François Saint-Lô "Hey Gro!!"

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François Saint-Lô "Hey Gro!!"
Varietal: Grolleau
Region: Loire, France
Year: 2016
Price: $27
Retailer: Lou Wine Shop
Importer: Terrell Wines

There's only so long one can go before they're back on their bullshit.
Approximately three months if we're talking about me and light red wines.

I've been flirting with méthode Champenoise bubbles, lusting traditional Burgundy, and sneaking around with vintage Barolo. But no matter what transcendent Chardonnay crosses my dinner table or what new wave Merlot that "gets me thinking" is poured, what really gets my thighs tingling is a light-bright, tart-pop red.

But not all light reds are the same. Just because a bottle is natural and under thirteen percent does not make it great, just like ninety-five points or a buck-fifty price tag doesn't make a bottle even enjoyable. 

Same goes for hip-hop. And François Saint-Lô's "Hey Gro" Grolleau drinks like a Chance the Rapper album. Yes, you can party with it-- it's extremely fun and poppy-- but at the same time, it has a real flow, is engaging, and worth musing over. Its acidity pulls off energetic spikes effortlessly and its vibrant red fruit notes ring with raw enthusiasm ("AH! AH! AH! AHHH!"), like an Echo iMessage of the full-grinned emoji in your mouth. It pulls you in with its technique, and holds you with soft roots of spice. It's bold, it's bouncy, it's quick, but it's also rhythmic, smooth, and at times emotional.  

Perhaps that last part is just me.

Some of the recent conversations around natural wine have been disheartening at best. At worst, they have been uninformed, petty, and/or downright fucking crotchety. But when I drink a wine like this, I can taste with every bud on my tongue and feel with every ounce in my being that those people are wrong. Natural wine isn't just poorly made bullshit with "cool" labels, and glou-glou is still great, god damn it.

And if you'd like to try to stop me, I'll be the crazy "Hey Gro!!" fan waiting in the lobby. 

Tasting Notes: Translucent but cloudy, red poppies on the eyes. Goji berries and cranberries tossed with white pepper & allspice on the nose. Light bodied and high acid, the palate is bright and bursting with tart, crunchy cranberries, jellied raspberry seeds, and a lasting air of salty eucalyptus and breathy tannins. There is Brett, but well-integrated. A truly joyous bottle that is easy to drink yet interesting and endlessly delicious. Good open for hours, although I dare you to not drink it all in thirty minutes flat.

Also, revisited a bottle I opened three days ago and had in the fridge corked, and I'm floored that it is still good! The Brett is more pronounced, a little VA, and there is the slightest hint of mouse, but as someone who is super sensitive to mouse, I don't think most people would notice it. I mean, I'm currently having a glass of it, that's how good it still is. Fine. I had two glasses. Who's counting.  

Ross Test: I know pearl clutching usually refers to someone reacting to something scandalous or heinous, but you can also clutch your pearls and rip them off out of pure ecstasy as proven by chugging this wine.  #1 ROSS TEST OF JANUARY 2018 FOR SURE.

saint lo ross test
Posted on January 29, 2018 .

Potek Blanc de Noir + Disgorging

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Potek Blanc de Noir
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Region: Santa Rita Hills, California
Year: 2013
Price: $65
Retailer: Potek direct! 

Full Disclosure: This bottle was gifted to me by Dave Potter of Potek, but not in trade for review or any other pretenses or promises of coverage. Just wanted to tell you guys about it while also telling you about our event at Potek Winery in Santa Barbara. 

The day I met winemaker Dave Potter was the same day I was coming to shoot footage for a pilot presentation with him at his Municipal Wine tasting room in Santa Barbara after another Dave overheard me drunkenly complaining at a Silverlake Wine tasting about how I didn't have a winery to shoot at. And that's the kind of dude Dave Potter is, the kind who is down to let a total stranger come film in his space, put him on camera, and drink all of his wine. This was back in 2014, and he had no reason to be so generous with me. But he was. And always has been-- generous, affable, and a great winemaker. 

