Archive for May, 2008

Rosé Redux, “Les Rastellains”

Les Rastellains, Côtes du Rhône, 2007.

Merde. Either the humidity levels here in northern Florida have impaired my olfactory abilities (given the size of the proboscis in question, I may actually be acting as a sort of massive desiccant, actually drying out the region, which in turn may improve my chances of actually flying instead of spending all day at the helibase waiting for ignition), or this wine just plain lacks a bouquet. Et je vous dis merde encore.

Tasting notes: anemic synthesized raspberries, picked well before ripe. During one particularly notable sip, I thought I detected a sensation that might approximate biting into a fresh, soft, pine two-by-four, if said lumber were easily masticated. Wannabe retsina, if you will; unwilling to commit yet leaving the tongue with that vaguely preserved feeling. At best, a mineral finish, or perhaps just a hint of formaldehyde.

On a brighter note, has anyone seen Charlize Theron around town?


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Dorogoj Tovaritchestvo,

Dear Comrades,

For the glory of the proletariat collective, I hereby call upon all true workers to unite in the pursuit, campaign, and conquest of the ultimate icon of our movement. This undertaking must bind us all together in our universal quest to find this symbol of global unity: the perfect pink wine. All true party members will contribute their experience and tasting notes from potentially worthy pinko wines to this blog.

As a demonstration of my commitment to the cause, I humbly submit a review of the Marques de Caceres 2005 Rioja Rose, Spain, even though I have refused the medal of valor merited by consumption of this liquid:

Alas, Comrades, this wine does not represent the fighting spirit of Stalingrad, though it does fit the working class budget at $8.00 (I’d like to recommend that all posts list purchase price). Mild strawberry flavors fail to deliver any interesting finish. Acid structure–for me, a fundamental necessity in a rose–is noticeably absent here. Flabby, like the bourgeoisie capitalist pigdogs who seek to oppress the working class. The best I can say is that it is dry and, well, innocuous. Oh, wait, it does have a screwtop, making it equally deployable in either a land environment such as the T-72 Battle Tank, or in the cockpit during emergency procedures (although I advise a long straw if wearing a helmet).

Although banished to fire duty in northern Florida, we have also managed to procure a Pinko Cotes du Rhone, “Les Rastellains” 2007, $10.00; review shall be forthcoming.


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A Seignée by any other name

Our towering, a little too red roséBy god, I think summer’s coming: with the help of Garagistes Kate, George and Hal, I just bottled a rosé bled from our merlot this past fall.

Rosé is almost always made from red grapes, but instead of crushing and then letting the juice and skins ferment together, the goo is sent to the press lickety-split before fermentation is even cleared for take-off. Since all the color in a red wine is got from the grape skins, you can play with how deep a shade of pink you get by leaving the juice in contact with the skins for a longer or shorter time.

In our case, I “bled” (or to use the French winemaking term, made a “seignée” from) the merlot tank about 4 days after we crushed. My hair-brained idea was to increase the proportion of juice to skins in what was left, potentially coaxing more flavor out of what’s typically been a bland merlot. The stuff I siphoned out (about 10 gallons) I made into a rosé.

Now, because I was (ahem) making it up as I went along, this one probably stayed a little too long on the skins. The result is a darker, redder wine than a typical rosé, but on the plus side, it’s also correspondingly more lusty and flavorful.

One odd thing about this ruby vroom is that it took for-friggin’-ever to ferment. That’s in part because there wasn’t a lot of mass to preserve temperature, but whatever the reason, the yeasts (a strain sensuously named “71B“) took nearly 2 months to window shop through the sugar.

And in fact, the penny-pinching bastards didn’t actually complete the sale, so this rose’s a little on the off-dry side: about 1/2% or so residual sugar, which isn’t Sauternes-sweet but it isn’t Chablis-dry either.

But ladies and gentlemen, I ask you: what are we looking for in a rosé, anyway? Layers of complexity and an heirloom you can sip with your grandkids a quarter century from now? No, the time to live is now, on a hot summer afternoon, lying on the deck with your lovely and incidentally clothed significant other. A bouquet of rosé — served icy-cold to dial back the sweetness to a lush ripeness — is just the thing to get that party started.

Good god, people. Take me to the bridge!

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