Apparently I still have a thing for smug, artsy dudes. Domaine de La Chappe's “André” Pinot Noir is a wild romp through brambles of high acid raspberry, black cherries and the orange-hued innards of early summer plums, wet from rhythmic suburban sprinklers. It has these overtones of Brett and whispers of VA that make me suspicious, and somehow make me love it more. It's so easy and fun, I want to fight with it, in the same way you want to fight with a grade school crush. I want to push its buttons, because it's pushing mine. It's making me want to use the word "funky," which is my least favorite descriptor. I feel like it's poking and prodding and teasing me into submission. Like I'm going to end up rolling around on the rug laughing and screaming "ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, FINE OK 'FUNKY' IS AN OK DESCRIPTOR AND ISN'T JUST A WORD WE USE TO IGNORE TRULY FUCKED UP WINES OK OK YOU WIN JUST MAKE OUT WITH ME OR WHATEVER YOU FUNKY DICK... WAIT THAT CAME OUT WRONG... yeah, no you're right, my mom is going to be home soon."
OENO Pinot Noir
Region: Sonoma County, California
I love quiet afternoons in sunny rooms with stacks of latest issues and books I've yet to finish, something enchanting echoing through the house. Today it's Travel & Leisure, Jay McInerney, and Les Baxter. Not all wines are meant for these moments, but I can't think of a better way to be enjoying the OENO Pinot Noir.
It feels like a fuzzy throw blanket for my heart. And I love throw blankets. I have at least six throw blankets, and yet I can't help but want 400 more. I'm like this with most inventions of comfort and relaxation, including but not limited to oversized collections of overpriced candles, sweatpants, mud masks and bath salts (the kind for soaking, not for eating your neighbors' faces).
I want to drink this wine while curled up in my throws while burning my favorite candle in my comfiest sweatpants wearing the tightest mud mask and somehow still be in the bath with these Fiddlefish bath salts I didn't need to buy but couldn't help it because I was stoned at the farmer's market and I CAN'T SAY NO TO BATH SALTS (in the non-eating-neighbors'-faces way).
I'm sure you're thinking, "Marissa, you can do that with any wine." And yes, but no. You're wrong. These sorts of "me time" activities-- like scanning Bon Appetit, eyeing shoes you can't afford and putting together new Pinterest boards because that is something you do now-- require a wine that is an ebb and flow of excitement and ease. You need a wine that is not only delicious and brings you back glass after glass, but that it is so easy to drink that you didn't even realize the bottle is gone and you have been shopping for vintage telephones on Etsy for two hours.
The OENO Pinot Noir is that wine.
But beware. This wine will be your new favorite throw blanket, but it will also tell you you are allowed to buy shoes for "Back To School" even though you are a drop-out with no plans of ever getting your bachelor's. So, what I'm saying is, it's your new favorite throw blanket/best friend. Kind of the same thing, to be honest.
Tasting Notes: Energized bouquet, with tart red fruits, a hit of fresh cut grass and a touch of citrus. Bright and soft with lots of cherry and cranberry, hints of supple oak and a few stray Sour Patch Kids. Lovely warm and lingering finish, that throw blanket I'm talking about.
Ross Test: Good, but better out of the glass
Back in March, I was in NYC to host a wine tasting. It was still cold, like snowing (okay, it was a "flurry", which apparently means something to people who live in snow cause for me, it was fucking snowing and "flurry" is not a real word if it's missing a "Mc"), but all of my friends who lived there kept excitedly going on and on about how ROSE SEASON WAS COMING.
"Rosé season?" I pondered, looking out a gray city window, wistfully. "What the fuck is that?"
It took me all of fifteen seconds to realize that much like how I don't understand "suede season" or "winter", "rosé season" is something that people who live outside of California experience because it gets so cold that they cannot drink rosé. On the one hand, I'm like, "Why would you guys ever live like this?! I drink and wear whatever I want all the time!"
On the other hand, I will never experience the sheer joy on two dudes' faces two weeks ago in Brooklyn while I watched them put back their fifth bottle of rosé by the pool at the McCarren Hotel. I don't know if I've ever been as happy as those two dudes in my whole life the way they were acting over this shit. It was FINALLY ROSE SEASON! EVERYTHING WAS GOING TO HAPPEN NOW! IT'S FUCKING ROSE SEASON, MAN!
