Posts tagged #sparkling wine

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 .



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.

Puzelat - Bonhomme "Golden Salope"

marissa a ross golden salope

Puzelat - Bonhomme "Golden Salope"
Varietal: Chenin Blanc
Region: Loire, France
Year: 2011
Price: $28.99
Retailer: Exclusively at Domaine LA 

Importer: Louis/Dressner

There are a number reasons I'm effectively "over" Los Angeles. It's mostly that I grew up forty-five minutes away and have only managed to ever get this far, and the constant grind of the ever-present "industry" has finally worn me down. But if there's one reason I love Los Angeles, and am hesitant to leave, it is because of the amazing wine and food community that is here. Not only because of how delicious it all is, but because of how complimentary they are and how they work together, even when the status quo says "NAH."

Night + Market has been one of the most innovative and important restaurants in Los Angeles not only for its incredible Thai street food, but for its integration of natural wines. Thai food by all 1990's Robert Parker standards was deemed notoriously "unpairable" with wine, and yeah, that makes sense. Big-ass Cabernets do not pair with much outside of big-ass steaks. But we don't eat that way anymore. Food is not governed by French classics, but by freshness and a certain litheness that emphasizes flavor without forcefulness. And Chef Kris Yenbamroong's graceful and creative yet commanding cuisine at Night + Market embodies all of that. But more importantly for our current subject, is that he recognized how well those same qualities in natural wines work with his food. His wine list is jam-packed full of natural wine fan favorites and straight up unicorns I've legit peed my pants a little over, each working with the entire span of a meal from Party Wings to Burmese curry to the Pad Thai you ordered for the sheltered one in the group (but it's so fucking good you can't believe you're about to say you love Pad Thai).

And the rest is a bit of history. No one questions whether wine pairs with Thai food anymore-- you order the spiciest thing on Night + Market Song's hot pink menu with a Clos Roche Blanche and you're in heaven. Or at least I am, as I am lucky enough to live walking distance (but far enough not to be too embarrassed to Postmates) from Night + Market Song.

So when Jill Bernheimer of Domaine LA told me that she and Kris Yenbamroong came together on a release with winemakers Thierry Puzelat and Pierre-O Bonhomme it made perfect sense. Because for me, great wine and great food have always gone hand in hand, but in a way, so do Jill and Kris. Each of them is a Los Angeles purveyor of the best god damn shit the worlds of wine and food have to offer, and it's not like you don't see them reveling in each other's respected work. It is not uncommon to find Kris at Domaine or Jill at Night + Market Song. It's the law of attraction: like attracts like. And I really, really like their release, "Golden Salope."

Essentially Night + Market's house wine, this Loire Pet-Nat is exclusively poured at the Night + Markets and sold exclusively by Domaine LA and is exclusively the Pet-Nat of all my Crispy Rice Salad dreams. No shit, I crave Night + Market's Crispy Rice Salad on the regular, and I can't think of anything that I would rather enjoy with it (or any of N+M's dishes) than this sparkling Chenin Blanc. 

"Golden Salope" has a bouquet candied ginger, the glitzy sugared ones, dipped in honey with a side of basil and vased peonies across the table. Breezy but so damn classy, it is reminiscent of wafting, rich, and numbered perfume drifting on the wake into the sunset. It smells like I imagine it feels like to be hitting the high seas with Rihanna, like you're not entirely sure if you're qualified to be there and keep looking around for someone to tell you to fuck on outta here, but she keeps passing you blunts and complementing you on your bikini, and you've never felt more at home.

For how good it smells, it tastes that much better, like an aspirational best friend. Bubbly but not overwhelming, this Pet-Nat is the perfect tag-teamer whether you're crushing Thai food or breaking hearts. Bright and stunning acidity with plenty of green apples, savory pears and Sour Patch Kids powder, it's impossible not to drink the entire thing. It's as intoxicating as new friends named Rihanna, and Night + Market's food. You only want more. 

But it hits another note. It's so fun, but it is also a grand gesture. This wine is a gift. While it is rousing in many ways, what I mostly take away from it is its ability to bring everything together. It is the outstretched arms welcoming you to the table of Kris Yenbamroong, but also the love of those around you. My obsession with wine comes partly from its ability to bring people together, and this is a wine you and those you love can congregate around. It is so versatile and delicious, and warm and infectious. I want dinner to last four more hours with this wine. It makes me miss the old times, and clamor for new ones. Clean but hearty, it is all that I want and all that I have, all at once. 

This wine makes me feel golden and grateful, for life, love, and Los Angeles. 

Tasting Notes: Please see above


marissa a ross golden salope

Ask A Wino: New Year's Edition

In this episode of Ask A Wino, we talk about how to open a bottle of bubbly without knocking an eye out of your face, which Champagnes are the bubbliest, what to drink on New Year's if you like reds, 2016 wine trends and I get sparkling wine up my nose. 


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Posted on December 29, 2015 .

