Although I drink Rosé all year, as spring moves to summer, they say
‘Tis the season to Rosé all day!
Certainly there is no better wine for summertime picnics, backyard BBQs, and outdoor happy hours!
With the Rose Revolution still going strong for over five years, there is great debate about both the grapes used and the method for making it.
Patrick Comiskey, the LA Times wine writer, and a friend on Facebook, started a thread about Rosé by asking which grape “varieties are exceptional for the purpose of making rosé wines, and varieties which make for poor examples?” This led to a wonderfully educational conversation on the topic of Rosé as well as clarifications about the process in general and that informed his article.
- With the second Saturday of June National Rosé Day coming up this weekend, we have six from California for you in this post — just keep reading! (Here’s our post from last year when we compared two from Lodi with two from France!)
- With the fourth Friday of June newly proclaimed by Provence as International Rosé Day we will have 3-4 from Provence France for you!
- With The French Winophiles doing French Rosé the third Saturday in July we will have 3-4 MORE wines from France for you!
- With August 14 also proclaimed an International Rosé Day we will have 3-4 wines from around the globe for you including South Africa, Italy, and possibly the middle east! (Here’s our post from last year where we wrote about rose from Chile!)
- That’s somewhere between 12 and 16 bottles of ROSE!
So YES, we will be drinking AND writing about rosé all summer! Subscribe and stay tuned!
To start us off, do you know the difference between:
- saignée and rosé?
- one grape variety or a blend of many?
- how and when you should drink rosé?
If you’re not sure, read on — plus our tasting notes about some rad rosé from California and info about Experience Rosé in Napa at CIA June 16 as well as two events in Ventura on Rosé Day June 9!
Craig Camp, currently GM at Troon Vineyards and formerly of Cornerstone where he was responsible for their rosé said in Patrick’s thread that if you’re going to have a conversation about what varieties make a rad Rose,
“First of all you have to draw a line between saignée and rosé. Saignée was something you did to make your red wine more concentrated and, being a frugal farmer, you sold it off as vin gris.” (Boldface mine).
In contrast, Craig pointed out that:
“Rosé is a wine of intention, farmed and made to make pink wine.
“Saignée is a great idea with a lighter variety like pinot and makes a delicious wine,” said Craig. “However, real rosé is another animal. There are classic examples throughout Spain, France and Italy so I think it is more important that it is a wine of intention, from the vineyard, and not simply a saignée, which is a process to make a red wine better.” (Boldface mine).
In case this is news to you — that winemakers will take out some of the juice and make a rose of it in order to concentrate the flavors of a red wine — you may be surprised by the amount of manipulation that is allowed in some wine regions to certain wines. This Cal Poly tutorial about adding water to wine concludes: “For example, after a 5% water addition, buffering by carboxylic acids may prevent the titratable acidity from decreasing by a similar amount. Nevertheless, we can counterbalance the dilution of flavors and phenols by conducting a saignée immediately after crushing. The challenge is that the removal of juice occurs before we can make an accurate estimate of the initial Brix.” (Boldface is mine).
Rhone specialist and Tercero wine maker Larry Shaeffer chimed in on the thread to say “I may be a bit biased, but I really dig Rhone varieties for Rose.” He agrees with Craig that “it’s not just the variety but technique as well” that matters.
Larry also pointed out the purpose for the Rosé matters: “I also think it’s important to define the type of rose that you’re discussing – one that is meant to be consumed cold and is aiming to be simply quenching or one that is meant to be more food friendly and paired with different cuisine and consumed closer to cellar temperature.”
Another factor is whether the Rosé is a single varietal or blend. Meg Maker said that “It seems much harder to achieve a balanced rosé as a monovarietal than as a blended wine. Provençal rosés are blended because of regional style, history, and law. They can even co-press white grapes with the red and often do. When you talk about a varietal PN rosé, say, or Cab or Sangiovese or whatever, versus Provence rosé, you’re talking about the same color but two completely different wines.”
So how and when should you go for the pink drink? It works from brunch through lunch (especially picnics!) and dinner including pairing wonderfully with pork and fowl. While you can serve it icy cold, often it is better at cellar temperature — somewhere in the 50s or 60s — making it a perfect wine for outdoor dining because you can enjoy it was it warms up to the ambient temperature. While there are fancy rose glasses, we’ve had success in pinot grigio glasses as well as pinot noir glasses — particularly for rose of pinot noir! We also liked the rose of cab in a cab glass. Because a big part of the fun is the color and the aroma, you want to highlight these qualities in your glass choice.
