Lilian & Sophie Bauchet "Californie"

californie wine lilian sophie bauchet marissa a ross

Lilian & Sophie Bauchet "Californie"
Varietal: Gamay
Region: Fleurie, Beaujolais, France
Year: 2013
Price: $24
Retailer: Lou Wine Shop
Importer: Percy Selections

When I saw this bottle on Percy Selections' Instagram a couple months before it was available retail, I knew I had to have it. A small-production Fleurie cuvée from Lilian & Sophie had to be mine. And to be called "Californie" of all things. I almost went back to nail-biting I was so anxious for this wine. Because like the lofty daydreamer that I am, I was already convinced this was my wine. A BEAUJOLAIS CALLED "CALIFORNIE"?! HOW COULD IT NOT BE MINE!!!

I don't recommend this type of thinking to anyone. It's unhealthy, arrogant, and nearly all disappointments in life come from having any expectations at all, let alone the expectation that a wine you haven't tried can somehow represent your entire being. It's fucking stupid, and I know it. And what may be stupider is that, I needed to think that way. 

The last four months have been some of the hardest of my life. If selling the book was hard, finishing the manuscript was like dragging myself through hell with two corkscrews for hands. I isolated myself, working twelve to sixteen hours a day, and had never felt more alone. I had this incredibly huge project on my hands-- a fucking book, being written by a college dropout who never has done a long term project in her life-- plus the big California piece for Bon Appétit and that whole full-time writing job, wedding planning, family emergencies, realizing that many of my friends really aren't. It's been a fucking lot, without any time for anything else. Not even time to write here, which is not only my passion, but also my escape. 

So, yes, I had put a lot of feelings into a bottle of wine. Stupid, for sure. But I needed something to look forward to. I needed to know that after the manuscript was in, I was going to be able to sit down with a wine and love it, and feel loved. To remember why I do what I do, and how all this happened. Because I love wine. 

AND I FUCKING LOVE THIS WINE.

The "Californie" tastes like one of those idyllic days that slowly transitions into a magical evening, one of those Saturdays that feel like its never going to end but you know it will eventually, so you do your best to drink up every last minute of it so you will remember it forever. It's bright, gluggy and a bit salty, like a long afternoon full of laughing. You know when everyone is laughing so hard but no one even remembers what they're laughing about anymore? And your laugh goes totally silent as the tears pour down your face? That's what it tastes like. Like you're catching your own laughing tears on your lips and washing it down with some cranberry lemonade. But there is a warmth and a softness to it. It's slightly spiced, and it is enticing. It's your lover's sweatered shoulder you could bury your face into until the end of time, under the stars you just now realized were out and shining. 

I love this wine so much because it reminds me of well, love. And I don't necessarily mean "love" like significant other status. "Love" isn't always this heavy serious thing between two people. Often it is just having fun, with people who make you feel good, and remind you that you are alive, and you're all alive together. It's an all-encompassing energy; it's laughing and hugging and dancing and singing and sweating and swearing and eating and drinking and kissing and talking. It's welcoming, it's exciting, and it's comforting, all at once. 

And that energy is what this wine tastes like. Real love, baby. 

marissa a. ross californie ross test

Tasting Notes: Tart, poppy and saline cranberries and red currant, with hints of spiced vanilla and dusty sun-dried bougainvilleas, with a lemonade finish. I drank a whole case of this wine; suffice to say it tastes fucking great. 

Ross Test: PASS, IN FACT SOMEONE PASS ME BACK THE BOTTLE PLEASE

So Much To Say About Bon Appétit

From the September issue, at check-outs next to the Jenners now. Photo by Sunny Shokrae

From the September issue, at check-outs next to the Jenners now. Photo by Sunny Shokrae

The last two months have been HUGE for me at Bon Appétit. August's print issue featured my four page piece on California wines, a piece that was insanely close to my heart and also the first time BA has given wine a four page feature to wine! Hopefully you got to check it out. If not, well, here's a podcast from last week with us discussing it. 

We don't do much prep before these podcasts, and I thought this was just going to be a quick ten minute thing we tagged onto the back of another podcast. To have BA not only dedicate four pages to California wine, and then dedicate a whole podcast to me (anxiously) talking about them, was such a dream. It took everything out of me not burst into tears or confetti or both when Adam asked if he could read the intro to the piece. I respect and admire Adam so much, for fistfuls of reasons, and to be able to write this and have him enjoy it, meant so much. 

