Happy National Wine Day!

Since 2009, wine lovers gather with friends and family around glasses, bottles, and decanters to celebrate National Wine Day every May 25th! The United States has an incredibly rich and surprisingly long history when it comes to grapes in the States, and to even scratch the surface is difficult in a limited blog post; however, we want to highlight a few vines that have taken root in our country and have changed some of the landscape of the wine world. Links are provided below to check out the wines mentioned in the post, and we hope you enjoy!

 

For the past few thousand years, it’s been a general trend that wherever people went they brought grapevines. This is the case for civilizations dating back to the oldest known winery in Armenia to the Phoenicians, to the Egyptians, and, of course, to the Greeks and Romans. Though separated by thousands of years, this is also true of those who came to what is now the United States. The Spaniards were likely the first to bring wine to the U.S. with the British following closely behind. Unless you’re really into Muscadine, international, and primarily French, grapes were the vines of choice even for early Americans.

Early Roman wine amphora, from Ancient History Encyclopedia: https://www.ancient.eu/image/5531/amphorae/

There are hundreds of different grape varieties grown in the United States, but some truly have impacted the international wine market in profound and enduring ways. Here, let’s focus on three grapes: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay.

Zinfandel

What’s the first place you think of when you think Zinfandel? Maybe California? Maybe Napa, Lodi, or the Sierra Foothills? In many people’s views, these areas are producing the best Zinfandel in the world, but it wasn’t always this way. Until recently, people thought of Zinfandel as being native to the United States until Carole Meredith PhD, a world-renowned vine geneticist, traced the grape’s origins to Croatia. Under the name Tribidrag, Zinfandel was extremely popular as far back as the Middle-Ages. This grape that does very well in hot climates eventually found a new home in California during the 19th Century. When conditions are right and when these grapes can retain their acid and balance in the resulting wine, what happens with well-crafted Zinfandel is a fresh fruit experience that also carries a powerful elegance into the glass. In honor of National Wine Day and Zinfandel’s accent to California wine greatness, why not try some wine from some of the oldest Zinfandel vines in the country? The Original Grandpére Vineyard in Amador County is still producing grapes for Andis Wines from vines planted in 1869. These wines are incredibly complex, aromatic, and rich without succumbing to the oak-filled jam-bombs that some younger and less-traditionally made Zinfandel can become. We can’t wait for you to try this wine!

Carole Meredith, from Decanter: https://www.decanter.com/premium/decanter-interview-carole-meredith-406792/

Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay

Next, let’s turn to some Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and see how these grapes have captivated the American wine market. Carol Meredith is back at it again in proving the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon to be Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, thus the name Cabernet Sauvignon.  Bordeaux has been the epicenter of Cabernet Sauvignon ever since the Bordeaux Classification of 1855. To essentially show off for a world exhibition in Paris, Emperor Napoleon III had Bordeaux’s wines classified into five tiers or ‘growths.’ The first growth Bordeaux wines were all Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blends and carry names with them that still resonate to this day: Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour, Chateau Lafitte, and Chateau Haut-Brion with Chateau Mouton moving up in ranks in the 1970s. These were considered the best producers of Cabernet on the planet (with some political motivations involved as well), but as we will see shortly, they were eventually met by American challengers.

Wine map of Bordeaux, from Wine Folly: https://shop.winefolly.com/products/bordeaux-wine-region-map-poster

Chardonnay has a similar relationship with prestige and French origin before making an impact on the United States. The area of Eastern France known as Burgundy is where Chardonnay first grew and continues to grow. The most expensive white wines in the world come from this area that is rooted in winemaking tradition. Montrachet, Meursault, Chablis, and Corton-Charlemagne may be familiar names due to their quality, limited availability, and high price tags, but Chardonnay has spread throughout the world developing a variety of flavors, winemaking techniques, and blends that make it one of the most planted grapevine in the world. Just like Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux, however, Chardonnay from Burgundy would be challenged by American winemakers.

 

For those of you who saw the late, great Alan Rickman in Bottle Shock, you may be familiar with ‘The Judgement of Paris.’ In 1976, Wine industry innovator, Steven Spurrier, set out on a quest to pit some of the best Cabernet and Chardonnay from California against some of the best wine from Bordeaux and Burgundy. With all French judges, all blind-tasting, the American wines came out on top. Ever since, Napa Valley and Northern California have produced some of the most sought-after Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons in the world. We want to highlight two fantastic wines that exude a sense of place in California. The first, Brassfield Estate Winery’s 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine that is concentrated, full of plum and blackberry flavors, and smooth tannins from its aging in partially new French oak barrels. This new vintage is absolutely delicious. For Chardonnay, the 2016 Jax Y3 Chardonnay retains that more restrained Burgundian style and is not overly oaked or overly buttery. This is a profoundly balanced wine that represents Napa Valley Chardonnays extremely well. If you are interested in the aforementioned wines, please check out the links to our selections below, or give us a call!

Tasting at the Judgement of Paris, from Time: https://time.com/4342433/judgment-of-paris-time-magazine-anniversary/

Lastly, we want to honor this year’s Memorial Day. We hope you have the opportunity to toast those who are serving, those who have served, and those who we have lost through their service. Happy National Wine Day, happy Memorial Day, and Cheers!

Selections from McLean

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Selections from Great Falls

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A Chameleon Grape: Chardonnay

A.B.C. can stand for a lot of things. For TV, it’s the American Broadcasting Company. For gum, it’s Already Been Chewed. From our parents, it could be Always Be Careful. For wine drinkers, A.B.C. most often stands for Anything But Chardonnay. Undoubtedly, Chardonnay can be a polarizing grape for wine consumers around the world, but here we want to show that this grape has a lot to offer for people who enjoy a variety of different white wines.

Often referred to as a ‘chameleon grape,’ Chardonnay can take on many different textures and flavor profiles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. We often associate California Chardonnays with big, round, oaky, and buttery descriptions, as if you were drinking the ambient smell of a movie theater: buttered popcorn! Many of us at the Wine Outlet love these round delicious Chardonnays, but, because this style is generally popular with certain wine drinkers in the United States, many consumers come to associate Chardonnay with solely this profile. Below we’re going to look at a few different styles of Chardonnays, and, if you are an ABC wine drinker, we hope you’ll give this ‘chameleon grape’ another try! Please see the end of the post for links to all of our featured wines!

 

Leaner Chardonnays

 

While there are dozens of ways to describe Chardonnay, here, let’s focus on the body of the wine and fruit profile, as these can lend themselves to thinking about both winemaking techniques as well as climate. First, we have the ‘leaner’ style of Chardonnay. So, what do I mean by this? In general, this refers to the wine’s body, or, if it’s more helpful, the wine’s weight. How mouth-filling is it? Does the wine feel full, almost like whole milk, or does it seem angular and slim and a bit more like skim milk? Great examples of these more-lean styles can be found in Burgundy. Chablis is famous for making mostly un-oaked, crisp, and high acid Chardonnays that almost naturally want to be immediately swallowed. Chablis is one of the most northern areas for growing wine in France, and this has a direct effect on the fruit profiles of the wines. With regard to the fruit, apples are a common descriptor for Chardonnay, and in Chablis, the apple notes are a bit more tart, like green apples. While there are exceptions to many rules in wine, usually the cooler the climate, the higher the acid, and thus the tarter the fruit. These wines tend to be literally mouthwatering as their higher acid causes us to salivate, which makes these wines pair excellently with food or even just consumed as an aperitif.