This past weekend, Dave once again opened his arms, wines and space to me to celebrate my book at his winery, Potek. Potek is an incredible space, and I really wish I had had a chance to take photos, but thankfully I had quite a few books to sign (fucking sucks when no one shows up to your book signings TRUST, so ❤️ THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CAME OUT ❤️ ). The evening was such a blast. Literally, considering Dave decided that not only should we celebrate with his latest vintage of Potek's sparkling Blanc de Blanc, but that I should also disgorge the bottles myself. 

Disgorging is the technique used to rid sparkling wines of their lees (dead yeast) after they have been riddled (kept basically upside-down for awhile so all aforementioned dead yeast collect in the neck of the bottle). Now, I had never disgorged before. And while I know I seem brave in the sense that I put myself out there a lot, but I am an anxiety ridden scaredy cat about basically everything besides my work. Anything that can physically harm me, I'm pretty much out. Jumping off a top bunk? Nope. Won't do it. Seriously won't do it. 

As you can see, I was very nervous the first time I disgorged. 

But by the second time! I was still a bit nervous. Mostly about my shoes. Who was more nervous though? Obviously that dad in the background clinging to his kid for dear life. 

While I am drinking the Blanc de Noir and not one I disgorged, this wine is delightful. It has the homeyness of a big bowl of toasty cereal topped with fresh fruit, but also a great pop of acidity and the salt of the central coast's teal blue ocean. Its minerality makes it great for hanging out and day-drinking, maybe also popping open some oysters, but its well-integrated oak also makes me want to serve it with dinner. 

I'm so happy I was able to make it up to Santa Barbara. The 101 was still closed this past weekend, and it was insane getting there. But now that the 101 is back open and SB is only two hours away rather than four & a half, I can't wait to spend more time there hanging out at Potek. Seriously it's a dope spot with a brewery and a BBQ spot all in the same zone. There's also a cool furniture store I didn't allow myself to go into because I get drunk and love buying shit. ALSO, WINE. LOTS OF WINE. 

Tasting Notes: A pretty pale dandelion on the eyes. The nose is sweet, toasted corn flakes topped with peaches, nectarines, with sliced strawberries, a drizzle of honey, and a dash of salt. The palate is tart peaches with lemon zest and a briny sea breeze blowing white sand through palm fronds. 

Ross Test: Delicious! Just don't forget to get through half the bottle first so it doesn't explode out your nose. 

Posted on January 24, 2018 .

Lucy Margaux "Wildman Blanc"

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Lucy Margaux Wildman Blanc
Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Adelaide Hills, Australia
Year: 2016
Price: ~$35 (Sorry I was buzzed when I bought it & can't find the receipt)
Retailer: Ordinaire
Distributor: T. Edward

 

My father-in-law is quite a character, the kind of guy who is usually addressed as The Danimal and starts most of his stories with, "Well, we were on quaaludes..." This past weekend, he was telling me about this time he and his buddy were waterskiing when they decided to drop their trunks and proceed to drop into a bay that was home to an upscale resort. They literally blew by, waving at stunned onlookers on the shore. The cops eventually came, looking for a green boat and two nude dudes, but with their shorts safely on, they denied any involvement with the heathens. 

If there was ever a wine to pair with such beachy debauchery, it would be the Lucy Margaux Wildman Blanc. Unlike the grassy, green Sauv-Blancs from down under, this bottle is rip-roaringly fruity, fun, and fucking delicious. 

The Wildman Blanc smells like you just won a Hawaiian vacation on K-Earth 101. (They don't call it the Hawaiian Vacation Station for nothing.) Stunningly tropical, you are whisked off to an island paradise as soon as your nose dips into the glass. Passionfruit, deep papaya, pineapple, mango, those little Cuties, yeah, they're all there. In their bikinis. Covered in tanning oil. Piña Coladas in hand. Being like, COME! COME WATERSKI WITH US! NAKED!

