Showing posts with label rose. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rose. Show all posts

Monday, October 30, 2023

French Rosé At A Bargain Price

Here is a bargain rosé from the Perrin family. They have been making wine in the south of France for more than a century. They adorn the back label of the 2022 La Ferme Julien with a quote attributed to Leonardo da Vinci: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Is it really so simple? Stay away from chemical fertilizers, use natural nutrients in the soil to bring the vines to maturity, adopt a laissez-faire attitude in the cellar. Not so difficult, I suppose.

La Ferme Julien is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault grapes, it carries alcohol at a mere 12.5% abv and it sells for around $10.

This wine has a soft, light, onion skin pink hue. The nose is fresh and fruity. There is a bushel basket of strawberries in the aroma package, along with citrus minerality and that wonderful smell of rain on a hot sidewalk. The palate is dominated by the acidity, which is quite lively. Ripe red fruit is there, of course, as is a healthy dose of lemon and tangerine. The wine finishes long and the acidity keeps on working after the sip. 

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Monday, September 19, 2022

Russian River Bubbles, In Pink

The folks at Sonoma-Cutrer are celebrating 40 years of passion, imagination and pride in 2022.  They say their approach to winemaking "marries Burgundian traditions and California ingenuity." Their trophy case is brimming with awards their wines have won through the decades.

The winery says that the 2019 vintage featured rain, rain and more rain, plus a summer free of radical temperature extremes.  The harvest started a week later than usual and proceeded methodically - just the way a winemaker wants it. 

The grapes are 70% Owsley Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from the Vine Hill vineyard, both prime locations in the Russian River Valley. This pink sparkler was crafted by Sonoma-Cutrer's Pinot Noir Winemaker, Zidanelia Arcidiacono. The wine rested on the spent yeast cells for two and a half years before disgorging. Alcohol sits at 12% abv and it retails for $55.

This pink rosé has a light onionskin hue and a decent froth of bubbles which form on the pour. The nose has strawberry and cherry aromas mixed in with a toasty scent. The palate is busy with red fruit and minerality, while the acidity is razor sharp. It is the sort of sparkling wine which is thought to be a "special occasion" wine, but don't wait. Opening this bottle is the special occasion. 

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Monday, July 25, 2022

Rosé From - Where Else? - The South Of France

Chateau des Sarrins took its name from the Saracens, who ran this part of southern France in ancient times. A Saracen big shot is said to have died on what is now this estate. They say that somewhere on the property he is buried in his gold suit of armor. 

The 2021 Les Sarrins Rosé is made from grapes that were, maybe, grown right next to that burial site. It makes a nice backstory idea, at least. The grapes in this wine are 60% Grenache, 25% Cinsault, 10% Rolle (Vermentino) and 5% Mourvèdre. It is imported by Terlato Wines, hits 13% abv and retails for $25.

This product of Provence delivers as expected from the region. The light pink color gives way to a nose of strawberries and cherries with a hint of lemon peel also showing up. The palate shows all the ripe red fruit, citrus minerality and a damn fine acidity. Salads for sure, but get some oysters for this one. 

Monday, March 7, 2022

Four Great Pink Wines For Spring - Or Anytime

Wine importers are important.  Good ones can sniff out the good stuff and bring it to us from all over the world.  Mack and Schühle are Miami-based importers who find great wine and pass it along at a price that is more than fair.  Founded in 1939, the company expanded to the Miami office a number of years ago.  They produce wine in Italy and Spain and distribute other wines globally.

Here are a few pink wines found by Mack and Schühle which would fit nicely on anyone's porch or patio.

Mosketto Frizzante Rosato NV

This fun, pink wine comes from the Vino d'Italia appellation, from grapes grown in Piedmont.  It's a blend of 80% Moscato and 20% Brachetto grapes which the distributor says is produced in a "modified Martinotti method."  Fermentation is stopped to keep the alcohol low and the fruit fresh.  Alcohol content is only 5.5% abv - a real summer sipper - and the wine retails for $12.

This wine is very sweet, very low in alcohol and as drinkable as it gets.  There is no brain-stumping complexity here, just sweet, simple sipping pleasure.  The Moscato/Brachetto blend is a wine of Italy, one that shows sweet floral aromas and sweet peaches on the palate.  Acidity is fairly low, but the wine pours frizzante and will be suitable for spicy or salty dishes.

