Posts tagged #california

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 .

Ruth Lewandowski "Dinos to Diamonds"

lewandowksi dinos marissa a ross

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. 

dinos to diamonds

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. 

cruse valdiguie ross test
Posted on November 20, 2017 .

Vin de California "Sans" Zinfandel

vin de california marissa a. ross
Full disclosure, this is Adam Vourvoulis' wine and he is a good friend. But I am not writing this because of that. I'm writing it because I tried Adam's wine at a tasting a few weeks ago, and felt compelled to tell you about it.

Vin de California "Sans" Zinfandel
Region: Arroyo Grande, California
Year: 2016
Price: $23
Retailer: COMING SOON

I have a boss. You may know him. His name is Adam Rapoport, otherwise known as Rapo. Or as I like to call him, Rapo Dad, because I always need his approval, from pitches to projects to personally just wanting him to like me and my work because he's Adam Fucking Rapoport.

A few days ago while discussing an upcoming trip the BA team is taking out to the best coast, I was saying we needed to drink wine and he agreed with the caveat, "But we're not gonna be sitting around on your sofa with our socks sipping chard and zin..." to which I exclaimed a big "PFFFFFT!!!" [hair toss]

And now here I am, with a brand new pair of knitted socks I bought at the army surplus store after a pet-nat rosé fueled brunch and whaddddaaayyyaaaknooowww, A ZINFANDEL. Dads, man. Sometimes they do know best. 

The last few years have seen an increase in usage of "juice." In the wine world, this is a noun synonymous with "wine," and used for casual conversation, describing a wine that is super gluggy, or just being a cool guy? I don't know, I don't know anyone who would be like, "YO PASS ME THAT JUICE!" but it sounds like some shit we will be hearing on the next season of Fuck That's Delicious

But the Vin de California "Sans" Zinfandel is LEGIT JUICE. Like some serious fruit that goes down easier than a Capri Sun with two straws. Forget about 16% ABV bullshit that tastes like hot Smuckers and makes you feel like you tried a vodka soaked tampon for the first time. That is not this Zinfandel (thank god). The "Sans" Zinfandel tastes like Zinfandel is having the best Sunday of its god damn life. It's youthful and sunny, but also chill, and oh shit! It just came back from a brunch with a serious buzz and everything is possible/hilarious. It's unfussy, delicious, and you want to drink it up. 

And while it is delightful to sit on my sofa and sip, what I love about the Sans is it makes me want to not do that. It makes me wish I was sipping it on a faraway grassy and fantastical afternoon with friends at the Silverlake Meadow, a place I've only been to once but haven't nearly gotten arrested there for drinking Tecates on a Monday like I have at Echo Park so I feel like it's a safer bet for chugging wine out of the bottle. 

Tasting Notes: Smells like a bag of melted cherry Starbursts on a leather backseat. Tastes like a blend of pure cherry and plum juice, with hints of raspberry and Red Vines. Lightly jammy, but in the best way possible. Like great jam that you want to AND CAN jam on. It's very fine lines with jam, trust I get it. But trust me. Natural with carbonic maceration and hints of BOMB-OLEEOOO.

Ross Test: It tastes like it was made to be drank this way, as you can see by the ease and pleasure I take in slugging this shit back. Fuck glassware, drink VDS. 

marissa a. ross vin de california ross test

Total side note, but I tore a page out of my homie Charles Ford's book of drinking wine in the shower and took a glass of Sans chilled in with me this afternoon. Of all the varietals in all the world, Zin would not be the first I would think of to sip on in between shaving my left and right leg, but god damn was it satisfying. After, I put on my new socks and curled up on the couch with the bottle to write about it, and felt equally charmed, and I've been here ever since. 

