davies wakefield | wine uncorked | june 2016
The new crop of rosés is starting to show up in area stores. While there are some good 2014's still around, I always buy the youngest available; in May of 2016, those would be the 2015's. The picture that accompanies this article shows the color variation from lighter to darker and one of the wines has a grey tint to it due to the use of the Grenache Gris grape. And even though the wines I've chosen are lighter in color, that does not mean that they are lacking in flavor. In fact, I use many of these wines during the winter to pair with pork chops and even braised duck legs with orange flavored rice. These wines will stand up to just about anything on the grill, as well as cole slaw, potato salad and white bean salad. They will work with grilled lamb, pork ribs, shish kebobs, and any type of grilled seafood, especially shellfish.
The first wine is from the Gordon Estate winery in Pasco, Washington. The Gordon brothers, after going through a rough patch at the beginning of this century, have been making some very nice wines since 2009. They are the oldest winery in Washington using estate grown grapes. They date back to 1983 when there were just a handful of wineries in Washington. Their specialty is reds, particularly Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot and Malbec. The Gordon Estate 2015 Columbia Valley Rosé, $13.50 at Ridgeview Liquor is 100 percent Malbec. The grapes were specifically grown for use as rosé. The grapes were picked at 19.4 Brix, which indicates a nice level of acidity, and this was difficult to do in 2015 when they experienced the hottest summer on record. The wine has a faint pink hue similar to watermelon juice. The nose is red grapefruit, orange blossom and Lychee (I have actually tasted Lychee so I'm not BS-ing you.) The taste re-echoes the Lychee with a touch of rose hips and a nice acidic finish that will pair well with salad Nicoise. Don't miss this one! If you can't find this particular bottle try some of the Malbec rosés from Argentina where Malbec is practically the national grape.
The second wine is from Villa Wolf, $12 in Germany and our old friend Ernst Loosen of whom I have written about profusely in this publication. His Dr.L is a value priced Riesling that pairs wonderfully with Asian spices (lemon grass, ginger, soy, miso and hot peppers). The Villa Wolf wine is his version of rosé made from the Pinot Noir grape. The grapes for this wine are grown in the Pfalz (aka “Palatine") region in the Rhine river valley in southwest Germany, directly north of the Alsace region of France. The low-lying Haardt Mountains protect the area from the cold wet Atlantic weather (think Amsterdam), making it one of the warmer, drier areas of Germany. Predominately, the soil type is weathered sandstone that is well drained and produces wines with fruit driven purity and a minerally texture like wet stones. Like the Gordon Malbec, the pinot grapes were farmed specifically to make this rosè. The ripe grapes were macerated for about six hours in order to extract the beautiful salmon color. The wine was fermented and matured in stainless steel, which retains the snappy acidity that pairs well with food. You will also notice some bubbles when you twist open the screwcap, this is referred to as pétillant style and is accomplished by bottling the wine at a low temperature, which captures some CO2 that spritzes up when opened. This is also a wine that I can envision just sipping on a late 90 degree July afternoon. At $12 a bottle, it is worth buying a case for your next family reunion.
France has been and continues to be the epicenter for great wine and that goes for rosè as well. The best rosés come from southern France. They are produced in an arc that begins in the Corbieres region just to the north of the Spanish border and extends eastward through Provence into Aix and over to the St. Tropez region along the Mediterranean Sea. The rosés of these areas are blended wines with the predominant grapes being Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. The colors are light pink but don't mistake this as an indication of flavor. These wines are good matches for grilled sausages and potato salad as well as tandoori chicken and Asian marinated chicken drumettes. They retain their flavor when chilled which makes them perfect on a hot summer day.
The Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris, $11 if you buy four at Woodman's, is located in the Corbieres appellation of the western area of Languedoc just north of the Pyrenees Mountains of Spain along the Mediterranean. This area is the sunniest and driest region of France protected by mountains from cold weather and cooled by the Mediterranean winds like the sirocco. The first vineyards were planted in this location by the Romans. Roman coins found in the vineyards date back to 25 AD. The current owners, the Laboucariè family, have been making wine here since the seventeenth century. This rosè is 50 percent Grenache Gris, 20 percent Grenache Noir, 20 percent Carignan, 5 percent Cinsault, and 5 percent Mourvedre. The wine is produced using the saignée method of bleeding off the juice to limit the color from the red grapes. This produces rosés that are light in color and should be consumed in the year after production. This wine is also a Kermit Lynch selection, which speaks to the high quality of this wine. This wine was also my favorite of the tasting.
The next wine is from the Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence, just 15 miles north of the port city of Marseille. The Bieler Pere & Fils 2015 Rosè $9, if you buy four at Woodman's, is my value wine of this bunch. If you can find a better tasting French rosè at this price buy it! This wine has an interesting story behind it. Philippe Bieler purchased a small vineyard in Provence in 1992. At that time, rosè was not as popular as it is today and inventory was accumulating. Mr. Bieler asked his son Charles for “a year of his life" to save the company. Charles was a senior at Colorado State University at the time and knew nothing about wine at all. He and his sister Mira went to France, learned how to make wine and developed a marketing strategy that started out by painting an old Cadillac pink and traveling around to various accounts in the western United States. As Charles puts it “we became an overnight success in 15 years!" This wine is made from 40 percent Grenache, 25 percent Syrah, 25 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 7 percent Cinsault and 5 percent Rolle. 2015 was a great year for rosè in France and this is no exception. The Cabernet Sauvignon gives this wine a unique meatiness that will pair well with hamburgers on the grill as well as beef kebabs.
The last wine is La Sangliere, about $11 at Ridgeview Liquor. This wine is 65 percent Grenache, 30 percent Cinsault and 5 percent Syrah. The grapes for this wine are from the Cote de Provence in the eastern region about 15 miles west of St. Tropez. This family, the Devictor's, began farming their 42-hectare vineyards in 1980 and is now in the second generation of making these wines. This wine is very smooth on the palate and is perfect as an apèritif. The vineyards benefit from a schist-clay soil composition and the Mediterranean winds which keep early spring frosts at bay. The Devictor family farms the vineyards organically as well which reassures me about drinking their wines.
All in all, 2015 is a good year for rosè across the board. Let's just hope for some hot weather so we can enjoy them!