Food-friendly wines can be fun and fine

March 18, 2019

Domaine Paul Mas Cremant de Limoux Brut Rosé, from Languedoc, Roussillon, France, is a beautiful salmon color with an active fine bead like that normally associated with Champagne. It is quite delicious. Regulars are aware I am constantly looking for affordable, food-friendly sparklers to review. This Rosé sparkler is a blend of Chard, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir that fills the bill. Under $17 it rates a solid 88 points. Strawberries, lemon curd and apple aromas with citrus, apple flavors and bright acidity supporting a long, clean finish. The Blanc de Blanc NV at $16 is also a bargain. Floral nose and lemon palate extend through the finish. Paul Mas was established in 1892, and its current leader is Jean-Claude Mas. M. Mas is a prominent grape grower with 12 domaines in his portfolio. His sense of humor suits me also. For example, some labels found under Arrogant Frog: Croak Rotie, Lily Pad Noir and Blanc, Tutti Frutti Blanc and Ribet. Paul Mas La Forge Estate Viognier Reserve 2017 was very well received at $17/88 points. Golden straw color with peach and vanilla palate from barrel aging. Oak shows up again in the long finish. Those who enjoy Viognier will recognize that prices under $20 are rare for good product.

Those who wish to buy American should look into McManis Family Viognier from the Central Valley of California. Pennsylvania Liquor Control has it, so I guess it is findable. I sampled some 2017 at a Philly tasting. Notes read 88-89 plus 2 price points, under $12. Light straw color, peach, apricot and honey nose, creamy palate with peachy orange and a hint of vanilla flavor, finishes long with some mineral notes. Bonterra Viognier 2017 from Mendocino is also a decent buy under $14. Peach, apricot, lemon, honeysuckle nose, apricot and peach palate with barrel spice nuance. Crisp acidity cleans up long finish. It is a blend of Viognier, Marsanne, Rosanne and Muscat. While McManis, Bonterra and Cline make good American Viognier, it is the French who seem to have the best handle on it.

Here are two food-friendly, summer sipper Rosés priced under $15. One is from Long Island and the other from one of my fav French producers, Ferraton Pere et Fils from the Cote du Rhone.

Both are 2018 and both come in at 88 McD points. I have written of the 2016 and ‘17 Ferraton Samorens Rosé previously. It has consistently been rated above 88 points since 2012.

The 2018 follows that trend. It is great with food from the North Mediterranean, as well as Japanese, due to its dry/acid-bright mineral finish. Pale pink rose-colored, the nose is of fresh berries, and the palate repeats with strawberry and raspberry flavors.

A typical blend of 75 percent Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, this usually shows that lovely raspberry/strawberry profile. Great summer sipper!

Wolffer Estate Long Island Rosé is another consistent 88-89 McD. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, the 2018 is a lightly orange-tinted pale copper color. Another dry Rosé with a yeast-driven, creamy palate and cleansing acidity.

It’s complex for a Rosé wine, with smooth tannins and muted mineral back notes. A swirl provides a lovely bouquet of apples, pears, mown hay, and lilac. Be alert here – Wolffer also makes two other Rosés, one from Argentina which I haven’t reviewed, and the Summer in a Bottle, which runs around $22 and 89 points. It is quite different, featuring peaches and apricots along with mown hay and honeysuckle. This is what the crowd in the Hamptons is drinking currently, very chi-chi. I think the Estate is a better value.

I would be remiss indeed not to congratulate Mike Zygmonski and the crew at Fish On in Lewes, for doing a spectacular job on the Nik Weis dinner and wine pairing last Saturday. This week’s column was well in the can, so I am deferring the review to next week’s work. Still, I couldn’t hold my keyboard until then to say thank you for a top-flight performance. I love this job!