Amplify Viognier

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Amplify Viognier
Price: $22.99
Region: Santa Ynez, California
Year: 2014
Retailer: DomaineLA 

I first had Amplify wines while at Cliff's Edge, a restaurant I've been frequenting since I moved to Los Angels mostly for its Jungle Cruise-esque patio, California-savory menu and for impressing out of town family, but now mostly for its wine (and its patio). My friend Roni Ginach took over as wine director there this past spring, making it a oenophile's paradise. Roni is one of my favorite and most trusted people to just be like, "BRING ME WHATEVER YOU THINK IS DELICIOUS!" and then like a magical wine wizard, she does just that. 

It was Roni who turned me onto Amplify's carignane at Cliff's Edge one night, and subsequently made me a full-on fan girl. I've been crushing bottles of the carignane like no tomorrow because when you chill it, it tastes just like cranberry juice (which I love). Also, I love their wine making practices. This small winery is ran by Cameron and Marlen Porter and they are "not fans of dogma", which basically means they may not be following every word that Rudolph Steiner put out, but they do care about their product and their land. They use native yeasts and neutral fermentations, farm for nurturing their ecosystem, and the only additive is sulfur (which is necessary to create wines that can age). 

I was pretty much over the moon when I found out they had a viognier. Viognier is a cheeky white varietal that loves playing with misdirection. On the surface, it doesn't seem like a wine I would like very much. Everything about it from its color (faded 80's gold) to its bouquet (old 80's Dior perfume) scream "Ahhhh probably semi-sweet!" Which is not a risk I like taking. But I took it once and was glad I did. The palate is actually dry and drinkable despite being robustly floral and fruity.

Amplify's viognier is even more of a treat than your normal California viognier. I've had many from California that are a little thick and a little too rich, but Amplify does a stupendous job of balancing that richness with its tart, au naturale attributes. It is so complex and full of flavor, but is just so god damn citrus-ly carefree with such a lively finish I want to put on my bikini and run through some sprinklers (god damn am I bummed I can't do it the first summer I FINALLY have a backyard as an adult). 

AHHH IT TASTES LIKE A COLD THICK BREEZE OF SOUR APPLES AND TROPICAL FRUITS THAT I WISH I WAS OUTSIDE DRINKING RIGHT NOWWW... but can't because a group of grey hawk bros have nested in my neighbor's tree and swoop at my pomeranians and it gives me great anxiety because I don't want my dogs to get taloned by FLYING BEASTS (that happen to be beautiful, but fuck them for trying to pick up my dogs for dinner WHICH ISN'T EVEN POSSIBLE THEY ARE SO DELUSIONAL, but still beautiful).

This wine tastes like summer, which I know I say a lot, but I'll never stop saying it. A California girl at heart, I'll never stop comparing the wines I love to bodies of water, fresh cut grass, hot concrete and sand, and unadult-erated freedom. 

I'm so sad it's almost August. Don't get me wrong, I'm going to savor July, but remember when summer lasted forever? Bums me out when I think about how our perception of time is relative to how much time we have experienced and how time will only be shorter the longer we live it.

But then again, there are moments that last forever. Small tiny moments. Pressing your fingertips into crispy, dry sand on the dunes. Your feet stretching into unknown, cold areas inside your sheets. Showering after swim practice. The golden light as it fell across the California coast and across your grandmother's bedroom. All these things are so fleeting and yet, here they are. Fresher than tomorrow's farmer's market offerings, here those feelings are.

The Amplify viognier captures that for me. Those tiny moments. The perfect balance between brisk & fun, and whole-hearted & overwhelming. 

Tasting notes: Hard floral on the nose, but citrus and tropical and nectarines on the palate. Long finish, like you swallowed a mouthful of the Pacific. <3  
Yes, that's a <3

Ross Test: A little too floral! Stick to the glass. 

Alloy Wine Works' Grenache Rosé

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These are the only things I know about Allloy Wine Works' grenache rosé:

1. It showed up this morning in a box from Field Recordings
2. It is handpicked
3. It is cellared & packaged by Field Recordings 
WHO CARES
5. IT'S DELICIOUS

I haven't had a chance to cover Field Recordings on the blog because I tend to drink all the wine with my fiancé before I can sit down and write about it, but Field Recordings is one of my favorite California wines. It's hard for me to have a dinner without a cab franc or chenin blanc of theirs. They also make Fiction canned wine, which is the first canned red wine I've ever fully endorsed.  Basically, I trust winemaker Andrew Jones' with my gut and soul.

