“Pithon-Paillé 'Grololo' Grolleau smells like the all sprinklers just went off at dusk in late July across an entire neighborhood; lawns of peppered strawberry and blackberry, wet sidewalks wafting. And it tastes like a spiced raspberry juice hot tub with the acidic shock of a peer-pressured dive into the pool. It's not THAT cold, so it's cool [bahhh-dumm-chhh] but it still fucking hits ya, man. It's a pure and simple pleasure, the kind of thing you don't have to think too much about until you decided to hit the bong because you have the worst cramps ever and now here we are. [Ahem] Yeah, I mean this wine is mad chillable & chuggable & perfect for pairing with feminist porn... not because there are ladies on the label. But because it's juicy, soft, and subtle but spicy, angular, and vibrant. It's carefree... Ah, fuck I have more to say but I have to go eat dinner because I promised Ben I would be done before dinner. Whatever the point is, yeah. I'm stoned. But mostly that this wine is really great and fun and okay, I do have to go but drink this wine I'm serious it's delicious, wait is he back? I can't see from the new desk that faces the wall... ok yeah g2g my guys”— cool review I wrote last night we’re just gonna have to go with bc we drank all the wine it was so good. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
François Saint-Lô "Hey Gro!!"
Region: Loire, France
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.
Domaine des Sablonnettes' "Les Copains d’Abord"
Region: Loire Valley, France
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.
Olivier Lemasson "Pow Blop Wizz"
Region: Loire, France
[movie trailer voice]
FROM THE PRODUCERS OF R-13
THE WINE THAT CHANGED LIVES FOREVER
COMES A ROSE PÉTILLANT
THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
OLIVIER LEMASSON PRESENTS:
"POW BLOP WIZZ"
A LIGHTLY EFFERVESCENT JOURNEY
INTO MOTHERFUCKIN DELICIOUSNESS
This wine couldn't be further from how deep and manly I wrote that, but the sentiment is the same. It's a summer blockbuster. But instead of Shia LaBeouf and some zombies, it's a Monster Rally song wrapped in sunshine and a gentle breeze of honeydew soda. It's light, and floral, with a little bit of Calgon nostalgia. I want to bathe in it and die in it and bathe in it, and then die in it all over again.
Or perhaps just float away on a lazy river for forever with endless bottles.
It tastes like the sparkling sweat of the freshest farmer's market strawberry making sweet, sweet love to a pack of Double Bubble in the first minute of it being chewed (because you know, Double Bubble is fatuously juicy at first, then dries up quicker than a vagina stuck at dinner with a staunchly scriptural Republican).
I'm extremely tough on Rosés that sway sweet. And this one does, but its natural production funk balances it beautifully. The funk in this is very interesting because it is just faintly present, rather than being an outstanding quality. It's mostly on the finish, which is rather musky, but in a good way. I'm not sure you'd notice it unless you know Lemasson's other wines. Or, maybe I'm just immune to it.
Tasting Notes: Cab Franc/Grolleau blend. Fucking superb. Like I said. Honeydew soda breeze on the nose, sweet sweet beautiful HBO sex on the tongue.
Ross Test: Just the best. The problem with bubbles is they are generally hard to chug, but these bubbles aren't aggressive. They're super friendly like, "HEY WE WANT TO BE IN YOUR MOUTH!" which is tight. And sexy. I'M CHUGGING TWO WHOLE GLASSES WORTH.