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Wine Club Newsletter - September 2016

Enjoy Rosé Wines While Hot

If you haven’t tried a good Rosé wine recently, you could be pulling up short on discovering all there is to appreciate and relish in today’s world of wine.

The making of Rosé wine is said to be the oldest style of making wine in the world. In its truest form of production, Rosé is made from red wine grapes that do not spend much (if any) time soaking with the skins after crushing the grapes. Soaking the juice with the skins imparts the darker hues red wines achieve.

The reputation of Rosé wine was seriously sullied in the last few decades in our last century. The stigmas attached to drinking Rosé wine in this period was led by the now-maligned White Zinfandel, as well as the sweet, unbalanced gallon jug wines. And don’t forget the old bag-in-the-box wines you purchased from your local supermarket.

Wine drinkers who have associated today’s Rosé wines with these blasts from the past are becoming fewer and fewer. Today, we are trending to high quality Rose wines that are dry, light, crisp, refreshing, and some even share the complexities found in fine red wines.

This will mark the tenth year in a row that across the globe, and in our own nation, sales of Rosé wine are blasting off the charts showing a 20% increase in this time. Sales of Rosé have jumped 250% in England, and 750% in Sweden.

There are some very good reasons for this surge in sales:

  • First off, prices for really good Rosé, as they are typically under $20 per bottle.
  • They’re ideal summer wine for picnics, around the pool, or sneaking to the beach.
  • Matching Rosé wines with food is a breeze. They complement all sorts of cheese, appetizers, fruits (apple, pear, watermelon, strawberry, figs with cheese) composed salads, Chinese food, spicy foods, and sushi.

In reinforcing my observations on this movement, we see Hollywood celebrities getting into the act. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are producing a beautiful Rosé from Southern France called Miraval. Drew Barrymore is also producing a fine Rosé with her Barrymore Wines label.

Some wine producers have even resorted to making elaborate package designs, to include beautifully shaped bottles and labels, targeted specifically to emphasize reinvigorated quality and prestige of the wine. There are at least a half-dozen Rosé wines fetching over $100 per bottle!

Riedel, the esteemed, specialized crystal wine glass producer, now has made a wine glass specifically to enhance the fragrance and taste of Rosé wine.

Finally, men in the United States, Brazil, Russia and Australia are embracing Rose’ in what is being dubbed the “Bro-sé” movement. It’s a club with vast social media presence and tens of thousands of members who unite behind the concept that Rosé is fine to drink without detracting from their image of virility.

Up until as recently as the last couple years, men could feel emasculated if it was discovered they were drinking pink wine. Statistics show this is well beyond the pale now, as the consumption of Rose’ has skyrocketed, especially amongst metrosexuals. Their pink wine battle-cry is championed after vintner Charles Smith quote: “Yes, you can drink Rosé and still be considered a badass!”

Sept. 2016 a

Sept. 2016 b


2015 Domaine Houchart Rosé, Tete de Cuvee

Growing Region: Cotes de Provence, France
Varietal Composition:  Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon
Fermentation: 10% in Oak, 90% Stainless Steel
Alcohol Content: 12%
Suggested Retail: $20.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $15.29

Broad Strokes:              
I tried no fewer than 20 Rose’s for our club members this month, and the 2015 Domaine Houchart was a standout choice! Read why in my notes below.

In the 1850s Aurélien Houchart created one of the largest domaines in Provence. The Domaine was later divided amongst his five children and Geneviève Quiot inherited 50 hectares (124 acres) of vines from her grandfather and runs the Domaine today. Located at about 15 miles east of Aix-En-Provence, the vines are 30 and 50 years old. The grape varieties grown are typical to Provence: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvedre.

The label is a bit difficult to read. Maybe one day they’ll update the graphics. The wine has tinting of salmon, copper, and eye of partridge. The color could have been much darker based on the density of the grape varietals the Domaine used for this wine.

The first thing that struck me on this wine was the nose. Heads above all the others. It jumped out of the glass almost 6 inches above the rim. Great fruit, with notes of strawberry, raspberry, white peach, cherry, and pink grapefruit. Then the flowery part: rose petals, cherry blossom, pollen, potpourri, and white pepper.

The texture rocks it! I think the 10% oak gives it some of the weighty mouth-feel. It is very smooth, delightful and expansive on the palate on the entry. With a vibrant, lively acidity, it edges off on the finish with a perfect touch of mineral to balance a lightly sweet impression.

Read the notes from the nose, and add a touch of tropical fruit, banana, and ruby red grapefruit.