For our Rad Rose Round up, we tasted these six wines from California with a selection of cheeses, meats, and other typical summertime picnic fare along with crackers Sue made with lavender and cheddar cheese using a recipe from Acquiesce Winery:
- 2014 – Westwood – Pinot Noir Rosé – Annabel Gap Vineyard – Sonoma Valley – 14% alcohol
- 2015 – Sanford – Rosé of Pinot Noir – Sta. Rita Hills – 13.5% alcohol
- 2017 – Balletto – Rosé of Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley – Sonoma County – 13.0% alcohol
- 2017 – a tribute to Grace – Rosé of Grenache – Highlands Vineyard – Santa Barbara – 13.1% alcohol
- 2015 – Tercero -Mourvedre Rosé – Vogelzang Vineyard – Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara – 12.5% alcohol
- 2016 – Peltier Winery and Vineyards – Rouge Rosé – Acampo Ca – 12% alcohol – SRP $18
2014 – Westwood – Pinot Noir Rose – Annabel Gap Vineyard – Sonoma Valley – 14% alcohol
I found this wine on sale for $13 down from $21 at the Wine House in LA a couple of years ago; I bought a few bottles and this is the final one. One of my favorite aspects of this wine is the label– I love how they provide topographic info, even on the lead capsule! They explain on the label that “This narrow gap multiplies the effects of Pacific Ocean fog and the summer Western winds, creating cool, gentle growing conditions for perfect balance in our grapes.” We used a Pinot Noir glass and were impressed with how expressive it was as it was rather bland in the prosecco tulip glass. Usually you wouldn’t lay a rose down for long, and it was time to open this one!
Color: A surprising intensity of color for a rose of pinot noir.
Nose: Herbal, earth, and petrol, with mint and light red fruit including nectarine, red peppercorns. The nose on this wine opens beautifully, bringing forth more pleasure, and masking some of the alcohol and acetone notes. We recommend decanting this wine to mellow the petrol and acetone notes that are so prevalent upon opening.
Palate: The nose carries through to the palate with herbs, earth, mint, fruit.
Pairing: Rose salami from World Market was beautiful, our cheese crackers with brie and confit of jasmine worked well as did the bacon cheddar crab dip.
2015 – Sanford – Rose of Pinot Noir – Sta. Rita Hills – 13.5% alcohol
From the label: Sanford “became the first vineyard in what would become a world class, cool climate AVA. The unique east-west traversing valley opens up to the Pacific Ocean draws cool air inland to create the perfect conditions for producing outstanding Pinot Noir. True to the Terlato Family’s dedication to qualify this wine is handcrafted from distance lots from our estate to provide balance and a vibrant palate. This rose is delicate with flavors of strawberry and honeysuckle morange blossom, and honeyatched with fresh acidity for a long clean finish.” I have visited Sanford twice; read more about my visits here.
Color: Pale salmon, yet more color than one from Provence.
Nose: Orange blossom and honey but it is the minerals that shine most with plenty of saline notes– not a surprise coming from an area that gets so much fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.
Palate: The nose also follows through on the palate: minerals, saline, orange blossom, and honey. Lots of clean fresh acidity with a finish that drops off fairly quickly.
Pairing: We see why they call this salami a rose salami — so great with this wine as well. Great with our cheese cracker and brie combo: the creaminess with the minerality of the wine contrasts nicely bringing out more fruit in the wine. Crab bacon cheddar dip brings fruit and wonder in the wine; I even liked it (and I’m not fond of this dip). The wine really brings out a sweetness in the crab.
2017 – Balletto – Rose of Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley – Sonoma County – 13.0% alcohol
From the label: “With its cool and foggy climate, the Russian River Valley produces wines of great depth and distinction. Grape grower John Balletto and winemaker Anthony Beckman create wines that showcase these diverse environments and soils of the region. All the wines are grown on sustainably farmed estate vineyards and reflect the Balletto family’s passion for the land.”
Like the Balletto sparkling rose we wrote for Mother’s Day, we found everything about this wine to be so pretty; we really liked this wine. Sue could not get her nose out of the glass. This wine makes you happy in more ways than one. It is so interesting: it holds your interest, it piques your interest.
