Roll out the rosé as the season approaches

May 12, 2013

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there! I received a reminder from friends at Gary’s it is time to lay in some rosé. This is an area in which one can find a wide selection of summer wine priced well under $20. I recently sampled a few delicious examples.

Following is a selection you may be able to find. Keep in mind that although Sutter Home White Zinfandel is an example of rosé, this category is very wide, reaching from very dry to cloyingly sweet and many gradients in between. Please don’t serve these too cold - 50-55 degrees is best. Cold temperatures reduce fragrance and can make the wine appear out of balance.

Rosé color is often reached by stirring or steeping the grape skins into the juice. As frequent readers are aware, it is from the seeds, stems and skins that wine also extracts most tannins. Often the balance in the best of these is the fruit acid tannin rather than too much residual sugar. A clue here on sweetness - in most cases, the higher the alcohol, the lower the sweetness. Don’t mistake the aromatic fruitiness of a well-made wine for sweetness, a common occurrence in those who are new to wine tasting.

Crios de Susanna Balbo Malbec Rosé from Mendoza in Argentina can be found priced under $13 and by the case around $120. Deep, vibrant rosé color with fresh, ripe wild strawberry aromas. On the palate, strawberries, cherries and spice notes, plus a clean, dry finish. Perfect with chicken and Asian cuisine. Also a great porch sipper. Another in the same price range is Goats do Roam 2012 from South Africa. A pleasing blend of 46 percent Syrah, 33 percent Grenache, 11 percent Mourvedre and 10 percent Gamay Noir (this is not PN). Strawberry and cherry aromas open to fruit-driven sweetness and refreshing acidity with a clean finish.

From Rioja in Spain, Marquis de Caceres Rosé 2011 is made of Tempranillo. Pretty coral pink color with hints of raspberry and strawberry. On the palate lively, refreshing and smooth. You may be able to locate this priced under $10.  Elk Cove 2012 Oregon, a little upscale at $16 when buying a case or $19/bottle, is a lip smacker. It is finished completely dry and made of PN.  White flowers, watermelon and strawberry aromas. In this case the wine’s color is produced by blending red and clear PN juice. Chateau d’Acqueria Tavel Rosé 2011 is priced just under $19 and is worth the few extra bucks. I had it on my list for 25 years, and d’Acqueria is one of the most consistent producers of rosé in the Rhone Valley in France. I can’t remember a vintage rated lower than 88 since the 2002 got an 87.  On occasion it rises to 90. In case you are unaware, it is rare these “off wines” achieve that level of write-up by the raters. Dark pomegranate colored, intense nose with strawberry, sour cherry, lavender aromas and lovely caramel and pomegranate flavors on the medium-bodied palate. Bright acidity balances the fruit, and if there is a flaw, it may be a bit alcoholic at 14 percent. Letting it breathe dissipates the alcohol, but it also reduces the huge aromas. Barbecued pork is a great accompaniment for d’Acqueria Rosé.

Last, but far from least, Falesco Vitiano Rosato 2012 from Umbria, Italy, may take a few weeks for your wine person to order for you. It is one of my top picks and should be priced under $120/case or $10/bottle. A complex nose with aromas of with rose petal, strawberry and candy; on the palate tart berry and stone fruit flavor with a hint of minerality on the long, clean finish. This is a dry wine, but the fruit is spectacular. Accompanies a very wide variety of food and is a fine aperitif as well.

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