AND THEN! I got a full fucking page in the September Issue! I couldn't be more proud of my men's cut-off Levi's shorts I made for myself seven years ago and worn everyday since to be considered a fashion statement. Juuust kidding. Although I can't believe little old me got a full page in the stunning Restaurant issue. The piece is a really fun one about just drinking and not worrying, and I feel is my big, official introduction to the Bon Appétit audience. Hope you check it out. 

And, on the web, as always:

4 Outdated Wine Rules You Never Have To Follow Again

7 Common Mistakes When Ordering Wine

5 Questions to Ask When You’re Buying Wine (And Know Nothing About Wine)

Chardonnay, the Most Misunderstood White Wine

Meet the Winemakers Behind California’s (Finally!) Cool Wines

Posted on August 29, 2016 .

MAR x Crow Canyon Enamelware

Marissa A. Ross Crow Canyon Wine Cup

I'm pleased to announce my collaboration with Crow Canyon! 

Last September, Crow Canyon was like, "Yo, would you be interested in doing a collaboration?" and I said, "HELL YES!" because obviously I aspire to be a Martha-Stewart-ass-bitch one day and nothing says Martha-Stewart-ass-bitch like my own collection of enamelware. 

Inspired by my grandmother's vintage Pyrex and illustrations from my collection of 1950's Better Homes & Gardens and Sunset Magazines, these limited edition wine tumblers mean a lot to me. Designed by hand with help from my love and in-house designer, Benjamin Blascoe, the scene embodies the rotating circle of wine in my life, from pouring bottles to breaking glasses. Upon closer inspection, you'll find that there are bottles from my dogs Zissou and Kaw-Liga, as well one commemorating the year Ben and I met, my Grandma & Papa who lived in Malibu, and my mother-in-law, Marcia, who loved Chianti and kiss marks. We tried to get our cat in there, but he declined based on his drawing looking too much like Kaw's and said he prefers bourbon anyway.

Marissa A. Ross Crow Canyon

Fun and unbreakable (thank god), these sturdy wine tumblers are great for poolsides, campgrounds, backyards, and bedside tables. They're 10oz, which is twice the size of a shitty standard pour, and just right for a generous Ross sized pour, and come with either a Burgundy or Champagne rim. Porcelain with a steel core helps keep wine (or water, because let's be real, you gotta hydrate in order to drink as much as I do) cool, and just like other wine glasses, hand-washing is encouraged. 

I hope you love them as much as I do! They're available for $9 each from the retailers below!

Posted on July 25, 2016 .

On Bon Appétit: A LOT

Scholium Project "La Severita di Bruto"

scholium project la serverita

Scholium Project "La Severita di Bruto"
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Sonoma, California
Year: 2012
Price: ~ $55 (A gift from Dana Gaiser, so not entirely sure)

Quite the day when you become the kind of person who can justify opening a rare wine on a random afternoon. I mean it's my job, but even now it feels foreign to me; like I'm still a broke 24 year old who can only afford overpriced $4 wine at the King Liquor Jr. and drinks the leftovers from stale glasses the following afternoon. But I'm not! And thank fucking god.

For those of you who have been here for awhile, you may remember that California Sauvignon Blanc is what made me take back publicly saying I hated white wine. I even had a cool catch phrase from a video review of Sauv-Blanc from my Wine Time webseries for Hello Giggles (which they have regrettably taken off the internet): "SAUVIGNON-BLANC, YA'ALL!"

That sounds like a stupid catch phrase now that I've written it down but believe me, in the video, it was said with such enthusiasm that for a long time, strangers would regularly say it to me and I ate that shit up.  

In the years that followed, I fell out of love with California Sauvignon Blanc. It had become fruitier-- even leaning sweet-- and was not the tightly wound rubber band ball of lemon and green apple that had made me reevaluate my relationship with white wine. California Sauvignon Blanc had gone soft, and as someone that only goes hard, I had lost my interest in it. But like most California wines that had once been written off, Sauvignon Blanc is back, and with a vengeance. Massican got me back on the train (a fucking delightful bottle I gobble up without even having the will power to take notes), and now here we are with this Scholium Project gem.