 

To discuss the various other areas of Burgundy and the nuances of the wines that come out of certain appellations should definitely be saved for another post; however, let’s take a look at another great example of White Burgundy. Aside from the most northern parts of Burgundy (excluding Chablis), Chardonnay tends to thrive in the southern part of the Cote de Beaune and all throughout a region of Burgundy called the Maconnais. Within the Maconnais and slightly west of the city of Macon is the wine appellation Pouilly-Fuissé. The wines from Pouilly-Fuissé are 100% Chardonnay, and can vary in style, as the wine growing area is relatively large for Burgundy. While wines from this area usually see some noticeable oak influences, oak usage here tends to be much lower than in some areas of California, for example. The green apples notes shine through in Pouilly-Fuissé, and relative to other areas of the world, these wines can have a lean and crisp style. One example of this crisp style of Chardonnay from this area is Domaine Thierry Drouin’s 2018 “Plaisance” Pouilly-Fiussé. This Chardonnay is bright and refreshing, and the winemaker refers to this as an excellent aperitif. This wine would serve as a great start to your next meal or a great pairing with fresh seafood.

From Wine Folly: https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/guide-to-burgundy-wine-with-maps/

Medium Chardonnays

Moving across the pond and flying over the states that don’t like that reference, we end up in California where many medium-bodied Chardonnays reside. As described with wines from Burgundy, climate is extremely important in terms of how the fruit of the wines expresses itself in the glass. In warmer parts of California such as the Central Coast and even parts of Napa Valley, the apple characteristic of the wine begins to move from more tart green apples to more yellow apples and pear notes. This relationship between more tart fruits and those that are riper in flavor is one that is very dependent on acid levels in the wine, and malic acid is largely responsible for this tart green apple flavor. Actually, the word ‘malic’ is derived from the Latin ‘malum’ meaning apple, so I guess there’s one reason taking Latin in high school wasn’t a total waste of time!

 

All of this acid discussion must lead us to a brief description of what winemakers refer to as ‘malolactic fermentation’ or ‘malolactic conversion.’ Yes, I know you aren’t in chemistry class, but stick with me because this is crucial to understanding what Chardonnay might be right for you! The process of malolactic conversion is always a factor in crafting Chardonnay, and this process occurs in nearly all red wines. In short, the malic acid that is present in all wines is converted to lactic acid via a bacterial process that’s too long too explain. This is a naturally occurring process, and it is up to the winemakers to either halt the process or let fully play out. You can use the term ‘full malo’ for buttery Chardonnays that have gone through full malolactic conversion. As you might image, as more malic acid turns to lactic acid, some of the more tart green apple notes will give way to notes of butter, cream, or yogurt. This also increases the viscosity of the wine giving it a slight fuller mouthfeel. This doesn’t mean that all Chardonnays that have gone through full malolactic conversion are big round balls of wine butter, but it will add some fullness and weight to the wine. A perfect example of wine that has gone through full malolactic conversion but is also not too heavy is the 2015 “Opening Act” Timbre Chardonnay. This wine has only seen neutral oak aging (meaning the oak will not impart flavor into the wine), and it retains much of that Burgundian ‘slickness’ while have a slightly fuller body. As this wine has five years of bottle age on it, you may also find notes of honey and nuts that become present through time in bottle. This is a fantastic wine with layers of flavor, and I highly recommend it as a nice middle-weight Chardonnay from Santa Barbara.

Chardonnay vines near the Timbre winery. From: https://www.timbrewinery.com/

 

Round Chardonnays

As we’ve seen, climate and winemaking choices directly impact both the flavors and the weight of Chardonnay, but we must discuss two more elements that can turn a lean Chardonnay into a round, buttery, and oaky one: lees and oak. So, what are lees? Without going into too much detail and hopefully without grossing anyone out, lees are essentially the dead yeast cells that died because they ran out of sugar to eat. When yeast eats sugar, you get CO2, heat, and, you guessed it, alcohol. Without yeast you have no fermentation, but what should winemakers do with this dead yeast that remains in fermentation vessels after that process is over? Many winemakers will choose to let their wine age on the lees. This is called sur lie aging, if you want to feel French and fancy. These yeast cells will not only impart more bread-like flavors, but they will also thicken the wine itself. These Chardonnays then can become plump and almost chewy, and they pair beautifully with a variety of fish, chicken, and cheeses.

Lees stirring and lees aging from Wine Folly: https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/what-are-wine-lees-sur-lie-explained/

The final component to a rounder and more full-bodied Chardonnay is oak aging. Unlike neutral oak, new oak is used when a winemaker wants to impart flavor into the wine. For white wines, like Chardonnay, this usually means that flavors of vanilla, baking spices, nutmeg, and allspice may become detectable in the wine. Some winemakers also choose to heavily char their barrels, which imparts more of a literal oak or charcoal flavor into the wine. Oak aging also allows for more oxygen to slowly get into the wine, creating nutty and honeyed flavors, all while furthering the process of making a Chardonnay that’s more full bodied. A wine that represents this more round style through a combination of oak aging, sur lie aging, and full malolactic conversion is the 2015 “Parr Vineyard” Maldonado Chardonnay from Sonoma County. What we love about this wine is that it does not take this buttery-oaky idea to the extreme, but it just hints at it. It gives you a sense of the layers of flavors that come from the oak, the lees, the lactic acid, and the place of Sonoma County. While full-bodied, it is refined and all of its components are very nicely integrated into some truly delicious grape juice.

 

A Quick Word on Champagne

 

If you are an A.B.C. wine drinker and you never want to touch Chardonnay, then you may need to extend the acronym to Anything But Champagne. Most traditional Champagne blends consist of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier (an expressive red grape), and Chardonnay. In fact, you likely will have Chardonnay in your Champagne unless the label reads “Blanc de Noirs” or “White from black grapes.” You may even have Champagne that’s labeled “Blanc de Blancs,” which means it’s white from white grape, or 100% Chardonnay. Chardonnay out of Champagne is a bit closer in profile to the wines of Chablis due to their similar climates. There also tends to be less malolactic conversion as Champagne is tart and can be full of green apple notes. For a crisp Champagne that is made from 100% Chardonnay, we recommend Laherte Freres’s Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature. There is no added sugar (dosage) to the Champagne, so here you are truly getting a pure expression of Chardonnay from Champagne – and the bubbles are a nice bonus as well. See our Sparkling Wines 101 post for more information on Champagne as well as a number of other fun sparklers.

Chardonnay vines in Champagne. From Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomhyland/2018/10/18/blanc-de-blancs-the-soul-of-champagne/#457507741617

So we’ve gone from light and crisp with green apples to full and round like burnt movie theater popcorn. Not many other grapes have this versatility, so when thinking about Chardonnay, I like to think of it not only as a ‘chameleon grape,’ but a ‘canvass grape.’ Chardonnay can, in many ways, become what a climate and a winemaker demand. It is mailable to the extent that these factors will show themselves in the glass, and with tasting a number of Chardonnays like those mentioned above, one can start to see how Chardonnay can express the sense of place from which it came as well as the sense of style from which it’s made.

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Great Falls

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McLean

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McPrice Myers’ ‘Blue Collar Series’ Blows Us Away!

McPrice ‘Mac’ Myers has been crafting high-expression wines of balance, value, and place since 2002. A lifelong, self-proclaimed “food and wine geek,” Mac was a quick study and almost immediately had the press lauding his wines from near and far. His passion for unique sites in Paso Robles and California’s Central Coast, combined with his meticulous attention to detail in the cellar, results in stunning wines that more than live up to the hype.

In this post, we will share a bit of background with you on the Paso Robles region and McPrice Myers’s wines. Below, we also will share a recap of our recent tasting with Mac and, Assistant Winemaker, Adrian Perez, including some of Mac’s notes and other fun facts we’ve learned! Finally, to order these delicious bottles online, please see the links at the end of this post, and select your most convenient Wine Outlet location.

Paso Robles Wine Region

Many are familiar with Paso Robles as one of the fastest-growing wine regions in California. Since 2000, the area has become the home of over 200 wineries (starting at just 50 before 2000). Much of the growth comes from smaller family-owned producers, much like McPrice Myers Winery. This region is known as the industry’s wild west for the innovative spirit found at many of the wineries throughout. The town of Paso Robles, meaning ‘Pass of the oak’, was co-founded by outlaws who embodied that same diverse and wild spirit we see in the area’s wines today. While this area grows a wide variety of wines, it is most known for 5 mine categories: Zinfandel (including blends); Cabernet Sauvignon (also think Bordeaux-style blends) ; Rhone Blends (including Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Viognier); Cal-Italians (like Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and Barbera); and non-traditional blends.

