One of the great quaffable whites of the world, Picpoul de Pinet is often left lonely and forgotten on the bottle shelf of wine stores. Whether it’s a lack of advocacy or a lack of pushing by the employees, there are many a Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris drinker that would rabidly enjoy some Picpoul. First off, some clarification, the grape in this bottle is Picpoul Blanc, while the region(appellation) itself is labeled Picpoul de Pinet, housed on the Southern coast of Languedoc. The Beauvignac estate is part of a cooperative that accounts for over a third of the total appellation. Though this sounds somewhat insidious on paper, cooperatives are a necessary part of European viticulture that results in many otherwise unknown regions making it to outside markets. This is a wine tailor-made for our current weather, with aromas of lemon zest and sea salt followed by a deliciously simple palate of citrus and neutral fruits accented with zippy acidity and noted mineral character. This would go beautifully with the caprese salad over at Graffiti on the square.
We have featured multiple roses from Navarra, but we’re traveling further south to Carinena for this next one. Carinena isn’t particularly known for rose, but rather for being a relatively ancient wine region with documented recognition going back to the Roman Empire. Bodegas CARE is a relatively young producer, but one focused on bolstering the reputation of this oft-forgotten region and giving back to its community. For instance, a percentage of the revenue generated from the Solidarity goes to a local breast cancer foundation! As for the wine itself, this is a straight-forward, delicious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo that offers aromas of cotton candy, strawberries and cream cut with hints of blue fruit. The palate is light bodied and features restrained acidity and a hint of tannin providing context to a forward palate of red and blue berries. Rose goes extremely well with light fried foods, and as such would go well with the ’Fun Guys’ from our friends over at Komodo Loco.
Bonarda, Douce Noir, Charbono. No matter where this variety grows, it’s always a second fiddle; albeit a glorious one. In this case, we are looking at Bonarda from Argentina. Very much the foil to its richer, more famous neighbor in Malbec, Bonarda is often made in a dry, fresh, fruity style that rewards early drinking and pairing with a myriad of foods. Caligiore’s single vineyard bottling embraces this, a short maceration, and carefully monitored time in neutral oak to produce a brambly, food-friendly bottling. Aromas of flowers, plum, and tart cherry lead to a palate featuring rustic tannins, dark red fruits, and accents of bittersweet chocolate and tobacco. Despite its “lightweight” chemistry, this wine features the concentration and weight you would want when pairing with any of the BBQ offerings from neighbors over at Rooster’s.
What if I told you there’s MASSIVE red wines out there to go with your BBQ that A. are not from the New World and B. do not use a lick of oak? Enter, again, the Southern Rhone. We’ve featured Cotes du Rhone so many times on the club that I’m not going to get too into detail about the region, just know that it’s one of the warmest wine-growing regions in France responsible for its largest red wines. Let’s talk about the producer instead and how cool this wine is. Domaine de la Guicharde was founded in 1988 by Arnaud and Isabelle Guicharde and was later sold to Didier Perreol in 2020. Now run by winemaker Lawrence Goudal, the Guicharde estate is Demeter-certified(biodynamic) and focuses on a small portfolio of Cotes du Rhone. The Cuvee ‘Genest’ is their top cuvee, sourced from the Massif d’Uchaux, one of the 95 villages allowed to be named on bottlings of Cotes du Rhone Village. This site is located near the top of the Vaucluse department, and features some of the oldest vines of the estate, with the 30-year-old Grenache vines and 50-year-old Syrah vines being the focal point of the cuvee. Predominantly Grenache with Syrah, the wine sees no oak but instead a lengthy maceration with little intervention followed by 18 months in stainless steel and bottle. As with many CDR’s, the fruit is the absolute focal point, with aromas of black fruits, garrigue, and hints of bramble. The palate is densely tannic with an unmistakably-Rhone core of blue and black berries. This needs something sticky and toothsome, such as some St. Louis-style ribs from The Juicy Pig.