Art of Earth Organic Rosé
2019 comes from Michigan negociant Woodberry Wine.  They produce wines from Germany, Spain, Argentina, Italy and this one, from France.

The appellation is Vin de France - I don't have any more specific sourcing for the vines - and the organic grapes are 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah.  The wine has alcohol at 13% abv and a sticker price of $14.

This beautiful, pale salmon-colored wine has a nose which is just as gorgeous - melon, cherry and strawberry aromas dominate, with a little herbal angle in the mix.  Herbs become more focused on the palate, which carries a nice tartness along with the racy acidity.  There is a grapefruit flavor draping the red fruit and adding to the freshness.  It's a really great, and complex, rosé. 

The 2020 Fête de Fleurs Rosé was made in the heart of the AOC Côtes de Provence Region by a cooperative of a hundred local winegrowers, Maîtres Vignerons de Vidauban.  It was formed 110 years ago in the spirit of rosé, the raison d'etre of Provence.  The terroir features the stony galet soil for which the area is known and the vintage was blessed with dry mistral winds.

The importer says the wine is released each year in time for the French celebration of Springtime, the Fete des Fleurs or Festival of Flowers.  The grapes involved are 40% Grenache, 35% Cinsault, 10% Carignane, 10% Syrah, 3% Mourvèdre and 2% Rolle.  It was aged on the lees, or sur lie, carries alcohol at 13% abv - possibly as low as 11.5% - and it sells for $19.

The Acquesi Brachetto DOC Piemonte is a spumante, or sparkling wine, made from 100% Brachetto grapes grown in the Monferrato area of Piedmont.  The wine carries a very low alcohol content of 6.5% abv and a retail suggestion of $18, although it is usually lower.

This wine colors up in the beautiful garnet red for which Brachetto is famous, and it has a layer of fine, light violet bubbles atop it, which are quite long lasting.  The nose is rich with cherries, strawberries, red currant, flowers and an earthy element - an absolutely wonderful collection of aromas.  The palate is sweet with a cherry pie flavor and baking spices, all rolled into a candy treat.  The acidity is very nice.  While the winery calls this a dessert wine - it is, really - it also pairs nicely with dessert favorites like anisette cookies, chocolates or apricot tarts.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Future Of Italian Rosé?

The Antinori family is widely known in Italy as a great source for wine, since they've been producing it for more than six centuries.  They are reportedly the 10th oldest family-owned company in the world.  If they decide to make a wine, it’s difficult to carve out a reason not to try it.

They are hitting rosé season right in stride, with the Tormaresca Calafuria Rosato Salento IGT 2020.  Tormaresca was founded in 1998 by Marchesi Antinori, and it was named after the old seaside towers in Puglia.  Calafuria refers to the bays of the Puglia region.  This pink wine is made from Negroamaro grapes which were grown at the Masseria Maime estate in Salento, Puglia.  The alcohol is an easy-drinking 12% abv and the retail price is $15.

Tormaresca’s brand manager, Vito Palumbo, says he is seeing "a shift away from traditional Italian grapes to those which are lesser known."  He feels that Negroamaro is poised to be the next big thing in the current emergence of Italian rosé wines.  

The wine is beautiful enough, but the label is an eye-catcher as well, designed by illustrator Valeria Petrone.  The image is said to be that of a woman dreaming of Puglia.

This pink wine’s nose is laden with ripe, red fruit - cherries, strawberries - and a touch of citrus - lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit.  There is also an herbal note, a sort of greenness than leans into minerality.  The palate brings the red fruit first, followed by the citrus.  The acidity is great, and the mouthfeel is quite full - it drinks like a red wine.  If Negroamaro is the future of rosé, bring it on.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Beaujolais Rosé

In the U.S folks may know very little about Beaujolais wines except that they see them stacked in their grocery store's wine aisle every Thanksgiving.  It is true that for many, Beaujolais Nouveau is a holiday tradition, but the Gamay grape is not just a one-trick pony.  They also go pink.

