Stop and Smell the Rosé

This week we’re taking a tour through dry rosé wine, and I’m not talking about White Zinfandel.  Unlike White Zin, these wines are bone dry, which means they have little to no residual sugar.  Instead of a sugary mess, you get a very elegant style of wine that is extremely refreshing in the warmer months.

Before we start drinking, let’s talk about what makes a pink wine pink.  Despite popular belief, Rosés are made with red grapes, not a mixture of red and white.  Instead of full contact, the juice is left on the skins for a short duration so it absorbs only some of the skin’s pigment (red wine gets its color from the skin of the grape).

White Zinfandel for example (I know, I keep bringing it up) is actually the same grape as its red counterpart.  It works well as a sweet rosé wine because of Zinfandel’s high sugar content at harvest.  (If all that sugar were converted to alcohol, we would end up with a very strong blush).  In a way, White Zin has given rosé wine a bad rap (it also saved the Zinfandel grape from extinction, but that’s another story).  It’s taken over the market to an extent that when people see a pink glass of wine, they assume it’s candy sweet, when in fact, most of the world’s rosé wine is dry.

2009 La Vieille Ferme Rosé

Let’s start with the simple.  2009 La Vieille Ferme Rosé comes from the Rhone region of France, specifically the Cotes du Ventoux.  (I’ll dedicate a post to the disambiguation of the French wine label soon, I promise).  The Cotes du Rhone is my favorite area of France for a number of reasons.  The spicy, seductive Syrah comes from here, as well as its partner in crime, Grenache.  You have probably heard of Grenache (Gruh-NOSH) but might not know what the heck it is.  An easy explanation for this sultry grape is “Pinot Noir on steroids,” which is a pretty good definition considering its fruit driven flavors, high alcohol content, and spice.  La Vieille Ferme Rosé is a blend of Grenache and Cinsault (another Rhone varietal).  There’s not a lot to it, but this is the perfect wine for sipping on your patio.  It’s also a twisty, which is good news for the corkscrew impaired.  Retails for around $9.

Tasting Notes: Cranberry red in color.  Fruit forward.  Fresh strawberry, melon, caramel.  Fairly short finish.

2009 Paralèlle 45

Getting a little more complex, Jaboulet’s 2009 Paralèlle 45 has everything I love about Rhone rosé:  Refreshing fruit followed by peppery spice.  This has been one of my favorite wines for a very long time because it has something everyone can appreciate (intro wine drinkers and critics alike).  Like La Vieille Ferme, it’s Grenache and Cinsault driven but also has a little bit of Syrah to spice things up.  It’s the perfect wine to have with dinner, or you can drink it by the pool.

Tasting Notes: Salmon pink in color.  It has a much more expressive nose than the other two wines.  Strawberry, mango, and white pepper on the palate.  A finish that lingers. 50 percent Grenache, 40 percent Cinsault, 10 percent Syrah. Retails for about $12-$13.

2009 Marqués de Cáceres Rosé

Now let’s go to Spain where the Tempranillo grape reigns king.  Spanish reds have gained massive popularity in the States due to their high quality and low price tags.  Tempranillo is the main driving force behind these wines.  Its partner, Garnacha (Grenache), compliments this noble grape by adding body and alcohol.  2009 Marqués de Cáceres Rosé is a great example of these two working together to make a refreshing, yet refined, style of wine.

Tasting Notes: Amber pink in color.  It’s very fruit driven with a lot of raspberry and watermelon.  Tingly mineral and earth flavors give it that 3rd dimension that La Vieille Ferme lacks.  The flavors stay with you even after the last sip.  It’s very refreshing and also gives you enough complexity to ponder over. 80 percent Tempranillo, 20 percent Garnacha (Grenache). Retails for around $10.

Rosé is a bridge that unites the red wine drinker with the white.  There’s something for everybody here.  Even if you don’t think you like Rosés, you should give these wines a chance.  On a drinking note, you’ll want to serve them chilled, but not too chilled.  If the wine is too cold, you won’t be able to appreciate some of the more subtle flavors.

Categories: Food