On the drive across Kansas, a state that seems to be roughly 12,000 miles across, Michelle and I noticed a billboard for the Oz Museum. With her love of the Wizard of Oz and my desire to not be in the car for a few minutes, we decided to make a small detour to Wamego, KS. Wamego was a very nice little town and in addition to having coffee at The Daily Grind, next door was the Oz Winery.
The winery offers free samples while they are open and this gave us a chance to try what they had to offer. The dry whites were tasty, especially the Poppy Fields, a balanced Pinot Gris. The wine was well made and we ended up with a few bottles.
Oz Winery is worth a stop for anyone on their way through the Sunflower State.
And if you want to know more about our cross-country road trip, from Cincinnati to San Francisco, you can follow along over on the Posterous Blog.
The last rose I’m sharing with you is probably my favorite rosé of all time, period. It tastes more expensive than it is … it looks more expensive than it is.
2008 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Blanc, Mendocino County, California
$18.99, Water Tower Fine Wines
Have you heard of Caymus? They’re rather well known for their Cabernet. So well known, in fact, that in order to focus on some rather nice Pinot Noir, the winemaker had to open a separate winery. In 2001, that’s how Belle Glos came to be.
Belle Glos is distinctive for its wax-dipped bottles, a la Maker’s Mark. The Pinot Noirs all have a dark red wax, but this rosé sports a brilliant pink. It’s actually a gorgeous bottle. I had to have it as soon as I saw it in the store. (The wax has a pull tab, making it easy to remove from the top. A tip: don’t stick it in the freezer.)
The wine has a wonderful aroma of flowers and wild strawberries. You can see in the photo that the wine itself is almost a jewel-tone. The rosé is made from pinot noir, which is my favorite red grape.
I’ve never said this about a rosé before, but this is a sexy rosé. It makes sense, as pinot noir can be one of the most sensuous wines around, but rosé? My hats off to the winemaker. This has a lot of big dark berries and just a kiss of strawberry.
This isn’t one of those light, prissy rosés; this wine has some heft to it. We drank it solo, but I bet it would also prove to be an excellent food wine, holding up to some heavier pairings.
Artazuri Rosado of Garnacha 2008, Bodegas Y Artazu, Navarra region
$10.99, Water Tower Fine Wines
Grenache, also called Garnacha, is one of the most widely planted red grape varietials, and is the most widely planted grape in Spain. Grenache is often found in Southern Rhône wines, which explains my fondness for it. I do love my Rhône. In fact, Grenache is often at least 80% of the blend of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The Artazuri rosé has this amazing bright color. It’s not really captured in the above photo, but it’s sort of the pink of my pinkest Playgirl Floribunda roses I planted outside our house, or the pinkest hibiscus flower. It’s pretty darn close to red, while still retaining all it’s pinkness.
On the nose there is a lot of flower and mineral, partnered by raspberry. Kevin commented that the nose was reminiscent of homemade raspberry pancake syrup.
It’s not a hefty rosé. Instead, it’s light and airy, calling out to be paired with seafood on a hot and sunny day. It’s filled with raspberries and some cherry and it goes down fast. Really fast. Kevin and I rarely finish an entire bottle of wine on the first night anymore, but I handily polished this one off. As for Kevin? He had a glass or so, and he admitted it was good. But it wasn’t his kind of wine – it didn’t tap into his inner pink as our previous rosé had. He likes his pink wines to be less light and more heavy.
Since I’m trying to talk my friend into his inner pink, I thought I’d share my all-time favorite affordable pink, coming in at around $14.00.
2007 Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah
The cherub is actually a cartoon rendering by Ralph Steadman of Alfredo Vidaurre, a founding partner of the Montes winery. If you’re familiar with Hunter S. Thompson and/or Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (the book people, not the movie), then you’ll recognize his art.
Montes is a Chilean winery and this wine comes from their Archangel estate in the Colchagua Valley, close to the Pacific Ocean. This particular rosé is 100% syrah. The color is a ruby red, but still obviously a rosé. The particular color comes from the juice and the skins having a one night
stand. I’m not kidding. It’s called a vin de nuit – the wine spends one night only in contact with the red-grape skins.
On the nose I got, appropriately, roses. I still hate the cliche of roses on a rosé, but sometimes it happens. (A rose is rosé by any other name?) Of course, the scent wasn’t just floral, there was some undefinably red fruits on there too.
