Gut Check loves us some wine. We want a bottle with bang and a bang for our buck, so every week we will visit a local wine shop, where an expert will recommend a good-value wine priced under $15. We'll drink some and tell you whether we want to continue -- because the only time Gut Check has our nose in the air is while we're draining our glass.
Rachael Buehrer, the 24-year-old co-owner of Vino Gallery (4701 McPherson Avenue; 314-932-5665) is in danger of losing her oenophile street cred. As spring creeps in, Buehrer and her partner and fiancé Alex Head order a bottle of rosé while dining out in the Central West End, drawing raised eyebrows from neighbors and customers.
"They'll come up and say, 'Don't you two own a wine shop?' But rosé is my soapbox," Buehrer says with a laugh.
Earlier this week Gut Check visited the bright, modern wine shop and art gallery, where we took another foray into rosé with a 2010 Domaine Les Aphillanthes Côtes-du-Rhône rosé.
The Domaine Aphillanthes rosé, priced at $13.99 at Vino Gallery, is made by Daniel Boulle, a small estate grower in the southern Rhône Valley in France, a producer known for his Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and whose products top-echelon wine snoot Robert Parker says "may be the richest Côtes-du-Rhône I have tasted."
"We work with smaller producers, so we always have new stuff, which keeps it fresh and seasonal," says Buehrer, who was nominated along with with Head as 2010 finalists for BusinessWeek's America's Best Young Entrepreneurs.
This rosé is a four-grape blend of (in order of prominence) cinsault, grenache, counoise and mourvèdre.
"The typical rosé is dry," Buehrer notes, "but people see the pink color and think it's going to be sweet."
Where'd they get that idea? For that we have white zinfandel to thank.
And what's the difference? True rosé is made by allowing the skins from red varietals to mingle with the juice for a time, but removing them rather than leaving the skins in contact during the fermentation process (as is done with red wine). White zin, on the other hand, is made with what Buehrer delicately terms "recycled runoff." The process is sufficiently complex, and the wine that results sufficiently awful, that we're going to leave it at that.
But the distinction between white zin and true rosé sheds some light on Buehrer's notion of the clientele she aims to attract to her Central West End store, in her words, "Discerning, educated, really want to know about wine. Wine customers now are younger, smarter and don't want trophy bottles."
Buehrer's own interest in wine isn't hard to trace. "My dad collects wine," she says. "My family is French, and we traveled a lot. Wine is the perfect hobby for a curious person like me -- the more you learn, the less you know. Nobody knows everything about wine."
To those disinclined to try rosé, Buehrer urges, "Give it a shot. You can't beat it for accessibility and versatility."
And how might this week's wine, the '10 Les Aphillanthes Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé, stack up? Buehrer remarks on the beautiful, spring-like color before sniffing, tasting and discerning "forward strawberry, rose petal, and some spiciness."
Gut Check's Take? Couldn't have said it better ourself. This rosé is juicy and pleasant, with light fruit at first, followed by light acid. Like the Vino Gallery itself, the bottle is a fresh, bright take on an old tradition.
The Vino Gallery hosts tastings every Saturday and "Wine 101" classes every Thursday.