It doesn't taste much different. In fact, it tastes exactly like it smells, but add bitter grapefruit pith. And the fact that your clothes are already off, a refreshing acidity breezing through your buttcheeks as you ride along the salty waves with a minerality that jabs at you like seashells along the ocean floor. Part of you is like, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON I'M WATERSKIING NAKED WITH A FRUIT BASKET COME TO LIFE. And the other part of you is like, LET'S DO IT AGAIN!

It's wild, man. But in the best way possible, because while it's completely different than any other Sauvignon Blanc I've ever had, it's still extremely accessible. In fact, it's quite possibly one of the most accessible natural white wines I've had. Its fruit-forwardness will please even the most timid drinkers while the complexity of all that fruit will intrigue even the most heady wine nerds. 

Tasting Notes: Peachy keen and cloudy on the eyes. Again, the bouquet is very tropical and citric with hints of coconut suntan lotion, and same with the palate, but pithy and salty. It's one of those wines that is so delicious it makes you forget alcohol is involved. Extremely juicy and pure, yet dry and textured, this is is a must-drink wine. It does take on reductive notes the longer its open, but still drinks very well even the next day. Sans soufre AND very stable? A WINNER in my book. 

Ross Test: HEAVENLY. ALTHOUGH FAIR WARNING, IT WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO TAKE YOUR SHIRT OFF.

Lasagna Bolognese & Lamoresca Mascalesi

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Ah, Lasagna, or as I like to call it, "Sweatpants for your insides."

Frankly, the lasagna and the wine didn't pair very well together and I knew it wasn't going to, but frankly my dears, I GAVE NO DAMNS. Because when you want to drink Lamoresca, you drink Lamoresca, because nothing else will do.

Their Mascalesi is one of my favorites. This blend of Nerello Mascalese and Frappato is like drinking a bright sweater woven with 50/50 cranberry wool & black cherry cotton that was tossed in the dryer with Bounce sheets made of pressed red roses, pepper & thyme. Volcanic and grippy, yet light enough to drink leisurely, this is hands down one of the best wines to curl up with on a cold evening.

And while this warm & fuzzy sweater didn't quite match the sweet tomato bolognese sweatpants, it's still an ensemble I'd gladly wear every night around the house.

2017.

I owe you a post about this year (it was a big one!), and am going to write it as soon as I can. I was planning on writing it over the holiday break but then I got sick and had house guests the whole time and was still sick and then never finished articles I have due so I have to do that first.

Anyway, know I love you, and can't wait to wax poetically about it very soon. xoxo

marissa a. ross wine fridge
Posted on January 1, 2018 .

Wine. All The Time. Bookplates for the holidays!

Planning on gifting Wine. All The Time. The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking this holiday season? I think that is a great idea too! Such a great idea in fact, that if you send proof of purchase, along with your name, your friend's name, and your best shipping address to WineAllTheTimeTheBook@Gmail.com, I will send BOTH OF YOU personalized bookplates! One for your dog-eared copy, and one for your lucky bud's brand new copy. 

Also, if this "friend" you're purchasing the book for happens to just be you, that's totally chill, I think it's important to be our own best friends. Also if you're like, "I'm actually gifting it to many friends and will need multiple bookplates," that is also very chill. 

I will be accepting submissions up until 12/31/2017. It makes a good New Year's Resolution gift too! 

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Happy holidays and lots of cheers!
xoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

PS. Thank you to Ted of Monster Rally for allowing me to use his music in my videos for the last five years. If you don't already listen to Monster Rally, I don't know what you're doing with yourself. It's the best. 

PPS. I've been getting a lot of people requesting I start posting my Instastories on YouTube. Well, here is the first one, that documents how great shooting this video went.

Posted on December 13, 2017 .

Ruth Lewandowski "Dinos to Diamonds"

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Ruth Lewandowski "Dinos to Diamonds"
Varietal: Riesling
Region: Cole Ranch, California
Year: 2016
Price: ~$26
Distributor: Sylvester/Rovine

Full Disclosure: This bottle was sent to me as a gift from Evan Lewandowski. It was not in trade for a review, nor were there any other pretenses or promises of coverage. I just opened and loved it and now here we are, as we are with all wines posted. 