Beaujolais vineyards account for more than half of the world's Gamay grapevines, and most of them go into red wines, the youthful Nouveau as well as the more respected Beaujolais Cru wines.  Some of them, however, are used to make rosé wines, giving Beaujolais a usefulness in the spring and summer as well as the fall and winter.  Of course, good rosé goes great with leftover turkey and ham, too.  I was given the opportunity to sample a handful of Beaujolais rosé wines.

Château Cambon Beaujolais Rosé 2018

Château Cambon is a small parcel of Beaujolais vineyard land between Morgon and Brouilly.  They make their pink wine from whole cluster Gamay grapes, stems and all, keeping the skins in contact for two days.  The wine is aged for five months and bottled with minimal SO2.  Alcohol hits 12% abv and the retails price is around $20.

This pink Gamay wine has a fairly rich color, rather like salmon meets orange.  There is a bit of a Jolly Rancher note to the strawberry nose, and an herbal angle.  Strawberry plays big in the flavor profile, too, with a distinctive earthy tone to it.  It has great heft - it drinks like a red - and a very refreshing acidity.  

Château Thivin Beaujolais Villages Rosé 2018

Château Thivin dates back to the 14th century and is now under the guidance of the fifth and sixth generations of the Geoffray family, who bought the property in the 18th century.  The Château Thivin Beaujolais Villages Rosé is imported by Kermit Lynch, which is as good a recommendation as you are likely to get.  The wine’s alcohol level sits at 13% abv and the retail price is somewhere around $18.

This wine is delicately tinted light salmon.  Its nose is quite fruity - cherries, strawberries, orange - but also graced with a minerality that serves as a bedrock base for all that beauty.  The palate brings ripe red fruit, a hefty mouthfeel and a zippy acidity into play.  It’s great for salads, and even better just for sipping. 

Le Rosé d’Folie Beaujolais Rosé 2019

The owner and winemaker of Domaine des Terres Dorées is Jean Paul Brun.  The 40-acre family estate is in the village of Charnay, in the southern part of Beaujolais, just north of Lyons.  The area is beautifully nicknamed "the Region of Golden Stones."  The wine is imported by the well-respected Louis/Dressner Selections.  

Le Rosé d’Folie is made from 100% organic Gamay grapes, aged in concrete tanks, on its lees with malolactic fermentation.  The contact with the spent yeast cells and the allowance of malolactic fermentation give the wine a hefty mouthfeel.  Alcohol tips a mere 12.5% and the retail price is around $15.

This wine glows salmon pink in the glass, and smells of fresh, ripe strawberries and cherries.  On the palate the strawberry takes the lead, while a note of stone fruit slips into the arena.  There is a fairly zippy acidity to go along with the flavors.  It's Beaujolais, but bears a striking resemblance to Provençe.  

Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Rosé 2019

This pink wine comes from the southern Beaujolais hamlet of Le Breuil, where Domaine Dupeuble has been turning out wine for about five centuries.  Importer Kermit Lynch says the estate has only changed hands three times over that span, most recently in 1919.  Lynch began his involvement with the brand in the 1980s, by importing the estate's Beaujolais Nouveau.

The vineyards are tended through the practice of lutte raisonnée, which literally means "reasoned fight" but is translated in English as "supervised control."  The practice shuns synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides in favor of a more natural approach.  It is seen by many as a first step towards organic farming, but is also a happy medium for some growers.  Alcohol comes in at only 13% abv and the retail price is $17.  

The Lynch website describes the 2019 Gamay rosé from Domaine Dupeuble as the gold standard of Beaujolais rosé.  Promised are aromas of white flowers, rhubarb, and wild berries, leading to a palate which is smooth and rounded yet full of those Beaujolais minerals and a hint of citrus on the finish.  A subtle herbal quality and vibrant acidity make it a perfect match for light summer fare.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Vinho Verde Comes In Pink, Too

The Vinho Verde wine region in northern Portugal is home to some of the best white wines this side of Albariño.  Vinho Verde means, "green wine," which is not a color reference but a suggestion that the wine is quite youthful.  The white wines of Vinho Verde typically have a wonderful acidity and a slightly fizzy nature.  The lower alcohol content makes them great choices for summer sipping by the pool, but they work quite well as aperitifs at holiday parties and pair graciously with cheese plates or pasta.