Bechtold Alsace Crémant

pour this alsace holiday marissa ross

Bechtold Alsace Crémant
Region: Alsace, France
Year: 2013

I always dreamt of living in New York when I was younger, and having a real holiday season. I'd imagine myself all bundled up and shaking snow off my jacket as I entered my apartment, which was much larger and with much more crown molding than I could ever actually afford in New York. There was also a fireplace, which from what I've gathered from my hundred visits to the Big Apple, is not a real thing for a writer under thirty. But I'd sit next to that fantasy fireplace and I would listen to Vince Guaraldi and drink wine and watch snow cascade down my window, down onto a quiet Brownstone lined street. I would have Meg Ryan's perfect hair, Meg Ryan's perfect poised "there's something so much more there" smile, Meg Ryan's sweater collection... okay, I would be Meg Ryan. 

On the contrary, my holiday seasons have mostly consisted of me flipping off sandals and not being Meg Ryan. 

Although the California Christmas experience is not the vision I stitched together from 90's movies, it has it's moments. I love the quiet ones, much like I imagined for myself in a borough where Tom Hanks lives. The instrumental version of "Christmas Time Is Here" hangs in the room while the freshly trimmed tree twinkles. The atmosphere is soft and warm, and truly relaxing. It feels like the first time you've really gotten to sit back all year. And even though all is calm, there is still a sense of excitement sparkling. 

Few wines could encompass this feeling like the Bechtold Alsace Crémant. Smooth and crisp, this sips like a favorite white wine but has these tiny, spirited bubbles. They are not aggressive or even unruly. They are steady and comforting, like good company and conversation on your couch. 

I love this wine because although it could very well be a celebratory pop, for me, it is a "sit back and enjoy the magic while we have it" wine. It's bright and merry without being a holiday office party wine. Even though it's sparkling, this wine is slower. I want to take my time with it, and subsequently take some time for myself. 

This is the wine I would be drinking while I watched the snow fall outside my New York window. And this is the wine I will be using to take pleasure in the season here in California. Because no, it does not snow. But it was never the snow that I was looking for. It was the feeling. And with the right wine, a good cozy knit, and A Charlie Brown Christmas, it feels like everything I want Christmas to feel like.


Just kidding.

Tasting Notes: Extremely light on the nose. The palate is effortless and scrumptious, like my mother's lemon bars. Well balanced minerality, and all around a wonderful drinker.  

Ross Test: Bubbles are always a little tough but this one is do-able! 

Posted on December 8, 2015 .

Contadi Castaldi Brut Rosé

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francicorta glass.jpg
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Contadi Castaldi Brut Rosé
Varietals: 65% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Nero
Region: Franciacorta, Italy
Price: ~$25

Rosé fatigue is a real thing, a condition onset by the suffocating virality of rosé this season. I started actively avoiding them, going as far as vowing not to review another for the rest of the summer and cussing out a bartender for mockingly assuming that because I was a woman at a wine bar I was obviously ordering rosé.

But then, by the grace of god, the kind people of the region of Franciacorta decided to bless me with a few presents, one of which being the Contadi Castaldi Brut Rosé. It could have been any other brut rosé and I would have said, "Whaaateverrr" but IT'S A FRANCIACORTA, AND NOT ONLY A FRANCIACORTA, BUT MY FAVORITE!

I had the Contadi Castaldi Brut Rosé in Rome last summer. It was so fucking hot, and the Castaldi was so fucking refreshing, served in a beautiful little tulip'd glass that is the official vessel of Franciacorta. I looked for it in the states but never found it, and was sure that I wouldn't see my long lost summer crush again until I returned to my beloved Italia. 

And now here I am, once again enjoying its pleasures on an excruciatingly hot summer day, sadly not on the patio of a mozzarella bar.

You don't see Franciacortas that often in America, and that sucks because they're one of my favorites. Made using metodo classico-- otherwise known as méthode traditionelle when used for Champagne-- this Italian sparkler has an elegant, clean crispness that I just die for. Unlike Champagne with its nutty roundness, or Prosecco with its creamy melon, Franciacortas are a bit pinching and salty while maintaining graceful structure. It's the perfect middle sister between Champagne and Cava. 

The Castaldi reminds me of a tangled top-knot sitting upon the crown, effortlessly sophisticated. It's approachable and carefree, and yet, so god damn poised. It's the bowl of potato chips you're DYING FOR at the cocktail party, and it's Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. It's quite perfect, if you love juxtaposing fanciful fun with time tested tradition. 

I want to drink this all night and pretend I am sweltering in Rome with only this brut rosé and my loved ones to find refuge in. I've already waxed extremely poetic about Italy this month, so I don't want to bore you, but I could float away on its bubbles into the Adriatic Sea for now until eternity.

Tasting Notes: Lay's Potato Chips dipped in carbonated rose gold. 

Ross Test: As with most sparkling wines, it's a painful burst of joy. 

Olivier Lemasson "Pow Blop Wizz"

pow blop wizz

Olivier Lemasson "Pow Blop Wizz"
Price: $20
Region: Loire, France
Year: 2013
Retailer: DomaineLA

[movie trailer voice]


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.

Wine Time: Fattoria Moretto with Nathan Hazard

Fattoria Moretto
Price: $18.50
Region: Emilia Romagna, Italy
Retailer: Silverlake Wine

I sat down with my good friend Nathan Hazard of The Table Set podcast and LA pop up, The Coconut Club, for a Lambrusco lunch. It tastes like Harry Potter. I know I've used that comparison before, but THIS TIME I MEAN IT THE MOST!

Check out more episodes of Wine Time here!

Cinematography by Antoin Huynh 
Music by Monster Rally 
Edited by Faith Davis