'Tasted: American rosé / vin gris'

United Slurps of America: Massachusetts

Every state in the US produces wine. Why not taste them? For 50 weeks We will do just that…welcome to the United Slurps of America. Week nine: It’s Massachusetts.

Marco Montez of Travessia Urban Winery was one of the first people We contacted when We began our Slurpin’ USA adventure. Jill of the lovely wine shop domaineLA here in our fine city recommended Travessia (and has blogged about the wine), as did several Twitter friends. Just one week into the project, We sent off an email and Marco quickly responded, “I can certainly ship samples to you.  No commitment, you can taste the wine and review them positively or negatively, or don’t review them at all – totally up to you – how’s that for a policy?” Um, that would be a policy We like.

Marco has a wonderful,  affable manner that has made him a delight to correspond with over the last couple of months. We asked Amanda Maynard of The Wine-ing Woman if she would be interested in co-blogging with Us. We’ve been following Amanda on Twitter for awhile and admire her great enthusiasm for wine (and the Bruins). She has a lovely, approachable writing style that charms. Lucky Amanda drove down to Travessia to taste the wines (and a barrel sample, a very cool bonus) and then passed on her notes to Us. Here are our collective reviews:

Vidal Blanc, Travessia 2008 (sample, winery sells for $13)

She said: Very pale, clear yellow with a hint of green. Green apple, grapefruit, and wet stones when swirling. In the mouth I initially tasted petrol, minerals, a slight chemical-like flavor, reminding me of a dry Riesling. This gives way to tangerine, white table grapes, ripe pear, honey. The wine is very lush and ripe, but not “sweet,” rather is very refreshing. Really delightful and interesting. Would be a great to accompaniment to a summer picnic on a hot day.

He said: Pale in color, but quite bold on the nose. A lot of Sauvignon Blanc characteristics on the nose, with some pretty strong apple. My first thought upon sipping was “juicy.” There is certainly evidence of residual sugar, but in no way is it overpoweringly sweet. Great acidity that lingers in the finish. This would be a great hot afternoon wine. My favorite of the three. It’s interesting how much Vidal Blanc We have had since we started this USA project. I definitely had not even heard of it, much less tasted it, and I don’t think I have had one I disliked yet.

The Wine-ing Woman said: Vidal Blanc is probably my favorite locally grown grape because of its ability to survive the colder weather along with the similar taste and wine structure to my beloved Riesling. I gotta say, this one does not disappoint. It looked very pale and clear in the glass, but on first whiff, it showed up big. I got a whole lot of everything, but apple and pear showed up to the party pretty early. I’m pretty good friends with them, so I was on board. It smelled really fresh and clean and I was pretty eager to dive in. Then the apple and pear party moved to my tongue. Oh boy. This has some serious structure and acidity which isn’t shy one bit. The fruit is extremely ripe, but not sweet (bonus points!). The finish was kind of like lingering apple juice. Out of the bunch, this was my favorite by far. I’ll take a few more bottles, please.

UnOaked Chardonnay, Travessia 2008 (sample, winery sells for $14)

She said: Golden yellow and bright. Would not have guessed the wine was unoaked if the label didn’t say so….on the nose is plenty of butter and caramel. Flavors of apple, lemon curd, and creme brulee with a mineral background. Fairly light bodied and with mild acidity. Easy drinking and fairly uncomplicated, which is reflected in the reasonable price. Would enjoy as an aperitif.

He said: Bright golden, it looks very much like a Chardonnay. Grassy on the nose, with buttery oak. It’s surprising to me that this is unoaked. Butterscotch-y in the mouth. A little light in the mouth and not much acid…the structure is a little weird, but the flavor is top-notch. If there was a little more weight and zing, this could be a really great wine.

The Wine-ing Woman said: On first look, it’s got a straw/golden color, which is kind of what I’d expect. It is slightly aromatically challenged in comparison to the perfumy Vidal, but I got some good green, planty thing going on. Even though this is unoaked, I did kind of get a buttery thing on the nose, so I don’t know if my brain was tricking me or if it was really there, but it’s absolutely not off-putting (and it’s not present on the palate). The palate was slightly less acidic up front than I had expected and a little thin, but not bad. Having had the previous vintage, that carried more of the acidity that I love so I was expecting something similar. However, it’s still really good. Not exactly my style, but it’s definitely appropriate in many situations. It would be great for beginners that are scared of wine but I think it would also pair wonderfully with some lighter fare (I’m eying a little baked Haddock…).

The Bastard Rosé, Travessia 2008 (sample, winery sells for $14)

She said: Deep salmon, orangey-pink. Fairly quiet on the nose, with some subtle soapy, powdery roses scents. The sweetness is subtle too, although the wine is off-dry. Initially tart in the mouth and then mellows out to a soft finish. The wine is confusing and hard to pin down. Seems out of balance. (And, yes, it’s not my mother’s rosé, as the label claims…she’s more of a Domaine Tempier woman, as am I.)