It is that emotion that my friends at Yes Way Rosé captured with their Napa pinot noir rosé, Summer Water. It's an excitement encapsulated in an easy-going attitude that even us Californians know is specific to summer. It's three months where everything feels possible. There are endless ideas for long weekends and trips to get the hell out of town, daydreams of desert nights, bougainvilleas and beaches. Outdoor movies and the smell of lighted grills, street fairs and the feel of first kisses (even when they are your one hundredth). Everything is beautiful in the summer, a blown-out Polaroid memory waiting to be made. And it all truly seems possible. The sun is out-- what couldn't we do?
Summer Water is an extremely pleasing bottle, whether you're looking at it or drinking it. The label is a design dream with its poppy minimalism. And it tastes like having the most fun. It tastes like those dudes' faces, which were extremely happy and laughing and one of them looked EXACTLY like Bradley Cooper, so also attractive. They were going to Governor's Ball and were just so fucking stoked on life. "THIS SUMMER IS GOING TO BE THE BEST SUMMER!!!" they said like they'd never said it before. And that is exactly what Summer Water tastes like.
Now, who wants to find a boardwalk and get into some trouble with me and my Summer Water?
Tasting Notes: The light floral and strawberry bouquet makes for a wonderful transition into its flavor profile: strawberries with hints of pears and peaches, and a striking minerality. Dry and frisky, this wine takes me to a place where there is lots of sunshine, very little clothing and even less responsibilities.
Ross Test: SOMEONE! QUICK! GET A BOAT! THIS WOULD BE THE BEST ON A BOAT!
Villa Maira Private Bin Pinot Noir
Region: Marlborough, New Zealand
Retailer: Villa Maria online
Ever have one of those days that is so long and exhausting that you just have to get home and kiss the one you love?
Yes, I had one of those days.
Last week, I put in my notice at my day job [please do not email me about this, I will not respond]. That in itself was a huge, kind of heartbreaking thing because I've been at my job for nearly four years, but also extremely exciting because I'm going to be pursuing writing and wine full time, but also extremely scary because uh hello, $$$. Today, I spent nearly eight hours interviewing people. Even though everyone was lovely, it was exhausting. Who knew drinking coffee and talking to lovely people for eight hours could drain you like... hm, my first instinct was to make an allusion to blow jobs but this is not that kind of drain, because that is ideal. This is the kind of drain that makes you want to fall asleep in a bath tub, never to be seen again.
The point is, I'm tired and emotional and have all sorts of feelings and BLAH.
I was fortunate enough to have been recently sent some bottles of Villa Maria. Villa Maria is located in New Zealand, and I like them because they are organic and sustainable, or as their rep said "sheep-friendly and shit". I honestly couldn't have said it better myself so I won't try.
New Zealand is tight because they do have this whole Sustainable Wine Growing initiative (SWNZ) that is great. As a country, they work to maintain best practices for the environment and to have 100% of their wine growers work under those practices. They regularly audit to ensure that each winery is up to par on soil, irrigation, pest management and biodiversity.
Villa Maria has been a part of SWNZ since its establishment in 1995. They also have BioGrow certification in their winery and bottling facilities so they can trace their grapes to the bottle, ensuring they are each organic.
Point is, that is tight and I dig it.
And thank god it also tastes good.
This wine is perfect for right now, a bright gray early evening of spring rain.
This Pinot is airy and crisp with a slightly warm touch, much like this rain feels. Refreshing but with a sting. It feels like an Andrew Bird song from my past: extremely drinkable but not without a tinge of emotion.
Or maybe I just should skip past the Andrew Bird songs that come on shuffle because who the fuck has time for that.
Do not have time to project my personal shit onto a Pinot.
[Puts this song on and gets back to fucking business]
As I was saying, this Pinot is extremely drinkable. It's not complex, but I really do not need anything complex right now. I just need something juicy and enjoyable that has light notes hitting all over my tongue. I don't want to think about it, I want to drink about it. I want to be transported to somewhere else, for a moment or an hour.
It's like kissing without thinking. Sometimes you just need to make-out without anticipating what happens next or overanalyzing what's happening right now. Just fucking kiss me. And make it good. So we can leave all this, for just a moment or an hour. Or three. Or forever.
I have a couple bottles of Villa Maria, soooo.
Gonna have some siiiiiiiick make-out seshes OBVIII.
IT'S BEEN A LONG DAY!
Ugh, Kevin Morby just came on, I gotta get outta here before I go from sexy to sentimental like Drake 0 to 100 real quick.
Tasting Notes: Bright cherries on the nose and palate with a big, yet balanced, splash of acidity. I love how light it is and that it's kind of salty. It really does taste like spring rain. I am definitely drinking the whole bottle without a second thought. And I love that I don't have to have a second thought. It's just like, "YES THIS IS A GOOD IDEA." I don't need to be contemplating the universe of a wine every fucking night. Sometimes I just like having some good, environmentally friendly, fun.
