Two wines that I dig for the weekend. One to say goodbye to Indian Summer (wait, is the PC version "Native American summer"?) and one to say hello to fall...both from Cali to celebrate my upcoming trip (stay tuned for the blog-a-palooza through Napa and Sonoma next week!)
Wine 1: 2009 GaGa Rosé, California
No it's not Lady GaGa's newest creation, it's a Rosé wine from California that's very fruity yet dry. The label is less Lady GaGa and more Mariah Carey, but the style is more classic than I expected from the fru fru packaging.
Before I get into the review, a word on Rosé wine...
I love Rosé and it's such a great wine for sipping on its own in warm weather. It's not a wine that's supposed to be held and aged. Traditionally it's made by removing the wine from the skins after a short period of contact with them so the juice only picks up a little bit of color and tannin (that comes from the skins). That's why the wine is pink, not red.
Rosé is most popular in the South of France (but made everywhere), where it's enjoyed throughout the Mediterranean spring and summer and traded for red in the cooler months. Every year a new vintage is released and it's bright, fresh, and fruity -- old Rosé is stale, tired and whatever the opposite is of fresh and fruity.
So caveat emptor when you buy Rosé. If it's two years old (like if you see a bottle from 2008 this year or 2009 next year) it better be the highest quality you can get (Tavel is the best quality from southern France), otherwise the stuff is not meant for aging. For GaGa, we're in the safe zone with it being vintage 2009 and it's still fresh and good.
The wine was shipped to me by the winery and is only in limited release so I don't have full details, but here's what I've got:
Price: Less than $15
Color: Funny enough, this wine looks like Mariah Carey's rouge! It's a much deeper Rosé than most I've had, but Rosés can run the gamut between slightly salmon/orange to a light red, like this wine. On the swirl, I noticed thick legs -- an indication of high alcohol. A little unexpected in a Rosé but given the rich color, it seemed like a bolder style wine anyway.
Smell: At first the wine smelled really standard -- most Rosés smell like strawberry and red cherry, with citrus notes. This fit the bill. I wasn't overly impressed, but with another few sniffs, I noticed a really neat hibiscus tea smell (yeah, I drink that Celestial Seasonings stuff sometimes. I'm not afraid to admit it!). Interesting.
Taste: This is a simple little wine. It tastes like ripe red berries and tangerine and is bone dry, as a Rosé should be. It's a fuller style Rosé -- almost more like a light red than a traditional Rosé.
Drink or Down the Sink? I'm mixed. It's good enough for a warm day. I prefer my Rosé a little lighter but I liked the unique hibiscus smell and the simplicity of the flavors of the GaGa. Not a show stopper, but it's a good California Rosé when you don't want red or white.
Wine 2: 2008 McManis Cabernet Sauvignon, California
I usually tell people that it's nearly impossible to get a good California Cab for less than $20. I now stand corrected...
Color: Garnet with a pinkish rim, I thought it was kind of powder puff for a Cab. Looking at it, I was thinking "you get what you pay for..." until I smelled the wine.
Smell: Opulent and rich was the first impression. There was so much going on in the glass and I was really shocked. Blackberry and black currant jam were first. There were some great earthy, dried leaf, fall-like flavors that were really interesting. Then the flavors from time spent in oak barrels came -- mocha, vanilla, tobacco, cigar, and cedar created a rich, hearty sensation. It smelled so good!
Taste: Slightly lighter than it smells but it was still weighty, dense, and had the same flavors as the nose (an attribute I like). The flavors were interesting, and I loved that there was a great balance between acid and tannin -- the wine dried out your mouth and made it water at the same time! The flavor lingered and it tickled my tongue. My only criticism -- there was a strange effervescence (or vinegar-like flavor) on the first sip that stuck around a bit. Not sure what that is, but it was a little unpleasant.
Drink or Down the Sink? Drink. A great Cab at this price -- it shows that producers can create quality products at normal prices. If you're looking for an affordable Cab, this is a great bargain and a solid choice for the coin.
Happy weekend sipping. Let me know what you think of these!