August, is that you?! *inserts googly eyes* Time sure is flying. I hope that everyone is well and in good spirits. I’m really excited about this month’s wine finds. I can’t tell you how much my taste for wine has changed during the pandemic. I’ve strayed away from a lot of the mass produced conventional wines and thanks to some local wine bars started having access to wine from a lot of smaller producers that I’d probably never find in a grocery store, which is where I used to do majority of my wine shopping. This month’s finds were brought to you by a local wine shop and restaurant in Houston. I feel like I went all the way around the world without having to leave the city limits for this round-up. I should actually call this batch the “Banned Edition,” because these wines are from countries the U.S. is currently banned from traveling to due to COVID. But that’s the beauty of wine, the ability to travel through the bottle. I may not be able to physically experience these wines in their native regions, but I can at least get a little sneak peek in the interim. So, get ready, get ready for some really cool wines to add to your list!
2019 Claus Preisinger DOPE Rosé
First of all, I’m a label….
I’m a sucker for any wine bottle with a fun, pretty label. Raise a glass if you can relate. When I saw this bottle on Avondale Food & Wine’s Instagram page, I automatically thought it was dope that the label simply said “DOPE.” I didn’t need to know anything about the wine. It was a done deal that the wine would eventually be coming home with me.
The Claus Preisinger Rosé is from Burgenland, Austria. Now this is a region, I’ve normally tried to stay away from. I don’t know why, but I just assumed that all Austrian wines were going to be dry and boring. That definitely was not the case with this rosé. The grape used to make the DOPE Rosè is called Blaufränkisch. I know it looks like a mouth full, but It’s actually pronounced blauw-fronk-keesh for my wine nerds. Blaufränkisch is Austria’s champion age-worthy red wine. They’re often a little harsh when young, but Blaufränkisch wines become wonderfully subtle and lush with age. You can expect blackberry, tart cherry, and a citrus-like spice in Blaufränkisch wines along with bursts of tannins.
This particular rosé was quite interesting, but in a good way. Starting with its color, it’s a very pronounced Jolly Rancher red. It’s a lot deeper than some of your traditional “drink pink” rosès. The nose has this odd funky aroma too it (probably the harshness decribed above). I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but all I could think was ‘God, I hope this wine isn’t tainted.”
But, don’t let that brief moment of disrespect keep you from passing go to collect on all the goodness that this wine has to offer. This dry rosé is like a cherry sweet tart in liquid form. You get these very strong dark cherry/cranberry flavors with a lot of tartness that lingers on the finish. It’s not overbearing at all it’s actually very refreshing, which kept me going back for more.
2018 Séléne Beaujolais-Villages Blanc
Another Avondale find….I actually tried this Beaujolais Blanc right before we went on lockdown. I’m not a big Beaujolais drinker, but I’m always intrigued when a red wine is made as a white hence my love for white Pinot Noir. Beaujolais Blanc white wines are produced in Beaujolais from the Chardonnay grape variety, while the typical red wine Beaujolais is made with Gamay grapes.
This Beaujolais Blanc went through a natural fermentation with no filtration and no fining before bottling. You can even see some of the sediment at the bottom of the bottle.
It has the color of a burnt gold. The nose is very dainty with combination of fresh flowers, apples and citrus aromas. On the palate, this white wine is simply amazing. This is a dry white, but I feel that a lot of the fruit flavors are recognizable. I got stone fruits like nectarine with melon and again more citrus flavors. There’s a touch of minerality, but I think a lot people will appreciate that this Beaujolais Blanc is not high in acidity. It really is a nice, enjoyable white wine.
2016 Kamara Pure Pet-Nat
I actually had a red wine that I was going to feature as my third find, but last week when I posted about a recent visit to Helen’s Greek Food + Wine and they responded saying that they had some new wines in—including a pét-nat that instantly changed. I told them to say less and went that evening to check it out.
Yup! I don’t play when it comes to trying new wines and this one was so worth it. This pét-nat is a blend of Xinomavro, Malagousia, and Assyrtiko grapes from the slopes of Kamara, Oraiokastro Thessaloniki in Northern Greece. I was not familiar with any of these varietals, so here’s a quick rundown:
- Xinomavro is hailed as “The Barolo of Greece,” where it grows in the regions Naoussa and Amyndeo because the wine can taste strikingly similar to Nebbiolo with dark cherry fruit, licorice, allspice, and occasionally subtle tomato notes with high-tannin and medium acidity.
- Malagousia grapes are grown all over Greece. It stands out for its finesse, balance and aromatic qualities. Whether used in blends or as a single varietal, the grape produces wines of medium alcohol content, with an exceptionally expressive nose and aromas of flowers (rose), white-flesh fruits (pears, mango, peach), herbs (apple geranium, mint, sage) and citrus fruits (lemon, orange, grapefruit). In addition to outstanding dry wines, the variety is also used to make marvelous sweet wines.
- Assyrtiko is one of the top wines in Greece, produced all over the country. Assyrtiko’s most impressive region is its place of origin on the island of Santorini. This is a lean white wine with passion fruit, flint, and lemon flavors, subtle bitterness, and saltiness on the finish. Assyrtiko labeled as Nykteri (“nith-terry”) are always oaked and offer more lemon brûlée, pineapple, fennel, cream, and baked pie crust notes.
This pét-nat (without any hesitation) is the best pét-nat that I’ve ever tried in my whole entire life!! I don’t even think that I can give it complete justice as I try to describe it to you. Another natural find. You can see all its naturalness in the photo below. This trifecta of grapes produces a wine that simply unbelievable. It was described to me as a watermelon fresca and that would’ve probably been off-putting to me since I’m not the biggest fan of watermelon, but luckily I didn’t get any of that on my palate. It’s not funky or cidery like other pét-nats. For me, it was a melody of different fruit flavors strawberry, citrus, and peach. It’s labeled as dry, but I thought it had this nice hint of sweetness that stays with you with each sip. I kid you not this sparkling wine had me thanking the heavens.
I definitely need to go back to Helen’s to stock up on some more ASAP!
I hope these wines peek your interest. They range in price from around $30 to $45. Because these wines are so unique, you’ll probably have to check online to see where they are available near you (if you live outside of Houston). But, trust they’re definitely worth it. Until next time…glasses up!