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Wine And Food Wednesday: SPECIAL REPORT
Fizz Through Rose-Colored Glasses

Since commenting on Champagne and its underappreciated ability to partner with food last week, we have read more commentary on the topic, listened to more opinions and have run into more new, hitherto-untasted bottles than we usually might over the course of a good many months. It is likely because the holidays are beginning to loom, but it is funny sometimes how the whole world seems to turn and at once cast an eye in exactly the same direction, and all of the attention in conversation, print and on line has us thinking more on the topic ourselves. First, we have a confession to make. We are known to drink a glass or three of the bubbly now and then. We like it as the first wine on an evening’s merriment and we find it to be splendid stuff for washing down oysters, and as a winning mate to many foods, if the truth be known. And there is that special place in our hearts when the bubbles come with a bit of color.

We believe it was the late Harry Waugh who once said the first duty of any wine was to be red, and, if we may borrow shamelessly from Harry, we think that pink or something close to it is how sparkling wine was meant to be. A number of fine Rosés stood out in a group of grower Champagnes we recently tasted our ways through (look for that report coming soon), and just this past Sunday, San Francisco Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné seemed to be reading our minds when giving thumbs up to a number of local pinks. As Jon observed, and we are in whole agreement, well-made Rosés have an edge in complexity and richness that makes them all that more interesting and food-friendly. They are high on our list of favorites with well-seasoned salmon, chicken in cream sauce and buttery quail chasseur, and few wines are so welcome at brunch. And, yes, they are outstanding wines for the coming Thanksgiving dinner, a meal that can be a bit tricky when it comes to finding a wine that is as comfortable with simple roast turkey as with the more savory surrounding fare that is what the meal is more often about. You will be surprised at just how good the next-day turkey sandwiches can be when matched up with a rosy glass of fizz. In the review of California sparkling wine for our November issue, the Rosés stood out as the most decorated class among local bubblies.

And, just the other day, we were invited by Schramsberg, who used the occasion to show off its as yet unreleased J. Schram Rose 2003 in direct competition with the wines below, to taste a selection of what are arguably the very finest Rosés to be had, the Téte de Cuvée bottlings from some of Champagne’s more storied names. They are expensive, running from $300 to $500 a piece, but we include our notes just in case you have a rich uncle who would like to know what to bring to this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. The J. Schram more than held its own, but, because it is not yet released and thus was not tasted in our usual setting, we are not providing a tasting note for it at this time. It is, however, a serious contender in this special company. All wines were tasted blind by an assembled collection of writers and industry professionals, mostly sommeliers from some of San Francisco’s top restaurants. The notes below, however, reflect the opinions of your faithful editors.

91 KRUG Rosé High in autolyzed yeast and showing all of the layered complexity of lengthy aging, this non-vintaged bottling is a classic expression of the Krug style. It is, in all truth, not as concerned with fruit as many, but its very firm balance, fine foamy mousse and its tart, exceptionally long flavors will not disappoint those who revere the name.

94 LOUIS ROEDERER Cristal Rosé 2002
This beautifully composed and absolutely riveting wine combines the best of all worlds. It is keenly bubbled by an extraordinarily long-lasting mousse, fit with autolyzed complexities galore and finds at its heart the very deep and convincing fruity substance that is the first responsibility of fine Rosé. It has the richness and breadth to drink famously with a wide range of foods, but it is so refined and keenly crafted as to be a sheer joy on its own.

93 MOÉT Dom Perignon Rosé 2002
Every bit a Rosé in terms of its essential vinosity, this very rich and well-structured wine exhibits remarkable balance between yeasty complexity and very deep Pinot Noir fruit. It is a mouthfilling wine with the strength and stamina to stand up to richer foods, but it is uncannily light on its feet and shows real Champagne style and breeding from beginning to end.

95 PERRIER JOUET Fleur de Champagne Rosé 2002
Although so rich and yeasty that images of fresh-baked brioche leap to mind, this lovely, wonderfully refined wine comes with a marked boost in fruitiness when compared to its mates. There is something akin to California juiceness deep down at its heart, and while it has real Rosé richness and weight, it is free of astringency and just about as polished as they come.

A bit darker in color and a little more vinous that was the norm, this particular bottling of 1998 La Grande Dame seemed to be getting a little long in the tooth. It was solidly champenized and displayed a fair sense of structure and strength, but it was also beginning to dry out.


Love the Pink!
by Jo Diaz
Posted on:11/17/2010 11:00:39 AM

Nuf said!

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