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In The Pink: Great Wines For Summer

By Stephen Eliot

I like Rosé, always have. Some of my earliest vinous memories are of empty Mateus and Lancer’s bottles scattered about the kitchen in a little house that I rented for sixty-dollars a month during my distant undergraduate days, and, if many years and incalculable quantities of good wine have come and gone since, I admit to a lingering fondness for well-made Rosé.

It seems that Pink has come into fashion of late and is receiving rave reviews from appreciative folks who think that they have discovered something new. The truth of the matter is that good Rosés, much better than those quaffed down with abandon during my college years, have been around for a long time, but there is also no question that interested wine drinkers have never had so many attractive versions made in so many styles from which to choose.

While it may be true that, as we are repeatedly told, good Rosé has a place at the table all year round and should be viewed as something far more than a simple, warm-weather gulper, it is, for me, a necessity during the muggy, days of late summer and is especially well suited to washing down the barbecued fare that the season brings.

Here at CGCW, we have tasted our ways through dozens of new bottlings for our recent report on the state of California Rosé, and we found a bounty of noteworthy wines that are breaking new ground. As our picks of the bunch below testify, there are very good reasons that interest in Rosé is on the rise.

90 BLACKBIRD Arriviste Rose Napa Valley 2014 $25.00
A cut above the norm when it comes to complexity and depth in the genre and a wine in which there is a good deal going on, the latest in Blackbird's string of successful Rosés is an impeccably balanced wine of fine focus and length. It is both slightly juicy and solidly structured with glimmers of minerals as neatly placed adjuncts to its confident message of cherry- and raspberry-like fruit, and, while it will unfold with age, it will shine in the short term with savory pork preparations.

90 ONESTA Rosé of Cinsault Bechthold Vineyard Lodi 2013 $20.00
Produced from grapes grown on the 130-year-old vines of Lodi's legendary Bechthold Vineyard, this compelling Rosé manages to be friendly and fruity and fairly complex all at once. Its themes of fresh strawberries and stones in the nose are reprised in its surprisingly deep and yet wonderfully lively flavors, and it is as well-balanced as it is insistent in fruit. Its mild edge of finishing tannin affords it serious Rosé structure, and as tasty as it is now, it can be expected to effortlessly hold for several more years.

90 TABLAS CREEK Dianthus Rose Paso Robles 2014 $27.00
The 2014 Dianthus follows up on the striking success shown by the 2013 version and hews to the same rich and weighty lines with the fruity substance and structure of a Rosé clearly meant to be enjoyed with food. It is the rare example that will reward cellaring and should display a little more complexity and polish with age, but its considerable virtues of richness and depth are plainly evident now and it ranks with our favorites among the current crop of Rosés.

89 CROSSBARN Rosé of Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2014 $18.00
Calling this wine layered or complex is a bit too much of a reach, but it earns enthusiastic endorsement for its buoyant, exceptionally well-defined, very long-lasting fruit and its impressions of crafting and careful balance. There are Rosés of more ambition and gravitas, but there are few that show such a fine fit of pieces as this one, and it is so nicely polished that it invites drinking with or without food.

89 LUCY Rosé of Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands 2014 $18.00
Fruity and quite full on the nose with an implied sense of solidity and ripeness that is replayed on the palate and wine that speaks to the richer traits typically found in Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, this well-structured effort is considerably more than a light picnic quaffer. It does not, however, clumsily push into red wine territory and is all Rosé in terms of its forthright fruit and minimal tannins, and it is one that will be at home with a wide range of foods from barbecued chicken to burgers and ribs.

89 PECH MERLE Ivy Rosé of Syrah Dry Creek Valley 2014 $21.00
Full and decidedly vinous with a fairly deep and moderately intense nose of well-ripened cherries and berries, this nicely filled wine shows a bit of red-wine richness and ambition on the palate with solid, somewhat extracted flavors that, while fruity, are free of candied sweetness. It is underpinned by enough tannin to prescribe drinking with food, and it has the structure to keep well for two or three years.

88 CHARLES HEINTZ Rosé of Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2014 $19.00
Fresh, young and vibrant but flavorful and never defined solely by its acid, this well-made Rosé is long on fresh, strawberry and red plum fruitiness with nice notes of citrus and stones mixed in for good measure. It crisps up at the finish but avoids the slight bitterness found in so many of its mates, and, if useful poured as a whistle-whetting aperitif, it has more than enough character to stay on the table throughout the meal.

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