Today everyone loves Rosé: winemakers, who get an immediate cash return on their investment (unlike red, sparkling and many fine white wines, virtually all Rosés require little aging and so are released young); restaurants and retail stores, who love to see the festive pink hued wine bring their customers back smiling; and most of all consumers, who not only find the wines deliciously flavorful and refreshing, but also feel right on trend holding a glass. After decades of being shunned and ridiculed, Rosé started to go viral in the US about five years ago and the momentum has done nothing but accelerate.
The downside is that when any category leaps from unknown to ultra-popularity in a short period, producers flood the market with mediocre product to fill demand. Sad to say, this is starting to happen with Rosé. If people buy uncritically, the industry always accommodates, rushing to take shortcuts on quality. New producers are lured to the party. Think of the wine world’s most notable fallen angels, Merlot and Shiraz. Once riding high, both are now hard to give away. Why? The public fell in love with a name, after which costly quality measures no longer had to be maintained. Until, that is, consumers woke up and realized: this doesn’t taste good!
This reality makes the blind evaluation process and other rigorous selection procedures we use all the more essential in selecting Rosé now. There are four Rosés that we will be introducing during the summer, two of which have been mainstays of our program for a few years, two of which are new. Each hails from a different region of the world.
Le Roi de Pierre Sancerre Rosé, 2016 is a thrilling pale pink Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley, with all of the mineral electricity that a white wine originating on the pebbly limestone soils of this magical hillside village will typically show. Produced from older vines, this is a medium textured wine with a haunting bouquet of red berry and herbs, lingering tart flavors, and a hint of sea spray in the finish. It’s versatile enough to complement raw shellfish, salads, or delicate white fish dishes. And delicious enough to just quaff on its own.
Acrobat Rosé of Pinot Noir, Oregon, 2016 presents another take on the noble red grape in its pink incarnation, this one a bit brighter than the Sancerre, and not only in color. Oregon’s marginal but dry sunny growing season climate is ideal for Pinot, but most of the acreage in the hilly North Willamette Valley is devoted to red wine production. A recent blind tasting selection, Acrobat is a brand of King Estate. Its vineyards yield an engaging Rosé with floral, berry-like, and mellow dry flavors. There are hints of peach, melon and exuberant strawberry. I would enjoy this with tuna sashimi, or smoked salmon.
Txomin Etxaniz Rosé, Txakoli Getaria, 2016 is from the amazingly beautiful Basque region of northwestern Spain and is made from local grapes grown on craggy hills overlooking the windy Bay of Biscay. With a name this hard to pronounce, you know we think it’s really good, because it’s not going to be an easy sale. This Rosé is bottled directly from the lees and maintains a bit of refreshing, palate-cleansing spritz. It’s also a real rarity (only a few hundred acres in the region are devoted to Rosé), with its brilliant tobacco-like, savory, sharp flavors, and lemony briny finish. Amazing with shellfish of any kind, fresh or fried.
Portugal Ramos Rosé, 2016 is another rarity, made by one of Portugal’s superstar winemakers, Joao Portugal Ramos, from the very dark pigmented Touriga Nacional and the lighter local grape, Espadeiro, grown in the country’s extreme north, the Vinho Verde Region. A bit deeper in color than the other Rosés, with copper tones, and a vibrant citric, tangerine-like note, this is crisp, bright and tangy. It also has enough chalkiness to make it a refreshing aperitif, or good accompaniment to steamed mussels.
Enjoy a glass or bottle of any one of these, regardless of the weather, and you’ll be instantly transported. It’s hard not to smile with something bright and pink in your glass, and this quartet of charmers will work beautifully with most of our seafood and vegetable dishes.
Sandy Block MW