Color: Pale pink gold, or rose gold; the light bounces off of this wine so nicely.
Nose: The nose has such a beautiful perfume, peachy orange with honey. It is so luscious that you want to keep sticking your nose into it. Stone fruit: more yellow peach than white peach with bubble gum as it opens up. Double Yum bubble gum, not Bazooka. A little banana. As you continue to swirl the glass, more and more interesting features pop up.
Palate: More stone fruit but more nectarine than peach with the tanginess of the nectarine, tart and tangy, very fresh and lively. There is a light bright fruit finish that lingers on the back of the palate.
Pairing: There is enough sweetness in this wine, that you do not need to add sweet in the pairing. It likes the salty savory foods. The brie with a cracker was much more enjoyable than when confit of white flower is added. We found this wine so interesting with food but we also felt it’s enjoyable without food. Sue did loved it with the rose salami. I liked it a lot with the mushroom brie, and with the regular brie. With our goat cheese brie it was great, the fruit of the wine knocked out the funk of the goat milk, and mellowed the fruit of the wine.
2017 – Grace Wine Company – a tribute to Grace – Rose of Grenache – Highlands Vineyard – Santa Barbara – 13.1% alcohol SRP $28; purchased at the Ventura Wine Company for $20
734 cases bottled under an Aries moon: February 21st, 2018
Winemaker Angela Osborne was born in New Zealand and landed in California in 2006 specifically searching for the right place to make Grenache –which she found in the remote area of the Santa Barbara Highlands located at 3,200′ above sea level in the Sierra Madre range and 33 miles of Santa Barbara along the Pacific Ocean. Other vineyards where she sources her grapes for her Grenache are located in other parts of the state.
From the label: “This wine is a tribute to Grace, my Grandmother, whose quiet strength and guidance has taught me the true meaning of her name. As my own journey unfolds, graces become my most revered of natures’s attributes, thus making Grenache the perfect medium to grace and Grace.”
While the back of the label is a lovely story, it told us nothing about the wine or wine making process so we looked it up on the Grace Wine Company website where there are very thorough notes including where the moon was: “Each block was picked separately; half of the clusters were de-stemmed, the other half foot-stomped. This alternating juice to skin ratio married for 24 hours, before being gently pressed to tank. A long, slow fermentation ensued over 53 days, after which she rested with her gross lees for 3 more moons. Secondary fermentation was halted to keep the wine’s delicate aromatics and crisp acidity.”
Color: Same as the label, light peachy orange; the label is beautiful on this wine.
Nose: Banana, kiwi, tropical fruit, pineapple.
Palate: The nose of this wine also carries through to the palate, tons of acidity. This is a big powerful wine.
Pairing: I had visions of chicken and waffles for a brunch meal! It paired nicely with our goat cheese brie; the goat funk and a nice saltiness that came forward when pairing the two together. Great with our country chicken salad on a baguette. rich cracker and rich cheese makes us very happy. Once again with our rose salami, this wine is fantastic. We are beginning to think that one should always include rose salami on the menu!
The Grace wine is so much better with food. It loves to mingle and change like a chameleon with so many different food combinations.
2015 – Tercero -Mourvedre Rose – Vogelzang Vineyard – Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara – 12.5% alcohol SRP $25
From the label: “I foot stomped the grapes when they arrived, allowing them to sit on the skins for an hour, and then pressed away. I fermented cold to retain the “dirty fruit” aromatics that I dig with Mourvedre, then put the wine in older French oak to round it out. This is a rose that certainly can be enjoyed in the spring and summer, but don’t forget that it is a wonderful food wine and goes perfectly with earthy foods often served in cooler months. And don’t be afraid to have this at the same temperature you would a red wine.”
Color: Very pale orange yellow, copper. The color has likely shifted over the years in the bottle.
Nose: Fun and funky, earth, herbs, sage– more like white sage, not cooking sage, mushrooms, truffle oil.
Palate: Lots of acidity, saline, subtle fruit, some green grass.
Pairing: This wine has mushroom brie written all over it, and interestingly, it was the only wine that we were not thrilled when paired with our rose salami. It makes the salami taste aged and old and woody, yet
… give this wine a piece of mushroom brie and the angels start singing!