The taste and texture are what won me over. It’s a rich, ripe wine, filled with crisp cherries and raspberries. It’s also a wine with heft, dry without
tannins. There’s a lot of structure and balance and it completely fills up your mouth. There’s a long, pleasing aftertaste that still manages
to be gentle. I would go so far as to say this rosé is sophisticated.
At under $15, it’s also a great deal. Montes makes some great wines, including the equally affordable Montes Folly and the not-so-affordable but excellent Purple Angel.
The real endorsement? Even Kevin likes this wine, and as he likes to say, he’s still looking for his inner pink.
Back in 2007, Kevin and I toured several wineries in Arizona. Here’s a quick review of a Petite Sirah and a rundown on the Arizona wine country.
Kevin and I have a thing. If we visit a new state, we need to visit a winery within that state. (I have no idea how I’ll handle this when I head to Las Vegas.) In 2007, we went to Arizona, which was one of the best, and most needed, vacations I’ve taken.
We used Tucson as our jumping off point and from there, we toured a lot of the state. We took a couple days and drove up to the Grand Canyon, staying overnight in Flagstaff. On our way home, we used a map and our trusty GPS to get to Cornville.
You see, when we think of Arizona, we think desert, but that’s the south. As you head north, you enter into mountains, chock full of evergreens. It’s gorgeous. And in November of 2007, we had flurries in Flagstaff as we loaded our hiking boots into the rental car. Arizona is a beautiful example of multiple microclimates all along a single highway. Offer me a job and I’d move to Arizona in a heartbeat.
Cornville, Arizona is in this wonderful intersection of moutain and stream, off the highway between Sedona and Flagstaff. It’s where you can find wineries owned (and operated) by Maynard James Keenan (apparently of the band Tool), his mentor at Page Springs Cellars, and the wonderful and entertaining Javelina Leap. We also visited Alcantara, which at the time seemed even more off the beaten path, but worth it.
For me, our visit to Alcantara was akin to visiting a friend’s house. I felt as if the tasting room was simply a bar, outside the kitchen and adjacent to the living room. At Alcantara I was introduced to a coffee table book for which I searched over a year (and found in Healdsburg), Vineyard Dogs. I was also introduced to a beautiful, and very pregnant, German Shepherd, who stands in my mind as the mascot for the winery.
I always say that a wine tastes better under either (or both) of two conditions: 1) when you meet the winemaker and 2) when you visit the winery. You see, atmosphere has a great influence, for me at least, on taste. And so it is with Alcantara.
Now, the 2006 Petite Sirah that we drank this evening was blended in Arizona, but made from California grapes. I would think that this year, if not in 2008, most of the Arizona wineries we visited are now able to harvest their own Arizona grapes. I know that Maynard James Keenan is sourcing his own grapes from both Cornville and further south in the state. At the end of 2007, the fantastic Javelina’s Leap was close to harvesting Arizona zinfandel. So take our review with a grain of salt – these aren’t Arizona grapes. I would encourage you – if you get the chance – to visit as many Arizona wineries as you can. We were impressed with the depth and breadth of knowledge, the wines and blending techniques, and the incredible friendliness of each winery we visited.
2006 Alcantara Petite Sirah
Petite Sirah is usually the Durif grape, but doesn’t Petite Sirah sound so much prettier? A lot of times, Petite Sirahs are a dark purple-y color, and are characterized by black pepper, some herbs, and tannins. But this wine was a lot softer. As a Petite Sirah, we thought we could age it a little longer but tonight, this wine didn’t show any tannins. I wish I had my notes from our initial trip to the winery to know what we’d thought a year ago.
When Kevin first opened the wine tonight, his reaction was “Woo! Smell that wine!” It did have a strong nose of fruit and herbs. The attack mirrored that, with strong berries and plums at first taste, but, well, it sort of died mid-palate. Yep, in the middle of my tongue there was suddenly nothing. But as you swallow – the finish – suddenly the flavor rallied. There were fruits and spices all over the place.
I can’t help but wonder if we should have uncorked this wine in early 2008. However, we’re still thrilled to have tried a wine from the up and coming Arizona wine industry. I hope we can go back and try wines made from Arizona grapes.
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