What a Great Rosé!

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2018 Bodegas Breca Rosé, Calatayud Spain

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I’ve been wondering when I was going to get around to posting about wine. I’ve been so busy getting things going for the shop that I just haven’t had time. Then I tasted this Spanish rose a few days ago and it stopped me in my tracks. This was going to be the first wine I introduced to my family, friends and the Rae’s Place community.

I LOVE rosé. While I prefer rosé from the South of France I enjoy any rosé that is made well and tastes good. The wines from Provence, Languedoc, Roussillon, etc., are generally crisp, fruity and refreshing (my idea of what everyone should drink when it’s hot outside). So, how did this wine from Northeastern Spain sway me away from the azure seas of Southern France?

First and foremost, it is bright and lively like a rosé should be, but then there’s this amazing presence of dried fruit on the nose the palate and much more body than I was expecting. I thought it was a few years old but there was too much acidity left in the wine for it to be “falling apart”. I checked the label and sure enough a 2018, current vintage, and the beginning of the vintage at that. There was so much structure in the wine. It was more than a refresher, this rosé wanted…FOOD! I was thinking of salmon, pork tenderloin and sushi. While it can be hard to find a rose that can go from the deck to the dinner table, this is one does that in spades.

So, what makes this wine so good? We have Jorge Ordonez to thank for that. Groupo Jorge Ordonez owns eight wineries covering thirteen different growing regions (DOs) throughout Spain. He has also been importing Spanish wines to the US since the late 1980s. His goal has always been to protect and represent little know wine making areas, indigenous grapes and wine makers that hold on to old-school practices like dry farming, organics and non-intervention. This offering from his Bodegas Breca winery is right in line with this. The grape used is Grenache (Garnacha), the most popular grape in the world for making rosé. But this is Garnacha de Aragon, the oldest and least genetically manipulated clone of Grenache on the planet. This is like tasting a Roma tomato from the store next to an heirloom tomato from the garden or a heritage breed of pork next to the one we all see in stores. When you try them, you think to yourself “this is the way it’s supposed to taste”.

I can’t wait to get this into the shop.  There are a few more things I should mention about this wine before I go: it has already received 90pts from Wine Spectator, rosés don’t usually rate much higher than that as they are usually afterthoughts for wineries or made simply for enjoying in the sun. This rosé is clearly different. Also, this wine will be incredibly affordable. Ridiculously affordable.

Thank you for spending a little time with us and we look forward to helping you “Create Happy Hour at Home”

Jeff Champion: Owner of Rae’s Place Fine Wine Boutique


The Affects of Alcohol on Wine

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A question I’m often asked is “How do I know if a wine is good?”


Here’s a hint: usually, it’s not the varietal! Whether or not you know it, most people like styles of wine, not a particular varietal. They’ve just found their style in a particular Cabernet or Chardonnay and believe that’s the kind of wine they like. Styles of wine can be gauged in many ways: dry or sweet, full bodied or light, fruity, earthy, the list goes on and on.


The first thing I do is check the alcohol level. Few things affect the outcome of a wine like alcohol. It does much more than get you tipsy or drunk; it affects body, weight, texture, and fruit/sweet levels in wine. Varietals affect these things too, but they are generally limited to the nature of the grape. You adjust the volume of a wine with alcohol.


Typically, wine with an alcohol level of 9%-13% will be lighter in style, have less body, less fruit flavor and more acidity (acidity=balance). Be careful though, there are low alcohol wines that taste cloyingly sweet (I’m looking at you Washington Riesling…), these wines lack the acidity to balance the remaining sugar that wasn’t consumed by yeast. A wine in the 13%-14% range should show moderate levels of body, fruit and acidity (generally more balanced). Wines in the 14%-15+% range will have full body, texture, mouthfeel; and a riper fruit/sweet feel. They can also tend toward the stewed or over-ripe feel (think red zinfandel, some syrahs/shirazs and big cabs.)


Note: The alcohol level on a bottle of wine can be found on the front of the label (around the perimeter) or on the back of the label towards the bottom.


In the meantime, lets dig a little deeper into how alcohol gets into wine.  Alcohol starts as sugar in the grape. The longer the grape can sit on the vine and enjoy that warm sun, the more sugar the grape will have. After harvest, the grapes are fermented in large vats by adding yeast. The yeast eats the sugar as food and excretes alcohol as a byproduct (different strains of yeast can also affect the end flavors in the wine). So, the more sugar in the grape, the more alcohol can end up in the finished product.


Winemakers can affect the amount of alcohol in their finished wine by controlling fermentation times and temperatures. If they want their wine to be full dry (no leftover sugar) they let fermentation run its course. If they choose to make sweeter wines or end up somewhere in the middle, they stop fermentation early, while there’s still sugar left in the wine.


Finally, it’s up to the customer to buy a few bottles and enjoy the process of deciding for themselves. Of course, that is best done with the help family and friends, cheese, fruit, dinner and the making of great memories. Cheers!

Jeff Champion, Owner of Rae’s Place Fine Wine Boutique

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