Ross Test: Very do-able, but it gets a little chalky and too acidic. Prefer it in a glass, but let's not pretend I haven't chugged half of this bottle and wasn't cool with it because I was VERY COOL WITH IT.
Mezzacorona Pinot Noir
Region: Dolomiti, Italy
This wine tastes like Jesus made it for Forever 21.
But does it pass The Ross Test? You know it.
Side note: Their Pinot Grigio made Wine & Spirits Best For Under $10 this year so, all those moms on K-Day are seemingly on to something.
UPDATE: Mezzacorona is not happy about this.
Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Pinot Noir
Price: ~ $20
Retailer: Really anywhere, but I grabbed this at Whole Foods
Happy National Drink Wine Day, probably the only national day that is basically every other day. Everyone has been like, "Yo, you KNOW it's National Drink Wine Day, RIGHT?" like the fact I didn't roll out of bed with two bottles of Cab and a pack of lit sparklers is a disappointment. Honestly, I find this day a little insulting, because it assumes we're not out here celebrating wine and its benefits straight 365, WHICH I AM. I AM A NO LIMIT SOLDIER. FOR WINE.
But whatever. Happy National Drink Wine Day. I hope if you don't normally drink wine, you celebrate our sacred grape and drink wine today. I normally drink wine, and I am drinking wine, so fuck it. Let's party and honor this shit because it reduces the chances of heart attacks, type two diabetes, cataracts, strokes, colon cancer, brain decline, being boring and having no fun.
To commemorate this totally average Tuesday, I am drinking one of my absolute favorites, Segura Viudas' Aria [Sparkling] Pinot Noir.
My first three years in Echo Park were spent mostly in local watering hole El Prado blacked out on this shit, and generally broke because of it. If you are familiar with my early blogging, you may recall a night in which I got so drunk I put my foot in a toilet, and this Cava is to blame (as well as for many, many other past-- and probably future-- transgressions).
This wine will always take me back to "that time". It's a good song like that, a quick way to time travel. In ten years, I will sip this on a barely black Los Angeles evening and remember sitting in El Prado, a VIP at Tuesday's Record Club with Origami Vinyl, with the back table basically reserved for us. We were the cool kids, in a cool neighborhood at a cool night, getting drink tickets for bringing our favorite records to our favorite bar. It was such a youthful little fantasy. And now it feels, so long ago. It wasn't really, but it was. The crowd has come and gone, along with "chillwave" records and not caring about our day jobs.
This is one of the many, many reasons I love wine. Because of the many nights my friends and I have gathered around it, that I have to cherish.
So cheers, to many more nights downing $9 glasses of sparkling Pinot Noirs, that you may or may not be able to afford.
Tasting Notes: A dream, a beautiful bubbly little dream. A lovely rose colored glass to look through. Bright raspberries, strawberries, nectarines. Light, smooth, with just the perfect acidity. I truly love this wine. I've never seen it in stores, a friend who knows me well brought it as a hostess gift, but I genuinely hope you can find it. It's superb.
Ross Test: Too bubbly! Don't waste it on chugging. Put it in a glass and listen to a record you love with your best friend.
For Valentine's Day, I couldn't think of a better pairing than Girls' Album and the Graham Beck Brut Rosé. "Lust For Life" is one of my favorite songs ever. It's such a silly "girly" song, while still being beautiful and even a bit poignant. The lyrics just fucking get me. It's all about having a boyfriends, wines, suntans, beach houses, pizzas-- basically everything I live for. It's the best song for putting on repeat and drinking too much wine with your girlfriends with and dancing your ass off in the living room.
The Graham Beck is a super dry and bubbly Rosé from South Africa (man, I am ON ONE with these South African Rosés lately). The color of it is the most beautiful, perfect, soft salmon. I'm not a huge fan of pink, but god damn do I love a good salmon hue. And it's so delicious. This 54% Pinot Noir and 41% Chardonnay blend tastes like a bright summer afternoon munching on watermelon and fresh picked grapefruits in a bikini with your best friends. The carbonation is bold, which I love, with a really fresh finish. Overall, this is a very enjoyable wine. Even my boyfriend, who is not a huge fan of sparkling wines or Rosés, had two glasses.
You can pick up the Graham Beck at Whole Foods. Might have to pick up another bottle for lunch, with a pizza and a beach house, preferably.