The diversity and innovation of each of the wines produced in this region are partly attributable to the environmental conditions of Paso Robles. With over 45 different soil types, both desert-like and normal-rainfall conditions at different points of the year, and elevation levels that vary from 700 to 2400 feet, the wide variety of grapes that can be produced here is incredible. McPrice Myers Winery sits right on the west side of this region in the Adelaida District.

Central Coast Wine: The Varieties and Regions | Wine Folly 

Map from: www.winefolly.com/deep-dive/central-coast-wine-the-varieties-regions-and-more/

 

McPrice Myers Winery 

McPrice “Mac” Myers has been making wine in Paso Robles since 2002. Mac’s relationships with renowned vineyards reach deep into Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara County, and result in Rhône-driven wines that are rich, diverse, and very expressive of the vineyard sites. Mac’s self-made success comes from years of working in retail with Trader Joe’s that made him extremely conscious of how important it is to “give as many people as possible the chance to drink great wine.” Not only do we support what Mac stands for, but he consistently produces wines that blow us so far away that we can’t wait to share them with everyone in the Virginia area! The winery itself is comprised of 5 different vineyards: Denner Vineyard; Larner Vineyard; Les Galets Vineyard; Luna Matta Vineyard; and Santa Barbara Highlands. Mac receives recognition from many of the big names in wine for the Blue Collar Series, as well as others:

“McPrice Myers continues to fashion character-filled, high quality, yet value-priced wines.” – Robert Parker

“Ridiculously good drinking for the money.” – Jeb Dunnuck

“Stunning wines that more than live up to the hype.” – Ian Cauble, Master Sommelier, Somm Select

“The top-notch Paso Robles-based winemaker, whose production has been steadily increasing over the last decade, is still flying under the radar of many wine lovers. I’m betting that will change as word gets out about Myers’ powerful yet elegant wines, many of which are based on fruit from some of Santa Barbara’s most acclaimed vineyards and which command quite reasonable prices given their quality. That’s especially the case with his Blue Collar Series bottlings, which Myers says are intentionally made to overdeliver price-wise and to bring as many customers as possible into his fold.” – Josh Raynolds, Vinous

Tasting Recap

From the Winemakers Themselves: Thoughts on their Hard Working Wines, California’s Central Coast, and Paso Robles

For many people who love wine, there is an ‘ah ha’ moment that leads you to this love. Whether you’re a connoisseur, sommelier, or just a casual wine drinker, a certain bottle or experience may trigger a desire to learn and drink more. This is no different for Mac Myers, though interestingly, his ‘ah ha’ moment came “the time I went into a wine cellar.” This happened when Mac took his first trip to the Paso Robles and Santa Barbara area, and the seed for his future as a prominent winemaker was planted. “Once I smelled a barrel room, once I saw them working in the fields, once I was rolling through the hills and tasting the wine…I mean that was it…that was my calling.”

Through years of work, Mac has provided us with many different bottles and vintages that resonate with our Wine Outlet community. For both he and his Assistant Winemaker, Adrian Perez, the Blue Collar series, or their “Hard Working Wines” are near and dear to their hearts. Mac takes many of his personal experiences and weaves them into his philosophy of winemaking in a way that is both relatable and powerful.

High on the Hog

With regard to the name ‘High on the Hog,’ Mac Myers says,“High on the Hog: it comes from every family outing, every family holiday dinner…and my grandmother would say that. That just meant to us that we were living our best lives…we’re having a good moment.”  Mac notes that wine itself is great, but wine “provides something to a moment.” Certainly, the juice in the bottle is important, but what makes an experience with wine powerful is who you’re with, what’s on the table, and everything that makes that moment a great one. Mac hopes that High on the Hog has provided some great moments for everyone who drinks it.

Right Hand Man

Right Hand Man has been Mac’s longest running wine out of this series, as it was first bottled in 2002. His idea was to blend Syrah plantings from both warm as well as cooler climates to have both a lush fruit quality from warmer locations and a more savory element from cooler areas of California’s Central Coast. “Everyone needs their right hand man. It’s there for you. It’s comforting,” and as Mac noted, it’s been there for him since his first days making wine. Adrian and Mac also emphasized the wine’s age-ability and how it can transform over time. With bottle age, Syrah can evolve to hold more bacon and meat flavors with additional savory elements, and Right Hand Man is no exception.

Pound for Pound

Moving onto Mac’s Pound for Pound Zinfandel, this wine is Mac’s “guilty pleasure,” and it’s easy to see why. For Mac, and many of us, Zinfandel is “Pound for Pound a variety that delivers.” Mac is particularly excited about the 2018 vintage, which does not need any additional varieties to make it “super dark, super fresh, ha[s] a lot of energy with high toned fruits with floral and even citrus notes…” When some of us think of Zinfandel, we may think the grape is too jammy or soft or lacking in acid, but Mac describes that because the western side of Paso Robles is cooler than the eastern side, Zinfandel, like his, that comes out of the West tends to retain that freshness and acidity that can often be lacking in Zinfandel from other areas. Not only does Mac provide us with a great description of his wine, but he also demonstrates the diversity of climate and growing conditions even within Paso Robles itself.

Bull by the Horns

Bull by the Horns also has a backstory, which Adrian elucidated. In the mid-2000’s Bull by the Horns began as “Barrel 27,” which also included some Tempranillo in the blend. So this was seen as a bit of an homage to the wines of Spain; however, Adrian describes how the name ‘Bull by the Horns’ extends to broader themes for the Paso Robles region. “Bull by the Horns thematically encapsulates all of what Paso Robles is. It’s the wild west…it’s rodeos, it’s cowboys, it’s tri-tips, and I think that’s what we’re trying to show with our Cabernet from Paso Robles – that spirit.” Mac added that Cabernet is the most widely planted grape in Paso, so he was actually taking the Bull by the Horns to get into a competitive market. With such a delicious wine, it’s clear to us that they have more than succeeded in both tackling this competitive Cab. market and representing the themes of the region.

The tie between a sense of place as well as personal experience is striking with Mac and Adrian, and we were honored to have their insight serve as an inspiration for how we think about and enjoy wine. Thank you to all of those who joined our tasting, and thank you to those who are yet to try their thoughtfully delicious wines.

Blue Collar Series Wines

“Hard-working, value-driven wines from Paso Robles and the Central Coast.”

High on the Hog (2017)

Our Price: $17.99,  Avg Market Price: $35.99

93 points from Wine Enthusiast

Pound for Pound (2018)

Our Price: $17.99,  Avg Market Price: $25.99

Right Hand Man (2017)

Our Price: $17.99,  Avg Market Price: $25.99

Bull by the Horns (2017)

Our Price: $17.99,  Avg Market Price: $25.99

90 points from Josh Raynolds of Vinous

 

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Our Cinco de Mayo Picks

Our picks for Cinco de Mayo are spin-offs of the traditional beverages found in Mexico. We are inspired by the blend of Mexican and American culture, so we brought in a variety of options for you to choose from to celebrate this holiday your way! We have something for beer lovers, wine lovers, spice lovers, sweet lovers… Cinco de Mayo may be on a Tuesday this year, but with quarantine in full force, Tuesday could become more than just the most productive day of the week.

 

If any of these beverages sound good to you, keep reading!

  1. Classic Lagers brewed in the U.S., but with Mexican inspiration
  2. Micheladas, a drink traditional to Mexico that combines beer with the rich flavors of tomato juice and spices (any bloody mary lover should give this a try)
  3. Margaritas with all-natural ingredients packed in a convenient can
  4. Wines that pair best with Mexican food

 

Cinco de Mayo is a day of celebration, but not many people know why. It is a holiday that commemorates Mexico’s Army’s triumph over the French in 1862. In reality, this day honors a single battle in Mexico, not Mexican Independence (as many people commonly mistake) which is actually on September 16th. Fascinatingly, this holiday is celebrated more in the U.S. than in Mexico, primarily because it has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. As we look to celebrate the experiences and achievements of Mexicans on this day, we want to join you this year with beer options, mixed drinks, and even a little wine to spice up the day.

