Villa Gemma a uniquely refreshing rosé

ls_0825_wine-novice

Masciarelli Villa Gemma Rosé Cerasuolo D’Abruzz

By Jim Campanini

The summer of 2016 has turned out to be my summer of fabulous rosé.

I’ve tasted at least two dozen different bottlings from all over the world — even Israel — and each one has left a positive impression. They’re light, fruity, dry and exquisitely refreshing.

Everyone who makes wine seems to be getting in on the game, and for good reason. Americans are waking up to leisurely, food-friendly and inexpensive rosé. It’s popular at parties, as an aperitif, and for relaxing after a day at work.

If you haven’t tried a rosé, there’s still plenty of time left this summer.

Recently, I tasted a unique rosé from Italy’s Abruzzo region, which stretches from east of Rome to the Adriatic sea...

Read More

Raise a glass to toast France at the Olympics in Rio

mrose

Cote Mas Rose Aurore 2015 is light, refreshing and fruity.

As of my writing deadline, France had won two gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro, and was tied for fifth in the overall medal count with six.

If there was any national team that I wanted to see do well, besides the United States, it was France. Why? Since 2014, France has suffered 17 documented terrorist attacks — stabbings (7), shootings/truck rammings (6), beheading (1) — in which a total of 237 innocent people have died while dining, shopping, watching fireworks, and walking down a street.

France is under siege from ISIS and other terrorist networks — and I don’t think Americans fully understand the import...

Read More

Going coast-to-coast with race Rieslings

Kung Fu Girl Riesling from Washington State is citrusy and smooth.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling from Washington State is citrusy and smooth.

I like my Riesling well-chilled, racy, overflowing with tropical flavor, and dry.
Match them with spicy Asian or Thai cuisine, and Riesling’s crisp acidity and citrus flavors produce a delightful sensation.
Riesling is also a refreshing, stand-a-lone beverage on hot, hazy summer days.
Two of the best I’ve tasted for the price are actually coastal opposites: Washington State’s Kung Fu Girl and New York State’s Salmon Run.
Both sell for under $12 a bottle in most local stores. (Salmon Run is on sale in New Hampshire for $9.34.)
Kung Fu Girl, developed by former British music promoter Charles Smith, is one of America’s top-selling brands. As a
winemaker, Smith has tapped into consumers’ taste buds to craft exciting, flavorful ...

Read More

Plenty of pop in Kirkland’s $25 Chateauneaf-du-Pape

Kirkland's Chateauneuf du Pape is a solid overachiever at $25 a bottle.

Kirkland’s Chateauneuf du Pape is a solid overachiever at $25 a bottle.

If you’re a Costco warehouse chain cardholder, you’ve probably seen its exclusive Kirkland Signature brand of wines sold only in the store. They’re produced at the Kirkland winery in Healdsburg, Calif., located in Sonoma County.

Kirkland’s domestic and foreign wines usually sell for $20 or less and are decent for every-day drinking.

One of the best in the portfolio, however, is the Kirkland Signature 2014 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee De Natys, a southern Rhone Valley red that is absolutely sumptuous. It’s a Grand Cru selling for $25 a bottle.
You can hunt far and wide, even travel to France, but it’ll be difficult to find a Chateauneuf-du-Pape of this quality for less than $40.

The Kirkland Signature blend wa...

Read More

Franciscan’s whites pass the blind taste test

Franciscan Sauvignon Blanc

Franciscan Sauvignon Blanc

By Jim Campanini, jcampanini@lowellsun.com

Janet Myers has built a reputation for crafting fine Cabernet Sauvignon at Napa Valley’s Franciscan Estate Winery, yet her white wines are also special.

Myers has produced two beauties in the 2015 vintage: Equilibrium white blend and Sauvignon Blanc. Both exhibit intense floral aromas and exotic flavors, a welcome sign of fresh, ripe fruit from Franciscan’s top Oakville vineyards.

I’ve determined that you can cover up the labels on these Franciscan wines, pour them to guests anywhere in the world, and the reaction would be the same: “Wow, that’s exciting!”

The response isn’t made up; it came from the Wine Goddess, my wife Mary Lee, who accepted a glass in a blind taste test at home.

I value the Wine Goddess’ opinions ver...

