Why is it that many of the top restaurants across the country serve 1 or 2 rose wines by the glass? Probably because they marry so well with the food.
The challenge then becomes finding the good ones and then training your staff how to sell them.
Yes, finding good rose is really hard……but let me tell you first hand…..it is easier today then it has ever been. Thankfully, more & more winemakers understand “if you want a good rose, you have to set out to make a good rose”.
Over the past couple of decades many winemakers took the “bleed off” (saignee) from red wine production & then valiantly tried to make something decent from it. While the saignee made for more extracted & impactful RED wine, it most often made so-so pink wine.
Why? Well to start with the red grapes were often harvested at higher brix levels & therefore higher glycerine, tannin & potential alcohol levels. The resulting roses would be bigger, riper…and higher in all of the wrong places.
Today in comparison, winemakers will pick the grapes earlier at lower brix, glycerine, tannins & potential alcohol levels…..then more gently whole cluster press them (looking not to extract unwanted bitterness from the greener seeds) & additionally keeping the acidity higher & the wine therefore lighter, fresher, crisper & much more food friendly. This is quite the sacrifice in many cases as they receive a scant half the price they would have gotten for the red wine produced from the same grapes./
Still, we the consumer are now able to get more & more renditions AND of better quality.
Recently we did a tasting of PINK wines with our team down at DK Steakhouse to show them what is now available on the pink front.
2010 Birichino Vin Gris
The French refer to their red wines as Noir….& their white wines as Blanc. What is in between black & white? Gray……..hence Gris. These kinds of “grey” wines, especially pale in color like this one is often an indication of where the winemaker’s head is at on this subject. Well this is one really worth seeking out, especially given the very reasonable price point. The base for this fabulous “grey”wine is 126 year Cinsault vines….with a little Grenache (planted in 1910) & Rolle (ala Whispering Angel) added in……all done by former long time Bonny Doon winemaker John Locke. Pink, delicious, & ideal for Summer Time sipping AND with a WIDE range of foods.
2011 Scherrer Rose
This is without a doubt one of the finest Roses we have ever had out of California. Winemaker/owner Fred Scherrer took advantage of the extremely cool growing conditions of the 2011 harvest in the Russian River valley & steered some of the Calypso Vineyard Syrah to create the base/foundation of the 2011. (While the Syrah would have made for some so-so red Syrah, it made for absolutely stunning pink wine material). To that, Fred blended in some Grenache for aromatics, delicious-ness & completeness. Boy, did it turn out terrific.
2008 Selene Rose
Winemaker/owner, Mia Klein, has been one of Napa Valley’s winemaking icons for decades, having worked on projects such as Dalla Valle, Araujo, Viader, Spottswoode, just to name a few. Her own label is Selene, where one of her standout red wines is a Cabernet Sauvignon from Dead Fred vineyard down in southern Napa Valley. Well 2008 was like the 2nd or 3rd drought vintage in a row, plus this vineyard suffered severe frost damage in 2008 with a 20% loss. Rather than discarding the under ripe Cabernet, she decide to make a killer rose with it, since it was really good rose material. Here it is!!!!! 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, whole cluster pressed–heady, masculine with lots of stuffing…AND well rounded & more harmonious due to the 5 years of bottle age. Quite the experience!….especially with roasted kalua pig or beef luau.
THREE Italian Roses
Over the years it has been super challenging for me to find really good Italian Pink wines. Here are 3 however, which should ring your bell, as it did mine. The Corte Gardoni Bardolino “Chiaretto” is an absolutely delicious, food friendly gulp-er produced from the Corvina grape in Italy’s veneto region up in the northeast (same region as the more famous Valpolicella & Amarone red wines. the Castello di Ama Rosato is a stellar, quite hard to come by Tuscan blend of Sangiovese & Merlot blend from a landmark Chianti Classico winery. Finally, there is the Punta Crena Pettirosso (not pictured) which is surprisingly heady, fizzy, delicious blend of the Rossesse & Sangiovese grape varieties grown on steep, rocky hillsides on the picturesque Ligurian Coast. All 3 are fabulous!
TWO Southern French Roses
Here are two terrific Pink wines which are not only delicious, but also capture the essence & soul of southern France. The Clos Ste. Magdeleine Cassis Rose is a very stunning blend of Grenache, Cinsault & Mourvedre grown on their seaside, limestone soiled estate vineyard which jutts out into the multi hued blue Mediterranean surrounded on 3 sides by water. Something special happened in the 2011 vintage, because the resulting wine is by far the best I’ve tasted from them. Gros Nore is a standout red Bandol producer, whose hearty, gamey, masculine soulful red Bandol proved to be something to behold, especially when served with some type of roasted game or stew. Well guess what? They also produce a very noteworthy rose too which can rival their famous neighbor down the road, Domaine Tempier.
Marquiliani “Rose de Sciaccarellu”
is a standout Rose from the rugged isle of Corsica off the southern tip of France. A friend noted that this rose is so weightless & airy, it is like drinking a cloud. After you swallow, all that left is perfume. At any rate, this REALLY is worth seeking out to try. It offers far more than just a romantic notion.
Lasalle Brut Rose “Premier Cru”
While Rose Champagnes might be a fad, this Lasalle Brut Rose is superb & for us really stands out among its peers, because of its supreme elegance, pedigree, purity, finesse & tiny, flirtatious bubbles. It currently is one of our absolute favorite Champagnes because of that.
Patrick Bottex Bugey Cerdon Rose “La Cueille”
We ended the tasting with this unusual, unique, fruity, slight sweet, fizzy pink “country” from an appellation which lies somewhere between Savoie (in eastern France) & Beaujolais in southern Bugundy. The grape varieties are Poulsard & Gamay Noir as one would expect given the close proximity to Savoie & Beaujolais. What one does not expect is how captivating & completely refreshing this wine really is. With your first sip, you will remember it forever. It is kind of like ending your meal with a sorbet….something uplifting & refreshing. Given the recent, meteoric success of Italy’s Moscato d’Asti, this one is sure to follow the same path.