Methode Sauvage Cabernet Franc

methode sauvage marissa a. ross

Methode Sauvage Cabernet Franc
Region: Santa Cruz, California
Year: 2015
Price: $30
Retailer: Methode Sauvage

I've had my eyes on the Methode Sauvage Cabernet Franc for awhile now. And like any good crush, it was relatively unobtainable. No one would shut up about how great it was, but I couldn't find it retail and it was sold out on the website. The last six months I'd been hoping we'd casually run into each other, with bated breath and bite marks along my lips. And so when it finally happened at a tasting at Lou with Adam Vourvoulis, I tried to play it cool, but I definitely caught some feelings. Just a few sips, and I was all heart-eyes and butterflies. 

Needless to say, I am very pleased that it finally came home with me. 

The Methode Sauvage Cabernet Franc is like having that first date and coming home and knowing FOR SURE you're destined to be together forever. Of course, nothing lasts forever, especially when it comes to bomb-ass wine, but that feeling. Also maybe the boning, but maybe not, whatever. Doesn't matter. It's still mmmmm, so good. It has this prominent, welcoming, warm black fruit that makes you feel right at home while then surprising you with a little spice, and a little levity. It's like they're wearing a very cozy wool sweater that begs for you to snuggle up into their shoulder, but they also have a great sense of humor and have you doubling over all night. There are no seams, only moments of forest and jalapeño effortlessly segueing into someone popping a fresh berry into your mouth, your tongue lingering on their salty fingertips (in a very attractive, non-awkward way I could only do in my dreams).

It's the kind of wine that makes you want to smile coyly, and bring a tuft of freshly shampooed hair to your nose while making eyes. It's the kind of wine that makes you want to drag my heels along the couch, knees knocking, thighs grazing. It's the kind of wine you can't wait to get under the mistletoe for an excuse to act on your instincts and put your mouth all over it.

Because this is the best California Cabernet Franc.
Today, and quite possible ever. 

And while it may seem like a silly crush now, I am certain the Methode Sauvage Cabernet Franc will be the one you spend the rest of your life thinking of. 

Tasting Notes: Dark-night plum in color, with a bouquet of spicy pine, raspberry, and your favorite pair of heavy denim Levi's freshly laundered. As for the taste, I'm floored. How it is possible for briny blackberries, dehydrated green bell pepper, with hints of toasted blueberries and big flakes of black pepper to come together smoother than lube is beyond me. 

Ross Test: Sensual AF

methode sauvage marissa a. ross

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

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 .

Carlson Trois Fleurs

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Carlson Trois Fleurs 
Price: $25
Retailer: Whole Foods


Tonight I am drinking the Carlson Trois Fleurs. I was skeptical because it's 50% Gewürztraminer and in the past, I have not really been a fan of Gewürztraminer (I've only ever had like, two so I'm being really unfair here but whatever, LIFE'S NOT FAIR). Luckily the other two 25%s are Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc so there was nothing to fear, aside from fear itself and of course, bad buttery oak/heights.

I feel like if you're out in the world reading about wine, you're probably together enough to put together that this blend of three different Santa Ynez varietals is where they get the name "Trois Fleurs" , but just in case, well, there you have it.

When it first hit my mouth I was like, "I don't know about this."  But after a couple sips, I knew I was in for the whole bottle. It tastes like you're drinking the most beautiful rose garden, all yellows and pinks and corals. It's so perfectly sunny. And the garden just echoes Charles Mingus vinyls. So, it's the best garden you've ever been in, basically.

I guess we could say this garden really grew on me! BA-DUM-CHHHHHH!

Seriously though, this wine just saved me from my always-creeping-but-forever-staved quarter-life crisis. Wine is the original Xanax.

Alright, time to polish off this bottle and go shop online for things I can't afford.

Tasting Notes: Very floral on the front, with citrus and mineral on the backside. Crisp with a light but lingering finish. Would pair awesome with a white fish or a warm patio & good friends. Definitely a summer essential.

Ross Test: Doable. A bit too minerally and acidic for extended chugging. Best left in the glass unless you're really into not giving a fuck.

Posted on April 22, 2014 .