Serving Suggestions:
Perfect refresher for warm days, smoked fish (especially salmon) fried chicken, pâté, composed salads, cheese and thin crust pizza.

2014 Ryan Patrick, Rock Island Red

Growing Region:  Columbia Valley, Washington
Varietal Composition:  48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Syrah, 15% Merlot, 4% Primitivo
Fermentation:  20% New American Oak, 18 Months
Alcohol Content:  14.5%
Suggested Retail:  $24.00
WineSellar Club Price:  $21.59

Broad Strokes:              
From the Winery: Intuitive winemaking is the art of letting the fruit speak for itself. It’s minimal intervention combined with consistency of style. That’s the heart of the Ryan Patrick promise: artisanal winemaking where the grape is at the center. Many wineries use static recipes for their wines; instead, winemaker Jeremy Santo does daily fermentations with different yeast or temperatures to achieve a specific effect. A true craftsman, Jeremy pulls from his scientific education and training at Snoqualmie and Canoe Ridge wineries to create consistently great wines that people love to discover and share with their friends.

Clear and easy reading for instantly identifying all things a label should tell you. Yippee! The wine is a very, very dark red/black with brilliant magenta rim. It is quite viscous, leaving oily drapes slinking down the glass.

Deep, sweet cherry fruit essence is intense, joined by some smoke elements, black pepper, currant, fig, maple and plum. Notice hints of chocolate, anise and herbs.

Weighty and full-bodied, but not crazy that way. Some heat, concentrated fruit, (almost jam-like) and the tannins are supple and well-integrated. Rich feel, you get good power and will be rewarded with a gorgeous, silky finish.

Blackberry, black cherry, and ripe plum jam are foremost fruit flavors. These are wrapped by a sweet touch of vanilla, chocolate, with pecans and walnuts, mahogany, spices and nutmeg. I also got biscuit, toasted white bread, like a buttered English muffin with blackberry jam on it. Throw in some black and white pepper too!

Serving Suggestions:
The wine definitely has the ability to age for a number of years, and will no doubt take on some great character upon cellaring. It’s also ready to go now, especially if you have it with grilled red meats, BBQ foods, and ripe cheese.

2011 Piocho Red Blend, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara

Growing Region:  Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara, Ca.
Varietal Composition:  74% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 5% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc
Fermentation: 50% New & 50% Neutral French oak
Alcohol Content:  14.1%
Suggested Retail:  $32.00
WineSellar Club Price: $28.79

Broad Strokes:              
From the Winery: Happy Canyon Vineyard is a family-owned and operated estate vineyard and boutique winery on the central coast of California that has gained esteem with our award-winning Bordeaux varietal wines. Our vineyard is nestled into the undulating hills of the beautiful Piocho Ranch at the eastern most edge of the Santa Ynez Valley. The ranch and vineyard is where we, the Barrack family, call home. We have taken great pride over the years in being stewards of the land and created wines that are unique to the beauty, richness, and heritage of the “terroir”.

The font on the vintage is a bit small, but because there isn’t much else on the front label to distract you, it makes what’s important easy to assess. Brick red and black hues are very dark at the core, with lots of viscosity.

Sweet cherries on the nose, almost to the point of a Smith Brothers cough drop intensity. So, it seems natural a hint of menthol and mint seemingly surface as well. I get cedar, vanilla, toast (and cherry jam), some nice spice notes. The nose closes up and doesn’t reappear until 30 or so minutes later.

The wine has lively acid on the entry, and is medium-full in body. It’s expansive in the palate, as the fruit intensity continually counters the lively acid from start to finish. Both fruit and acid continue the duel long (30-45 seconds) after you swallow the wine.

Raspberry and red cherry fruit are to the front of the flavor mix. Some dairy and cream are present, along with chocolate, and vanilla oak.

Serving Suggestions:
BBQ foods are a certain pairing for the Piocho. It will tackle a number of different foods because of the firm line of acid, and also because the wine is not a fruit bomb. This enables us to also use lighter food applications as well, like roast duck with cherry sauce, or pork loin. The wine will age another ten years in the bottle.

2013 Galerie ‘Pleinair”, Cabernet Sauvignon

Growing Region: Napa Valley, California
Varietal Composition: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fermentation: 53% New French Oak for 20 Months, Not Fined or Filtered
Alcohol Content: 15%
Suggested Retail: $50.00
WineSellar Club Price: $49.49

Broad Strokes:              
From the Winery: The name refers to the French painters’ method of painting outdoors (en plein air), which developed around the same time as Napa’s first European-style vineyards in the 1800s. Winemaker Laura Diaz Muñoz blends fruit from vineyards with diverse soil types to bring complexity and depth to the finished wine, which shows rich black fruit, spice and floral notes with a firm tannin structure and balanced acidity.