Read More

Rally your lobster roll with these summer wines

Click here to see wine photos 

If it’s summer in New England, one of the first thing that comes to mind is: Where can I get a good lobster roll?

new lobster roll for jimWell, after you find it, the next hunt should be for a delicious cool summer white or rose to accompany that sweet, succulent lobsta’ meat.

Here are few suggestions from my recent tastings:
EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Chile, $15 — From Matetic Vineyards and Casablanca Valley comes a tropical fruit sensation. Like Bogey is
to Bacall, EQ Coastal is to lobster and melted butter. Better still, have it as a warm-up with steamers. Screw off the cap and fresh grapefruit aromas come pouring out. The citrusy spark is joined with lime, mango and a clean, uplifting minerality.

Here’s why terroir matters: The grapes in this bottle are sourced f...

Read More

For under $20, Pike Road leads to wine value

Pike Road Pinot Gris

Pike Road Pinot Gris

For five generations the Campbell family of Gaston, Ore., have grown grapes and crafted wine, building a successful enterprise at Elk Cove Vineyards which was launched in 1974.

Several years ago, Pat and Joe Campbell started a sister brand, Pike Road, hoping to deliver a quality Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris at affordable prices.

Elk Cove wines are consistently good, and the Pinot Noir bottlings (from an estate vineyard and five others) fetch from $60 to $125. Most vintages sell out to wine club members, leaving little for wholesale public distribution. The Campbells have decided that Elk Cove’s continued success rests with wines made exclusively from estate-grown grapes. Enter the Pike Road label.

Using fruit from its five vineyards and other sources, the Campbells see Pi...

Read More

Napa Valley’s Purple Heart wine is in Lowell

Odd ’n ends …
• Purple Heart Wine, distributed in Massachusetts by United Liquors, is now available locally at Tutto Bene Wine & Cheese Cellars in downtown Lowell on Prescott Street.

Purple Heart wine makes a great impression with its velvety smooth dark cherry flavors.

Purple Heart wine makes a great impression with its velvety smooth dark cherry flavors.

I wrote about the Bordeaux-style blend (Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot) several weeks ago when it first hit the East Coast(http://blogs.lowellsun.com/winenovice/?p=3141). The Napa Valley wine
is crafted by winemaker and Vietnam veteran Ray Coursen in collaboration with C. Mondavi & Family. It has a limited production. Amajor portion of sale proceeds go the nonprofit Purple Heart Foundation, which assists veterans’ families in need.
The wine retails for $19.99 but is selling at a discount right now.
• The Wine ConneXti...

Read More

Zin-Phomaniac: Big, bold, sexy wine for the Fourth

Barbecue, fireworks and American-made red Zinfandel. What could be better on the Fourth of July?

The Zin-Phomaniac label serves as a precursor to an arousing California red wine.

The Zin-Phomaniac label serves as a precursor to an arousing California red wine.

Since the black-skinned grape was introduced to America in the mid-19th century, Zinfandel (also known as Primitivo) has become the closest thing to natural in California vineyards. It’s where some of the world’s most luscious Zinfandel wines are crafted.
When I drink Zinfandel, I go for the big, bodacious, jammy fruit bombs that elevate summer cookouts to memorable status.
My find of the week is the Zin-Phomaniac Old Vines Reserve 2012 from Sonoma County ($27.99 at Tutto Bene Wine & Cheese Cellars, Lowell).
Don’t let the sexy name or its arresting label (see photo) fool you...

Read More

Dark Horse comes out strong

Limited Reserve Dark Horse Rosé

Limited Reserve Dark Horse Rosé

By Jim Campanini

There’s a new Dark Horse out of California that’s caught my eye — just in time for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

But instead of betting on it, you drink it.

It’s the maiden vintage (2015) of Limited Reserve Dark Horse Rosé, produced by E&J Gallo Winery of Modesto.

I tried it recently at dinner with the Wine Goddess, and Dark Horse went wire-to-wire in overall appeal. If I were writing a review for the Daily Racing Form, here’s how it would go:

“Fresh out of the gate in a striking pink color and fragrant aromas, Dark Horse moved quickly to the front with spirited strides of strawberry and citrus flavors. Its acidity and texture were confidently positioned to deliver a smooth, mouth-watering ride across the palate...

Read More