Apothic Sparkling Red

Apothic Sparkling Red

Apothic Sparkling Red

California, 11.5% vol.

Mid of September my usual and favorite wine store, Stirling Fine Wines, sent out some invitations to come and taste a new release from the wine company Apothic, the limited release of Apothic Sparkling Red. That was perfect timing as I was going to set out and ask them if they had or were going to have it for sale. Through social media, Apothic had made an announcement of this limited release and I was eager to try it. 

In the store I could have a sip so I was able to be more confident in buying a bottle. I bought two actually, as it seemed totally drinkable. You never know with sparkling wine, furthermore red.

It was also a perfect timing to have it to celebrate my daughter’s 23rd birthday that was going to happen the following week. An excuse to have bubbles as we say in French.

In glass it’s dark pink or light red with a nice purplish foam rim and numerous and very regular bubbles. It’s overall nicely sparkling.

Nose : fruity, red fruit such as blackcurrant, redcurrant, blackberry and blueberry.

In mouth : fruity but dry which I absolutely prefer (I wouldn’t have bought it at all if it had been sweet) or dry but fruity if you prefer. Same red fruit as with the nose, blackcurrant, redcurrant, blackberry and blueberry with a lot of raspberry in addition in the after mouth.

Cherry and lollipop as a finale.

Apothic Sparkling Red

Apothic Sparkling Red

It’s very different to what I am used to drink of course but not unpleasant. According to my daughter it would be good with chocolate, milk chocolate from Europe — Belgian for example. I totally second that opinion. It would also pair well with some brownies or chocolate cake.

All in all it’s not unlike the Lambrusco (secco, the dry version of it, of course) but more fruity.

Apothic Sparkling Red

Apothic Sparkling Red

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Côtes de Provence Rosé Aimé Roquesante 2018

Côtes de Provence Rosé Aimé Roquesante 2018

Côtes de Provence Rosé Aimé Roquesante 2018

In my series of rosé wines bought before leaving in August, the next one to taste was the Côtes de Provence Aimé Roquesante 2018. At least compared to the previous French Escape, it’s an upgrade, an actual appellation of origin, furthermore rather well known. What could go wrong ? So I had higher hopes than with the French Escape.

12.5% vol.

Côtes de Provence Rosé Aimé Roquesante 2018

Côtes de Provence Rosé Aimé Roquesante 2018

Pale orange pink in glass, no rim, no legs.

Nose : absolutely no nose. I have tried again and again, letting it warm up a bit, swirling it, let it sit a bit, air a bit : no nose, no scent at all.

A bit fizzy in mouth, some faint redcurrant taste, otherwise a bit of lemon. It tastes like lemon flavored water basically. Not unpleasant but might as well drink some water with a dash of lemon juice or a slice of lemon.

After taking sips and sips to try to find something, it really only feels like having some sparkling (faintly sparkling) water with a lemon slice.

No after mouth. Slight bitterness after several sips. I am fairly disappointed. It’s not bad but it has no taste at all, it doesn’t feel like a Côtes de Provence. Even the cheap non Côtes de Provence appellation but generic Provence region rosés are generally more tasty and better than that.

In conclusion, I didn’t drink any more of it nor finish the bottle and kept it for cooking.

My second disappointment in a row. Same thing, I didn’t buy it from my usual and trusty wine store (Stirling Fine Wines) : now I know better… 

Côtes de Provence Rosé Aimé Roquesante 2018

Côtes de Provence Rosé Aimé Roquesante 2018

Alpes de Haute Provence Rosé French Escape 2018

Alpes de Haute Provence Rosé French Escape 2018

Alpes de Haute Provence Rosé French Escape 2018

Upon my return from France late August, I have been trying some other rosé wines I had bought back in July before leaving, while they were still available. September has been a hot month here in New Jersey, still with summer vibes so I had no issue trying and drinking those lighter « summer-like » rosés. There are other types of rosés such as Tavel or more locally Love Noir and Apothic that I feel like drinking out of season, all year round actually.

The first up after my return was a curiosity, Alpes de Haute Provence Rosé — I didn’t know they would make wine up there, in those lower mountains of the Alps (my backyard actually) and I had never heard of such an appellation. It’s an IGP only but still, IGP being a protected geographic indication, formerly Vin de Pays and not the well sought after higher quality AOP, protected origin appellation, formerly AOC, controlled origin appellation.

Alpes de Haute Provence Rosé French Escape 2018

Alpes de Haute Provence Rosé French Escape 2018

12.5% vol, screw cap.

Pale pink leaning towards orange, no rim and no legs on the glass. I could hear some fizziness and see some bubbles.

Nose : the nose was strange, unusual for a rosé, of the year furthermore (last year that is but the most current possible). The nose was earthy, mushroom (mushroom ?! ) along with some animal notes, fur and leather. You might expect those from an old red wine that has aged for years but not from a young wine, let alone a rosé. My first thought was a defect (not from the cork per se though because of the screw cap) so I let it air a bit but after w while I could still smell the same animal and mushroom notes. I smelled it again after being open one day and same thing. Those notes when in old wines usually evolve after airing them. 

