By Rick Riozza
We are still figuratively knee-deep in pink wine.
As reported, Rosés are the “new hit” fun wines for the warmer days a-comin where we can enjoy the light qualities of a white wine along with the touch more fuller flavors of a red. This wine works all day long from lunch, through midday quaffers, appetizers, and on to a nice dinner.
Last week we were all about the dry Rosé of Provence. Now we’re back in town looking through rose-colored glasses for that quintessential refreshing “new world” Pacific Coast Rosé.
And the pink sky is the limit as to which one of your favorite red grapes are going to blush things up and lightly infuse fruit to this lively wine.
We say lively because a good Rosé has that zing, that tang, that ethereal quality which causes the heart and mind to appreciate all that is going on with this sunset spectrum-hued vino.
Think of the red wine grapes you enjoy and then, as in a different universe, imagine them with an altered flavor contour. This all occurred a few decades ago when the red Zinfandel grape was utilized to make the blush wine which became known as White Zinfandel. And that wine really ruled supreme for while—but our local winemakers were too imaginative and artistic to be held long to one red grape.
A very fun wine-tasting activity for the springtime and summer is for the server to secretly chill up three or four previously selected Rosés and pour them side by side into glasses and have the tasters guess or even try to figure out which wine is made from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir or the Merlot grape.
It’s an amusing endeavor where everyone in the tasting gets to chime in with their imaginative opinions. Fun for sure—but honestly, attempting to discern strictly by color will not work. Who knows how long the red grape skins have been macerating (stilling and steeping) in their own juice. A Cab whose dark red skins have been steeping for only one hour will produce a wine much lighter in color than the brown-reddish colored Gewurztraminer grape that’s been in the vat all day.
The wine tasting will then move on from the visual to the gustatory—no complaints here!—to determine the fruit profile in the wine. And of course the wine party continues with some entertaining observations & estimations that really make for a fun time.
We’ve previously discussed how good Rosés are usually produced. But suffice to remember, the pulp or flesh of the grape is the wine’s main ingredient by volume, containing grape sugars, acids, and mainly water. The flesh of almost all wine grapes is a gray color.
The skin is the most important ingredient in red and Rosé wines, containing a high concentration of tannins, coloring matter, and compounds which determine the eventual wine’s flavors.
The brief contact with red, black, or purple grape skins generally produce most of the pink wines we enjoy. And as you can see, the taster really gets the opportunity to get into the winemakers mind when experiencing where on the spectrum of hues and flavors the wine you’re quaffing takes its stance.
We Californians are certainly blessed to have so many blush wines on our market’s shelves. Generally speaking, the quality of the Rosé is indicative by the price. And the price range from about $8 to $20 will get you to tasting some good to very good stuff.
If you wish to treat yourself to some excellent pink, here are some recommendations:
2011 Carducci Rosato Rosé Napa Valley ($18): Definitely Italian heritage meets California dreamin’. This is an Italian-style Rosato that is as juicy as it is festive. Cabernet enthusiasts will love this Cab-kissed nuanced, balanced, and savory vino. Want an Italian wedding? Pour this!
2012 Toad Hollow Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir, Eye of the Toad, Sonoma County ($13): Bright, fetching pink color and a fresh, lively strawberry aroma is enhanced by a trace of the depth of superb Pinot Noir flavors. Always a winner, and as good a dry rosé as you can find at this price.
2012 Pedroncelli Dry Rosé of Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley ($12):
Now this is what a “white Zinfandel” can be: Ruby-red color with aromas of just-picked strawberries. Red raspberry, currant and plum flavors are highlighted in this crisp, enjoyable wine.
2012 Bonny Doon Vineyard Central Coast (California) Vin Gris de Cigare ($16): This Rosé is made with a “less is more” approach. It’s a Rhône-style blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Rousanne, Grenache Blanc and Cinsault. Pale salmon pink in color, it has subtle aromas of fresh strawberries and peaches. It’s crisp and elegant, with some unexpected roundness midway through. This would be great with a grilled turkey burger, or seared ahi tuna.
2012 Stoller Tempranillo Rosé Dundee Hills ($25). A Rosé from the “Rioja” grape. This delicious Oregon wine, features wild strawberry, white peach, and citrus blossom notes with dried cranberry flavor on the finish. Simply a classy but fun aperitif with Mediterranean appetizers.
La Vie en Rosé. Cheers!
Rick is the desert’s sommelier-about-town entertaining at wine events & tastings. Contact email@example.com