Do you drink pink?

shades of rose2Normally, we would feel like we were just settling in to summer… but it seems like every year, our summer starts a little earlier.  Whether its the anticipation of  fresh rosé arriving, or the weather changing sooner (like a June summer!  What?) or the anticipation of vacations! Either way, we are seeing an increase in people that drink pink every year and we are thrilled.  Rosé isn’t what it used to be.  It’s not your grandma’s jug in the fridge (not that there’s anything wrong with that Grandma! <wink>).  We see rosé coming from all over the world now and at many different price levels. So the two questions we hear all the time are…does price matter and is darker really sweeter?

Here’s the thing. Don’t be afraid of affordable wine! Sure. Price CAN matter. But as with anything, you can find a great wine to fit your budget. And when the occasion allows itself, you can surely find one to spoil your palate.  We are firm believers in quality to price ratio.  And we truly believe you can find an affordable every day Rosé and you can find that incredible pale Tavel you keep hearing about, and splurging on it…is ok!

‘Its dark! It must be sweet!”. We’ve heard this countless times and sure. Some of the dark rosé’s are sweeter. But its not always the rule. If you aren’t sure, check the alcohol level…the color comes from skin contact, so its not always a sure fire way to know. Look for a rosé over 12%…

But.  When in doubt…ask us!  That’s what we are here for!  And we love talking about wine!

Here are a few favorite’s this season:

Esquin Exclsive: 2014 Clos Alivu Rosé, Corsica ~ $18.99/bottle

Hot Seller: 2014 La Spinetta Rosato, Italy ~ $19.99/bottle

Fresh off the boat!: 2014 Serpolet  Rosé, France ~ $12.99/bottle (this sexy little bottle come in…well, just that!  a little bottle!  375ml available for only $9.99! 

Esquin’s Rhapsody of Rosé Sampler: 6 bottles to try! only $59.99

 

Three Views on Wine With Oysters

Wine With OystersEveryone has a thought on what to choose when it comes to wine with oysters. I feel that you can’t go wrong with white wines that hit all points on the crisp/dry/well-chilled mark. And bubbles are always welcome to the party. But we all have our favorites.

I’m going to go with the 2010 Pepiere Muscadet Clos des Briords.  A lovely, single-vineyard old-vine Muscadet from France’s Loire Valley. This wine was born to be consumed with bivalves. It’s a got a bit more richness and texture than your average Muscadet. And you can get it in magnums! What’s not to love about that? For bubbles, I’m sticking to the Loire and recommending any high-quality Cremant or sparkling wine from that region.

As the European wine buyer here at Esquin, I hope you can forgive me for showing my French bias. But in the interest of highlighting local wines to go with local oysters, I have consulted two bastions of Pacific Northwest wine for their two cents’ (two half shells’?) worth:

  • Clive Pursehouse of the Northwest Wine Anthem: “For Oregon wines that match up well with your favorite shellfish acid is king, and some of the beautiful dry Rieslings from Oregon’s Willamette Valley certainly fit the bill.  You don’t have to go far into the Valley to come across some beautiful cool climate Rieslings with some of the acidity, balance, and zest to properly pair with oysters. You’ll find wonderful examples in the northern end in Chehalem Mountain or Yamhill-Carlton. One example is the Trisaetum Coast Range Vineyard Dry Riesling; it delivers with zesty spice and green apple tartness.  Brilliant acidity brings this Riesling to a beautiful crescendo.”
  • Sean Sullivan of the Washington Wine Report: “The 2010 vintage in Washington saw the type of cool conditions and high acid that leads to fantastic white wines, and particularly wines that go with oysters. Two of my favorites from the 2010 vintage are the Cadaretta SBS and Guardian Cellars Angel Sauvignon Blanc. The 2010 Cadaretta SBS–a blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon–has a full, rounded feel, with white grapefruit flavors and tart, mouthwatering acidity. Guardian Cellar’s 2010 Angel Sauvignon Blanc is barrel-fermented, giving the wine a textured feel to balance it’s racy acidity. Both simply should not be consumed without an oyster shell in hand.”

So what is your pick for oysters? I’m always looking for a new wine to enjoy with oysters. And if it requires more research by the dozen, so be it.

wine with oystersThanks to Taylor Shellfish Farms in the Melrose Market and my host Jon Rowley for providing the oysters and the inspiration. (Well, oysters for me. Clive and Sean, I owe you a dozen. Each.) View the winners from Taylor Shellfish’s oyster wine competition.