Fortunately those notes were not there in mouth, none of them. The wine is fairly bitter with some grapefruit and citrus notes. It has a very bitter end of mouth. No animal notes and none of these fur / leather I was smelling which is reassuring. It’s not fizzy at all in mouth neither.

Apart from the bitter notes of grapefruit, the wine is not very tasty actually. It’s refreshing but nothing to write home about, just an OK wine. I should just use it as a cocktail base or a sangria to finish that bottle.

A couple of weeks later, when writing this review, I must admit I didn’t even bother using it as a cocktail or sangria base but I just used it for cooking, to tenderize some bell pepper instead of using water in the frying pan.  

That wine is the first little disappointment I have had since starting to write those blog reviews. I must also confess I didn’t buy it at my usual joint, where they actually try and taste the wine they carry and are very knowledgeable about them.

Alpes de Haute Provence Rosé French Escape 2018

Alpes de Haute Provence Rosé French Escape 2018

Tavel Trésor des Sables 2018

Tavel Trésor des Sables 2018

Tavel Trésor des Sables 2018

During my summers with my parents in the South of France, we don’t limit ourselves only to light and easy drinking rosés (most of the time that’s what we drink of course, due to summer meals and summer heat) but we also indulge in more serious wines. Tavel is the one I mean by « more serious ». This is not your refreshing rosé (vin de soif as we call all these light easy drinking rosés, meaning wines to drink when thirsty).

The Tavel wine is barely a rosé, neither in color nor in spirit. It’s called a rosé, classified as such (and the first rosé to receive an appellation — appellation of origin that is — in the early 20th century, a guarantee of higher quality in France) but in fact it’s not, it’s more than a simple rosé.

Yes it has a pink rosé color but way deeper than the regular rosé, it’s almost a pale red actually, even if it falls in the category of rosé wines. And in spirit it’s some serious wine that requires some serious food, something more than the grilled meat / salad type of meals we usually have during the summer season.

This past summer, I wanted to drink again some Tavel (we regularly have Tavel at one point in the summer) but this time from my favorite (absolute favorite) winery : this one is called a cave (a cellar) Les Vignerons de Tavel & Lirac, formerly La Cave des Vignerons de Tavel as it was called back in the day when I used to visit it, so the name stuck with me, I’ll always call it that way.

Their website : https://cave-tavel-lirac.fr  

They produce the Tavel wine I used to drink when I was living in France. In those days we would stop by this cave in the Rhone Valley and buy some cases. I remember the last summer commute we had in 2001 when we bought a fair amount of bottles — those actually moved with us to the USA. In 2002 our moving schedule during that last summer in France didn’t allow us to actually go there and buy some more bottles. Unfortunately because I really wanted badly to slide some cases in the carton boxes from the moving company…

In 2013, while traveling through France with my parents, we stopped by the cave (we even got lost and had to use the car GPS to put us back — partly — on track and in the end I just recognized the facility when passing it on one of the roads we were scouting. We bought 3 cases at that time, one being the Cuvée Royale and 2 other ones. All excellent of course, the Cuvée Royale even more than excellent, of course too.

In 2014, at home in New Jersey, I found and opened the last bottle of Cuvée Royale that had moved with us in 2002 : it was a vintage 1999 ! I wrote about that experience in my writer’s blog (in French) that can be read here: https://michusa.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/tavel-la-cuvee-royale/

So I wanted to drink again those wines from Tavel from that precise winery, which is unfortunately a bit too far away from my parents’ home to make the trip : it’s a 3 hour trip, each way, roughly. Miracle of the Internet, we didn’t have to travel : this cave ships and for reasonable shipping costs. We ordered 3 cases with 3 different cuvées, 6 bottles each case, with one of them being the Cuvée Royale of course.

In this current review however, this is one of these other cuvées from les Vignerons de Tavel, one that I had never had before, under that name at least, called Trésor des Sables.

Tavel Trésor des Sables 2018

Tavel Trésor des Sables 2018

The vintage was 2018, it was also golden medal in the Orange wine contest in 2019 (Concours des Vins d’Orange — Orange being the city in the Rhone Valley). 14% vol.

Almost red in the bottle, ruby pink in the glass, very intense and deep pink leaning towards orange.

Nose is raspberry, redcurrant and of a full bodied wine (vineux).

In mouth, very fruity, a handful of fruit, raspberry being the major fruit. It almost feels like biting an actual raspberry, texture included. Slight bitterness in after mouth and more fruit: red fruit and almost a cherry lollipop taste in finale.

Excellent, as expected !

I am biased of course, I am biased. Tavel is my favorite wine (even though I don’t fancy that much the other Rhone Valley wines and also, generally speaking, I am more a red wine drinker even if I enjoy some rosés in season). And among the Tavel wine makers, this Cave des Vignerons de Tavel & Lirac is my favorite. And among their Tavel wines, the Cuvée Royale is my favorite of them all (review to come in this blog, we had it twice last summer).

