Tag Archives: France

Kirkland Brand Côtes du Rhône Villages

Côtes du Rhône Villages

Cost: $6.99

Where buy now: Costco

Grapes: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre

Region: Rhone, France

Vintage: 2012

To be frank, this wine startled me. Really? A seven dollar Costco chuggin’ wine?


Pronounced (Coat-duh-Rone Vih-lahzh) it’s tickled with ripe cherry and old fashioned red licorice flavors. Wait, red licorice? No, not that corn syrupy Twizzlers crap- the REAL stuff. Decent tannins and finish. I decree at only $6.99, this is my Skank Wine of the month pick.


We paired Kirkland Brand Côtes du Rhône Villages with some grilled lamb chops (which you can also buy for a song at Costco). Our total meal, wine included, cost $20.  Remember: here in Minnesota, you do NOT need to be a Costco member to buy booze. It’s separate from the main warehouse.


From what the Farmer’s Almanac has been forecasting, we may be in for one helluva long Winter (again). Therefore, at only $6.99, buy a damn case. Your soul will thank you when you’re ready to fashion a noose because it’s still 100 f’ing below in March.


If you’re just a drinker and not a researcher, move your ass going to the store. Want to read more on the differences among the Côtes du Rhône region upon your return? I defer you to my pals at Wine Folly.

Eric Louis Pinot Noir “Vin de France”

Cost: Average price $14

Where buy now: Solo Vino, Zipp’s, Thomas Liquors, Wine Market, The Little Wine Shoppe, Perrier Wine & Liquor

Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir

Region: France

Vintage: 2012

Eric Louis Pinot Noir

Why not spend a cold winter’s evening with several people you don’t know, on beds of yoga mats and blankets, while administering massage to your partner and drinking wine. It may seem like the set up for a swingin’ 70s “keys in the fishbowl” situation. (Perhaps in an era frought with t-top camaros, not-for-charity mustaches, and leisure suits, it may have been.) Alas in 2013, it was simply a fun and unique way to spend a couple hours with your mate and like-minded folks.

Thai Massage Date Night is the brainchild of my co-host and friend, Mary Langfield Neaton.http://bit.ly/1bzVMB4/Mary Langfield Neaton She is a certified yoga instructor who studied in Chang Mai, Thailand in massage and was looking to add another component to the class. Voila – why not add wine? In fact, let’s offer wine and food to enhance the entire sensory experience.

Our evening took place at Revolution Cycle & Fitness in the yoga studio. Mary took us through an hour and a half of Couples Thai Massage. It was fun listening to couples laugh and bicker about pressure, technique and awkwardness.

Afterward, folks helped themselves to antipasto, salad, chocolate and of course, wine! One wine served was a lovely French Pinot Noir, recommended by my pal Fred, that I was quite excited to share with everyone. A common question I receive is, “What’s your favorite Pinot Noir under $15?” Well, there’s a reason I don’t often write about tasty budget Pinots, much like I won’t often sing the praises for budget sushi or some diamond-in-the-rough one-ply toilet paper.

In France, wines are named from the regions in which they hail. Pinot Noir, is known as “Burgundy” if the wine comes from the Burgundy region of France (French spelling Bourgogne). It is a finicky grape that requires the perfect combination of skill and climate to create. A wonderful film that documents the process is called, “A Year in Burgundy”: http://www.ayearinburgundy.com/A Year in Burgundy

This Pinot Noir doesn’t hail from Burgundy; but never you mind. Let’s meet the wine maker because soon you won’t care it’s not from THE Burgundy region. Eric Louis is not only a producer, but a grower committed to organic and biodynamic viticulture in the Sancerre appellation of the Loire Valley. He also firmly believes in minimal intervention in the cellar: no altering of natural sugar and acid levels, no coloring added, little to no filtering, plus the smallest possible amounts of added sulphur dioxide. Eric makes a Sancerre Blanc and a Sancerre Rouge from 100 percent estate fruit. (Sancerre Rouge is always 100% Pinot Noir.)

Clearly, this guy is not into cutting corners, so how can he produce budget friendly Pinot? Simply, because it doesn’t hail from THE Burgundy region. It also cannot be called Sancerre Rouge. Huh? I know, a bit confusing, but hang with me, here. Eric sources the fruit from sustainable growers just outside the Sancerre appellation in eastern Loire Valley. He is able to make this wine for far less than his Sancerre, and sell large quantities of it, which in turn, augments his small, boutique operation.

So how does a Pinot Noir made by a Sancerre producer with grapes from the non-Sancerre appellation of the eastern Loire Valley taste?

Pretty… freaking… fantastic! This Pinot is light to medium bodied and is chalk full of fresh cherry and raspberry flavors. No heavy tannins here, either, as this wine doesn’t touch a splinter of oak. But this is no watered down wallflower- it has swell personality with shy earthy and stewed fruit undertones. Color me impressed. So was everyone else, ESPECIALLY when I told them the bottle retails for under $15. I believe this is one of the absolute best Pinots for the money.

After the massage portion ended, our inhibitions finally subsided. Folks stood around for over an hour chatting and drinking the wine. If more Pinot Noir had been present, I think we might have needed a fishbowl after all.

Rosé Light District?

Rosé Exploration

I did something I am awfully ashamed of. Something that I never wanted to do and I cringed knowing that, mostly out of necessity, these are the ways of many other bloggers, critics, reps, shoppe owners and sommeliers.

I tasted wines like they were dirty, dirty whores.