Enoport United Wines has nearly 20 different brands under its Portuguese umbrella.  The name Faisão is derived from the word for a pheasant that was brought from Asia to Portugal in the middle ages.  The bird's brightly colored plumage references the hue in the bottle of the 2018 Enoport Faisão Rosé.

Winemaker Nuno Faria blended Espadeiro, Borraçal and Padeiro grapes to make this fizzy, pink wine.  I don’t think I have ever had any of those grapes before.  The grapes were completely destemmed before being crushed, which keeps the focus on the fruit and minimizes herbal notes.  Alcohol is quite low at just 10.5% abv, and the price is close to rock bottom as well, at less than $10.

This wine pours up salmon pink and fizzy in the glass.  The bubbles dissipate quickly, but they are surprising and fun.  Aromas of a wet driveway hit the nose first, a sure sign of minerality.  There are fruity raspberry and cherry notes as well as a whiff of flowers.  On the palate, raspberry and cherry flavors dominate, with a touch of lime.  The acidity is surprisingly low, but the wine sure is tasty.

Friday, February 22, 2019

It's A Wine - It's A Beer - It's Both!

The Paso Robles mainstay, Firestone Walker Brewery, was born a couple of decades ago on the Firestone family vineyard.  Adam Firestone and his brother-in-law David Walker craft a host of beers in the city that's made a name for itself as one of California's wine capitals.

Their first brews were fermented in old wine barrels, and it took two for their leadoff bottling, Double Barrel Ale.  Brewmaster Matt Brynildson now oversees the making of the suds.

They call Rosalie "the rose lover's beer."  It's part of their Terroir Project, an experiment into a marriage between beer and wine.  They say Rosalie blurs the line between beer and wine.  To make it, 100 tons of Chardonnay grapes were harvested by Castoro Winery specifically for Rosalie, with smaller amounts of Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Muscat used as well.  They used souring techniques on the beer to give it an acidity not usually found in those made with yeasts and malts.  Hibiscus flowers were thrown in during the whirlpool phase, when hops are usually poured in.  After both the beer and the wine juice were made, they were co-fermented using Pilsner malt and judicious hops.  They proudly say it's a true beer-wine hybrid.  Alcohol hits a low, low 5% abv.

I approached Rosalie with trepidation, because I'm not a fan of flavored beer.  I generally feel you can keep your pumpkin-raspberry-hibiscus beers and give me some hops, lots of ‘em.  This beverage surprised me.   It has a rich orange color, more electric than in either beer or wine.  The nose comes on with plenty of floral notes and a sour edge.  The palate shows the malt and hops as well as the hibiscus.  There's a nice acidity, a lighter feel than beer and a little more weight than wine.  I like it, hibiscus and all.

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Monday, November 19, 2018

The Beaujolais Nouveau Is Here, And It's Good

It's time again for the seasonal experience known as Beaujolais Nouveau.  The young wine that is produced and hurried to market each fall by France's Beaujolais region is here.  I'm not a fan of it, so I was quite surprised to find that it's pretty good this year.

Beaujolais Nouveau is released on the third Thursday of November at 12:01 a.m., a practice that was originated as a publicity stunt.  I've read accounts of the wine being rushed by any conveyance imaginable to the bistros across the land, each trying to get it there before their competitors.  The wine is generally touted as a great addition to both the Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.  Its pairability with the wide variety of flavors available over the holidays is, for some, legendary.  I have never been able figure why, since the wine has none of the qualities we usually look for in a mature wine.

The leading producer of Beaujolais Nouveau is Les Vins Georges Duboeuf.  You've no doubt seen his name on those bottles with the fruity labels which appear each holiday season.  The company always puts out press releases extolling the virtues of the harvest.  The copy was pretty much the same this year, "nearly perfect summer," "exceptional harvest," "grapes of highest quality," "among the greatest vintages" they've ever had.  But this year the words rang true.

Duboeuf this year has a Beaujolais Nouveau, a Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau and a Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé, which is making its American debut, all imported by Quintessential.

All three wines are made only from Gamay grapes, whole bunch harvested from the southern part of the region.  Duboeuf and his team reportedly tried some five-thousand samples over two weeks to settle on the cuvées found here.  Tough job, but someone's gotta do it.  The wines have a scale on the back label, much like Rieslings do, showing that they are somewhere between dry and medium-dry.  They hit 12.5% abv for alcohol and sells for less than $15.  The label art is quite nice this season, and is called "Foolish Pleasure" by Chloé Meyer.