When I first opened it, I wasn't quite sure, but after getting it to optimal temperature, I am extremely happy with this wine. 

Do you remember the first Tennis album? Cape DoryThat's what this wine tastes like. Like pink dreamy clouds languidly drifting upon a cornflower blue horizon, white sails lightly billowing in the breeze while sandy feet dance drunkenly off-beat on a wet deck. It's so fun, and gritty. Like you're gross. You're a disgusting human covered in sweat, humidity and sunscreen. And it's the best. The boat may never leave the dock but it doesn't matter, because your dirty little feet are moving and the only thing you can think about is looking into your dance partner's eyes for all of eternity. Does he even know how to sail? WHO CARES. I HOPE HE DOESN'T AND IT'S AN ADVENTURE FOREVER!

It's so youthfully romantic that you don't even realize you've had sand in your bikini bottoms for the last eight hours. Then you drunkenly make your way to the head and discover a load in your pants and you laugh even more. And you spend all night laughing about the load in your pants over tall-boys OF WINE. 

That is what this tastes like. It tastes like the springtime-of-my-life's ideals colliding with my adult-ass palate. It throws caution to the wind, but also takes great care of its flavors. 

SOME REALNESS: They have the best tasting notes on the can I'VE EVER SEEN. AND THE ONLY ONE I'VE EVER BEEN LIKE, "DAMN! YEAH! YOU'RE RIGHT! THIS IS STRAWBERRY AND GRAPEFRUIT AND GUAVA AND MINT AND SOUR PATCH KIDS AND ROSE PETALS! DAMN! ALLOY GETS ITSELF/ME!" 

I would just add "salt water sentimentality" and "MARISSA A. ROSS' SAP", but other than that, perfection.

Boutari "Santorini" Assyrtiko

Boutari "Santorini" Assyrtiko
Price: ~$20
Year: 2014
Region: Santorini, Greece

For the record, I actually wrote this review and then Squarespace deleted it and then I had a meltdown on Twitter which I then deleted. I'm doing the best I can to remember what I said, but I am very, very sad to say that the original post is lost forever. This is partly my fault because I generally write in two places, BUT MOSTLY SQUARESPACE'S BECAUSE IT ATE MY POST. Here's me doing my best to remember it:

For years now I've tried to convince my boyf--fiancé that we should go to Santorini. Its stark blues and whites and coastal lines make it an aesthetic dream. One of my hobbies is 35MM landscape and architectural photography. Thinking about roaming Santorini's streets with my 1979 Canon AE-1 and a backpack full of film and wine is almost too much for me to bear.

But alas, my Santorini travel fantasies have alluded me. And now that Greece is going through what Americans may call "2008", it doesn't seem like I will be going anytime soon. Luckily, I can live vicariously through Boutari's "Santorini".

This wine is made from the white wine varietal assyrtiko. It's native to the island of Santorini and its volcanic soil keeps grapes acidic as they ripen.

When I first opened this wine, I thought I was going to have to throw it out. I was like, "What is this Grecian bullshit excuse for a Chardonnay?!" But being an optimist and also trying to work on being less judgmental, I did not throw it out. Instead I let it breathe, and thank god I did! It's delicious!

This wine has a heavier weight and mouthfeel, like a Chardonnay, which is probably where my initial confusion and repulsion came from. But in all actuality, this wine needs that weight and richness because without it, the acidity would be too much. It's so bright and has a wonderful, lingering sour finish.

Have you ever gone to the movies and ordered popcorn (just popcorn with the regular amount of butter you normally get with it, no "I WANT TO DIE!" amounts of butter added after the fact) and Sour Patch Kids? And you eat the popcorn and Sour Patch Kids by the handful? That is what this wine reminds me of. 

So, who wants to grab a matinee this week?

HA HAAA JK I'M STAYING HERE IN THE AC AND DRINKING THIS ALONE PRETENDING JURASSIC WORLD NEVER HAPPENED!

Tasting Notes: Tart but elegant. It's like that one time Courtney Love went to the Oscars. You wouldn't think it would make sense, but it does! You wouldn't normally put chalky and creamy in the same description, but here it works! The nose is bright but herbal with anise, and the palate is full of apples, limes and faint warm ocean water.

Ross Test: Skip it.

Posted on July 15, 2015 .