I lined up those pink bottles all nice and pretty like a madame would her young: objectified maidens waiting to be plucked by some vile creature. Then I proceeded to open each one without anticipation, just sampling, wanting to get through it. I was going through the motions in a sadly mechanical [albeit warmly buzzed] way. They looked cold, forlorn, discarded; looking at me as if to say, “What did I do wrong? I just wanted to please you.” Or worse, with dead, lifelessly blank looks that told me they’d been through the process too many times before.

Is this what I’ve become? Did I do the right thing?

A day later, I looked upon my notes and corked up wines in the refrigerator. I felt slightly less remorseful knowing the wines wouldn’t go to waste. Perhaps only through these crude methods could I cover the delightful plethora of Rosé.

Wait, did I tell you that the 5th Annual Rosé Tasting is happening this Sunday, May 19, in Solo Vino’s parking lot? Okay, so I went on this guiltful, dramatic diatribe without explaining why I was whoring out wines.

Last year, I discovered the mecca of pink wines, the Solo Vino Annual Rosé Festival. 2013 marks the 5th Annual event Chuck Kanski of Solo Vino fame will host. This year’s event plans on being bigger and badder than ever. The tent size will increase from 1500 to 2500 square feet. Yep, Chuck’s not screwing around. He’s topping the event out at 400 attendees, so you still have a chance to buy your tickets, but there’s not many. Buy tix here: hhttp://on.fb.me/127sxCT/Solo Vino Rosé Festival

I learned that 2012 Rosés will be limited in quantity due to the low yields in all of Europe (except for Spain). This does not mean inferior Rosé, quite the opposite. “They” are saying that 2012 Rosés are to be some of the best but their scarcity makes them more precious. Oooh! I love the hype already!

I grilled Chuck and his shoppe partner Rob on their top five favorite Rosés under $20. After feverishly writing down names, varietals, countries, prices (whew!) I came away with five, nope, six stunning selections:

1 – Zestos Rosado – $10.99, 100% Garnacha (Madrid, Spain):

Zestos Rosado

I figured I’d love it as I love their Malvar http://bit.ly/MtJDXI//Zestos Malvar. This is easy drinking, with typical Rosé traits such as strawberry notes, citrus and floral scents and flavors backed up by a crisp finish.







2 – Bieler Père et Fils- $12.99, 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon (Provence, France):

Bieler Père et Fils

This is a dry Rosé, drier than the Zestos. The wine had fairly typical Rosé tasting notes but more pithy, tangier, and with a spicy minerality. I enjoyed this, but think this is more of a food-friendly wine than a patio sipper. It has a slightly weightier finish that would hold up to some grilled food stuffs.






3 – Domaine d’Arton – $10.99, 100% Syrah (France):

Domaine d’Arton

Another outstanding showing from this winery! You may recall I sang their praises: http://thesavvylush.com/red-wine-of-the-week-|-red-wine-reviews/domaine-darton-ysl-rose.html Another top notch bang-for-buck Rosé. If you start anywhere on your Rosé journey, start here. It’s all bright strawberry and citrus fruit fun. As my husband said, “There’s something comforting about the Arton Rosé…it’s like coming home.”




4 – Proprietà Sperino Rosado – $17.99, 85% Nebbiolo, 15% Vespolina (Piedmont, Italy):

Proprietà Sperino Rosado

This reeked of freshness- strawberry with a light honey sweetness on the nose. It’s luscious in feel and taste with a fairly round body, but balanced by it’s off-dry richness. This is the Sophia Loren of Rosé.







5 – Endless Crush – $19.99, 100% Pinor Noir (Russian River Valley, CA):

Endless Crush

Originally made to celebrate the wine maker’s 20th Anniversary in 2004, this Rose is produced every other year. It had an Ogilvie home perm whiff, floral and guava scent. Echoed was this guava, light grapefruit and strawberry flavors in addition to a mineral snap back. This had a long standing aftertaste, which would lend itself to a great food wine.





6 – Triennes Rosé – $18.99, Cinsault blended with Grenache, Syrah and Merlot (Provence, France):

Triennes Rosé

The palest pink and most delicate of the lot. It was all perfume, with a floral nose and fresh strawberry flavor. I felt this wine best exemplified terroir, it’s minerality transported me to the fields of Provence which really opened up the longer it sat in my glass.

I’m hard pressed to find a Rosé I don’t like but the one I ran back to was the Proprietà Sperino Rosado. It made my tongue do the jitterbug. These and 100+ others will be on hand to swirl, sip and swallow on May 19.

Both Chuck and Rob exalted that this season’s best Rosés will hail from Germany. Much to my chagrin, guess what wasn’t available but the two German Rosés: Meyer Näkel, a 100% Pinot Noir from the Ahr Region of Germany and Becker a Pinot Noir, Cab, Dornfelder, Portuguese wine blend from the Pfalz Region of Germany.

Becker & Meyer Näkel

These two wines will arrive at the end of May. I plan on being first in line to purchase because if the Rosé’s I tasted were stellar, I can only imagine these two aforementioned Freundin der deutschen Roséwein will titillate the senses.

Lastly, what’s great about Rosé is that it’s quite food friendly. Great for grill outs, patio sipping with chips and salsa, corn-on-the-cob munching, truffle risotto slurping, or to suck down with those evil chocolate covered Goji Raspberries (Costco Members beware). Still on the fence? There’s no better opportunity than this Sunday’s Rosé Tasting at Solo Vino.

Slowly and surely, my guilt and shame has dissipated. I realize I was no Rosé madame, a Heidi Fleiss sort objectifying the goods. Rather, I was liberating it. Perhaps more akin to Georgia O’Keefe, giving you a bee’s eye view of Rosé in all it’s beauty, splendor and pleasure. Drink it in and enjoy it.