WINE OF THE MONTH
J Russian River Valley Brut Rosé
The wine: Lovely dry, crisp rose sparkling wine in the Champagne style.
The grapes: 66 percent pinot noir, 33 percent chardonnay, 1 percent pinot meunier.
The source: Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley.
The verdict: I can’t say it any longer. For years — no, decades — I’ve lamented the fact that despite good quality, good value wines at every price point and in every style, E&J Gallo did not have a drinkable sparkling wine. But with the acquisition of the prestigious J Vineyards and Winery, Gallo has brought into its portfolio a series of magnificent Champagne-style wines. This one ranks with some truly fine French bubblies from the Champagne region. It’s brightly pink and looks elegant in the tall, thin glass known as a flute. A small portion of the pinot noir grapes were left with skins on to impart the understated pink hue. Since it is dry, you can enjoy this rosy beauty with just about any kind of food. Or savor its wonder by sipping it all by itself. Prepare to be entranced.
The price: About $50.
It’s right around the corner! You know, the holiday that’s the result of a great commercial conspiracy involving candy makers and the greeting card industry.
Valentine’s Day is, as always, celebrated on Feb. 14. That means around 8 p.m. Feb. 13 the aisles of stores selling cards and candy will be jammed with clueless males who kept putting it off.
Today, I’m giving y’all advance warning so you can check out a few of the pink — traditional Valentine’s Day color — wines I’ve sampled in the past few weeks and months. And wine does make a great gift.
But first a cautionary word. Just because a wine is pink does not mean it’s like white zinfandel.
Now there’s nothing wrong with white zin, but it is really fruity, semi-sweet and not recommended as a food wine. But just to keep the white zinfandel zealots of America from tweeting me into moving to Costa Rica, I’ve included a very good one in this list.
(By the way: The Wine of the Month with this column is in keeping with the overall theme.)
BILTMORE ESTATE ZINFANDEL BLANC DE NOIR 2015
Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., is home to the most visited winery in the country.
Directed by a classically trained French wine maker, Biltmore trots out lots of wines, including some produced from their own vineyards, some from elsewhere in North Carolina and some from the West Coast.
I enjoyed this wine. It’s a tad darker than most white zins and offers more body. It’s still fruity, but less sweet than others. It’s well made, and, if I had to guess, the grapes come from California.
Some retailers in Georgia do carry Biltmore wines. About $14.
RENE COULY CHINON ROSÉ 2015
Chinon is the famed source of great red and rosé wines made from the cabernet franc grape in France’s Loire Valley.
This is one of the most refreshing rosés I’ve had in a long time. I enjoyed this with a spicy baked chicken dish the bride created, and it was perfect.
An excellent food wine, it also is a fine sipper by itself. Get it well chilled and enjoy. About $18.
MUMM NAPA BRUT ROSÉ NV
Mumm Napa was once Domaine Mumm, one of the many French Champagne producers who crossed the pond and the continent to make super bubblies in California.
It’s a Brut, so it’s quite dry; another one to enjoy with food. It’s mostly pinot noir with a touch of chardonnay. I get reminders of bright fruit in the nose and a pleasing toastiness in the mouth.
Brighten up your Sunday brunch with this star. About $24.
YONAH MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS CUVEE VINTNER’S BLEND ROSÉ NV
Yonah Mountain near Cleveland is one of Georgia’s best wineries. And it’s a gorgeous place, too.
This fruity but nearly dry rosé is made from a blend of nine grapes: five red and four white. The blend enhances acidity, but not to the point it tweaks the balance.
We need to support local wineries, and this wine gives you that chance. About $27.
MENAGE A TROIS CALIFORNIA ROSÉ WINE 2015
I’ve written about this one before. But it’s so good it deserves another plug.
This one is a bit sweeter than the others, but still ranks as semi-dry. What grabs my attention is the grape blend: merlot, syrah and a white grape, gewurztraminer. The Gewurz gives it a bit of spice, the others give it body.
And it’s widely available. About $14.
ACROBAT ROSÉ OF PINOT NOIR 2015
Sokol Blosser Winery is largely responsible for the overall quality and respect for Oregon pinot noirs. This is one of their wines, and it really is a beauty.
Close your eyes, take a sniff, then a sip and you’ll swear it’s a full-blooded pinot.
This would be my wine of choice with Asian food or any cuisine that features fruits and spices.
That’s a wrap for the holiday of the heart. Make sure you chill all these rosés very well before serving, about 5-6 hours in the fridge or an hour in an ice-water bath with about two tablespoons of kosher salt added. Then remove the wine from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving.
One more thing. Keep on alert for a diaper-clad cherub flying around with a bow and arrow. Kids and weapons are a bad mix.
Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. Have a question about wine? He can be contacted at email@example.com. His column appears on the first Wednesday of the month and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.