Our Fall Sampler is Here!

Fall leaves

We’ve selected an eclectic, interesting, and tasty roster of a dozen wines for our ever-popular sampler. Take a look at our selections below with tasting notes and food pairings. Pick up a case today!

Buried Cane Pinot Grigio (Washington)

Zesty and vibrant, with floral and tropical aromas, followed by peach and lemon fruit flavors. A note of pear and spice adds complexity. Enjoy with grilled lemon prawns.

Arabella Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa)

Complex green grassy nose with passion fruit, guava and pear aromas. Gooseberry and tropical flavors on a full, rich palate with a long sweet-fruited finish. Delicious with fresh cheeses or sugar snap salad.

Domaine Maby Cotes du Rhone Blanc “Variations” (France)

Primarily Grenache Blanc blended with Picpoul and Clairette. White flower and bright peach scents start you off. The palate is a medley of tropical and pitted fruit flavors finishing with a delicious crispness. Try this with white fish topped with mango sauce.

Viano Chardonnay (California)

A nicely balanced, gently oaked Chardonnay from Contra Costa County. Ripe notes of apple, pear and allspice lead to a beautiful mouthful of fruit where tropical flavors emerge. All nicely accented with toast and cream. Serve with rosemary orange roast chicken.

Fiefs Les d’Anglars Cahors Malbec (France)

From the home of Malbec, where it is produced to reflect the true dark essence of the grape. This wine has fruity aromas of blackberries joining harmoniously with the mocha tannins. Fantastic served with beef pot roast.

Los Ailos Syrah Tannat (Argentina)

The addition of Tannat to this blend adds texture to the bright Syrah fruit. The wine is lush with deep berry, black pepper spice and subtle herb. The tremendous depth of this wine make it a great accompaniment to smoked meats, rich red sauces and savory beef dishes.

Cardiff Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

This Cali Cab will draw you in with aromas of blackberry cobbler. The palate continues with plum, vanilla and allspice. Serve this with a top loin of beef or a savory lamb stew.

Ch. St. Louis la Pedrix Costieres de Nimes (France)

A tasty blend of Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. Ripe, fresh fruit scents lead you to mouthfilling flavors of ripe raspberry and plum with subtle smoky notes. Serve with sirloin burgers.

La Radela Tempranillo (Spain)

A dark ruby colored delight from the famed wine region of Rioja. Cherries, raspberries, minerals and earth combine to perfection. Elegantly intense and intriguingly complex. Try this paired with herbed roast pork tenderloin.

JP Azeitão Tinto Red (Portugal)

A fruity modern-styled blend of Castelao, Aragonez and Syrah. Intense aromas of black cherry, damson, spicy licorice and subtle smoky notes. Robust and flavorful with forest berries and delicious texture. This would be great with roast beef.

Zolo Malbec (Argentina)

Malbec with a deep purple color, with a high intensity of black fruits, raspberries, and violets. Spices play on the palate of fruit, combining with sweet earth and plum. The rich and spicy character of this wine make it a great match for BBQ Ribs.

Stella Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (Italy)

Serve up your favorite recipe of lasagna with this red. Black cherry aromas are highlighted by dark chocolate and soft leather notes. The palate has a traditional rustic style, with true Italian texture running through the dark fruit flavors.

Powerhouse Cotes du Rhone

Andezon Cotes du RhoneCotes du Rhone has been a go-to wine for me for years. It’s always an inexpensive, safe bet. There’s a lot of good examples I try regularly, but what does it take to stand out from the pack? Well, you’ve got to have some serious sizzle. I found it in the 2010 Andezon Cotes du Rhone.

The first thing that caught my attention about the Andezon (after realizing that it did not actually say Amazon) was the blend. Most Cotes du Rhones tend to be very Grenache-intensive. The Andezon,  however, is almost exclusively Syrah. (90% if you must know.) It reminds me of another favorite Cotes du Rhone, the Saint Cosme, which is an all-Syrah standout.

This is a big, brawny red. It doesn’t get it’s muscle from oak, though. The Andezon is fermented old-school, in concrete tanks. It’s delicious on it’s own but if you wondering what goes best with this delicious red, I’d say pair this bruiser with a bacon cheeseburger. Or anything you can eat with one hand so as not to obstruct a clear path to your glass.