It was 2014, and I was a bit drunk at a tasting at Silverlake Wine, when a bottle of Ruth Lewandowski's "Boaz" Carignan started making the rounds. The wine was incredible, but what struck me the most was that it was made by some dude in Utah. I didn't actually meet that dude, Evan Lewandowski, or taste through his entire portfolio until this past March, but he has quickly become one of my favorite domestic winemakers. 

"Dinos to Diamonds" was only an adorable Instagram mirage as far as I knew, as fleeting as everything else enviable on my feed. Until it showed up on my doorstep. The story behind this wine is just as endearing as its label, but it's also so much more: 

Way back in the day, in my 11 year old brain, it was perfectly reasonable and logical to hold the belief that diamonds were made of dinosaurs. Diamonds were simply former lumps of coal, compressed under mind boggling amounts of pressure while being subjected to a similarly unimaginable amount of heat for a bazillion years. This very same coal was merely ancient remains of animal and plant life, and I preferred to think that it was mainly comprised of extinct dinosaurs. “They’re called fossil fuels for a reason,” I figured, “and most of the fossils in the books at school are dinosaur bones.” Petroleum products from companies like Sinclair only confirmed my hypothesis. Being the sensitive kid that I was, I found the extinction of dinosaurs a bit disheartening. Ever the hopelessly optimistic child, however, I could still find solace in the fact that all these years later, something beautiful has come from such a horrendous situation. They may have gone extinct, but something incredible exists today despite the horror. Get it? Dinos to Diamonds. Its the same old story I’ve been hammering home from the beginning. Even in death, there will be beauty, there will be life. There will be light.

Dinos to Diamonds is a wine that will, in essence, “go extinct” each year, a complete one-off and an excuse for me to experiment with whatever may come my way each vintage. Despite the demise of each version, a great deal of life will spring forth because of its existence. All profits from this wine every year will go to charity. The organizations upon which we will focus will be ones that exist to give hope to the hopeless, to support and uplift individuals walking in darker days to help show them that there will be light. So, in the wake of the devastating wildfires that took so much from so many last month, I’ve chosen to donate 100% of the proceeds of this, the first iteration of Dinos to Diamonds, to wildfire relief efforts. More specifically, to an organization known as Undocufund.
— Evan Lewandowski

I didn't know any of that when I opened this bottle and decided to write about it, so I have to be honest and say it was for selfish reasons: Because I fucking loved it, and it's rare for me to fucking love white wine. 

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A single sip struck me like the brightest, shoulder-season sunshine beaming in through the windshield like the morning miles of a highly anticipated road trip. It's the first day of vacation, optimistic and excited, venturing into the treasured frontiers of America without any traffic or Burger Kings, because this is my god damned fantasy and you best believe it's taking place in a time when Perry Como would sing things like, "From Atlantic to Pacific, gee, the traffic is terrific." 

Ahem. Anyway, as I was saying, "Dinos to Diamonds"...

It's like rolling down the windows and fresh wind rushing by your face. Everything is on the tip of your nose-- you can smell everything you're driving towards, and you can feel it. Desert roads, forest breezes. It's jazzy, but it's easy and cheery, like Lawrence Welk coming on shuffle. It's like breaking fresh citrus in half in your hands, and biting into a pear that's gotten warm in the passenger seat pocket, and licking the juice as it drips off your salty hands. 

And like all days that start bright, "Dinos to Diamonds" inevitably melts into a golden, liquid sunset of more pears and spiced tropical fruits. It's a very certain comfort, a warmth that comes from knowing you're close to your destination. It's a full experience, and an earnest, beautiful, and well balanced one at that. 

It's the shit postcards are made of. 

Aside from its complexity and incredible balance, I am also so impressed by how clean "Dinos to Diamonds" is. Zero flaws at bottle opening, and after being corked and refrigerated for two days, only saw the slightest oxidation, which did not affect the taste of the wine negatively at all. It just made those pear and papaya notes a little deeper and a little nuttier, and I have no complaints. This is a wine you could serve to anyone, and they would have a hard time finding a reason not to drink the whole bottle.