The 2018 Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau is pretty good.  The nose - Gamay grapey - is nearly all dark fruit with a smattering of spice, and that profile holds true on the palate, too.  It's a clean, brisk drink that doesn't seem to fall prey to the usual complaint of being too young.  The spicy angle lends it maturity beyond its years, er, weeks.  Happy Thanksgiving.

The 2018 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé is, not surprisingly, alive with vibrant fruit aromas and flavors.  The nose has herbs and strawberries in an earthier-than-Provence framework while the palate displays cherry, strawberry and a hint of the mayhaw jelly I enjoyed as a youngster in southeast Texas.  No kidding.  The acidity is gentle but tingly.  The pink wine will be great as an aperitif or with the turkey or the ham, and especially with those Black Friday leftovers.

The 2018 Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau  is 100% Gamay wine is considered a fuller-bodied beverage than the typical Beaujolais Nouveau.  There's more complexity in it due to the granite-and-schist-laden soils of the 38 villages.  They made 85,000 cases with an alcohol number of 13% abv.  It sells for $14.  The wine is medium-dark and smells earthy, full of minerals, almost like dirt with a rusty nail stuck in it.  Good earth, though.  The palate shows plums and dark berries with a hefty dose of those fabulous minerals.  Acidity is fresh but not overpowering, while the tannins are firm enough to handle a pork chop, if you like.  The finish stays awhile and is somewhat flinty.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Santa Barbara County Wine: Presqu'ile

Driving California's Central Coast offers so many great places to stop and enjoy life that volumes have been written about them. The wineries of the region are just one facet of the joy of the Central Coast. On a recent long weekend that found us staying at Cambria's Moonstone Beach, I sampled the Presqu'ile white wines in their gorgeous and elegant Santa Maria tasting room.

I had tasted some of winemaker Dieter Cronje's bottlings before, but only his red wines. Sticking with the whites on this occasion gave me a chance to try the other side of his talents.

Their 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Santa Maria Valley is made from estate fruit and vinified in three cuvées, in steel, oak and concrete egg.  The nose is fresh and a bit grassy with a palate full of minerals and citrus.  $22

The 2014 Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley was aged for 12 months in oak and six months in steel.  The nose features lemon and vanilla while the flavor profile shows Meyer lemon and creme brulée. It's absolutely gorgeous.  $35

The Presqu'ile 2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir gives off lovely strawberry, citrus and a tiny bit of grapefruit. It's an earthy wine, and got a rave review from Karen MacNeil, who called it "refrigerated sunlight." It's a superior California rosé.  $20

Two single vineyard Chardonnays really steal the show.  The debut vintage of the 2013 Presqu'ile Vineyard has a nose of lemon chess pie and a palate of vanilla and lemon zest. It's aged for 18 months in oak and features great acidity yet a very soft mouthfeel.  $45

The 2013 Steiner Creek Vineyard Chardonnay is from San Simeon, just up the coast a bit. It's very much like a Chablis, with soft citrus and tropical fruit and a mineral-driven palate.  $40

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

California, Oregon, Provence In One Rosé

Elouan Rosé promises "the opulence of California, the elegance of Oregon." The problem is, there's not a word about Provence anywhere in that blurb. That's what the wine brings to mind for me.

Elouan is not just a California winemaker packing a carpet bag and heading north to explore different terroir. It's a man about wine, Joseph Wagner, practicing Pinot in places north of his usual stomping grounds. He calls his Oregon outfit Copper Cane Wine & Provisions, and he furthers his familiarity with Pinot Noir in a region that has become famous for the grape.

Wagner says that "Oregon’s coast offers great diversity, giving us the ability to select a range of vineyards that give us versatility in style and a broad range of characteristics to enhance the final blend." From the Willamette Valley comes acidity, from the Umpqua Valley a richness, from the Rogue Valley, ripe flavor. The warmer Rogue region is where most of the grapes were grown, so the cool-climate savoriness is muted.

