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Friday Fishwrap
The Sweet Smell of Rosé

By Stephen Eliot

It would be easy enough after a cursory glance at what is being written about Rosé these days to believe that the stuff had just been invented, but pink wine is not new. It was there at the beginning, when America began to wake up to wine. Big-handled half-gallon jugs of Almaden Grenache Rosé and Mateus and Lancer’s in their fancy bottles; they were the tipples that got us through graduate school and started us down the road to vinous obsession. Yes, Rosé is far from new, and everything out there is not wonderful, but I do have to admit that the best contemporary versions are tasty, irrepressibly quaffable wines that turn the trick in washing down lighter foods or simply lifting the spirit on days of insufferable summer heat.

The other day, our friend The Hosemaster commented that he did not spend a lot of time talking about rosé, and I am not about to argue the point. When rosé is good, it does not need talking about. It may grease the wheels of conversation, but it is never the topic. I do not look for the elusive stamp of terroir nor do I expect layered nuance and compelling complexity from a glass of pink. Rosé, and it had better not come at an aspirational price.

You can find rosé made from most any red variety these days ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon to Syrah to Pinot Noir and Sangiovese. Some are wines of real intent that were conceived as being pink right from the start while others might made a la saignée or from juice which has been drained from red musts in their early stages of fermentation in order to concentrate the color and character of the wine left behind. Regardless of grape, the best are fresh and lively and fruity.

We recently took a quick look at the local version of those made from Rhône varietals and found a fair number to like. The half-dozen below earned easy endorsement, and several, particularly those from Pech Merle, Sanglier and Chacewater, deliver very good value. The bad news is that none are in great supply. They are not likely to be found on every grocery-store shelf, but neither are they impossible to find, and each will reward the search.

89 PECH MERLE Ivy Rosé of Syrah Dry Creek Valley 2012 $19.00
Nicely ripened and juicy without being candied or sweet in the least, this carefully balanced, fruit-focused Rosé makes no pretense to complexity, but it is a genuine delight to drink. It is clean as can be, and its deep, but wholly out-in-the-open style makes it thoroughly enjoyable right now, and it will provide pleasures aplenty with all sorts of foods ranging from seared tuna and poultry to milder pork recipes.

89 PROULX Willow Creek Farm Rosé 2012 $24.00
At once keenly fruity and always light on its feet even if showing a good sense of essential weight once in the mouth, Proulx's is a nicely balanced Rosé that smacks of berries, cranberries and plums. If fresh and alive, it shows a slightly more serious side by way of its structure and depth, and its ever so slight finishing grip tags it as one that will a welcome warm-weather partner to a wide range of foods.

89 PEJU Rosé of Syrah Napa Valley 2012 $25.00
There is a strong and confident sense of fruit conveyed at most every stop here with strawberries and plums in abundance, and, if always juicy, the wine is fairly deep, very well-balanced and wholly free of any extraneous sweetness. It is medium-bodied and wonderfully lively with an exceptionally long finish, and it hits all of the right Rosé marks when it comes to buoyant fruit, freshness and sheer friendliness.

88 SANGLIER Rosé du Tusque Rose Sonoma County 2012 $18.00
This bright and lively Rosé wins the nod for both fruity content and balance with tart cherries and berries center stage from first sniff on through to its brisk and lingering finish. It will succeed in slaking warm-weather thirst on its own, but it is structured to show best as a foil to foods, and its ongoing impressions of energy suggest it will keep nicely for two or three years.

88 CHACEWATER Rosé of Syrah Rose Sierra Foothills 2012 $15.00
Distinctly plum-like in smell and impressing with a strong sense of vinosity, this ample Rosé follows with like-minded flavors that show an extra measure of fruity substance and heft. It has fine overall balance with a nice bit of grip at the finish, and if a little too gruff at the edges to succeed as a stand-alone quaffer, it will make splendid drinking with the likes of salmon or ahi tuna.

87 ACQUIESCE Grenache Rosé Rose Lodi 2012 $18.00
Darker in color than most of the Rosés in this month's line-up and showing a marked sense of vinosity and implied heft in the nose, this well-structured effort is halfway to red wine as far as body and fruity substance are concerned. While it can be sipped on its own, it is far better suited as a partner to food, and, when chilled, it will do an especially good job at washing down garlicky ratatouille and platters of spicy grilled sausages.


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What it is!
by Doug Wilder
Posted on:8/23/2013 11:14:30 AM


Thank you for the rundown on some interesting wines. Most importantly you now have my eternal appreciation for being the only writer in my recent memory who was able to discuss Rose without telling readers what it isn't. 'nuff said!

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