The Scholium Project, in general, is fucking badass and you should drink up all of Abe Schoener's curious and captivating creations. Which is truly what they are, creations. Or perhaps more accurately, concoctions. Small batch, experimental and totally offbeat, drinking his wines feel like you've just discovered a new band that you simultaneously can't wait to show your friends but also want to keep to yourself because you, like me, are a selfish asshole who has proprietary delusions over shit you have no actual ownership of. 

"La Severita" is first and foremost an extraordinary example of what California Sauvignon Blanc can be. It has all the quintessential Sauv-Blanc shit in there-- the citrus, the greenery, the subtle air of cat piss-- but within that well-structured frame, you find a kaleidoscope of beguiling and slightly bizarre nuances. It's nutty, it's basil-y, it's like taking a couple smooth rocks from the Malibu mountains, dusted with sea salt, and rolling them around in your palm. And hints of not one, but two succulents-- aloe, and Cactus Cooler, the ultimate orange pineapple blast

This wine makes me want to take of a case of it out to Joshua Tree and just stay there for as long as humanly possible while listening to the Talking Heads' "Road To Nowhere" on repeat. Just stay there forever. This could very much be my own personal and recent battle against nihilism taking hold, but fuck man. I just want to drink delicious wine and not give fuck about anything except living, and indulging in the nuances. In all those things that are so subtle we miss them in the day to day because we are too busy trying to get somewhere and going nowhere.

The nuances are what makes us. And yet, how often do we sit with them?

"La Severita" is a lesson in appreciating, and accepting, the nuances. And a good enough reason not to run away to find your own, because no one sells Scholium Project in gas stations in 29 Palms. And baby, it's alright. 

Tasting Notes: Green and golden on the eyes, and maple-y oxidation that comes across like lemon strawberry pancakes on the nose. On the palate, it's bright, medium-bodied, citrusy and nutty. It's surprising, and gripping, and a wonderful wine for those who love to ponder upon bottles. It's a dusty afternoon under the sun, with your thoughts, in a glass.

Ross Test: Pass with flying colors. But may I take the test again anyway, professor? 

marissa a. ross scholium project

Christine et Gilles Paris Morgon Douby

Christine et Gilles Paris Morgon Douby marissa ross

Christine et Gilles Paris Morgon Douby
Varietal: Gamay
Region: Morgon, Beaujolais
Year: 2014
Price: ~ $24

I started writing about this wine for a quick review on Instagram, and lost my shit a little. I hate that I have been able to drink so many beautiful wines I love so much over the last year, and yet I have not had time to legitimately write about them. It's hard because as much as I enjoy writing about wine in general, what I truly love is writing about wines that inspire me. This blog started as writing about every wine I drank, but it became more about writing about wines that made me feel like I needed to write about them.

And while every wine I spend any time on is because I feel like I need to, this wine, this wine made me feel like I was going to die if I didn't actually write about it. Not a fucking Instagram post. Because I'm not here because I was writing fucking Instagram posts. I'm here because there is something to wine that is so much bigger than me, or my silly emotions, allusions or similes. I'm not here because of writing 7 Wines To [Verb] [Pronoun] [Adjective] [Season] or explain Charmat Method in a charming way for my book, which is what I should be doing. I'm here because I cannot not tell someone-- anyone!-- about this wine.

Even if I hadn't started drinking this as the sun started to set, it would have reminded me of "Waterloo Sunset"♫ ... But Ben & Marissa cross over the river where they feel safe and sound. And they don't need no friends, as long as they gaze on Morgon Sunsets, they are in paradise. ♫ 

Not quite what the Kinks said, but the sentiment remains. The Christine et Gilles Paris Morgon Douby tastes like big chewy Sweettarts, ocean foam & young summer love, and is relaxing as an actual joint. I want to curl up with this bottle and my favorite records on crisp, green, post-war, suburban grass in a bikini, smelling like Coppertone and Hawaiian Tropic. There is an easiness about it that tastes like cranberry-soaked privilege wrapped up in the security of a balmy summer night and your whole life ahead of you. 

It's so fucking youthful and fresh that you wouldn't be able to even appreciate this shit if you were youthful and fresh. It takes the wisdom and complexity that you can taste on the mid and back palate-- that same wisdom and complexity you have as an adult-- to appreciate it. 