"This is a bespoke rosé where grapes were grown and harvested with the specific intention of making rosé," Wagner writes, "and not a saignée rosé, which can be a by-product of making red wine." And don't you just love people who use the word "bespoke?"  The wine retails for $22.

It's a beautiful rosé, with an almost brilliant pink-orange color that says, "This is gonna be fun." A nose full of strawberries and limes promise good things, and when you take a sip, there they are. Cherries, strawberries, citrus and fresh acidity grace the mouth, just like they are supposed to in a great rosé. I want this with sandwiches made from leftover turkey. And ham. Right, like there's leftover ham.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Loire Rosé On Wonderful L.A. Wine List

The wine list at Los Angeles restaurant Market Provisions is a good one. Not too fancy, not at all pedestrian and always loaded with choices that show the care with which they are made. I love the whites and rosés there, all of them as food-friendly as you could want, with savory, shimmering acidity.

The 2015 Rosé Chinon by Jean-Maurice Raffault is one of those wines, perfect for seafood, cheese or salad.  The Loire Valley Cabernet Franc grapes are grown in gravelly soil along the Vienne River, two-thirds pressed and one-third saignée for the pink wine. The Raffault family is into its 14th generation of making wine in Chinon.  Their rose cost $12 for a glass at the restaurant.

It carries a light pink color and a fruity, strawberry nose.  The cherry palate is not only tasty, but shows good acidity as well before a little melon on the finish.

It was great with the Moroccan olives, but my wife liked her Pinot Blanc so much with that app she didn't even sip the rosé.  She also really enjoyed her Uruguayan Albariño. That choice displayed a savory quality and an acidity I have never found with that grape. The rosé was just fine with my smoked scallops, too.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Drink Pink: Pinot Noir Rosé From Anderson Valley

Lazy Creek Vineyards a subsidiary of Healdsburg's Ferrari Carano Winery. It’s located about an hour north, in Mendocino county’s Anderson Valley. It is at this facility is where the company's full Pinot Noir production is centered.

A recent online tasting session introduced the 2015 Lazy Creek Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir to a group of wine writers, myself included. We were all provided samples of the wine for review. The session was moderated by publicist Chelsea Kurnick and featured winemaker Christy Ackerman. You can see the Ustream broadcast page here.

Christy Ackerman makes all of the Lazy Creek Vineyards wines, and all of the Pinot Noirs for Ferrari-Carano. She says she feels "very lucky" to work with Pinot Noir in general, and especially the grapes from the Lazy Creek estate vineyards.

Ackerman says the thing that makes Anderson Valley special is that it is "cooled by the ocean but at the same time protected from the ocean."  The cooling marine influence, so critical for growing perfect Pinot, is mitigated by the landscape. The best of the ocean is brought home without the harshness of the sea directly.

Sustainability is a growing concern at most vineyards, Lazy Creek included. Ackerman says they reworked the winery with an eye toward the environment. They cut water use by half, use cooling jackets for tanks and employ the natural cooling of their cave. They are big into recycling, they made packaging improvements that reduce their carbon footprint and even instituted a ten-hour day for the employees. She says that gives the Lazy Creek workers an extra day off to spend with their families.

Owners Don and Rhonda Carano describe Lazy Creek Vineyards as one of the smallest, and oldest wineries in Anderson Valley. The bottle a Gewurztraminer and the rosé under the Lazy Creek banner, but all the rest are Pinot Noirs.

Making a specific rose, not a saignee in which the juice is a byproduct of a red wine, allows for everything to be directed toward the making of the wine. It’s 100% Pinot Noir, carries alcohol at 14.2% abv and retails for $22..

The Lazy Creek Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir is a fairly bright salmon color and it has that lovely rosé nose of fresh strawberries and cherries. The flavor profile leads with cherry and pulls a tart little savory red wagon behind it. Slight hints of citrus zest and lemongrass make for a rather interesting rosé palate, more interesting than I usually find. Pair it with any sort of salad, or seafood. If you’re a snackmaster like me, cashews or nut roll are great with it.

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Four Rosés From Bonny Doon #2

I will admit right off the bat that Randall Grahm is one of my favorite winemakers, if not right at the top of the list.  His touch with Rhône reds is masterful, his work with Iberian and German whites is close behind. But it’s what he does with rosé that really endears him to me. Imagine my glee to find that Grahm is now pushing not one, but four rosé wines. We are visiting each of them this month, to get you ready for rosé weather, whatever that is.

