Franco Terpin "Quinto Quarto"

Terpin Quinto Quarto Pinot Grigio Marissa Ross

Franco Terpin "Quinto Quarto" 
Varietal: Pinot Grigio
Region: Delle Venezie, Italy
Year: 2015
Price: $23.75
Retailer: Domaine LA 
(Thanks for picking it out for me, Courtney Walsh!)
Importer: Critical Mass Selections

Californians complaining about the weather has to be one of the most obnoxious things about us to other Americans. But I'm going to do it anyway. It's been fucking hot for a really fucking long time, and I'm going a little nuts. Even though today was supposed to be 71, it's still too hot to wear a big fuzzy sweater and it's too sunny to even pretend it's anything but perpetual summer; something I naively wished for in my youth so, sorry guys. This is my fault. 

As much as I love light bodied wines, come "fall", I long for big bodied wines that make me feel like my insides are wearing wool pull-overs while being serenaded by Tom Waits' crunchy leaf-ed voice. I want to curl up in everything, transcend into hibernation, and cross my fingers to awake in four to six months a brand new bear.

That isn't happening.

I'm bra-less in a paper thin shirt and light sweatpants and feel like I need to turn the AC on. So, it's depressingly not anything near hibernation is what I'm saying. 

But Terpin's "Quinto Quarto" is comforting me in the best way possible. Chill on the outside but warm on the inside, this skin-contact Pinot Grigio is refreshing to my lips but sweater weather to my gut. It has immediately transported me to some waspy-exotic east coast dreamtown with weather-worn brick buildings, cool breezes, and piles of leaves that children dressed better than I ever have spend their afternoons jumping into. There's also golden retrievers. Because. 

Usually Italian wines take me back to Italy, especially Veneto wines, but not this one. This one gives me houndstooth and hounds and Stars Hollow. Part of me wants to say, "It's because that's what I want." Maybe that's true, but also I drink plenty of wines all year that don't necessarily transport me to Gilmore Girls, a show I have only seen eight episodes of. 

It's crisp but cozy, orange and fuzzy. It's a fall wine, and I think it will take you where ever you close your eyes and imagine J.Crew photoshoots of camel colored trench coats taking place. 

This is one of those thinking wines, that you can ruminate on but can also ruin if you think too hard. The bouquet is off-putting if I give it more than a genuine sniff before diving into drinking, and honestly, I think it needs to be enjoyed alongside a meal. It has me craving some sort of light pasta dish, or some roasted tomatoes slathered onto some focaccia. Alone it is a little dense and overwhelming, but alas, all I have is sharp cheddar cheese, and despite its savory charcuterie aromas, I can tell you from experience that it does not pair well with sharp cheddar cheese. 

But it does pair well with daydreaming of cinematic seasons, and that is most important for today.

Tasting Notes: It smells like sweaty prosciutto and soppressata, with warm orange pith and tangelo zest. Medium-light body, with a satin texture. Tastes like almost-over-ripe ruby grapefruits, stalky green herbs and hints of malty beer.

Ross Test: Do-able, but bitter. Better in a glass.

Domaine des Sablonnettes' "Les Copains d’Abord"

Domaine des Sablonnettes

Domaine des Sablonnettes' "Les Copains d’Abord"
Varietal: Grolleau
Region: Loire Valley, France
Year: 2015
Price: ~$20 (Can't find my receipt, but definitely under $25) 
Retailer: Lou Wine Shop
Importer: Jenny & François Selections

 

Two years ago, I did a thirty-minute one woman comedy show called "From Franzia to Cab Franc: The Evolution of My Drinking". I went through tasting notes from the worst wines of my "college" years to the wines I drink now, sharing them with the audience. Domaine des Sablonnettes' "Le Bon Petit Diable" Cab Franc was the Cab Franc, so to say that Sablonnettes has a special place in my heart is an understatement. 

I was recently at a Gamay tasting where one of the hosts referred to Gamay as the Rodney Dangerfield of wines because it "can't get no respect". But I think a more accurate grape for that title would be Grolleau. Grolleau is a native grape to the Loire Valley and seriously, it gets no respect. Grolleau as a red wine is not AOC approved, and most of Grolleau is being eradicated by new Gamay and Cab Franc plantings. Grolleau is a light and acidic red wine, not unlike Gamay in body and chuggability, and is one of the grapes that often gets me deemed as a "hipster" amongst sommeliers who are talking about the likes of Egon Muller-Scharzhof Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese before asking me what I've been drinking lately, only to roll their eyes when I say, "I had a really nice Grolleau last week!"

Grolleau is only AOC approved to be used in rosé. 
And you know what I have to say about that?

LET GROLLEAU LIVE ITS GOD DAMN LIFE!

I want to take Grolleau aside like a young girl, grab her shoulders and tell her that she doesn't have to be a rosé just because some old French men say she has to. Grolleau has so much potential, and can be anything she wants to be-- a red wine or even president! Because lord knows Grolleau is a better presidential candidate than the old bag of Cheetos the GOP dumped on the debate stage on Monday. 

Politics aside, Domaine des Sablonnettes' full-blown, red, Grolleau is delightful. It tastes like a bouquet of dried roses was dipped into macerated plums. Mineral-driven over fruit-driven, it is fresh, lively and quick on its feet. Yes, it is thin and acidic, the two characteristics the red rendition of Grolleau is most criticized for, but I dig it! It's disco wine; high energy, funky, and addictive. Easier to drink than water and keeps you coming back, and back, and back... And you don't even need to eat with it! This is the kind of wine you want to take to the dance party, and feel fine drinking it out of a Solo cup (because you have to, and not because anyone thinks Solo cups are the best for wine drinking, because they are absolutely the worst, aside from when they are the only option and you're about to bust some serious moves to "Brick House" that will have you feeling your age you didn't even know was old in the morning). 

Funkytown? Nah. The destination is Grolleautown. 

Tasting Notes: Light, acidic and quaffable. Thin, but clean, structured and smooth. Plums and black cherries, gravel and dusty, dried roses.

Ross Test: Let's just say I Ross Tested three-fourths of a bottle for a photoshoot I ended up not being able to use and cried and ate a cheeseburger and don't regret any of it. 

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 .