He said: Interesting color, it almost looks self-illuminated and kind of metallic. Hmm, the nose is difficult for me and it definitely doesn’t smell like any other wine I have ever smelled. Maybe hints of strawberry Jolly Rancher? It’s acidic and tart in the mouth. I had some when We opened the bottle last night and I actually like it much better today. The little bastard has settled down a little. This is a really tough wine for me to describe. I don’t love or hate it, but I prefer the Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc. 

The Wine-ing Woman said: I really love this bastard. He’s a little tricky and deceptive, but I’m into it. Let me explain. I popped the wine, poured, and noticed these slight bubbles in the bottom of the glass. None of the others had this, so I was pulled in. The color is kind of pink but more of an orange/copper shade, so right off the bat it’s getting interesting fast. Then, there’s the nose. Depending on what I focus on, I’m getting either bubble gum or a cinnamon and Christmas spice thing going on. Such an interesting side by side bunch of scents. The palate is filled with ripe strawberries and solid acid and structure, but the acid is different than that in the Vidal Blanc. This is like a secret, concealed acid. It didn’t strike me the whole way through, but on the finish, it showed up and left my mouth watering, craving another sip. This bastard, like I said, is deceptive but I’m pretty into how it’s done. It’s my runner up behind the Vidal Blanc.

9 down, 41 to go…


We said: Wow: nine states! Feels like an accomplishment, all this Slurpin’ We’ve done. Big thanks to Marco and Amanda for playing along with Us on this project We love so much…you both were kind and generous collaborators. The Vidal Blanc was delicious. We were marveling about how interesting it was to have a new favorite grape varietal that three months ago We had never even heard of.

So what’s in store for week ten? Yikes, We don’t know yet. It’s easy to get behind on the long distance coordinating, corresponding, and wine buying/sampling. Whew. We’re in talks with some great people in North Carolina, Ohio, Connecticut, Arizona, Arkansas, New Jersey, and Virgina. There is a lot of enthusiasm out there about the project, which has been really gratifying for Us. Thanks for joining Us and, please: join Us! If you live in any of those states that aren’t filled in on the map above and are interested co-blogging, send Us an email, Tweet, or comment your info. It’s fun.

Previously on USA: Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington

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List w/o Commentary: Dinner at Harrison’s house last night

Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Vineyards

Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé, Lucien Albrecht
Quincy, Adele Rouze 2008
Rosé, Columbia Valley, Charles and Charles 2009
aged goat cheese
French butter with fleur de sel
jamon serrano

Just for the Love of It, Sine Qua Non 2002
Syrah, lillian 2006
mussels in white wine with snip yourself fresh herbs
baby romaine with anchovy viaigrette
leg of lamb with rosemary, marjoram and lavender
roasted beets, potatoes, and baby carrots

The Balvenie 12 year old

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United Slurps of America: Michigan

Every state in the US produces wine. Why not taste them? For 50 weeks We will do just that…welcome to the United Slurps of America.

Week three. We’ve been emailing and Tweeting and Facebooking people all over the country, coordinating our future tastings. It’s a bit more complicated than we thought (damn shipping laws). Time was ticking away for the next post and We were a bit nervous…when a perfectly simple email arrived: “Alright, I’m in.” Sean O’Keefe of Chateau Grand Traverse preempted our “Yikes, which state is next?” dilemma by shipping four bottles our way. Thank you, Sean.

We were immediately intrigued by the fanciful labels. And all these images of hands. A little internet research and what do we find? A picture of Sean’s hands. We also found lots of accolades. Sean is a man proud of his wine and the state it’s made in…for good reason. Before we embarked on this tasting tour We had no clue such food friendly, delicious stuff could come out of Michigan. It’s the beauty of the project: discovery.

Researching Michigan We also discovered a fun, informative wine blog: MichiganByTheBottle.com, run by Shannon Casey with frequent cameos by the lovely Cortney Casey. Shannon posts all things MI wine: newswire stories, interviews, tasting notes, links to wineries, and more. Like O’Keefe, the Casey’s are proud of the wine their state produces. The podcasts are a particular treat on the blog. Shannon and Cortney primarily taste local wine, but sometimes venture beyond their beloved state. A recent “Beyond the Mitten” podcast on the Napa winery Luna began:

He said: We found out the other day that they make wine outside of the state of Michigan.
She said:
Umm…Are you going to joke about that every podcast?
He said:

Yeah, of course We love the He said/She said thing. And here is what all of us said about Chateau Grand Traverse:

Pinot Noir Vin Gris, Old Mission Peninsula, Chateau Grand Traverse 2008 (sample, retails $15)

She said: Very pale salmon color, quite translucent. On the nose: intense maraschino cherry, some honeydew melon, and vanilla. Nice kick of acid to keep the wine fresh, but definite sense of sweetness throughout–from nose to lingering finish. On the palate the cherries again with creme cassis. In fact, the wine reminds of a kir. Imagine hot summer afternoons by the pool–it’s a fresh and fruity easy drinking wine.