Bonny Doon 2015 Il Ciliegiolo Rosato 

Ciliegiolo (chee lee eh JOE low) is not a character from a spaghetti western, it’s an Italian grape variety which is either a parent of the Sangiovese grape or an offspring of it, depending on whose DNA test you believe.  It is often found, barely, in Chianti and in some wines of Umbria. 

Apparently, there are some vines in California, too, because Grahm made a rosato from this grape for his Bonny Doon label.  

Grahm writes, "While it had been our original intention to produce this wine as a red, the grapes rather distinctly expressed their preference to be pink." The wine actually looks more like a light red to me, which I suppose is why Grahm put "Rosato" on the label. He is a fan of hard-to-find, hard-to-pronounce grapes, and he believes "that there is a great future for this style of wine in California, and hope we will be able to repeat, if not improve upon this bottling."

The wine is all Ciliegiolo, all the time, and it sells for $24, exclusively to the winery’s DEWN Club members. The grapes come from Mt. Oso Vineyard, southeast of Modesto, in the Tracy Hills AVA. The alcohol sits peacefully at 12.4% abv and it’s as dry as the proverbial bone but it smells a lot better. The label features great artwork - a Bonny Doon hallmark - by Alex Gross.  Grahm made 442 cases of the beautiful stuff.  He suggests sipping it "whilst quietly pondering the great wonder of it all."

The wonder is why we haven't heard of this grape before. The nose offers strong cherry and an only slightly weaker herbal note. In the mouth, this wine drinks like a red, full and luscious with big fruit flavor, a very good acidity and more tannic structure than you probably have ever experienced in a rosé. All that is missing from this one is Grahm’s usual salinity. It’s a fruity - and completely wonderful - rosato.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Bonny Doon: Four Rosés

Randall Grahm's touch with Rhône reds is masterful, his work with Iberian and German whites is close behind. But it’s what he does with rosé that really endears him to me.  Imagine my glee to find that Grahm is now pushing not one, but four rosé wines under the Bonny Doon banner. We will visit each of them in the coming weeks, to get you ready for rosé weather, whatever that is.

Here in Southern California we have had rosé weather since February, but don't start throwing things at us because of it. People here are actually complaining that the promised El Niño rains have been noticeably scant since the January downpours. Maybe scheduling a month of rosé will bring the cold rains that California needs so badly.

2013 Vin Gris de Tuilé  (Online Exclusive)

This rosé is a big blend of some great Rhône grapes. The name, Gris Tuilé, means "brick-colored wine," but it does not appear that way to me. This 13% abv pink wine is really just barely pink, and sort of barely orange, too. Maybe old bricks? It is cloudy in appearance and was aged outdoors for nine months in glass demijohns, or carboys, which allow for the wine to pick up some solar radiation. Uh, that means it’s exposed to light. Grahm credits the "solarization" for giving the wine such extreme complexity.  He admits that it’s not for everyone, and adds, "mais c'ést très cool, quand même." Showoff.

 I have always considered Grahm to be King in the land of Savory, and on this wine he has added a few jewels to his crown.  The grapes for this rosé are 55% Grenache, 23% Mourvèdre, 10% Roussanne, 7% Cinsaut, 3% Carignane and 2% Grenache Blanc.  Whew! Did we leave anybody out? Everybody in the carboy? Let’s go.

The nose is amazing, and if I have ever used that word to describe a nose before, let me retract that one so I can use it freely here. It’s amazing. Upon opening the bottle there is a distinct whiff of butterscotch. In the glass, that turns into more of a nutty, savory note. It is quite unusual, and quite delightful. Oh, there are some cherry and strawberry notes in there, but they are way, way down and you have to work a bit to get them. On the palate, it’s a cross between rosé and dry sherry.  A definite caramel note is a great surprise. Grahm says there is curry in there, too, but I don’t get that. I find a sort of sharpness at one point in the sip, which goes away quickly. The finish is quite long, with that note of caramel reappearing. It’s the most unusual rosé I have ever experienced.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Time To Rock Some Pink Wine, Bro!