 

Classic Lagers

Bienvenidos by Caboose Brewing Company, is a Mexican style lager with light body, mild bitterness, crisp sweetness, and a cool clean finish. Caboose is a local brewer with 2 locations in Northern Virginia. They strive to provide fresh, well-crafted beer and they succeeded! Their Bienvenidos is a nod to the American way to drink many Mexican beers, with a hint of salt layered into this crisp and refreshing lager. They encourage you to add a lime for garnish and a hint of citrus with the finish of this beer (as you would for Mexican imports) to provide an enticing contrast to the crisp sweetness that naturally comes from the malts.

 

Stone Buenaveza Salt & Lime Lager, released on April 13th of this year, is the newest from Stone Brewing out in San Diego! Stone Brewing draws influence from their southern neighbors in Mexico for many of their beers as they seek to enrich and inspire drinkers with their bold, flavorful beers. This most recent addition to their brew line is their take on a classic lager inspired by the tasty beers of Mexico. This beer needs no additives because it maintains a crisp note of lime throughout that creates a refreshing, yet dry, tartness that balances out the typical malty sweetness of a light lager. We all know lime and salt help mask tequila and are familiar with the need for lime in a Corona to cut the bitterness of a beer that is slightly skunked due to travel time and light pollution. But we now have this incredible light lager that intentionally combines salt and lime into a balanced beer that is easy to drink without lacking in taste. We can’t stop saying good things about this beer, but really you should try it to let it speak for itself.

 

*Both beers are available at our Vienna store and can be ordered online!

 

 

Micheladas: with Bloody Mary Mix by Cutwater 

Bloody mary mix is typically used for a killer spiked morning beverage with Vodka and usually a variety of other flavorful food options like bacon, pickles, celery, olives, or even the occasional cheese square. It’s a charcuterie platter in a glass. But it can also be used to make a more traditional Mexican drink called a Michelada! While bloody mary mix is not the most authentic option for a Michelada, it actually works quite well because of the tomato juice base. A traditional Michelada calls for tomato juice, hot sauce, lime juice, and a blend of spices mixed with a light lager. And our Cutwater Bloody Mary Mix takes care of the tomato juice and spices for you! The lime juice and hot sauce are based on taste preference and some choose to leave either or both out.

*Cutwater Bloody Mary Mix is sold at our McLean & Vienna locations.

 

Margaritas: Fling Craft Cocktail

Boulevard Brewing Company is a beer company that’s stepped into the spirits arena with mixed cocktails in a can and is knocking it out of the park! They have a line of craft cocktails that are all-natural and spirit-based, and we’ve brought in the Margarita one for Cinco de Mayo. In their own words, this is a “mouthwatering blend of salty, sweet and sour, crafted with Mean Mule American Agave spirit, offering a lively, refreshing spin on a perennial favorite”. If you’re looking for low-abv (7.5%), gluten-free beverage options, give this one a try. If you close your eyes when sipping it, you can almost start to feel the sand between your toes and a hint of a sea breeze…or maybe that’s just us.

*Available in our Vienna store and can be ordered online.

 

Wines that Pair Best with Mexican Food 

When you think of a typical Mexican-American dish, most minds immediately jump to tacos or quesadillas or burritos. All of these can be cooked in a variety of ways. But since Cinco de Mayo falls on a Tuesday this year, we’re sharing some of our favorite wines from each store that pair best with Tacos! Pull your best Taco Tuesday together and add any of these wines to bring your meal to the next level.

Because we all enjoy different levels of spiciness, we’ve selected wine options that pair perfectly with each level of spice. They’re also at a variety of price points ranging from $9.99 to $23.99. To find each of these wines, simply go to the “Shop Our Inventory” tab and click on the store it is stocked in, then type the name in the search and drop it to your cart. If you would prefer to order over the phone, our stores’ numbers are also listed below.

Mild-Spicy Tacos: Crisper and more acidic wines go well with mild spice. We tend to opt for a fruit-forward Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc if you’re looking for a white or a light, well-balanced Pinot Noir if you prefer reds.

  • Elizabeth Spencer’s Sauvignon Blanc (at all 3 stores) $13.99
  • Pierre & Bertrand Couly Saumur 100% Chenin Blanc (at our Vienna store) $9.99
  • Musset Roullier L’Orchere Chenin Blanc (at our McLean store) $13.99
  • Timbre Pinot Noir (at all 3 stores) $16.99
  • Roots Pinot Noir (at all 3 stores) $19.99
  • Deliance Bourgogne Rouge (at Great Falls & McLean) $18.99
  • Lumos 5 Blocks Pinot Noir (at our Vienna store) $23.99
  • Octopoda Pinot Noir (at our Vienna store) $22.99

Medium-Spicy Tacos: If you’re upping the spice to medium, you’ll want to lean into a slightly more full-bodied wine. A Riesling or Gruner will give you a smooth contrast to the added spice and cool your mouth down between bites. While a red Rhone has the balance needed to complement the spicier lean of a medium taco dish.

  • Bedrock Riesling Wirz Vineyard (at our Great Falls store) $22.99
  • Sleight of Hand Magician Reisling (at our Vienna store) $17.99
  • Josef Bauer “Katharina” Gruner (at our Vienna store) $15.99
  • Josef Bauer Feuersbrunn Riesling (at our McLean store) $13.99
  • Stadt Krems Gruner Veltliner (at our Great Falls store) $14.99
  • Duvernay Cabane Cotes du Rhone Rouge (at our Great Falls & Vienna store) $12.99
  • Domaine De La Nobalie Chinon Cabernet Franc (at our McLean store) $17.99

Hot-Spicy Tacos: When cooking up a hot dish, the best bet to cut through the heat is a chilling bubbly or rose wine. We would recommend any of the following:

  • Clara C Prosecco (at all 3 stores) $12.99
  • Louis de Grenelle Cremant de Loire “Platine” (at our Great Falls store) $15.99
  • Les Ligeriens Rose d’Anjou (at our Great Falls store) $12.99
  • Domaine De La Verde Vacqueyras Rose (at all our stores) $17.99
  • La Ferla Rosato (at all 3 stores) $9.99

 

 

To order any of the products you’ve seen on this page:

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Sustainable and Organic Vineyards for Earth Day 2020!

Well, son of a berry, let’s get into some S.O.B. wines for Earth Day! When one approaches the nerdier end of the wine enthusiast scale, we come across categories of vineyard management called Sustainable, Organic, and Biodynamic (SOB). These are the most-known wine production guidelines for creating fermented grape juice in a way that takes the Earth’s wellbeing into account. Here, we won’t focus as much on biodynamic vineyards, but we would like to add another approach to vine cultivation: conventional. As noted, we are going to focus on vineyards because, taken in its entirety, this is an extremely complicated topic when it comes to not only winemaking, but also farming. The good news is we will break these categories down and suggest some of our favorite examples of sustainable and organic wines to try below, so let’s get going!

Winemaking is, first and foremost, farming. Just as there are manipulations of soil and vegetation for farming apples, apricots, and avocados, Aligoté needs the same. We manipulate the vine, maintain the development of the grape, and harvest the fruit to be processed in the winery. The question here is what practices can producers use with regard to their own market and sustainability expectations.

It’s impossible to say whether one category of conventional, sustainable, organic, biodynamic, or natural wine is better than another. There are really excellent and really terrible examples of each. [Quick disclaimer: The Wine Outlet only carries excellent wine. Thanks for your attention]. So, instead of blanketly grading these categories on a better to worse scale, it’s best to describe some of the advantages and disadvantages of each for both winemakers and consumers. We know all vines need four basic things: warmth, sunlight, nutrients, and water. How these resources are given to the vine defines the agricultural method. So, let’s start with how conventional vineyards work.

