I’ve thought at times that Rosé was doomed to suffer the same fate as an all-too-short summer romance: blissful and breezy but not something meant to be enjoyed post-vacation.
That’s because while I’ve fallen in love with the way a chilled Rosé can accentuate everything good about a summer holiday, I have had hit-and-miss experiences with the wine at home. I’ve ended up with overly fruity or syrupy sweet bottles languishing half-empty in my refrigerator.
Having just spent some time being wooed by the Rosés of Southern France, I’m determined to make my relationship with the refreshing and crispy wine continue now that I’m back on American soil.
And there’s more motivation for doing this than simply reliving my vacation. Rosé is the ideal hot-weather wine. A bone-dry wine with round fruit notes is the perfect wine to pair with the ultra-ripe tomatoes and stone fruits of August. And bolder-style Rosés work great with heartier dishes, such as pulled-pork sandwiches.
Rosé, in general, is made with red wine grapes. For this reason, there are many varietals of Rosé. On the shelves of wine shops around Los Altos, there are Rosés made from Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Pinot Noir and more.
The color of Rosé spans the full pink spectrum. Depending on the varietal of grape used, Rosé ranges from soft onion-skin tones to hot-hot pink. Rosé earns its happy hue from contact with the red grape skins – a process called maceration. The longer contact the juice of the grapes has with the skins, the deeper the color. The maceration period of Rosé is far shorter than that used in making red wine.
Rosé flavors vary as dramatically as the colors. Historically, Old World versions (those made in Spain and France, for example) display greater nuance and complexity. In the past, California has been associated primarily with White Zinfandel, a wine that tends to be far too fruit-punch tasting. A new breed of California Rosé is changing all that, with winemakers bringing true passion to their Rosés. One example of this is Bonny Doon’s 2012 Vin Gris de Cigare, which is crisp and refreshing.
In search of other great Rosés, I made my way to Artisan Wine Depot in Mountain View. It is a ridiculously fun shop to browse in general, but their offerings of Rosé done right made my heart pitter-patter. With the help of one of the shop’s knowledgeable associates, I found four wonderful bottles each under $15.
From the New World
• Juliette’s Dazzle Pinot Grigio Rose, 2012
This wine from Washington is actually made with white-wine Pinot Grigio grapes. The vintner leaves the grapes on the vine until the desired color develops and then slowly ferments the wine to create the soft-pink hue. It’s a lovely wine with strawberry and floral aromas. The cherry flavors and crisp finish make it perfect for bringing to a summer evening concert.
• Lucia “Lucy” (Pisoni) Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2012
Produced in California by the Pisoni family, the lush minerality and juicy fruit attributes make this wine a keeper. It would be ideal beside a charcuterie platter or a selection of oozy cheeses. What’s more, producers donate $1 from every bottle sold to breast cancer research.
From the Old World
• Bodegas Muga Rioja Rosado, 2011
This wine from Spain is bursting with tart fruit aromas, such as unripe peaches and pineapple. A nice acidity and long finish of apples make it a nice complement to potato salad, tarragon chicken and other picnic treats.
• Cave de Saint-Roch-les-Vignes Côtes de Provence Rosé, 2012
A classic example of Provencal-style Rosé, this wine is soft but zingy, with lots of citrus attributes and the kind of minerality that makes you want to take sip after sip.
With each of these wines, I could taste the care and attention of the winemakers. Like the best Rosés I sampled on vacation, these wines call out to be served with summertime food. They are delicate, revitalizing and romantic.
Mountain View resident Christine Moore is learning more about wine every day. To read her blog, visit sheepishsommelier.blogspot.com.