Friday, June 24, 2011
The Rosé Resurgence in Now Fully Underway
However, other publications and wine critics continued to point out the worthiness of those value-priced pinks of summer. From then on, Rosé sales in America, particularly dry French versions, have increased substantially. In its July 31, 2011 issue, the Spectator published a lengthy review of Rosés from around the world, providing them another upward notch of respectability, and in another vote of confidence, the San Francisco Chronicle stated in its recent Rosé tasting review, “evangelism (is) not needed.” The Rosé resurgence is now fully underway.
I bring this up, because the relentless Northern California spring rains have run their course, the summer sun is showing its face here and there, and my primal urges to cook over flames is beginning to find satisfaction. That is, I’m starting to grill my favorite warm weather food—burgers, baby back ribs, chicken teriyaki, flank steaks, lamb chops, and Mediterranean-styled grilled vegetables. As you likely would assume, the wines that get first right of refusal with that cuisine are Rosés. My wife Helga and I particularly enjoy Rosés for they offer the cool and crisp, fruity freshness of whites with an injection, figuratively speaking, of some red wine virtues: color, flavor, aromatics and a tad more body.
It is worth noting that Rosés are not made by merely blending a bland white wine with a mediocre red one. Nope. Rosés are made from quality red grapes much as red wines are, except that after the crush the skins do not remain as long in the juice. This commingling of skins and grape juice, known as maceration, is what gives each Rosé its unique qualities of tint, taste, fragrance and heft. After the maceration, the extent of which is determined by the traits of the grapes utilized, the juice is “bled” off, and the fermentation is completed, sans skins, in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks.
This process, which the French call saignée (sen-yay), is the technique winemakers utilize to produce a “serious” Rosé, and since each red grape has unique skin pigments, acidity and tannin levels, then it’s clear that there’s a wide variety of styles to be enjoyed. Further, do not assume that the palest color will be the lightest bodied and/or be lacking in aromatic or flavor intensity. Tain’t necessarily so. Also, oak aging is typically not part of the process, for the unambiguous purpose of these wines is the enjoyment of their crisp and savory freshness.
The red grapes used in the production of Rosé vary with what’s available at the producer’s estate or allowed in the appellation, but the ones I find particularly interesting are from the French varietals like Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvedre. However, I have never turned my nose or taste buds away from Rosés made from Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or any other varietal, and neither should you.
Lastly, as food partners, which is any wine’s reason for existing, Rosés unrivaled versatility make them great matches—in addition to grilling—for alfresco lunches, picnics, simple dinner fare, late morning brunches, or even just sipping and noshing whenever the mood hits. Summer is upon us, so put away your Riedel stemware, pull out the tumblers and pour yourself an easy drinking, thirst slaking, palate cleansing Rosé. A relaxed, stress-free, Provencal state of mind is just a few sips away.