Conventional Method

Conventional viticulture is the backbone of mass-produced wines. We do not mean to imply any negatives or characterless attributes, but for these vineyards, consistent production is king. Here, the goal is to increase yields and reduce cost. While each producer uses these methods in different ways and with different emphases, these vineyards likely will employ mechanization at each opportunity for efficiency in the vineyard. Pests are taken care of with routine pesticide spraying, and soils are infused with man-made fertilizer to give the vines the nutrients they need. Crucially, when vines have too much of what they need, they do what vines do. They grow in all sorts of crazy shapes, climbing up buildings, wrapping around trees, developing extensive greenery (as opposed to fruit), and even spreading along the ground. Conventional farming allows growers to limit excess nutrients, water, and sunlight (photosynthesis/sugar accumulation) that will prevent vines from running wild. At the end of the day, these are crops to be produced, harvested, and maintained. So, with all this control, what is the downside?

Vineyard worker spraying pesticides…Source: Duke University

In many cases, but not all, conventional growing might jeopardize the sustainability of vineyards.  When the majority of nutrients a vine receives are infused into the soil, then the natural regeneration of these essential nutrients tends to deplete. Additionally, if pesticides are overused, the naturally occurring processes of a vineyard will not manifest in a sustainable manner. In other words, when bugs die, or animals defecate, or undergrowth is completely removed, the nitrogen, magnesium, and potassium that is produced by these processes becomes absent. The vineyard is then sustainable only insofar as humans are there to create the environment as opposed to the environment continuing to create itself. Many wines that arise out of conventional viticultural practices are fantastic, but what can vineyard managers do to mitigate some of these environmental concerns when it comes to conventional growing? The answer lies within other viticulture methods.

Sustainable Method

The simplest question to start with is, what makes a vineyard sustainable? Unfortunately, there is no clear answer, and certain areas of the world address sustainable farming differently. For example, sustainable practices in Lodi, California and South Africa will have different norms than those in New Zealand. New Zealand actually has a very low bar when it comes to sustainability even though a high percentage of growers in New Zealand qualify for sharing their wines as sustainable. So, what do we make of this relatively unregulated and unprotected term ‘sustainable?’

It may be best to think of sustainable winemaking as a more conscious approach to the naturally cyclical means of producing grapes. At the very least, pesticides and nutrient supplements are reduced in the vineyard, and this is coupled with a heightened sense of environmental consciousness that stems from organic practices. Sustainable growers may save some cost on the expenses of herbicides, pesticides, and man-made fertilizer. Here, a more ecological understanding of the interaction between the ecosystem in which the vineyard lays and the quality of the fruit of the vine become more intertwined. Some sustainable producers often hold themselves to standards that would qualify for an organic certification, while some producers simply need to meet demand and maintain a greater awareness of the environmental factors at play. Oak Farm’s 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is a great example of a wine from a producer that hand picks their grapes from three sustainable vineyard sites. With no additives and a fresh-fruit profile, this is one of our favorite examples of sustainable wine from our stores. Spain also maintains a significant presence in the wine-world scene when it comes to sustainable and organic wines. A recently released example is from Ignacio Valdera’s Bermejos Listan Rosado from the Canary Islands. Sustainable farming in the Canary Islands is not easy considering the terrain, but Valdera’s Rosé is vibrant with minerality that truly shows its sense of place.

One of Bermejos’s sustainable vineyards on Lanzarote in the Canary Island…Source: David Bowler Wine

Organic Method 

This finally leads us to a brief look at organic wines! Like sustainable wines, there is variation in the level of qualification that a producer must attain before being certified. For example, standards for the European Union are different from those in the United State and from those in Australia. That being said, these standards are more codified and more reliable with regard to the actual practices within the vineyard. Difficult growing environments, like those in the Loire Valley, can be made more challenging by keeping organically certified vineyards; however, success stories like those from Chateau Passavant inspire other producers to go organic and consumers to reward these efforts. Though they are great for marketing, some of these certifications can be quite expensive for producers, so many winemakers will forego the certification process even though they adhere to organic standards. This is particularly common in areas with rich history in winemaking such as Burgundy, Piedmont, and Rioja where the vineyards have been entrenched in already established organic practices for hundreds of years. Nonetheless, many premier producers, such as Domaine Buisson-Charles of Burgundy, continue to hold their organic certifications, making it clear to consumers that their vineyard management will remain organic at its core.

A major factor for organic practices in the vineyard is the biodiversity that pervades the rows of grapevines. Got pests? Introduce an insect as a predator. Mice? Get a cat. Weeds? Don’t use herbicides, just mow the vegetation and let their nutrients seep into the ground and help your grapevines. Bears? Well… that’s a tough one…just be careful. By monitoring weather conditions, taking care of soil conditions, pruning the vines by hand, harvesting by hand, and, overall, using natural elements to your advantage, what results are grapevines that year-over-year will not only yield characterful fruit, but they (in all likelihood) will survive with disease resistance into old age, producing wines with depth of flavor as opposed to their younger counterparts. Piedmont, Italy hosts vines that have been growing since the end of the Second World War, and some of those are owned by Massimo Rivetti. These vines, in a way, have settled into themselves and have meshed with the soil to proudly show off the lands in which they grow. This is particularly true in Massimo Rivetti’s Barbaresco, which is a must-try for Nebbiolo lovers.

Organic farming has other benefits including saving costs on chemicals, instilling an environmentally positive consciousness focused on sustainability, and producing a well-looked-after crop that will (more often than not) reward your taste buds. The Willamette Valley in Oregon is known for its environmental consciousness when it comes to growing grapes, and Dai Crisp’s Lumos Wine Co. makes no exceptions to their organic methods. When it comes to Lumos, you are getting wines with minimal human intervention, leaving your taste buds to experience the freshness that organic farming can bring. Despite this, and similar to the other methods, organic practices also come with their disadvantages. Organic farming demands more labor and thus higher labor costs, and with the reduction in mechanization, there tends to be lower yields. Despite this, organic practices resonate with consumers, and today, on Earth Day, we want to celebrate the efforts of the winemakers, whether conventional, sustainable, or organic, who work to give back to the lands from which they take their grapes.

Organic Vineyards of Massimo Rivetti…Source: Kysela Pere et Fils

Biodynamic and Natural Wine

Before closing, we should address the wines that your hypothetical friend, named Rainn, absolutely loves: biodynamic and natural wines. Underneath the beret on top of his head and jumbled between memorized phrases like ‘that song’s played-out’ and ‘she’s such a Scorpio,’ Rainn’s brain believes these wines give him a sense of centered-ness that jive with his constructed image – which is basically the human manifestation of a t-shirt of a pug wearing a scarf. But, he may love these wines for reasons beyond how they’re made.

Biodynamic agriculture embraces the idea that certain homeopathic and holistic approaches to agriculture will benefit the product and, in short, lead to a balance between the universe and the earth. Many of these vintners will align their practices with celestial movements or other natural reference points. Many biodynamic wines follow organic practices (many times without certification), but these agricultural techniques necessarily force the farmers to pay close attention to their crops. Whether you believe Tannat should grow towards the constellation Taurus or Chardonnay should grow out of manure filled cow horns (yeah that’s a thing), these winemakers are paying attention.  In fact, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which year-over-year produces the most expensive Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the world, utilizes this method.

Romanée-Conti Enclosed Vineyard…Source: Heritage Auctions

As a final note, natural wine deserves its own blog post, especially as the wine world is a bit divided on this topic. Natural wine is almost more of an idea than it is an established practice. The philosophy is that grapevines should be interfered with as little as possible. So, this means no chemicals, additives, etc., but this also means extremely limited use of sulfur dioxide. Without going into too much detail, sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a preservative and antiseptic that allows wine to stabilize overtime and during travel. Crucially, pretty much all wine has SO2. White wine tends to have more to preserve the fresh fruit flavors of particularly crisp white wines, but even these levels are, literally, hundreds of times lower than those found in dried fruits such as raisins. Regardless, SO2 is a key player in the natural wine movement, and only time will tell how long this movement will keep going.