I am biased said I, this wine brings back fond memories, I guess this is why this wine, as good as it is, actually ranks so high in my personal top wines : actually it ranks as first, among all the wines I love. I would be happy to have only this wine for the rest of my life, this is the one I would bring on a desert island if I were only allowed one. There are certainly better wines, more complex ones, in which you discover new tastes and nuances at every tasting, that you never end discovering in some ways. This is not one of those wines for sure. However this wine is about the memories. Memories of happy times, a happy period of my life. Memories make the wine also, and memories brought back by a certain wine, the Proust madeleine way, this is what drinking wine is all about, n’est-ce pas ?

Prosecco Costaross Extra Dry

Prosecco Costaross Extra Dry

Prosecco Costaross Extra Dry

Our go-to sparking wine, the Prosecco that we used to find at my parents’ local small supermarket Super U for a good price and that I reviewed here, is not carried by the supermarket anymore or wasn’t lately, during this summer. Instead they had this one, the Costaross, in the same spot on the fridge shelves and for the same price. So I decided to try it to see if we could count on this back up plan to replace the Riccadonna Prosecco.

This one is called Prosecco Costaross and, same as the Riccadonna, it’s extra dry. 11% vol.

Prosecco Costaross Extra Dry

Prosecco Costaross Extra Dry

Very fizzy but with very fine and tiny bubbles. No rim and the bubbles are very regular.

Nose : wine, grapes, white fruits such as nectarines.

In mouth it is very fizzy, extremely I should say, and a bit weak in taste. No after taste, no after mouth, very short in mouth.

Some pears, nectarines, white peaches but all very weak. The Riccadonna was way better, so this Costaross won’t become our go-to sparkling wine, we’ll have to find another one.

Actually one or 2 weeks after tasting and writing this review, I found the Riccadonna Prosecco in another supermarket in town (less convenient, this supermarket is in the « up town » and we live in the « down town » by the sea, so we have to take the car to go to this other supermarket. For the small Super U supermarket, we don’t, its located at walking distance) : Intermarché supermarket, for the same kind of price, maybe one euro less even. Same as it was, even though the label design has changed a tiny bit, but the quality and the taste haven’t changed fortunately. So I am happy to report that our trusted go-to Prosecco is back after all and that I stocked up with this Riccadonna again for our summer needs.

Sable de Camargue rosé Listel Grain de Gris

Listel Grain de Gris

Listel Grain de Gris

A quick review of the Listel gris as we used to call it, grain de gris as they call it for this version. We had this one in a wine box during the summer, as we were many around the table to drink wine and we were drinking wine for every meal. We figured it would make more sense, regarding the price and also an easier way to carry it. We found the box along the related usual Listel gris bottles in our local small supermarket (Super U) for a reasonable price : about 14 euros for 3 liters (which is equivalent to 4 bottles). However these wine boxes are high-tech (they come from the astronaut pouches technology actually) and keep the wine air tight in between draws. I stored the whole box as such in a secondary storage fridge that my parents have and I would just draw the needed quantity (usually 1 bottle, 75 cl) in a clean spare wine bottle before the meal, so it was already cold and ready to drink.

3 liter wine box, 12.5%. The appellation is Sable de Camargue, from France.

I talked about the usual bottle version (or one of the versions — they seemed to have varied, at least on the label, over the years) in my writer’s blog (in French). Bottle that I had found here in New Jersey one year.

Listel Grain de Gris

Listel Grain de Gris

According to their website it’s a Languedoc Roussillon rosé, a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Merlot and Cabernet.

Color in the glass : a gris (hence the name), pale pink leaning towards pale salmon.

Nose : grapefruit, redcurrant (groseille)

In mouth : grapefruit, citrus, a slight bitterness at the end of mouth. Some red fruits also, mainly strawberry and raspberry. 

Very crisp and fresh, pleasant for summer meals, specially for that price.

Rosé Piscine

Rosé Piscine

Rosé Piscine

This one is a generic rosé (no vintage, no date, no origin other than the rather vague « France ») from Vinovalie les Vignerons d’Ovalie. So the label just says Vin de France (wine from France) which is no appellation at all. 10.5% vol. I was intrigued to see it all over (in the US and in France, a big marketing campaign) so I figured I might as well try it, furthermore when I saw it was rather cheap (4 to 5 euros in our local supermarket, Spar/Casino).

Rosé Piscine

Rosé Piscine

This wine is as pale as a gris.

Nose : grapefruit, red fruit.

In mouth it’s slightly fizzy and very much on the sweet side. Strawberry, red fruit. Very fruity, like a strawberry preserve, red fruit and raspberry.

A bit too sweet for my taste but not unpleasant for those who like sweet wines. Not bad per se. It would be good for a sangria or for use in a cocktail. Anyway they advertise it as such : wine to drink over ice, which gives a hint it’s not a classic rosé but rather a wine to be used for cocktails or mixes.