And then plan a road trip to Utah to drink even more of it. 

Tasting Notes: 1960's dandelion yellow in color. Smells like fresh guava with dewy leaves still clinging to its branches, pear, pine, and a splash of margarita mix. Tastes like a juiced mix of lemons, pineapple, grapefruit pith, spiced papaya, sea salt, and pine needles cascading down the limestone terraces of Yellowstone's Mammoth Hot Springs. Squeaky clean with shining acidity, a waxy texture and a long finish that keeps you thirsty for more. 

Ross Test: Like chugging passion fruit lemonade from a cold limestone goblet. GAHHH!!! 😍😍😍

marissa a. ross dinos to diamonds

Cruse Wine Co. Valdiguié

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Cruse Wine Co. Valdiguié
Region: Napa, California
Vineyard: Rancho Chimiles
Year: 2016
Price: ~$30
Distributor: Amy Atwood Selections

Full disclosure: I received this bottle as a gift from Amy Atwood. Not that it mattered since I still managed to spend a couple hundred dollars on Cruse's latest allocation, as one does. 

There are two types of wine that don't make it to the site for review: Wines I don't like enough, and wines I like too much. It's safe to say the latter is why Michael Cruse's wines have been all over my Instagram, yet I've never written about here. Which is weird-- or perhaps not weird at all-- considering how much I love Cruse and his wines.

It was seventy-eight here in Los Angeles today. I (begrudgingly) had to go to the mall, and there wasn't a line outside the Apple store as I was expecting, but there was a line outside Santa's Workshop that wrapped around a Christmas tree twice the size of the duplexes on my street. I couldn't have felt less holidayish, or even close to winterish, sweating in a breezy linen button-up. 

I came home and opened Cruse's latest Valdiguié. As soon as it hit my lips, I was immediately transported somewhere else; somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you know when it's not a holiday but it still feels festive. Somewhere stress-free with no Secret Santa stealing gift exchange shit, somewhere just purely relaxing. Somewhere where there's winter and people my age can afford homes with fireplaces and listen to jazz and wear cashmere and you're extremely comfortable, both physically and like, ~spiritually~.

The Valdiguié is cozy but energetic, like a cold night spent warm inside with good friends. It's so toasty with ripe red fruit and well-integrated French oak that you want to curl up in it. It makes you want to wear layers and offer a guest your favorite throw blanket. But it also has a rippling acidity that rings of clinking glasses over conversation and laughter and flipping records. Imagine if you dunked your soul into a pot of mulled cranberry wine, and then had the best one-liner of your god damn life that everyone actually heard, and loved. That's what this wine tastes like. Like being completely at home, and being so alive. 

Tasting Notes: Stunning raspberry garnet in color. Smells like smashed cherries & raspberries in a thin pie crust made of sand, lightly dusted with fresh ground pepper, and garnished with spearmint. Tastes like crushed cranberries in a steel bowl with clove, zested orange peel, a dash of salt and a pinch of dirt. Serve slightly chilled and allow to warm to room.

Ross Test: Punchy, savory, fuzzy, YUMMMYYY. 

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Posted on November 20, 2017 .

VIETNAFEAST

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Celebrated Antoin's mother last night, starting with Catherine et Pierre Breton “La Dilattante” Vouvray Brut (always a classic), and Com Thit Nuong & shrimp paired with the Peillot Altesse, as suggested by Lou. Cut “like an express lane” through the spice; green apple & honeydew on a limestone slab with shavings of pear & a liiiiitttllle pecorino.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana & Collecapretta “La Cese” Sangiovese

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Bucatini all’Amatriciana & Collecapretta “La Cese” Sangiovese is the closest you can get to having sex while eating dinner in sweatpants. Bucatini all’Amatriciana is an especially spicy dish in this household, but the “Le Cese” tempered the heat while flattering the tomatoes, and is overall an herbal, ripe cherry chutney with dusty gravel & liquid pheromones. An absolutely perfect pairing. 

Posted on November 20, 2017 .