Because cannonballing into pools with my sister was always my favorite, and aimless sunset walks down Euclid Ave. with Sager in our cut-offs were always fun, and I always knew urban hiking through Echo Park with Tecates and Ben were the only butterflies I wanted for the rest of my life. And although I knew these memories were always going to be the best, you still don't really comprehend it in the moment. 

This wine tastes like the moment a favorite memory washes over you. 

You have no choice but to be swept away.

AS WE HAVE SEEN HERE TODAY.

Tasting Notes: Smells like Raspberry Banana smoothies made of sparklers. Crisp and tart with cranberry, red currant, a touch of radish and awesome minerality, but is so so smooth. Also has nice tannic structure, which is a thing I just said aloud and hated myself for BUT IS STILL TRUE. 

Ross Test: AMAZING, but I couldn't with good conscience do more that a couple swigs because this is so much better to share. 

Solminer Linus Rosé

marissa a ross rosé ross test

Solminer Linus Rosé
Varietal: Syrah
Region: Santa Ynez, California
Year: 2015
Price: $24
Retailer: Direct from winery (online shopping rules)

I wrote this whole thing explaining that despite spending most of my life being referred to as "little bro" and saying everything is "fucking tight", I'm a sophisticated lady who listens to Music For A Sophisticated Lady. And then Neil, who gave me the fucking record, walked in and was like, "You are definitely not a sophisticated lady." 

And I mean, I'm not.
Not in the classical sense.
Or really any sense.

But I am modern and knowledgable, which are both synonyms of "sophisticated", so if the only thing keeping me from being "sophisticated" is that I primarily wear basketball shorts and no make up while chugging wine and cussing too much, then I am fine not being sophisticated or a lady. But it did ruin the lede of this piece. Although that was a waste of my time, it actually worked out because I didn't realize that this rosé was named after the winemakers' son, and it's probably for the best I didn't go comparing it to any sophisticated or unsophisticated ladies. 

BUT THE BLOG MUST GO ON. With or without a cohesive through-line. 

solminer rosé marissa a ross wine

The Solminer rosé is a gorgeous deep coral; a color I love to wear but something I would normally see in a bottle of wine and actively avoid due to the sweetness such a color usually indicates. But the Linus is tart and dry with electric strawberry, and reminds me of this Glass Animals song. It's upbeat with an accelerated acidity that bursts through the palate and long into the finish. With its sharp, sour red fruits, it is very refreshing, and begs to be gulped. It drinks young, but you can taste how much technique and talent went into it. It's one of those bottles that you hate to drink so quickly because you know it's special, but you just can't help it. 

This is rosé at its best. As plush as Provence, and as crisp as California.

Tasting Notes: Neon strawberry and orange zest with like, a kazoo bursting with acidity, and mouthfeel like your favorite well-fitted viscose t-shirt. 

Ross Test: I drank a fourth of the bottle. So. YES.

Posted on June 14, 2016 .

Thinking of You ♥

Just wanted to check in, and apologize for not updating very much of late. With the amount of writing I'm doing for Bon Appétit and the book, it's been hard. I, of course, couldn't be happier with things, and am so grateful for these incredible opportunities. But shit is hard. Writing a book and writing for a magazine are two very different skills. It's easy to write here about wines I love and do whatever the fuck I want, but a totally other thing to write 75 words on Valdiguié while being funny while not cussing or making sex jokes, or write a whole chapter on tasting that isn't just me being like, "DO YOU BABE!"

I've been beating myself up about it quite a bit. I want to be this funny wine writer that everyone believes I am, that I know I am, but it's not that simple. It's hard for me to churn out articles, to write one-liners on Zinfandel and technical but fun chapters on regions. And I hate that. I hate that it's hard when what got me to this point was how easy and fun it was for me to write about wine.

But nothing worth having has ever been easy. I've only been doing all this for a year. And it took me five years to get to that point. And maybe it will take me another five years to get really good at all this, but I'm going to do it. I'm doing it. 

I'm not one for inspirational quotes, but I heard one recently I had to pin up in my office. It's been helping me a lot with all these ~feelings~ and I hope it helps you too. It's a nice reminder to just keep going when all you want to do is smoke bongs, eat pizza and watch Gossip Girl in your sweatpants, and maybe cry. 

excellence is a habit

Excellence is a habit, just like stuntin'

PUT IT IN THE AIIIRRR.

Cheers to you, and your own pursuit of excellence.

Posted on June 8, 2016 .