"It all started with a whisper… but now it’s time to rock!" That is the statement printed on the label of this wine, this Côtes de Provence wine. I suppose with the hipsters all draining every bottle of Provence rosé they can get their hands on, the battle for their limited attention has to start somewhere. Why not in italicized lettering on the label?

Pink is all the rage, now that the feminine stigma has been ripped from rosé by the brosé movement. I can hardly believe I just tapped out those words. Every picture I see on Eater of a ridiculously large group of men all lifting their glasses of Provence like so many Miller Lites makes me wonder. Where were you fellas last year?

Some of us guys have been drinking pink wine all along, pinkies tucked into our hands in the masculine fashion - or not. What does it matter? Pink pants may be feminine - except on a Palm Springs golf course - but pink wine is for everyone, and it always has been. "Let's rock some pink, bro!"

This Chateau D'Esclans Rock Angel Provence Rosé is light in color, but fairly hefty - for Provence - at 14% abv. The grapes are primarily Grenache, with some Rolle - you may know it as Vermentino - blended into the mix. Part of the wine is vinified in 600-liter barrels, the other portion in stainless steel tanks.

Côtes de Provence rosé is a real treat. This one acts exactly the way a pink wine should, with strawberries, citrus and a slightly herbal touch on the nose. The palate brings the strawberries in first, and a nice little cucumber element pokes through. An herbal grassy texture is no surprise in this bone-dry wine with an easy acidity that refreshes but does not sting. The lengthy finish has the herbs hanging around quite a while.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Pink Wine That Looks And Drinks Red

We call rosé a pink wine, as it often is. Rosé can be a deeper shade, of course, with a complexity that runs deeper, too. When pink starts to look red, things get interesting. The wine feels fuller in the mouth and richer on the palate, yet it takes a chill just as well as its cousin of a lighter shade.

Cornerstone Cellars of Napa Valley has produced a pink wine that’s really red, the Rocks! Rosé. Cornerstone managing partner Craig Camp calls this vintage "a muscular rosé. Richly colored, flavored and dry-as-a-bone our Rosé Rocks! has the guts to take on real food." This vintage of Rocks! Rosé is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Camp pours  it with grilled steaks, chops and sausages after giving the wine a cooling off period, to make it that much more refreshing in the dog days of summer.

The color of the Rocks! Rosé is a pretty, deep ruby red - rosado-style. Aromas of rich, ripe cherries and raspberries are laced with a stemmy green note that hits the fruit just right. Cherries mix with strawberries on the palate, with a bracing acidity holding everything together. The wine has the heft and complexity of a red, while refreshing like a white. It's extremely tasty, and it does pair well with a lot more than salads. This is the perfect wine to accompany a backyard grill.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer Wine: Paul Hobbs Gets Pink With CrossBarn Rosé

Paul Hobbs' love of farm life, inspired by a childhood spent on his 150-year-old family farm in upstate New York, is the impetus behind the name of this label. The "cross barn" holds dear memories for him, and he keeps it alive in this line of CrossBarn wines.

Hobbs has been Winemaker of the Year, more than once, and has a hand not only in California wine but in Argentina as well. An article in Forbes called him the Steve Jobs of wine, for his attention to detail in turning grapes into something a lot more interesting.

Winemaker Greg Urmini certainly had to feel Hobbs' breath over his shoulder as he led his winemaking team through the 2014 vintage. This beautiful CrossBarn Rosé was crafted with Pinot Noir grapes harvested from the Sonoma Coast appellation. There was no malolactic fermentation, so the wine retains as much crisp freshness as possible. Four months aging took place with the spent yeast cells still in the juice, allowing for a full softness in the mouthfeel. Nearly all the wine was fermented in steel tanks, with only five percent in neutral oak. Alcohol is quite restrained at 12.5%, and the wine retails for only $18 per bottle.

The winery's website likens the rosé's color to Himalayan salt, but I find it a much richer hue. Bright salmon pink, the wine shows a summery nose of cherries, strawberries and a little orange peel. Great minerality joins the fresh, red fruit. Zippy acidity refreshes, and makes me want a Cobb salad. Of course I always want a Cobb salad. I'd take a nice chicken taco salad with it, too. A little hint of raspberry on the finish lends a tart side to an otherwise very ripe and fruity wine.

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