The weekend beckons! And that means, for many of us, spending time with friends and family, engaging in typical post-work-week activities of barbecues, picnics, celebrations, revisiting a favorite restaurant, or attending a sporting event, …and tippling a bit of wine. This weekend, count me in for all of the above…as I savor each sip of refreshing rosé.
By now, you’re well aware of the fascination with rosé wine on the part of retail shops, wine lovers, and anyone who writes about wine. Why?
Personally, I can’t think of any wine more food friendly than a glass of rosé. Burgers, brats, and barbecued chicken? Pour another glass of rosé, please! Pasta, seafood, and salads? Thank you, sir, I’ll have another! Grilled vegetables, cheese plate, and your best friends? Yes! Brilliant acidity and fruit forward notes in many rosé wines are the elements needed for a perfect pairing.
Just as fascinating as its knack to complement a range of food choices, is its ability to be crafted in a variety of styles (still, semi-sparkling, and sparkling), found in a range from dry to sweet, and produced from a plethora of red grapes (Zinfandel, Grenache, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Nero d’Avola, and more). Each glass of rosé expresses a different palate profile depending on the grape variety, terroir of the vineyard, and winemaking techniques.
As a refresher, there are a few ways to make rosé and in the vast majority of cases, oak is not used.
- Some rosé wines are produced using Direct Pressing. Black grapes are crushed then pressed like the process in white winemaking. Little color from the skin is extracted, but it takes finesse to ensure that too much tannin is extracted, too.
- Drawing Off is a process whereby once fermentation is under way, the juice is drawn off after 6-48 hours, depending on the amount of color desired; the color is deeper the longer the wine is in contact with the skins. After the juice has been drawn off, fermentation continues at a cooler temperature, a method to retain fresh, fruity flavors.
- On occasion, a small amount of red wine is added to a white wine to produce a rosé; the process is called Blending. The European Union does not allow this practice except in the Champagne region, but some inexpensive rosé wines from the New World are made in this manner. I dare you to do this at home!
- Finally, a number of rosés are produced using the Saignée or Bleeding method. The procedure is similar to Drawing Off except that only a small amount of the juice is removed; the rest stays in contact with the grape skins to produce a red wine. The idea of this process is to increase the concentration of the red wine with the rosé wine as a by-product.
Let’s get to the fun part!
Fortunately (and it’s a tough job, to be sure), I was sent (as samples) several bottles of rosé to taste and review. Each wine found below expresses distinctive characteristics and offers exceptional quality and value. Find one or more of these rosés and enjoy each sublime sip. Suddenly this weekend is the best ever!
Murrieta’s Well Dry Rosé 2016 ($30) – Sourced from the Murrieta’s Well estate vineyard in California’s Livermore Valley, almost equal amounts of Grenache and Counoise grapes were hand-picked and whole cluster pressed. Thanks, in part, to the fact that each varietal was cold-fermented separately, I discovered beautiful aromas of tropical florals, watermelon, vibrant red fruit, and berries wafting from the glass. On the palate, the rosé burst with lip smacking acidity, more berries, and juicy melon. Balanced with significant texture and concentration, the Murrieta’s Well Dry Rosé is unique and oh-so delicious.
Day Owl Rosé 2016
($15) – Each sip of this snappy rosé of Barbera, a classic Italian variety yet cultivated in California, was just as cool as the two pairs of trendy, white rimmed sunglasses (remember, the owl is awake, apparently drinking rosé, and needs those glasses) sent to me with the wine itself. Pressed with just a bit of skin contact, grapes were sourced from select vineyards in Madera County, the Central Coast, and Paso Robles. Aromas of strawberries and raspberries and a hint of orange zest awakened my senses and I was led to sunshine-bright flavors of juicy red fruit, dark cherries, and plums. Boasting an elegant finish, enjoy Day Owl Rosé with your barbecued chicken and watermelon with mint salad. And don’t forget your sunglasses!
Bertani Bertarosé 2016
($14.99) – This exceptional wine is from Italy’s Verona region and includes Molinara (75%), traditionally used in the production of Amarone, and Merlot (25%). Fresh, precise aromas of red fruit, stone fruit, and minerality were enticing. On the tart palate that offered tingly acidity, I discovered juicy red fruits including cherries and strawberries, almonds, and a hint of white flowers. The blend in the Bertani Bertarosé, so elegant and sophisticated, offered a lingering, lush finish.
Chapoutier “Les Vignes” de Bila-Haut Rosé 2016
($15) – An anytime sipper is this rosé, a blend of Grenache (78%), Cinsault (14%), and Syrah (7%) from sustainably farmed vineyards in the Agly Valley and Chapoutier’s own organically farmed vineyards in the Roussillon region of France. Chic and delicate, vivid aromas of sweet cherries, strawberries, and red flowers were delightful and I couldn’t wait to have my first sip. Mouthwatering acidity and refreshing notes of spice, pomegranates, cherries, raspberries, a dollop of anise were crisp and balanced. I savored the long, delightful finish.
Dopff & Irion Crémant d’Alsace Rosé Brut
($22) – From the French region of Alsace, this utterly joyous Crémant is from Pinot Noir grapes. The rosé was produced by pressing the whole cluster and maturing in a vat for 6 months before bottling and yeasting, resulting in the first fermentation. A blend of sugar and yeasts (liqueur de tirage) was added to begin the second bottle fermentation. All wines from Dopff & Irion are stored for 12-15 months before disgorgement that eliminates yeast deposits and are non-vintage, meaning that wines from different years are blended, resulting in consistent quality. What did I think of the Crémant d’Alsace Rosé Brut? Enchanting notes of strawberries, orange peel, and red berries were immediately noticeable on the nose. On the palate, I was smitten with its fresh acidity, round mouthfeel, subtle red berry flavors, and finesse from the first sip to the last. The persistent mousse: divine.
Cheers to rosé! ~ Cindy