While it is often the butt of many jokes from wine professionals and enjoyers alike, there is no doubting the potential for Chardonnay in the cooler regions of California. Among these promising regions is Los Carneros, shared between Napa and Sonoma and one of the closer regions to the cooling influence of the San Pablo Bay. While it would be disingenuous to compare Carneros as a cool region to something like Burgundy, it has the ingredients to be an excellent home for Chardonnay. Poseidon’s bottling is a richer style but one that blends the cool-climate tendencies of Los Carneros with richness-inducing winemaking techniques used throughout Napa. Aged in 20% new French Oak and put through *some* malolactic fermentation, the wine offers aromas of cream, sweet apple, cinnamon, and hints of tropical fruit. The palate has a rich creamy texture but offers enough acidity to keep it lively as pineapple, pear, apple, and toast dance around the palate. This wine could go with many dishes, but not so adeptly as it would with a platter of crawfish from Hoochie’s.
Brian has apparently been in an Argentina mood lately, but he’s saved the best for last. Though nothing is threatening to unseat Malbec as the peak variety, Pinot Noir has been quietly, quickly gaining ground. This is doubly so in regions outside of Mendoza, where Malbec struggles to ripen in the way that leads to the big, bodacious styles Argentina is known for. For example, in Rio Negro, there are winemakers making Pinot that would make Willamette and Burgundy blush. With a yearly average temperature of roughly 68 degrees Fahrenheit, Pinot THRIVES here, and winemakers like Fabian Valenzuela have taken notice. Their 2020 bottling features an inviting bouquet of allspice, roses, strawberry, and cherry. This is followed by a palate featuring fine-grained tannins and mouthwatering acidity, all-encompassing bright red berries, earth, and subtle baking spice. This is an absolute knockout of a wine and would go beautifully with some mushroom and ricotta crostini from our friends at Chestnut Tree.
When you think of Oregon viticulture, you might think of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay exclusively. While these occupy the vast majority of acreage, there is an ever-growing presence of Riesling, Cab Franc, Gamay, Tempranillo, and most notably, Rhone varieties. One of the hubs for this is Applegate Valley, located within the larger Rogue Valley in Southern Oregon. Applegate Valley is considerably warmer and less rainy than Willamette, making it an ideal environment for Bordeaux and Rhone Varieties; the latter of which in particular. The Druid Fluid, named for the bottles symbol paying homage to their biodynamic vineyards, is a proprietary bottling of various Rhone varieties that, by their own admission, is made in an old-school Cotes du Rhone style, meaning youthful drinking and plenty of fruit. The nose screams of the quality of its fruit with both the ruddy characters of the Grenache and Syrah showing through with hints of more tart black fruits from the Mourvèdre offering balance. The tannins are ripe and balanced, with a refreshingly juicy texture focusing again on the fruit with hints of garrigue and black pepper appearing in the background. This is a winner with both simple rustic red meat-based meals and more complex game-based dishes alike. Grab some takeout from LSA Burgers OR Barley & Board for an object lesson.
Tucked in the very Northwest Italy, beyond the foggy river lands of Piedmont, lies the Valle d’Aosta, one of the smallest and most eclectic wine regions in the country. Located near the borders to both Italy and Switzerland, Valle d’Aosta grows more traditional Italian and international varieties (Nebbiolo, Chardonnay.) but also features some that are completely their own. Anselmet’s ‘La Touche’ Rouge is chock-full of these indigenous varieties, including Petit Rouge, Furmin, Cornalin, and Mayolet. These grapes are often blended with each other to create savory, but fruit-driven wines that pair with a large variety of foods that are found in the inter-cultural makeup that is the Valle d’Aosta. Anselmet’s rendition offers aromas of red and black fruits with a pleasant, savory herbaceousness. The palate features a similar fruit profile with rustic tannins and enough acidity to keep the whole package from feeling ‘weighty’. Something rich and earthy would help the fruit of this wine shine, so a dish of steak and mushrooms from any one of our local fine dining restaurants would be an awesome pick.