He said: Cherry on the nose. This is a strange (and delicious) wine. I can taste the Pinot Noir. Very tart cherry again in the mouth. I need to mention that I love this label. Actually, all 4 bottles look beautiful. Good job.

MichiganByTheBottle said: Another distinctive offering from Chateau Grand Traverse. This white wine is made from dark red/black grapes. The color is rusty and more salmon tinted. I get deep flavors of tart black cherry, with a real bite on the end. The finish is nice and long. It is not as crisp or refreshing as Dry Riesling, but it has a lot more body. I would call this a red wine drinker’s white wine, and it is easily my favorite of the bunch.

Ship of Fools, Chateau Grand Traverse 2008 (sample, retails $12)
(55% Pinot Blanc, 33% Pinto Gris, 10% Pinot Noir)

She said: Very pale straw yellow. In the nose: citrus, sour cherries, almond extract/apricot pit. Very refreshing and light with a great acidic kick in the end. Watermelon rind and wet stones. Excellent food wine–imagining sushi, spicy Thai, grilled fish, fruit salad. Another wine that makes me think of being poolside. Or maybe I just really want it to be pool party time again.

He said: Very pale. Citrus, apricot and a little heat on the nose. Tastes great, like no other wine I have ever tasted. 13% alcohol with almost no heat in the mouth. Very balanced with a nice acidic taste in the finish. My favorite of this bunch.

MichiganByTheBottle said: I overhead some Michigan wine personalities talking about how this is one of their favorite Michigan whites. The combination of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir really work well together to create a light and crisp wine. The aromas surround the bowl almost immediately. I get hints of strawberry and citrus. This could very well be the perfect Summertime wine to pair with a salad or grilled fish.

Dry Riesling, Chateau Grand Traverse 2008 (sample, retails $13)

She said: Very pale yellow with a tinge of green. Aromatic on the nose: spring flowers, citrus, honey, and wet stones. Bracing acidity. Fresh and lively–another terrific food wine and my favorite of the bunch. Granny Smith apple, honeysuckle, minerals. A slight frizzante. It’s bone dry, but the aromatics keep it interesting. Enjoyed it with French toast with stewed prunes and mascarpone brunch. Fantastic combo.

He said: Bone dry. Green apple, citrus and floral on the nose. It’s so dry that it hardly feels like it stays in your mouth. It confuses me, but I really like it. Even if I can’t describe it.

MichiganByTheBottle said: Dry Riesling is my favorite style of Riesling, and this selection does not disappoint. The bouquet is very aromatic with strong scents of green apple. I get a lot of tart pear on the tongue. Although it is dry, the fruit really shows through. It has a nice long refreshing finish. This would go great with sushi smothered in wasabi.

Riesling, “Whole Cluster,” Chateau Grand Traverse 2008 (sample, retails $14)

She said: Pale straw yellow. Subtle honeysuckle perfume and stones on the nose. High acid, apple, ripe pear, melon. Reminds me of SweeTarts–a candy I love (and I’m not a candy person). There is some residual sugar, but it makes for a terrific balance to the bracing acid. This may be my favorite of the bunch.

He said: Very floral on the nose. Wow, it almost feels carbonated in the mouth. The frizzante is tickling my tongue. I have described the fizz of Txakoli wines as pop-rocks, and this has the same feeling. There are flavors of grapefruit. Really refreshing.

MichiganByTheBottle said: I love unique wines, and this fits the bill. The grapes are pressed whole without destemming or crushing, adding some of the earthiness that I love in wine. This is slightly sweeter than the Dry Riesling. The best description that I could give it is grapefruit with a kick! It is very spicy with hints of ultra-ripe red apple. The finish isn’t quite as long as the Dry Riesling, but there is still a lot of flavor coming through.

3 down, 47 to go.


MichiganByTheBottle said: Chateau Grand Traverse is one of our favorite Michigan wineries. Ed O’Keefe was truly the pioneer of grape growing on Old Mission Peninsula. Sean O’Keefe pointed out that these four wines are not necessarily hit best-selling wines, but are definitely some of his most interesting. I strongly believe that Michigan wines are generally overlooked not because of the quality but because of the marketing and exposure. It is going to take more wine blogs like Swirl Smell Slurp to help highlight some of the lesser known regions doing great things with grapes.

We said: Thank you to Shannon and Courtney of MichiganByTheBottle & Sean O’Keefe of Chateau Grand Traverse for being part of USA: MI. The wines were delightful. We admire the efforts by both of you in promoting the state’s industry. Go Michigan. And We’re very curious about the reds. Perhaps a MI.2 is in order?

Previously on USA: Pennsylvania, Washington

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