bordeaux from St-Emilion or other right bank appellations (Fronsac, Canon-Fronsac, Cotes de Castillon, Bourg, Blaye, etc). These wines are typically Merlot-based and often very approchable when young.

– Vintage – there have been a few stellar vintages in Bordeaux this past decade, including 2005 and 2009. Many 2009 are still in futures sales, but there are some excellent under-$50 wines from the ’05 vintage. Stellar vintages translate into great wines, even in the entry-level sector. So snag some ’05s and give them a try.

It’s also helpful to read the tasting notes so you get an idea of what the wine tastes like. Don’t base it off of scores, but rather read what the winemaker or wine critic says about the wine – this is important in buying Bordeaux.

So give our Affordable Bordeaux a try. And enjoy the 1 cent shipping we’re offering on this list this week. Cheers!

Club 89

One of the most popular sections on Wine.com is our 90 under 20 list, where we feature wines that are rated 90 points or higher by one of the 10 publications we use for ratings, and priced under $20. We like to call it the list where quality meets value. However, as much as our customers love this list, we often wonder what to do to tout the value and delicious properties of wines rated 89 points, just one point under that magical 90. I mean, it is just one point, after all. But it makes all the difference. A paper that gets an 89 grade is only a B+ while one with 90 gets an A-. With just one point difference, the scoring drastically changes.

But with wine, this is not the case. In most publications, the 86 – 89 score range is described as good, very good, excellent and highly recommended. Heck, I’ll take that for a great everyday wine! Especially at a great price. In fact, I’d personally prefer a wine with multiple 88 and 89 scores than a wine with just one 90 point score. Matt Kramer agrees with me (or perhaps I agree with him, as he has a much more experienced wine history than I) in this article where he says:

“The “gimme a 90-point wine” approach offers, I freely admit, the greatest good-wine-to-least-effort ratio. But you might be surprised to learn that even the folks who hand out points know they’re only one path to wine bliss. (I’m an 88-point buyer myself, as the higher up the point scale you go, the more “drama in the glass” you’re likely to get-and I don’t always want quite so much drama with my dinner.)”

Some wines are underrated – Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc and 89 pointers. That’s just my opinion, but I ask you to taste for yourself. Stock up on some 89 and even 88 pointers for your everyday drinking wines and see if you don’t find some amazing winners. You’ll join Club 89 before you know it. Take advantage of our shipping deal (free shipping on orders $89 or more) for this “club” while you discover some new wines.

Take a look at my favorites if you are so inclined!