Eroica Riesling: A Retrospective

eroica riesling washington wine

Had the opportunity to take part in tasting a vertical of Eroica Riesling at Wild Ginger. This collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Ernst Loosen from Germany is a benchmark for Washington Riesling. What started as a handshake deal between two winemakers has become a great partnership showcasing the potential for great Riesling in Washington State. We tasted the 2005, 2007, and 2010. I preferred the 07 as it (to me) had the most acidity. And thought it’s kind of a duh to say that Riesling is great with Asian cuisines, the wines really shifted to another level with the food. Especially noteworthy was the green papaya salad; it was put on this Earth to be enjoyed with Riesling!

The real show-stopper, however, was getting to try two vintages of the Eroica Single Berry Select. A TBA-style dessert wine of miniscule production, it’s a treat to try one let alone two vintages. (BTW, TBA is German for delicious, rare, nectar-like Riesling that’s picked berry-by-berry.) The 2001 (seen on the right in the above photo) was poured first and I have to say I was astonished by the color. It had already taken on a much deeper, darker color than the 2007 poured next to it. It was the Wine of the Day for me.

This special event was part of a larger, summer-long celebration of Riesling. Whether it’s from Washington or anywhere else in the world, I cannot recommend Riesling highly enough as one of the finest, most age-worthy, food-friendly wines.

Full Disclosure: This tasting and lunch was provided by the winery.

My Favorite Affordable White Wine

Cassagnoles Gros MansengI have to admit that I’ve been going a little crazy over this wine. (And I’m not the only one here; it’s a staff favorite as well.) And sure, there are a few obstacles to overcome when recommending this wine. Like, for starters, the name: 2010 Domaine des Cassagnoles Reserve Selection Cuvee Gros Manseng Cotes de Gascogne. Yikes! I’m already flummoxed. But let me council some patience.

Would it help to say, “Oh, it’s a Gros Manseng from Gascogny.” Umm…maybe not so much. But, as a champion of the obscure and delicious, I’d probably just mention that I love the white wines from Gascogny. Most are a cheap and cheerful blend of such grapes as the aforementioned Gros Manseng along with Ugni Blanc (!) and Colombard.

But this Gros Manseng distinguishes itself from the charming wines of Gascogny by having an unexpected golden richness and texture. And then it finishes very refreshing. For under $15, it’s hard to think of a wine that has so many layers and so much interest. What a pleasure to drink! I love finding wines that surprise you like the Cassagnoles. Every time I open a new bottle, I think, “Is this as good as I remember it?” And then I take my first (of many) sips and my response is always, “It’s even better than I remember it.”

Enjoy this wine with an ocean of crab and/or a pile of lobster rolls. Because you just saved all that dough on wine, right?

A Beer-Themed Lunch

MusselsThe name of the place is Esquin Wine Merchants, but we do love (and sell) some good beer as well. I recently attended a beer-themed lunch (can’t tell you how much I enjoyed typing “beer-themed lunch”) at Quinn’s that recharged my passion for beer and, delightfully, introduced to some unexpectedly excellent beer and food pairings.

As a wine guy, my brain has been programmed to think Muscadet whenever mussels are involved. It’s not a bad thought–especially when Pepiere is involved–but I was really surprised by how well one of the beers paired with mussels. I figured it would be the lightest-style beer (the lager or the Hefeweisen) but the mussels turned out to be sensational with the Orval Trappist Ale.

Duck TerrineAnother great pairing was the Samuel Smith Organic Cider with the Duck Terrine. The sweetness and acidity of the cider was a nice counterpoint to the richness of the terrine; duck is a meat that really lends itself to having a fruit component added. In this case, in liquid form.

Veal BreastThis veal was served with a trio of beers (Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale, their Oatmeal Stout, and the Ayinger Celebrator Bock) that were all complimentary with the dish. Definitely a heartier beer was in store for this very rich meat; I’d have to say the Stout and Bock were better by a hair.

Apricot TartFinally desert: an apricot and apple tart. It was served with the Lindemans Framboise, which I have to admit I find too sweet. But the tartness of the fruit seemed to tame the sweetness a bit and bring out the acidity of the Lindemans.

I left Quinn’s very full, and full of respect for how well beer can pair with great food. Am I giving up my Muscadet anytime soon? Um, no. Never! (In fact, I’ve got a bottle in my fridge right now.) But I was reminded that the world of beer has many of the qualities that make wine so compelling. There’s a rich history, full of great stories. And it’s delicious.

Full disclosure: Lunch was provided by the distributor and importer.