This month’s wine club meet was dedicated to rosé, the queen of quaffable summer wines. And since we were fortunate enough to spend the evening atop a downtown roof (props to Caitlin’s pops!), we decided to open the evening to a few friends, including Keith, the East Village Wine Geek of In Vino and Alphabet City Wines. Nine bottles from six countries–a brilliant range. And since none of these included the rosé region of Tavel, I vote to place Tavel atop our next summer’s list.
Pink because it’s kept in short contact with the skins of red grapes, rosé has long since recovered from its infamous association with the dregs of wine society–white zinfindel. Rising to the front pages of publications, in the past few years, rosé has shimmered in the windows of every other wine store summer display. This month we celebrate this debutante in a bottle, because each year there’s more options on the shelves from which we can choose and drink.
We started last night with the 2007 Vin Gris de Cigare Bonny Doon, from California’s Santa Cruz, a blend that’s 47% grenache, 27% cinsault and 14% syrah. It’s a fruity, refreshing wine, with a layer of chalky minerality that runs beneath strawberry and cherry fruit, and a syrah-inspired spice at the end.
One of everyone’s favorites, in terms of approachability, comes from Paumanok Vineyards, on Long Island’s North Fork. Their Dry Rosé Wine is peachy salmon in color, with a lovely nose of peach, sea breeze, and minerality. It’s fruit forward in the mouth, with sunny acidity; and at 11% abv, it’s super beachy.
From Stellenbosch, South Africa, we drank 2008 Ken Forrester Petit Rosé, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot. Brighter in color, but still with a salmon tint, Petit has a subtler nose of fruit and mild skunk. In the mouth, it’s an A-bomb; a blast of red fruit flavors, a whisper of pinotage-like tar, and an acidity that lingers, bleeding into the sunset.
This next wine, from the Bourgueil region of Loire Valley, the 2008 Domaine de la Petite Mairie, stole my heart for the night. Powder pink in the glass, this cabernet franc is one of the most complex and layered rosés that I’ve ever tasted, with talc-like minerality, bright red fruit, and salinity that finishes with a mouth-puckering acidity. This is also the wine that split the group in half. Those sitting closest to the snacks found the wine to be nothing more than a simple rosé, which indicates that this is a wine that requires some attention, and for me, no food.
Because all wines are not divine, there were a few disappointments that night. The 2008 Le Rosé de Canon la Gaffeliere from Bordeaux showed strawberry and chlorine. I’m not sure what part of the wine-making process would lead to this, but the chemical essence was a bit overbearing.
The same can be said for the 2007 Markowitsch from Carnuntum, Austria. A blend of 80% Blaufränkisch and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, the Markowilsch has a very cool Braille label, and fruity flavors that are unfortunately buried beneath aromas of sulfur on the nose and palate.
Things started looking up again, once we steeped our senses in Sicily. The 2008 Di Giovanna Gerbino Rosato is made from an organically grown grape that is native to Sicily, Nerello Mascalese. With a sprite acidity, it’s vegetal and earthy, with notes of cherry. In the glass, the acid is like a needle threaded with fruit that’s drawn through the earthy/vegetal elements as you drink. On the finish there’s a dusting of tannins to knot the stitch.
Traveling north to Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy, we sampled the 2008 Lechthaler Lagrein Rosato, which unfortunately did not bode so well. Though a beautiful deep pink color, this too had a sulfurous nose that was also grapey.
Ending on a song that coincided with Eric Asimov’s piece in the New York Times, we swooned over the 1998 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Rosé Gran Reserva from Rioja. Light sienna in color, like the skin of an onion, this is a contemplative rosé with a powerful fino sherry-like nose of dried strawberries, petrol, and almond. With bright acidity and a dried fruit finish, it’s “like a circus” in your mouth, said Keith. To which we all said, Yum!