Sunday, September 13, 2015

Thinkin' and Drinkin' Pink--Great Rose Wines

As the blazing sun beat down on the pavement, I wiped a bead of sweat from my forehead and checked the temperature.  It was no surprise to my red-faced self that it said 91 degrees…in the middle of September.  

Now, I’m not complaining about the heat.  It is actually a special treat for those of us here on the edge of the Black Hills; we call it Indian summer, and we enjoy every day of it.  Mostly because we remember that last year at this exact time we had not only had several nights of a hard freeze, we had also already experienced our first snow storm of the year.

This beautiful weather actually begins to lull area residents into a false sense of security about Mother Nature and her moodiness.  We start to believe we can still drink our favorite summertime wines for months; we have all confidence that our warm-weather drinking habits can continue indefinitely.

But we are always wrong.  

The morning chill reminds us.  The earlier sunset hints at us.  The hard frost prediction in less than two weeks jogs our memory.  

There is no indefinite summer drinking where I live.  None.  

I better get out my favorite rosés and start sipping.  The snowflakes will be falling soon enough, and my transition to heavier, winter wines will begin…whether (weather) I am actually ready or not. 

I loved rosés long before this past year when it was “cool” to drink pink.  I’m not talking your grandmother’s white zin.  I’m talking bone dry pinks.  I can enjoy multiple kinds of rosés, but my favorites are complex, delicate, and/or flavorful.  Here are a few of the standout summer pink drinks from my warm-weather tasting.

Las Rocas Rosé
Spain is a great value for wines in general and rosés in particular.  Made from the garnacha (grenache) grape, this was originally under twelve dollars a bottle; then it was on special, so what a steal at under ten dollars for a great sunny-day sipper.  The nose is filled with strawberry, melon, stone, floral, and white pepper.  On the palate it has a hint of sweetness shown through the strawberry, green herb, and fresh flower.  Pair with robust cheeses for a slight contrast between the hint of sweetness in the wine and the savory flavors of the cheese.

Firehouse Wine Cellars Roosevelt
Yes, I’m including a wine produced in my neck of the woods; it may be a bit of personal bias, but I so enjoyed this wine.  Though it is produced from California fruit, all the production happens in Rapid City, South Dakota.  Another rosé with slight sweetness on the palate, this grenache-based wine has orange blossom and raspberry on the nose first; then the palate is filled with strawberries and green grass.  The gorgeous salmon color is absolutely mesmerizing.  Pair it with fresh fruit, such as strawberry and kiwi.

VJB Le Due Rosé
Another rather unique pink, this is made from the aleatico grape, a common variety in Italy but a quite uncommon variety in Sonoma where it is produced.  The aleatico creates a deep, hot pink hue in the wine.  It is not only saturated with color, but with flavor as well.  On the nose there are peaches and flowers with a hint of white pepper.  On the palate, the peach, berries, and floral come through again.  Pair this with light Italian food, think Caprese salad with an aged balsamic drizzle. 

MacPhail Rose
Vivid pink in color, this rosé of Sonoma Coast pinot noir is moving to the dry side of pink, my favored style.  The nose is filled with orange, strawberry, and dried grass.  The palate brings forth more of the strawberry from the nose and adds dried herbs.  This leads to a great floral finish that lasts and lasts.  I love the complexity of this wine; there is so much to contemplate from first sip to final swallow.  Because the flavor is so saturated, this wine pairs with flavorful pasta salads and cold-served picnic meals.

Cartograph Rose
Another rosé of pinot noir, this time sourced from the North Coast, Cartograph shows the delicate side of rosé, which begins in its beautiful baby pink shade. Don’t mistake this delicacy for a simple wine though.  From the first sniff, wet rock, green grass, orange blossom, and fresh rose come through.  On the palate, it is perfectly dry with peaches and orange blossoms to the finish.  Drink this paired with a warm evening on the patio and one of your closest friends…because believe me, it’s so good you won’t want to share!

Chateau TrinQuevedel Traditional Reserve
It would seem that no discussion of great summer pink wines would be complete without including some fabulous French rosés.  The Tavel region of the southern Rhone Valley produces only rosès, and the style of these wines is my ultimate favorite.  A deep rose shade, the blend of multiple grapes—grenache, cinsault, clairette, syrah, mourvèdre, and bourbolenc—gives this wine so much character.  Deep and dry, this vino shows ripe strawberry, green herbs, and white spices on both the nose and palate.  Pair with cheese and charcuterie or white meats. 

Though today I sat in the heat of the sun until I was sweating and thirsty for something other than wine (water, thank you), I know not to be fooled.  I may wish my summer drinking days would last forever, but in my part of the country, this is just not the case.  I need to relish every last sip of my favorite summer wines:  beautiful pink rosès!  I tasted many that I truly appreciated this season, and once the snow starts to fly—which could actually be in just a few short weeks if the past has taught us anything—I will remember these summertime sips as I long for sunshine and warm weather to pair with a patio on a perfect evening.