We both agreed on this one: Hands down, with the brie was such a fun and funky PERFECT pairing. Also good with our wine country chicken salad. This wine wants earthy funk to go with its earthy funk.
2016 – Peltier Winery and Vineyards – Rouge Rose – Acampo Ca – 12% alcohol – $18
Color: Intense, very translucent cherry colored rose.
Nose: The nose is not that expressive. There are subtle notes of river earth and stone, very faint wild strawberry, also very faint notes of cedar and sandalwood. We started drinking this wine in our Pinot Noir glasses, which we had been enjoying the previous wines in. However, we decided to switch to a Bordeaux glass to see what changes would take place. In this glass there were nice mint characteristics and more cherry, but Sue lost the cedar and sandalwood notes that she really liked from the other glass.
Palate: Jolly Ranchers cherry candy, cherry with a long finish, cherry phosphate, put club soda with this wine, and my mom would have loved it. This wine has a lot of personality!
This is a fun sassy wine, a rose that stands out from all the others that we sampled. If you are a red wine drinker, yet something lighter on a hot sunny day, this is a wine for you!
Pairing: Sue went straight for the country chicken salad knowing that the cranberries and the pecans were going to be perfect with the wine and she was not mistaken. Wow so much going on in this wine that brings out a zippity do da with this easy to do picnic fare. This also was a wow moment with our rose salami. Together the saltiness of the salami comes out and the bright zing of the cherry fruit shines, and the finish lingers for a great, long, present time.
Sue found this to be such an intoxicating food wine, as well as a wine on its own. it likes salt, and earthy funk, and fun bright fruit.
According to a press release, “The Great Rosé Pairing for Summer will take place at The CIA at Copia in Napa, on Saturday, June 16, from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. Attendees will sip winning wines from Experience Rosé: The 2018 Competition paired with gourmet cuisine from six major rosé producing regions (France, Italy, Spain, Northern California, Central California and Southern California) prepared by teams of emerging star chef CIA students and led by Lars Kronmark, Professor of Culinary Arts at CIA California. Overall the judges awarded five Best of Show accolades, 10 Best of Class designations, 15 Double Gold and 79 Gold honors. A complete list of winners can be found by visiting http://rosewinetoday.com/competition-winners/. In addition, a sampling of rosé cocktails and summer refreshers using Hangar 1®’s newly launched rosé infused vodka will be prepared by CIA’s wine and beverage students. This multifaceted event will also include special arts programming and XR Talks – an educational series featuring presentations, panel discussions and pairings. Jubilant music will be provided by Steel Jam.
Ticket costs for The Great Rosé Pairing for Summer:
- VIP Patio: $125 in advance; $130 at the door
- Regular admission: $85 in advance; $90 at the door
- Designated driver: $40 in advance; $45 at the door
Tickets for The Great Rosé Pairing for Summer can be purchased by visiting, www.experiencerose.com.
June 22 — get to FRANCE! (I WISH!)
The plan: 7:00 p.m. (French time), rosé producers and fans around the world will fill their glasses with their favorite rosé for a toast. At that time, Saint Tropez’s Citadel will alight in pink, thanks to the creative artistry of Thierry Guillot, lighting designer of the Lyon Festival of Lights. In Monaco, with the support of the Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Prince’s Palace, the museums, and the Grimaldi Forum will also turn pink. Fountains will have pink water flowing from them in Grasse. Plans are underway to dress the Eiffel Tower in pink and Rousselle is hopeful that other parts of the world known to imbibe a lot of rosé will also join in the pink celebration. WOW!
BTW, that’s 10am California time.
Hmm. I’m usually at yoga at the Buddhist Temple from 815-930am then I usually spend some time in the Peace Garden there. I wonder if I could do my toast there with Guan Yin…
Later in the year, on Friday, October 19, Jaxon Keys Winery and Distillery in Hopland (Mendocino County) will host The Great Rosé Pairing for Thanksgiving. Nicholas Petti, Culinary Arts Instructor at Mendocino College, along with his talented students, will create a selection of seasonally inspired bites to showcase perfect Rosé pairings for holiday dinners and celebrations. This event exclusively features Rosés produced in the Hopland and Redwood Valley regions of inland Mendocino County. Tickets are $95 in advance; $105 at the door and can also be purchased by visiting: www.experiencerose.com.