Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month
• Domaine de la Rosière Rose 2018 ($13, purchased, 12%): Intriguing pink from the Savoie region in eastern France near Switzerland. There are green herbs, oddly enough, with a little red fruit and some spice. Made mostly with gamay, with some pinot noir and mondeuse, a local grape. Imported by Wines with Conviction
• Cusumano Nero d’Avola 2018 ($11, purchased, 13.5%): This Sicilian red, once a great cheap wine, is fine for what it is, but there are plenty of $8 and $10 simple Italian reds that more or less taste like this – almost unripe dark fruit and lots of acidity. Imported by Terlato Wines International
• Grand Louis Rouge 2016 ($11, purchased, 12.5%): This red Bordeaux blend (more merlot than cabernet sauvignon) is old-fashioned, but not in a good way — tart and and not very ripe fruit. Imported by Laird & Company
• A to Z Wineworks Rose Bubbles ($16, sample, 12.5%): Surprisingly disappointing spritzy rose from an otherwise reliable producer. It approaches white zinfandel sweet, without anything to balance the sweetness. And the price is problematic.
The A to Z pinot gris is widely available, well made, and shows off the Oregon style
Once, for a cheap wine talk, I used an A to Z wine. The audience was mostly dumbfounded, since they had never heard of A to Z, an Oregon producer, and didn’t believe that a wine without the Winestream Media seal of approval could be that well done.
Well, it is, and the A to Z pinot gris ($14, sample, 13.5%) is just one more example.
Pinot gris is the same grape as the Italian pinot grigio; the difference is in approach and terroir. The Italians prefer an austere, almost tonic water wine, with little fruit, while the Oregon style has lime and tropical fruit with a fuller and richer middle. The A to Z pinot gris is firmly in the Oregon camp, and the lime and lime zest practically jump around your mouth. The finish isn’t what it could be – a bit bitter, from all the acidity in the wine – but it’s still enjoyable and worth drinking.
A word about the price – the winery sells the wine for $15, it’s $14 on Wine-Searcher, and I’ve seen it for as little as $10 or $12 in grocery stores and the largest chain retailers. At $10 or $12, it’s that much more of a value.
From the scores are stupid department: Someone on CellarTracker, the blog ?s unofficial wine inventory web app, gave the A to Z chardonnay an 85. If this wine is only an 85, I ?m going to start writing rave reviews of over-oaked, too alcoholic California chardonnay.
To be fair, I can can understand why someone would not treat Oregon's A to Z ($10, purchased, 13.5%) with the respect it deserves. It doesn ?t have any oak, and if you expect chardonnay to taste like a vanilla milkshake, then this wine will confuse you and you ?ll score it lower. Which is just one of the many reasons why scores are stupid, since they don ?t account for individual likes and dislikes. In wine, one size does not fit all.
What the A to Z does have: Crisp, juicy green apple fruit, classic for this style of chardonnay; a little richness at the back, which makes up for the lack of oak; and an intensity that is quite refreshing. Serve this chilled on its own, or with any white wine dish that isn ?t too rich, and especially grilled seafood. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame ? unless, of course, you like a lot of oak with your chardonnay.