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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wine of the Week: Some Rosés Well Worth Your Time, Money, and Attention

Posted By on Wed, May 2, 2012 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge Hogwash Wines Home Page Art
  • Hogwash Wines Home Page Art
Rosé is a Jekyll and Hyde wine. On the good doctor's side there are those that love it, and enjoy the distinct character it brings on its own, with a summer salad, a piece of fish, a bowl of strawberries or the like. On the Hyde side it's a wine that remains difficult to sell. For many producers it originated as by product they literally poured down the drain or gave away.

There are three ways to make Rosé. The Saignée method is when wine is bled off during production with the intent to intensify color and/or tannin. In this case the remaining, lighter colored, wine was often discarded or, in France where the law requires vineyard workers be given a specific quantity of wine for each days of work, bottled up for the crew.

When winemakers want to make Rosé for Rosé's sole sake, they can do so through "skin contact." Red wine grapes are crushed and liquid left on the skins for a period of time, often in a cold environment (cold soak). Later skins are removed (for red wine skins remain in the liquid for a longer period). The modest color of a few days transfer gives the Rosé its distinct hue.

The third option is to blend red wine with white, but this is something Rosé aficionados despise -- and some countries outlaw.

With a focus on wines made with the Saignée method, we've found a few Rosés that show off the friendly side of this wonderful warm weather wine.

MYV (Minassan Young Vineyards) Rosé. Paso Robles 2011

We came across MYV at Rhone Rangers, where we felt their wines stood out along with a dozen or so others amongst a very large field. Run by a husband and wife team that studied, respectively, Fruit Science and Plant Biology, MYV follow a minimalist but scientific approach to producing single vineyard wines in Paso Robles. Their Rose is made in the Saignée method, which is interesting in that we've been told there's no scientific evidence that the method achieves its stated goal of intensifying color or tannin. Still, the wine tastes good so....

Tasting Notes:
A blend of Grenache and Cinsault. The wine is pale peach in color, reminiscent of the Rosés of Provence. Light, tight acidity and a touch of cream. A delicate hint of grapefruit pith provides a bit of bracing.  Brings to mind picnics and sunshine, green grass, and egg salad. Price: $15

click to enlarge hogwash_rose.jpg
Hogwash 2011

From Tuck Beckstoffer Wines, this Rosé was produced both by Saignée method, for ⅔ of the lot, and by dedicated skin-contact method for the other ⅓. It utilizes two Grenache vineyards. For the wine geeks we'd note that it was picked early (for the dedicated ⅓), by hand, at night, and cold fermented. For the rest of us we'd merely repeat Tuck's note that it's "an infinitely quaffable byproduct of some of our more serious reds."

Tasting Notes:
In between pink and peach in color. A delicately green nose like sauvignon blanc, singing with citrus. The first sip is passion fruit and pineapple guava, then notes from the tropics continue in an exotic ripple until they wash up against a shore of subtle, but solid, acidity, cleaning your palate and scrubbing your tongue to leave you ready for that next bite of whatever the french seaside bistro in your mind is about to serve,  Niçoise salad perhaps. Price:$16

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Blackbird Ariviste

Blackbird Vineyards is a great business story (which I told here ) and makes some very nice wines. Winemaker Aaron Pott has been harvesting ever growing acclaim, and has broadened the offering of wines since the firm's inaugural Merlot based wine, including the Ariviste, the only California wine in the portfolio that hits our Wine of the Week $40 and below price target. The is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc made in the Saignée method, again with a cold ferment.

Tasting Notes:
Pink towards pale pomegranate. The tightest of the three with acidity presenting first and then fruits to the acid side of citrus; more lime than lemon.The wine comes off a bit more serious than the others. Slightly astringent, almost severe. Just a bit more serious than I want for my sunny day fun wine, but if you want serious, this is the pick of the three. The dinner Rosé of the three, or a pairing for fresh oysters. Price: $25

Contact Ben Narisin at . Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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Ben Narasin


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