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Saturday night, after work, I invited some friends (the Michigan collective) over to have some wine, hangout and keep me apace my 500 bottles on the year. They were going to bring a seven-fifty of Pinot Grigio over and I would match their ante and continue that theme by setting aside a bottle of Rosé.

The Michiganders brought a bottle of “The Naked Grape” Pinot Grigio (#432) over to try. Wasn’t sure what to expect but assumed that the wine would be fruit-driven and fresh. After popping the cork and pouring the wine, I gave the straw colored juice a sniff. With faint aromas of apple and pear it was not saying much, rather, it was aromatically challenged. On the palate the wine was hot—a kick of heat equivalent to tequila hit me, it was getting warmer as we discussed the components of the wine like it’s short fruit finish. When I finally spied the ABV (alcohol by volume) it was a very low, only 12.5%, which was alarming because for the alcohol to show that aggressively meant it was poorly made.

Quick to move on, we unscrewed a bottle of 2009 Saint André de Figuière from the Côtes de Provence (#431). A Rosé blended from Syrah, Cabernet, Grenache and Cinsault that I was expecting to have retained some residual sugars and express a lot of youthful and exuberant fruit. I was wrong. The Saint André had a charming nose of marzipan and raspberries but in the mouth it was dry and had a very faint raspberry-sparkling-water note. The hints of fruit morphed into creamy and buttery overtones most likely from malolactic fermentation.

Malolactic fermentation (MLF) is a conversion of malic acid found in grapes after a primary fermentation and turning it into lactic acid as a way to soften the wines’ acidity. It is a choice of the winemaker to add this extra fermentation to sculpt the acidity into a rounder mouth feel that can exhibit flavors of butter—as is the case with Diacetyl, a byproduct of MLF.

Now I imagine that the Rosé would have been a smash with some food, but by tasting without a meal the wine was unable to captivate our palates, it was without a partner to help bring out some of it’s subtleties. I acknowledge the fact that the potential of the wines (especially the Saint André) could be achieved if the circumstances were different but the fact is…they were not and the wines left a poor impression on me.

The night was not a total drag; I was still riding the high of the Ducks 3-0 victory over Colorado Avalanche earlier in the day and I was in the company of some great friends, making for a relaxing Saturday in my book.

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