Thanks so much for sticking through this somewhat long post, but we hope that through this discussion you’ve thought not only about what wines you might want to try, but also about how farmers can take care of the Earth. The full list of either sustainable or organic wines we carry can be found below . We love these wines and hope you will too. Happy Earth Day!

Vienna

2016 Oak Farm Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi, California (Sustainable)

2017 Lumos “Five Block” Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Oregon (Organic)

McLean

2016 Massimo Rivetti Langhe Pinot Noir Piedmont, Italy (Organic)

2017 Chateau Passavant Anjou Blanc Loire Valley, France (Organic)

Great Falls

2017 Domaine Buisson-Charles Meursault “Vieilles Vignes” Burgundy, France (Organic)

2018 Los Bermejos Listan Rosado Canary Islands, Spain (Sustainable)

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Happy World Malbec Day!

Friday, April 17th is World Malbec Day! Many grapes have their own internationally recognized days such as November 12 for Tempranillo, December 4 for Cabernet Franc, and even October 10 for Pinotage. Unfortunately, some poor grapes like Viognier, Gewürztraminer, and Blaufränkisch are left out of these celebrations. In fact, Blaufränkisch has only an ‘awareness day,’ and that makes the grape feel like some sort of endangered Austrian bird. Malbec’s day in the spotlight has a compelling story behind it, so let’s dive in and toast to Malbec as a versatile grape that we absolutely love at The Wine Outlet. Also, check out our virtual tasting video and pairing ideas at the end of the post and sip with us!

In 2011, the organization Wines of Argentina designated April 17th “Día Mundial del Malbec,” which honors the efforts of the Argentine Government to grow its wine industry by working with French winemakers. What resulted was Malbec finding its second home in Argentina. Argentine Malbec’s popularity grew rapidly in the United States, particularly in the 1990’s, and now, when we think of Malbec, our minds often dart to Argentina.

The Original Home

While Malbec has its charming Southern Hemisphere winter getaway home in Mendoza, the grape is French in origin. Southwestern France, in particular, is where Malbec gained its fame. It is a common blending grape in the wines of Bordeaux (though this is trending downward), but around the town of Cahors, which is North of Toulouse and Southeast of Bordeaux, is where Malbec takes center stage.

Source: Wine Folly

What is most important for the Malbec grape itself in Southwestern France is Cahors’s climate. Malbec is a touch tricky to get to fully ripen. Merlot and even Cabernet Sauvignon are easier to ripen than the thick-skinned Malbec. Cahors has a warmer climate than Bordeaux, allowing the Malbec vines to gain access to the sunlight and warmth necessary to produce riper fruit flavors and smoother tannins. These wines are often crafted with neutral French oak, meaning the barrels do not impart the vanilla, nutmeg, baking spices, and clove that you might find in new French oak. What results is a wine with a vibrancy of darker fruits such as blackberries, plums, and black currant. There is often a more savory quality to these wines with more meaty notes and an herbaceous character that lends layers of complexity. Our Chateau Laur Cahors exudes these qualities, and at $11.99, this is a fantastic way to learn more about French Malbec and your palate.

From France to Argentina

So, how is Cahors different from Malbec in Mendoza? There are a huge number of factors that are at play when it comes to different flavor profiles of the same grape in different regions, but here, let’s focus on two elements: location and winemaker influence.

Flechas de los Andes Winery…Source: Mendoza.travel

Location

Mendoza, Argentina is a high-altitude region with some vineyards surpassing 10,000 feet in elevation! This means that vines have excellent access to sunlight, allowing the Malbec berries not only to ripen, but ripen slowly. This is a bit like putting BBQ into a slow cooker. Just like slowly cooked meats, the components of the grape get to know each other and integrate, creating a delicious wine that, frankly, would go well with roast meats (I’m also really hungry right now). These wines are extremely food-friendly with bright acid from the elevation, smooth tannins, and a dark fruit-forward profile that makes them so delicious to wine drinkers around the globe. A great example we carry is the Gauchezco Reserve Malbec. With 92 points from James Suckling and a price of only $12.99, drink this wine side-by-side with our Cahors to see where your preference lies!

Winemaker Influence

The final element we want to discuss related to Argentine Malbec is winemaker influence. This is a key factor for the flavor profile of any wine, but, as Malbec was transported to Argentina by French winemakers, let’s briefly discuss their influence on Argentina’s staple grape. Our 2013 Flechas De Los Andes Gran Malbec is an excellent example for this. This bottle has spent 18 months in 30% new French oak, which essentially means that it has marinated in the oak for a year and half, allowing not only flavors of vanilla and spices to bleed into the juice, but the oak maturation will soften the tannins over time. Malbec is a highly tannic wine (it will likely cause a drying sensation, particularly in the front of your mouth), and oak aging lets small amounts of oxygen into the juice to give the tannins a smoother and velvety texture. The Rothschild family is behind the Flechas De Los Andes, and, as they also own some of the most prestigious chateaus in France, their quality of winemaking is readily apparent in this steal of a wine at $18.99. Expect slightly earthier notes out of this wine such as leather or sweet tobacco as the 2013 vintage continues to develop and soften with age.

We hope you all get a chance to try these excellent wines, learn more about how your taste buds interact with Malbec, and let us know what you think! Happy World Malbec Day everyone and cheers!

Pairings

These Malbecs are great on their own, but they also pair excellently with these items found in right in our stores!

2016 Chateau Laur Cahors

2017 Gauchezco Reserve Malbec

2013 Flechas De Los Andes Gran Malbec

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Supporting Hospitality Relief Programs

In the spirit of a united food & beverage industry, we are grateful to be a part of Olé & Obrigado’s Restaurant Relief Pack. This retail program will donate 50% of profits from the sales of select wines from March through May to national and local organizations providing direct relief to hospitality employees. The national organization is the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation whose mission is to provide relief for out of work on-premise employees during this tough time. The local organizations have not yet been announced, but we will add them to this post as soon as they are identified.

This program is due to the tremendous empathetic and socially responsible efforts of Olé & Obrigado who feel strongly that in times like these, we bear more responsibility to each other than ever. And we could not agree with them more. We are honored to work with Olé & Obrigado who has a history of using wine as a vehicle for charitable purposes. “As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, we are only beginning to see the widespread economic ramifications that are rippling out from this pandemic. Unless we act with compassion, solidarity, and urgency, measures taken to stem the spread of this disease threaten to deal extensive and lasting damage to our social fabric, in particular the places we gather to celebrate, break bread, and support our friends. With the widespread mandated shutdown of on-premise businesses, people who own, manage, bartend, cook and serve in these establishments are wondering how they will pay their bills – through no fault of their own.” Thank you to the entire Olé & Obrigado team for supporting this cause and stepping forward to ask their partners to do the same.

To do our part, we’ve purchased 6 of the wines on their list, despite the minimum participation amount being 3. We want to give our customers a good opportunity to participate in this program by providing a wider variety of wines to choose from. If any of these wines interest you please call or email us at your store of choice to place your order.

Great Falls:

  • Phone number: 571-459-2170
  • Email: greatfalls@thewineoutlets.com

McLean:

  • Phone number: 703-288-2970
  • Email: mclean@thewineoutlets.com

Vienna:

  • Phone number: 703-639-0155
  • Email: vienna@thewineoutlets.com

 

List of Wines

2018 Nortico Alvarinho – Minho, Portugal

Retail: $15.99, Our Price: $12.99

88 Points Wine Enthusiast

Tasting Notes: This blend of Alvarinho from parcels in the Monção and Melgaço region is crisp while also warm and ripe. Its lively texture and fresh acidity are balanced by the generous white fruit and citrus flavors.

Grape: 100% Alvarinho. Sustainably grown.

Pairing: Nortico is light and delicate, providing the perfect standalone porch sipping wine. If looking to add a little food to the experience, it goes well with cornbread or grain bread with a little lite butter. As with other white wines, the Nortico complements seafood dishes, particularly those of the fattier, saltier variety.

