Yo estoy enamorado de vino de Rioja, Viña Ardanza. This baby will set you back a cool $35, but baby, it’s so worth it. I know, I know, my last wine choice was under $10 and this one is more than $30, what gives? All I can say is that my wine drinking habits are about as bipolar as I am. I never said I made sense.
I first experienced this wine last Fall at Terroir in TriBeCa, NYC. We were on vacation, and our mantra: fuck money, let’s do this right. While at the bar, I asked the keep what she’d been drinking lately. The gal poured me a taste of this wine. “Hmmm,” I thought, “I do like Rioja.”
Swirl, smell, sip.
Eyes rolled back in my head. Hot. Damn.
I asked for a full pour. She advised it was $18 a glass. You know what, I didn’t even balk. Not because I was on vacation, but because it was worth every penny.
A bit surprised, she blessed me with a very generous pour. I savored that pour for a good long while.
It haunted me.
Flash forward three months and I found myself at Thomas Liquors on a Saturday at 9:30 pm, sneaking in during the last ½ hour of their wine sale. I’m perusing, grabbing comfort bottles here and there. Then, I looked up, and… There it was. Viña Ardanza Reserva Rioja 2004, sitting proudly on the top shelf. An overhead bulb mimicked that of a spotlight, it’s gaze directly showcasing this glorious bottle. As if in a trance, I slowly extended my arm and gently reached for the bottle. Oh, I was so giddy!
I’ve written about other Riojas but not one of this caliber. A quick reminder Rioja is not a grape varietal rather it is wine made with grapes from the La Rioja region of Spain. Grape varietals include: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo and Macabeo. La Rioja Alta is a winery celebrating 125 years. Back in 1942, they registered Viña Ardanza (now their most famous wine) which is dominantly a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha.
This Rioja has all the moves! The foreplay, the love-making and the knee weakening orgasm all in one bottle. It embodies the weathered love of plump ruby red fruit in concert with rich, supple spice, vanilla and leather. This is balanced out by commanding, yet, soft tannins and a finish that does not over stay it’s welcome. Tastebuds flare in delight as the delicate tannins and acidity create structure telling you this is it – this is THE one. You tenderly swallow this wine, your heavy eyelids falling victim to the Rioja’s seduction. Eyes closed, you pause to catch your breath (not too fast- you don’t want to be selfish). However, your breathing begins to amp up again knowing you get to enjoy this moment over and over and over again (until you drain the bottle dry.)
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:
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):
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.
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):
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):
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.
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.
I can’t tell you how depressed I’ve been the past couple of weeks. You see, I fell victim to a nasty cold-turned-sinus infection. A decidedly unwelcome guest who decided to “play house” with my body for over two weeks. What did this mean? It meant no energy, no going out, no breathing through my nose. Now, breathing difficulties are one thing- a bad hand dealt, for sure. But what made this personal was it meant two more horrible things: no drinking and no tasting. Good God, why? WHYYYYY?!? Life, as I knew it, was over.
After a full week, I tried some vino. I had to. My blood was curdling from the lack of sweet nectar. It was like a sailor suffering from surly scurvy at sea. You know what? Terrible. Ugh. Disgusting. I honestly thought it was corked. Goddamn my faulty tastebuds, trampled, tainted by zinc lozanges and antibiotics. So, it was back to drinking mugs of hot water like an old Betty.
Almost a full week later, I gave it another try. This time with a bottle of Borsao’s Berola. A Spanish blend of Garnacha, Syrah and Cabernet. Clouds parted, gorgeous rays of sunshine beamed through. It gave my once “Weekend at Bernie’s” taste buds something to embrace, and I got to taste it paired with a ribeye steak, mushrooms and arugula. I was back baby, I was back!
This wine froliced on my tongue. I can’t tell you how happy I became. I then realized truly how much of my happiness revolves around taste. Alas, I’ll save that deep shit for my therapist.
Let me get down to the wine flavors. Mmm, glorious flavor. Purply blackberry Garnacha married with the smokey jam of Syrah, finished off with Cabernet tannins- a delightful berry-y, woody jam of a wine.
If Evodia is a go-to, spend the few extra bucks and buy this. Drink alone or with food. Drink, be happy, and never take these things for granted. I know I shan’t.
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