Listen to Jameson Fink's Wine Without Worry Podcast With Special Guest, MEEEE

I had the pleasure of chatting with fellow Saveur Blog Award nominee Jameson Fink about summer wines and all sorts of things. If you like wine information without the pretentious bullshit (which I'm guessing you do since here you are!) you should definitely read Jameson's blog and listen to his podcast, Wine Without Worry. Extremely informational and zero snobbery. He's such a leader in the wine world, and I was very honored to be on his podcast.

During this episode we discuss (I'm ripping this straight from his post because he did it perfectly/I got shit to do):

So first, the wines we drank. I brought a very cool Arnot-Roberts Rosé made from an unusual grape, especially for California. Marissa braved Manhattan traffic to procure a Grüner Veltliner from a top Austrian producer. So what happens in this action-packed half hour? Some highlights:

  • How to pronounce (or not to pronounce) the grapes and regions of summer wines we love. Why can’t we just love Merlot? (Wait, is it MER-LAHT? Cue anxiety.)

  • Red wine in the summertime. Can it be done? (Spoiler alert: Yes. But how? And why? And what?)

  • A discussion on Chardonnay and oak. Which descends into recriminations, then regret, and, finally, reconciliation.

  • Marissa’s favorite California winery and a Chardonnay (aha!) that turned the tide in regards to her relationship with this grape. (BTW, the wine she’s referring to in the podcast is the Skin Fermented.)

  • Where it all began with wine writing, and how she developed her style and approach. Also, what the barriers that keep people from being more gung-ho, gonzo, and garrulous about all things fermented grape juice?

  • I read a passage of Marissa’s, which has really excellent advice on how to deal with ordering wine at a restaurant. And doing so like the champ you are. (We believe in you.)

At BottleRock with Gia Wine

Last month, I kicked off summer by hanging out at the Gia by Gia Coppola wines' cabana at BottleRock for three days of music, food and most importantly, WINE. Also an epic performance by Courtney Barnett, but mostly, WINE!

The cabana was full of fun Gia festival/life supplies like sunscreen & chapstick, and amazing vintage furniture that I would have legit stolen if I wasn't flying on Southwest with no guaranteed space. It was an oasis at the festival where concert-goers could enjoy some wine, shade, face painting and good company on a retro-fitted sofa with yours truly. The cabana was situated with an awesome view of the Jam Cellars Stage that featured a wide array of acts ranging from Public Enemy to Passion Pit. 

One of the cool things about BottleRock is it attracts all kinds of people with its diverse offerings. From champagne booths to Robert Plant performances, there were all walks of life in attendance. I took the opportunity to chat with some of the cabana's guests about their favorite wine: Coppola! 

It was so much fun. Thank you to everyone who came and visited me at the cabana, and especially everyone who chatted on camera with me. Can't thank Coppola enough for having me out and can't wait until next year! Cheers! 

Video Credits:
Shot & Edited by Josh Fuss
Music by Monster Rally

Previously:
Gia BottleRock Survival Checklist 
Wine Time at Gia's LA Launch
Wine Do's & Don'ts at Gia's NYC Launch

La Clarine Farm "Jambalaia Rouge"

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La Clarine Farm "Jambalaia Rouge"
Price: $21
Region: Sierra Foothills, California
Retailer: Silverlake Wine

It's Friday and I feel extremely lazy. Being lazy is the worst. I mean, if you're like, "Yo I feel so laaazzyyy" while smoking weed all day on a Saturday and that is how you totally wanted to spend your Saturday, that is chill because that is chilling. But feeling lazy as in you don't have the energy to even give a fuck if you had fucks to give, but you don't because you give no fucks. You're hanging out in a onesie and looking at your dogs for two hours. That lazy is the worst.

Anyway, I'm hanging out in a onesie looking at my dogs AND drinking La Clarine Farm's' "Jambalaia Rouge". So at least now I feel kind of productive. I diiid also buy pet food and pay the electric bill sooo, yeah. 

This biodynamic blend of 48% Mourvedre, 37% Grenache, 14% Marsanne and a whole 1% of Fiano/Ameis (hence the name gleaning on "jambalaya")  is so summery and spry! As soon as your nose dips into the glass, you swear you're smelling a freshly cut strawberry and rhubarb pie! I've never smelled anything so fruity with a touch of cream cheese frosting from a biodynamic. They're usually much more along the lines of "barnyard" and "seriously this smells like ass". 

I love this wine because although it is so light and energetic-- two of my favorite qualities of biodynamic wines-- it also has a real weight to its flavor. The earthy, lingering nearly ripe plum is reminiscent of a big California red, but without any of the shitty parts of a big California red. I'm almost sad I didn't save this for the steaks we're cooking later, but then again, reeeally happy to be drinking it now.