Extra Info: Unlike others from the area, Nortico has no added CO2, making for a richer, fuller, well-balanced wine. And in the words of Rui Abecassis, founder of Obrigado, “Nortico Alvarinho is one of those projects that has been in the making for quite some time. It started in my family’s small tile atelier, where I learned to love tiles. The traditional ceramic tile atelier was more a labor of passion and tenacity than business, as it always seemed to be on the brink of bankruptcy! To this day, tiles are produced exactly like in the 18th century, each 14 x 14 cm tile shaped from scratch and painted by hand. Walking the streets of Oporto or Lisboa you may encounter tiles on both modest and important buildings, in churches, hospitals, and stores, in private houses and public gardens. Tiles are a durable building material, and an early form of storytelling and graphic design. We wanted the Nortico label to evoke those tiles to capture that spirit and Portuguese aesthetics.”

 

2018 Gaintza Txakolina – Basque Country, Spain

Retail: $21.99, Our Price: $17.99

Tasting Notes: Bright green-yellow. On the nose, high toned aromas of lemon, quince, green apple and sorrel are overlaid with sea spray and stony mineral notes. On the palate, puckering acidity and effervescence lend a practically gulpable appeal, with bright meyer lemon, apple and green herbs. Finishes salty and clean, begging for another sip.

Grape: 85% Hondarrabi Zuri, 10% Gros Manseng, 5% Hondarrabi Beltza. Sustainably farmed.

Pairing: Gaintza’s low alcohol, effervescence, and bright acidity make it a delicious aperitif on its own, but it also works well with shellfish, shrimp, and fried seafood.

Extra Info: This is one of the best beach wines you can find due to its lower alcohol and clear yet light nature. This wine is light, bright, and refreshing with a stylistic appeal that is more serious than other wines that come from the same region.

 

2019 Zestos Garnacha Rosado – Vinos de Madrid, Spain

Retail: $12.99, Our Price: $10.99

Tasting Notes: This elegant vibrant, mineral-rosé from the high elevation mountains of Madrid offers aromas of strawberry and pomegranate coupled with flavors of cherries and grapefruit. The finish is crisp with notes of minerality.

Grape: 100% Garnacha.

Pairing: Zestos Rosado pairs well shrimp, shellfish and spicy seafood preparations.

Extra Info: The sandy and limestone soil in the area these grapes are grown in is responsible for the mineral characters expressed in Zestos. With the correct weather conditions, the wines produced in the region of San Martin, are among the most floral and mineral of Garnachas in Spain.

 

2010 La Antigua Classico Rioja – Rioja, Spain

Retail: $26.99, Our Price: $21.99

91 Points James Suckling

Tasting Notes: Quite a traditional Rioja with red-fruit and milk-chocolate notes, medium-body, moderate tannins, and a supple finish. Good harmony and length.

Grape: 60% Garnacha, 30% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano.

Pairing: This wine complements a braised meat, mushroom, or duck meal due to the smokey and spice accents that are rounded out by a juicy raspberry and bitter cherry note.

Extra Info: The most unique aspect of this Rioja is that the vines are tended in mineral soils of red silica. This, combined with the northern facing high-altitudes of the vineyards that expose them to cooler temperatures and less sunlight, create grapes that ripen more slowly, highlighting flavors of greater balance and focus.

 

2017 La Cartuja Priorat – Priorat, Spain

Retail: $21.99, Our Price: $17.99

89 Wine Spectator

Tasting Notes: Smoky and mineral notes frame cherry, leafy, and spice notes in this fresh red. Tart acidity keeps it lively, while light, firm tannins keep it focused. Tangy and energetic.

Grape: 70% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo (Cariñena).

Pairing: It is best served with a classic cut of steak with little to no seasoning so there are less competing flavors with the wine.

Extra Info: Aged in French oak barrels for only 6 months, this wine is made entirely from estate-owned fruit in what is the current Catalonia region. La Cartuja remains a small production cuvee born in 2007 as a special bottling project to capture and display the unique mineral character of the region in a direct, unpretentious way.

2017 Carro Tinto – Yecla, Spain

Retail: $13.99, Our Price: $11.99

Tasting Notes: Lurid ruby. Aromas of cherry and licorice are complemented by a suggestion of dark chocolate, and a smoky nuance emerges slowly.

Grape: 50% Monastrell, 20% Syrah, 20% Merlot, 10% Tempranillo.

Pairing: This unpretentious, juicy red will pair well with almost any flavorful dish served on the backyard deck, at the beach or at a picnic. Grilled cheddar burgers with bacon, BBQ brisket or pulled pork and pressed Cajun chicken sandwiches all fit the bill.

Extra Info: Carro is a 100% unoaked and made using a Rhone-like blend of grape varieties from estate-owned grapes since 1925. The amount of care and the quality of the grapes that go into Carro are the same used to make more expensive cuvées.

 

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What’s the deal with Rosé wine?

Our Take on Rosé wines 

If you find yourself googling “Rosé Quotes” what appears is guide after guide of puns, phrases, stitched pillows, wine glasses with cheesy phrases, and of course, “Rosé All Day” printed on everything that you can imagine. As social media and influencers play a major part in our digital economy, the American market can treat Rosé like an accessory for good times in good weather. But it is so much more!

To be clear, we are completely on board with this approach to drink Rosé in more ways and at more times of the day. We can “stop and smell the Rosé” or “Rosé then slay” with the rest of our light-hearted Rosé drinking friends and family who enjoy posting pictures of pink wine, while looking out at a body of water or a grassy field or kicking back at a boozy brunch spot (we hear the newest trending spots that popped up during quarantine for a killer breakfast and Rosé combo are Kitchen, Balcony, and Backyard). Rosé is crisp, clean, and refreshing. It just works for this, and we encourage the RoseYAY movement. We not only believe in the millennial-driven fun approach to Rosé, but we also believe in the versatility of this style of wine. You will find Rosés at The Wine Outlet that work with nearly any dish you can think of. They can be sweet or bone-dry and have levels of complexity that may be unexpected. In this way, Rosé has become both a culturally significant libation that exudes fun, as well as a carefully manicured wine style that can appeal to red and white wine drinkers alike. So, is Rosé just for fun or is there depth of winemaking, character, and complexity?

 

How it’s made

To find the Rosés that blow your mind, let’s just touch on how they’re made. There are a few categories/styles of wine that are inextricably linked to winemaking methods. Certainly, winemaking is one of the difference-makers when it comes to the character of any red or white; however, it is also the defining feature of the Rosé category. There are a few different ways to make Rosé, with the primary method being the same as red wine but to a less extreme degree. In all black/red grapes, the juice contained by the skins is white. Crazy, right?! This white/clear juice is then blended over a long period of time with the skins of the grape. This extracts all of the darker red color and red/black fruit flavors in Cabernet Sauvignon, for example. If you were to only crush a Cabernet grape without any skin contact, you would have clear Cabernet Sauvignon juice! If you wanted to make Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, you would limit the amount of time the grape juice interacts with the skins (usually between 2 and 20 hours). While certain grape varieties bleed off their color more easily than others, a good rule of thumb is that the longer the juice is ‘on the skins’ the darker the color of the Rosé.

 

Flavor & Color Relationship

Okay, so here’s the crucial question: what does this mean for flavor? In general, lighter Rosés capitalize on flavors of peach, pear, and melon, while those with a darker color begin to approach more strawberry, cherry, and red fruit flavors. There are of course other variables that impact these flavors as with all wine-making, such as climate, soil, and winemaker choices; however, this is a good general rule.

Where’s Rosé from?

Recently, Rosé eclipsed white wine in sales in France. The French not only love drinking Rosé, but they love making it too. Southern France, specifically the Cotes de Provence, is an epicenter for pink fermented grape juice. These Mediterranean wines often display floral notes with vibrant acidity and flavors of cantaloupe, watermelon, and peach. Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Cinsault are common red grapes that comprise most of the region’s wines; whereas in Southwest France you will find more Cabernet, Merlot, and Malbec Rosés with Pinot Noir maintaining a strong foothold in more northern areas of France such as Burgundy, the Loire Valley, and Champagne.

