Engaging summer rose wines

Summer rose wines come bottled in many different shapes. Photos by Wayne Crawford

Wayne On Wine

By Wayne Crawford
Summer calls for a shift in our wine-drinking patterns, whether it is while lunching, entertaining on the porch at night or relaxing on the water.

Lighter reds, sparklers, crisp whites and dry rose dominate. Perhaps, the lower alcohol levels, the crisp, fruit-forward flavors or the lighter color of these wines stimulate a swing from rich, tannin reds with their bold rim-to-rim purple hues to more gentle wines.

My theory is the diverse shapes in rose wine bottles draw the adventurous wine fan and casual drinker, like a fishing lure, to bite on something a bit offbeat. Maybe it is the various shades of copper-red, pink, salmon or light blush and the see-through brilliance in appearance that hooks the buyer. Whatever the lure, dry rose wines increasingly offer taste satisfaction at great values.

There is also a growing belief that some of the best rose wines will improve with age, drawing smoother and more unique flavors and bouquet from the wine. I have started setting aside a few rose bottles to test this theory.

The variance in flavors and appearance among rose wines is driven by the varietal grapes in the blend and the length of time the red-skinned grapes remain in contact with the juice, along with the winemaker’s craft. 

Ed O'Donnell, left, Mike Erlich and Sylvia Harnsberger sample rose wines.

Clearly, the soil, climate and other factors, which the French attribute to terroir, contribute. Rarely is a rose wine made by mixing a red wine with a white wine. From the Old World, Province, Bandol, Champagne, Burgundy and the Loire produce rose wines and Champagne, which serves as a global rose wine standard. Fast-forward to the New World, and rose wines from Paso Robles are increasing well-crafted. Locally, Tiger Mountain makes a rose wine produced from 50 percent tannat and 50 percent cabernet franc.

While writing this article, I enjoyed a Tentation Brut, a non-vintage cremant (a sparkling wine not made in Champagne) from Bourgogne, France, from Olivier Morin. It was light and crisp with red berry, cranberry, watermelon and strawberry flavors. The wine is smooth with some tartness that adds punch to this light-bodied wine with a medium finish. It is a delightful, easy-drinking sparkler priced at $17, with 12 percent alcohol by volume.

In Province, the varietal grapes are more likely to be grenache, cinsault, syrah and mourvedre. In the Loire Valley, in a Rosé D Anjou, the varietal grapes are groslot and gamay. Paso Robles Tablas Creek Dianthus 2013, priced at $27, is made with mourvedre, grenache and counoise. Other wines to consider include: Lioco 2013 Indica Rose Mendocino County, $18, 100 percent carignan; Chateau de Lancyre 2013 Pic St. Loup Rose, $21, 50 percent syrah, 40 percent grenache and 10 percent cinsault; Commanderie de la Bargemone 2013 Coteaux D'Aix En Provence Rose, $18, 35 percent grenache, 30 percent cabernet sauvignon, 20 percent syrah and 15 percent cinsault.

Foods that pair well with rose wines include: grilled fish, sausages or other cold meats, charcuterie, hamburgers, pork, green salads with grilled shrimp. Avoid cream sauces and oysters. Remember: Quality rose wine is not white zinfandel and is best served at 43 F. Light-body roses drawn from pinot noir, Burgundy and the Loire pair well with pasta in light sauces, rice and salads. A full-bodied rose drawn from cabernet and syrah grapes complements summer barbecues and spicy foods.

‘Wines Drinking Well Now’
Tavel, 2012 Pierre-Henri Morel Rose, France, $20. The wine offers a deep, ruby color with ripe fruit, cranberry, strawberry, tangerine, lemon, morello cherry and grenadine flavors. The palette is well-balanced with red fruit, cherry and plum flavors. The winemaker is M. Chapoutier. In the Big Canoe Wine Club’s blind tasting, this was the best rated rose. Highly Recommended.

Truett-Hurst 2012 Salmon Run Zinfandel Rose Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, $19. Flavors of jam and spice are augmented by delicate floral and fresh peach notes and a medium finish. This wine pairs with fresh fruit, cheese and spicy dishes.

Francis Ford Coppola Sofia 2009 Rose, California, $16. This rose is made from syrah and grenache grapes sourced entirely from Monterey County. On the nose, it is floral with orange peel and pomegranate aromas. On the pallet, look for strawberry and cherry fruit-forward flavors and a medium-dry finish. Best Buy.

‘Drink what you like’

In my next article, we will visit cabernet franc.
Wayne Crawford is a certified specialist of Wine CSW and a member of the Society of Wine Educators and the American Wine Society.


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