I threw it in the fridge for a bit, and it's even better. Completely ironed out, but still with a faint, sexy grittiness. It tastes like I shouldn't be drinking it; that rather than grapes, this wine is made from juiced garnets. 

Tasting Notes: Tastes like you found One Eyed Willy's treasure and you opened the chest and it was garnet wine pies and then you ate them all and then swam in a sea of gold then DIED EXTREMELY HAPPY.

Ross Test: I was expecting to say, "NO! NEVER! YOU DON'T GET THE PIE ON THE NOSE!" but like the rest of this wine, the Ross Test has also proved to be unpredictable. IT IS SO GOOD. SO CHUGGABLE! I feel wrong telling you to chug this bottle but you need to chug this bottle after you've had it in the fridge for a cool 30.

Mushy Love Stuff & Jean Foillard Morgon "Côte du Py"

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I had planned to do a big post on Fourth of July, the party we threw, and the wines that I served as well as wines that were brought. But all that went out the window on Friday. 

Friday was my sixth anniversary with Ben.
And as Ice Cube would say, it was a good day.

We've been inseparable since 2009, when he met me and was a dick because his friends had told him he would fall in love with me, and he had just moved to LA and gotten out of a relationship and wanted nothing to do with me. No one had ever told me about him though, so when we met, I was bummed because he was cute, but was mostly like, "Whatever, that dude is a dick." Later that night, a guy I didn't know was married with kids was hitting on me. Ben saw it, and said he became oddly protective and jealous, because everyone had told him I was the girl he was going to fall in love with. He awkwardly whisked me away from the married guy to the roof, and we awkwardly looked at the view. We left the roof, awkwardly, but hung out the rest of the night, talking about bands we couldn't believe the other one listened to too and laughing about how horrible my outfit was.

(Seriously, it was the worst outfit of my life: boot-cut suit pants, a raglan sweater, and pumps. It was laundry day, and I was extremely hungover, and I really, really did not give any fucks because at the time, I really, really did not care about dudes [until I was at a party in half a BCBG suit with a hot dude who listened to Olivia Tremor Control].)

Since then, we've been through thick and thin. We've had the most fun, and we've seen each other through some of the hardest times we will probably ever have. If you've ever had the pleasure of meeting Ben, you know first hand what a wonderful person he is. It is hard to find someone so funny, quick witted and smart who is also so genuine, selfless and virtuous, with unlimited kindness and loyalty. He is the best friend anyone could ever ask for. I truly could not be who I am today without him. 

Part of me feels like we will always be those silly drunk twenty-three year olds flirting on the streets of Echo Park on a hot Sunday afternoon. And another part of me feels like we have always been who we are now: a team of love, friendship and support working towards personal and shared dreams, rampant happiness and a deeply fulfilling future. 

And eating and drinking very well while we're at it. 
Because we fucking love that shit!
It's important to get with people with similar interests!

The night of our engagement, Ben had reservations at A.O.C., one of the best spots for wine and food in Los Angeles. I hadn't been since they moved locations, and was really excited to be going back. I immediately wanted a Morgon.

Morgon is a cru of Beaujolais, which you probably have realized is one of my favorite wine regions. Morgons are like most Beaujolais wines in that they have a lighter, tarter features but they are aged longer, creating more Burgundy qualities. 

They only had one Morgon on the menu, and I was delighted to see it was a Jean Foillard "Côte du Py". First of all, Foillard is one of the premier French winemakers and one of the organic wine community's greatest crusaders. Secondly, Côte du Py is basically like, the Mount Olympus of Morgon. It's only a hillside, but it produces Morgon's best wines that, as far as I am concerned, are actually made by gods. I mean, they sure as hell taste like it! 

And then to top it all off, it's imported by Kermit Lynch.

IMPORTANT: Anything imported by Kermit Lynch is gold.

The Foillard "Côte du Py" is to die for. Its texture is straight silk, and its palate plump with plum and gritty cherries. Earthy and fuller bodied, this wine tastes like my youthful, fun, everyday-drinking gamay grew up and got engaged.

Quite fitting to say the least. 

Definitely check out this wine, especially with eating. It has a bit more meat on it so it feels more like a dinner wine. And it's extremely food friendly. We had five courses ranging from cheese & charcuterie to pappardelle to Spanish fried chicken, and it worked flawlessly with each dish.

Speaking of Spanish fried chicken, definitely have it at A.O.C. and get lost in their incredible wine list. So many natural and organic gems to explore!