Rosé is not just for and from the French. Italy and the United States are crafting some of the most revered Rosés on the planet. Tuscany’s Sangiovese Rosés can carry with them crisp cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and spice notes. In Washington State, many grape varieties are used, but it is common, particularly in the Columbia Valley, to find Provence-style blends of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, and Mourvedre.

 

What does Rosé pair well with?

These wines pair excellently with a surprisingly wide variety of proteins: salmon, chicken, burgers, to name a few. They also complement spicier or richer flavors, like Asian cuisine or BBQ, because their refreshing and crisp qualities cut through the richness, providing a new flavor experience with each bite. We have a variety of specific recipes and pairings for the food we carry, including ones we would recommend drinking our rosé wines with. Whether you lean more towards white wine flavors or red wine flavors, there’s a rosé and food experience you will enjoy.

 

So, is Rosé just for porches, boats, and views on social media?

It is perfect for all that, yet it is also so much more. We hope this brief introduction to pink wine inspires you to try more Rosés and discover your own palate preferences. Whether you’re looking for a cool new wine label, a classy looking bottle, that perfect Instagram worthy wine shot, or to explore a whole new type of wine, we encourage you to taste any one of the Rosé options we have and let us know what you think. Check out a few of our current Rosé offerings below and follow us as we continue to get more options in this month. If you already know you love Rosé (likely most of you judging by the fact that you’ve made it to the end of this post) or if you want to explore more Rosé options, stay up-to-date with us through our Newsletter and on Facebook and Instagram. We have many virtual wine tastings coming up and Rosé is sure to be one of them!

 

Our Rosé Inventory as of the 1st week of April – check our inventory pages for adds each day

2019 Lavendette Rose Alpes de Haut-Provence ($11.99)

2019 Renegade Wine Co. Rose ($11.99)

2019 Ch St Gyrgues Costieres Nimes Rose ($9.99)

2019 Les Lauzel Pays du Gard ($9.99)

2019 Petit Balthazar Rose ($8.99)


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Pairing our Wine with our Frozen Foods

We just add a bunch of high-quality frozen foods to our freezers at each store from some of the best fresh food on the east coast.

  • Poultry: Chicken (anti-biotic free) and Chicken Pot Pies
  • Meats: Filet Mignon, Skirt Steak, Steak Burgers, Pork Chops, and Veal
  • Fish: Salmon, Ahi Tuna, Sea Bass, Red Snapper, Orange Roughy, and Swordfish

To see each store’s inventory and pricing, follow this link. Call any of the stores to place an order and if you have any questions reach out on Instagram or Facebook.

 

How to Pair our Wines and our Frozen Foods

Because we know a meal is rarely complete without wine, we’ve included a few of our pairing suggestions for each of the frozen foods we brought in for you. If you like what you see, call to order as soon as you choose and we will prep your order for pick up or delivery ASAP. When you order wine and frozen food for us, request a free recipe based on the combination of wine and food you chose. Let our managers know or email jules@thewineoutlets.com with your order information.

Poultry

Chicken (anti-biotic free) 

  • If cooked simply without strong flavor adds: Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay
  • If grilled or BBQed: Zinfandel or Sauvignon Blanc
  • If roasted: full-bodied reds, fruit-forward rose, or dry whites
  • If cooked with creamy sauce: Pinot Grigio
  • If cooked with mushrooms: Merlot or CA Chardonnay
  • If cooked with tomato sauce: Sangiovese
  • If cooked with spicier flavors: Riesling, sweeter Rose, or Champagne

Chicken Pot Pies

  • Due to the prominent butter flavors, the first recommendation is a smooth Chardonnay
  • Not a Chardonnay fan? Try a Viognier or Rhone White

Meats

Filet Mignon

  • If cooked simply with minimal flavor adds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Sangiovese to highlight the strong flavors of the meat
  • If adding a cream sauce: Medium-bodied Pinot Noir or Chianti
  • If cooking with shellfish: Light bodied Cabernet or Bordeaux

Skirt Steak

  • This is simple: California Cabernets, Bordeaux or Malbec

Burgers

  • If dressed simply: Merlot or light-bodied Cabernet
  • If spicy: Riesling or other sweet wine
  • If looking for a strong contrasting taste to the burger: a crisp Champagne provides a totally different burger experience!

Pork Chops

  • White options: Full-bodied Chardonnays, fruity Rieslings, Pinot Grigio, or Sauvignon Blancs
  • Red options: Chianti, light Pinot Noir, or Cotes du Rhone

Veal – this meat takes on the flavor of what it’s cooked in so pair accordingly if you choose to add strong flavors

  • If cooked simply: Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, or Zinfandel

Fish

Salmon

  • Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Oaked Chardonnay, Dry Rose, or Champagne (if smoked)

Ahi Tuna

  • Full-bodied fish meat needs fuller wines: Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Rose

Sea Bass

  • White wines: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Riesling
  • Red wines: Pinot Noir

Red Snapper or Orange Roughy

  • Light fish requires light flavors: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc or Moscato

Swordfish

  • Oily fish needs crisp and fruity wines that cut the oil: Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc

 

 

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Our Commitments to you during Coronavirus Quarantine: In-store, Pickup & Delivery

Our passion is not only for wine. We are dedicated to serving you as our customers and as our neighbors to the best of our ability. Above all, we hope our Wine Outlet family is taking care of themselves, their families, their mental health, and their day-to-day needs during this uncertain time.

Like you, we are doing all we can to promote the wellbeing of our staff and customers. We aim to be your trusted neighbors and friends no matter what, and we plan to be here for you during the worst of this as best we can without putting our employees at risk. We will do all we can to continue providing you with the best wines at the best prices, so please read below to see some of our new options and offerings. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call one of our stores using the numbers below or email us at info@thewineoutlets.com.

 

How does the Coronavirus affect wine?

We all see the projections for the virus, so we won’t launch into that right now; however, there are many factors that affect the wine industry, small businesses, and retail spaces.  We are relying on the experts at the W.H.O., the C.D.C., and state and federal government directives to inform the best way of conducting business.

Some of the facts and local sources driving our decisions, that we monitor daily are:

Facts

    • Virginia declared a state of emergency on March 12th
    • Schools are closed in Fairfax County through April 10th
    • Restrictions on gatherings of 50 people or more
    • Suggested or mandatory work from home from employers
    • Social Distancing recommended by health and government officials

Local Sources

Armed with all this information (and so much more), the only thing to ask now is ‘what are we going to do about it?’ Our solution is to continue to get you our wines and other products in a way that is both socially responsible and convenient for you!

 

Our Commitment In-Store

If Webster’s had a phrase of the year (instead of a word) for 2020, it would be social distancing. We believe this does not have to be solely an inconvenience.  We see an opportunity to serve you, our customers, better. Here are a few immediate in-store steps we are taking:

  • Display the best practices for hygiene, downloaded from the W.H.O.
  • Every surface will be disinfected and will be cleaned regularly throughout the day
  • Hand sanitizer and wipes will be available to staff & customers
  • All employees regularly wash hands as recommended by the W.H.O.
  • We will suspend in-store tasting, events, & classes until further notice
  • We will commit to best social distancing practices as advised by the global health community

 

Our Commitment to get you Your Wine & Beer

All our inventory is available online to order for pick-up or delivery! Select the store closest to you and we will deliver to you for free, if you live up to 10 miles away.

 

Other Things to Look Out For From Us

  1. To Stay Up-to-date:
  2. We love talking about, reading about, and writing about wine, so be on the lookout for articles, blog posts, and other multimedia on fermented grape juice!

 

So to wrap this up, if you need Vermouth for your ‘Quarantinis,’ some stouts to wait this out, fresh cheese to enhance a frozen pizza or just good Cab without a Coronavirus reference, we have your back.  Stay safe, stay well, and stay happy. And as always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

Your neighborhood wine shop, The Wine Outlet

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