Monday, August 31, 2009

one cork too far?

It's hot as can be, and I'm going mad for rosé (ask not whether the rosé has something to do with said madness). These days every time I'm browsing bottles my eye searches for the telltale raspberry glow, calling to me seductively from among the murky reds and citrine whites. "It's too hot for red!" it calls, faintly, and I buckle to a $13 bottle. "Whites are for weddings!" I might as well buy two.

Too bad my local grocer doesn't stock much rosé. There are only about four bottles on offer, and two of them qualify as Special Occasion pricing. Of the remainder, as you shall see, one is quite lovely and the other an imposter.

Red Bicyclette French Rosé, 2008. Vin de Pays d'Oc.

Obviously I didn't waste much time with this one. I may have even opened it before the frozen spinach was put away. The classically chic label is a harbinger of what's to come with this rosé: clean, crisp, strawberry and cherry flavors, with a bit of bite towards the end that comes as a warning that it might still knock you on your ass if you drink the whole bottle. Slightly sweeter than my new favorite Nostrada, but distinct enough to please red and white drinkers alike. In fact, it's so appealing and lovely inside and out, it would make a perfect gift for a summertime birthday party. It would be the centerpiece of your chi-chi picnic, and you would feel compelled to photograph it, dappled in sun and shade, against a blue-checked blanket.

Folonari, Pink Pinot Grigio, 2007. Venice.

Like the bottle above, this wine label blends the mother tongue with English phrases, presumably to hedge its bets that American consumers want both recognizable words and "authentic" foreignness when they invest in a bottle of vino. Hence, red + bicyclette (why not bicyclette rouge or just red bicycle?), and pink +pinot grigio delle venezie. Those sums are not equal, mind you. This second equals syrupy gum drops liquefied in your glass. Instead of bringing a bit of complexity to an otherwise crisp, dry pinot grigio, as I had (naively) hoped, it suffuses perfectly decent white wine with pink cotton candy. A headache-inducing sugar fest best reserved for teenagers and little old ladies who usually avoid wine because they don't like it.

Rosé, take me away!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, 2001. Oakville, CA.

This weekend I visited my brother for a family cookout to celebrate his birthday, and being the generous person that he is, the birthday boy gave us a gift: he opened a bottle of 2001 Silver Oak Cabernet. This happens to be his very favorite red wine, and I can certainly understand why. Rich, mesmerizing flavors that arrest the tongue before loosening it, unbelievably velvety texture, deep, dark, and satisfying. If you find yourself talking to your glass of wine more than your companions, cooing to it softly after each incomparable sip, it may be that this belle dame sans merci hath thee in thrall! Sadly, no pictures, but here's the website.