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Beautiful, distinctive label, and what I consider very good packaging all around. I made an involuntary audible gasp when I first poured the wine and saw how near to being totally black it is. There is some purple/red in there, but the very deep color illustrates significant extraction.

Gobs of black fruits shout out to you, such as blackberry, black cherries, and black currants. I got some black and white pepper, notes of wood, dark earth, tobacco and hints of strawberry.

This is a big ol’ boy, with 15% alcohol, and lots of tannins. It is a deep-fruited beauty that is not for the faint of heart. Decadent, but it still carries a sense of refinement, not just a monster truck wine. Well-balanced fruit, wood, acid and tannins makes it shine brightly.

The black fruits from the nose, the blackberry, black cherries, and black currants, are evident immediately on the palate.  I got a touch of anise, as well as spice notes, leaf, notes of wood, vanilla oak and dark soil.

Serving Suggestions:
This is positively one for long-term cellaring. I am certain it has another 15 to 20 years of aging potential. If you don’t want to wait that long, then have it with some really ripe cheese, or dark chocolate, chicken mole, pepper steak, or some serious game such as venison or rack of lamb.

2009 Chateau Mamin, Graves

Growing Region:  Graves, Bordeaux, France
Varietal Composition: 90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fermentation: 18 Months French Oak
Alcohol Content:  13%
Suggested Retail:  $40.00
WineSellar Club Price: $33.29

Broad Strokes:              
Here is a fantastic Bordeaux wine, at a great price, from a superior vintage, aged in the bottle, with many years ahead of it! What more can we ask? I think Graves is my favorite in the Bordeaux region, for a number of reasons. Generally, you can find the better bargains in this appellation, but the main reason is that the wines all have this wonderful mineral and stone element in them, claimed to be a result of the rocky, gravelly (Graves) soil in the vineyards.

Good-looking, classic, easy-to-read label and typical format for Bordeaux wines: The image of the Chateau is etched and placed front and center. The wine is still youthful-looking, with a black and ruby core and the color of Welch’s grape juice bubbles on the rim.

An awesome fragrance of earth, lavender, hot stones, mineral, vanilla, cedar. The nose is both impactful and elegant, giving off its love a few inches above the glass. It’s showing some Indian spice notes as well.

Killer texture! It has fresh, lively acid, especially for a seven-year-old wine. While still feeling youthful, it has the wonderful texture that I have delighted in with previous Bordeaux selections: even, velvety, long and smooth in the palate, and long and smooth on the finish. The drying finish is perfect for food.

Ripe plum and fig jelly are wrapped with a hint of smoke, mineral, hot stones, charcoal, cedar and dust. There is a kind of meaty, roast beef element to the flavor profile, as well as some perfume, crisp apple, banana, again more cedar and vanilla. The stones/rocks element just keeps coming at me, delicious!

Serving Suggestions:
Wonderful now, but I will be happy to have this wine in ten years. It will become even more smooth, and take on a strapped leather flavor component, as well as many other complexities. Wines like this benefit markedly by cellaring them. I feel this wine will be a 93-94 pointer as time goes on.

Escarole, Fish & White Bean Salad

This is relatively easy to put together, and is quite healthy.

Good sized lunch four. It’s delicious with our Rosé selection this month 2015 Domaine Houchart Rosé, Tete de Cuvee



  • 4 pieces of Swordfish (5 ounces each), Sea Bass, or other Fresh, White Fleshed Fish
  • Pinch each of salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 teaspoons Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tomato, sliced thin


  • 1/3 extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots


  • 1 cup of crumbled goat cheese
  • 10 cups chopped escarole
  • 1/2 cup pinenuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 12-ounce can of white beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted


  1. Set aside in refrigerator
  2. Place Dressing ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
  1.  In a large bowl, place Salad ingredients
  2. Set aside in refrigerator
  1.  Turn your broiler to high, after positioning your rack high in oven
  2. Place Fish on non-stick pan
  3. Sprinkle Herbs de Provence, salt & pepper over Fish
  4. Place tomato slices over each piece
  5. Roast fish for approximately 8-10 minutes or until flaky
  1. Meanwhile, combine dressing and salad ingredients
  2. Distribute salad ingredients evenly to four plates
  3. Add fish to each plate and serve.

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