rosé, frosé, brosé - summer is here

It's officially summer and that means rosé season. The growth in the category has been off the charts with rosé sales growing at least 10 times faster than overall wine sales. What is this pinkish wine? First things first all grape juice is white, so in order to get red you have to add the skins and to get pink there are three main methods of producing the pretty colors in the bottle, maceration, direct press and saignee. Maceration is the most typical with red grapes macerating for 2 to 20 hours into a lightly colored wine with degrees of color dependent on the varietal and contact time. An extremely short direct press of recently picked red grapes can also make a very light rosé. Saignee is when the juice is "bled" off the skins into a light colored wine. There is a lesser used fourth method, blending, which is just that, chuck a little red wine into a white wine and see what you get, usuallly, not very good wine (unless it's Champagne). At the end of the day rosé is simply the underlying varietal, Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir etc. turned a little pink.  The pheneological aspects of the grape, combined with the different methods and climates will be reflected in the style, color and nose of the wine.  Fresh, full of life, reminiscent of sunny days and cool nights, rosé says summer like no other wine can.   

Here are 9 our favorite rosés, perfect for any summer day, from the Rhone to California, there is something for everyone. 

Les Lauzeraies $13

From the famed Tavel appellation from the Rhone. They only make one wine, rosé, and its base is usually Grenache and Cinsault in a fuller bodied style. Deep pink colors and a beautiful regional bottle make it extra special. Tavel can age too taking on intersting hues and complexity.

 

Chateau Lauzade Cote de Provence $15

From the heart of Provence and rose, Bandol, this wine screams South of France and you could drink it all day, but don't. Lovely lychee and red fruits on the palate with a floral nose, it is the benchmark from which all other rosé should be compared. 

Honestly the bottle is so damn pretty, you just want to buy it and tip it on its side to view the lovely etched rose before you tuck in. The perfect pressie rose and the juice is pretty good too.  

 

 

AIX $18

Out of magnum, this is a pure party wine and who doesn't love to drink wine with the name of one of the prettiest places in Provence, AIX. Pretty place, pretty wine. 

 

Georgio my Georgio. Fun to speak to and spend time with, Georgio Rivetti is a tireless ambassador for all things Piemonte and Tuscany making wines with style and a modern interpretation on ancient varietals. His rosé is no different. Full bodied, yet light in the glass. Like his Vermentino it is complex, expressive, approachable and sleek. A unique combination of Sangiovese and Prugnolo Gentile. 

 

Chapel Down Sparkling English Rose $19

A rosé by any other name is but a rosé. In the case of English Sparkling wine however, this is not any other rosé. A complex fruity nose gives way to a well balanced rasberry and strawberry effervescent journey through the rolling hills of Kent, England. A distincitve, light bodied bubbly that will bring joy to any summer picnic. 

Minuty $19

My go to. It is various rosés petals in a glass, balanced like strawberries and cream in summer. The flavors work, the acidity is low and for the money, this wine hits well above its weight. Widely available in its distinctive bottle, buy by the case for entertaining all summer long. 

 

Of all the wines on the list, this will be high on impossible to find, unless you reach out directly or contact Sonoma. I fell in love with the story of the Wrotham Clone and when I was able to enjoy the sparkling recently in California I was over the moon. A rare clone that makes distinctive Pinot Noir on the fuller side with the fruit to match this is a fun one. 

 

Garrus $91

The top of the Sacha Lichine portfolio from Chateau D'Esclans, Garrus is a bone dry, elegant rosé, that drinks like no other rosé I have had before. Integrated, lean, sophisticated, this is a grown up rose for grown up budgets but worth the experience if you can find it. Other wines in Sasha's magical rosé stable are the well loved blend, Whispering Angel, two other rosés from the D'Esclans' terroir include Les Clans and Whispering Rock.  

 

FUN FACT

A Matter of Taste: Australia Up Close

Australia is on a mission to lose the perception of wines from Australia being either Yellow Tail or big, jammy, Shiraz based fruit bombs. Australia is willing to experiment and work with their natural gifts and is producing wines of distinction and variation. The messaging is starting to resonate and given Austraila would cover almost three quarters of the US, it is a large country with wines that reflect the various climates produced by dedicated regional ambassadors. 

The venue was Capo Restaurant in South Boston 

The venue was Capo Restaurant in South Boston 

We started our day at Australia Up-Close with a seminar of 10 Grenache based wines from various regions in Australia.  What stood out to me most was the impact older vines had on the wine. They were distinctly leaner, graceful in style and subtle and with less pronounced fruit, tannins and alcohol. There was talk from the panel that old vine Grenache can often express itself with characteristics of Pinot Noir and even the Master Sommelier in the room attested to the cloak and dagger elements of Grenache in blind tastings against the Pinots from Burgundy or Sonoma. From the seminar, I found the Ochota Barrels “Fugazi” McLaren Vale 2016 to be fascinatingly complex and expressive. It brought Amaro to mind with its medicinal undertones and diverse flavors. At the high end of the spectrum, the 2014 Yangarra “High Sands” McLaren Value Grenache was also a joy to drink though. Anyone thinking Australia Grenache, “no thanks” should take the time to look into their regional composition and the vines that produced the wine. We drank from hot Barossa to the cool Clare Valley and each wine was uniquely it’s own in style.

For the walk around tasting it was as big of an Australian tasting as I can remember in my 10 years of professional wine tasting. Wines Australia pulled out all the stops and Boston was one of five major cities they had traveled to, each with a unique seminar. There were 31 tables to tap into at the trade tasting. Australia may have a history of wine branding mastery, and while Penfolds, d”Arenberg, Jacobs Creek and Peter Lehman may be common names at the local wine store, the list of producers was impressive as were the wines. We spent most of our time focused on smaller producers, unique varietals or the top wines on offer and found something for everyone. From the first and only Assyrtiko from Jim Barry to a Monduse, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc Blend from Brown Brothers we were pleasantly surprised by the range and quality. 

Some of our favorites included:

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Pictured Left 

Pictured Left 

 

A Matter of Taste: Alsace

Today we launch our weekly tasting and events “newspaper” A Matter of Taste.  Each week we will share with you the wines we tasted, the wines we loved, wines that were offered to us both from collectors and in the market.  

Last week I had the pleasure of attending some spectacular tastings here in Boston.  I share with you my favorites and some fun facts about the regions, the producers and the wine. Do not hesitate to reach out should you want more information on the wines or would like us to find some for you.  

Alsace is one of the most under appreciated regions in France.  Renowned the world over for wines that are a perfect combination with food.  Alsace produces a full range of wines from distinct, rare varietals and in styles from dry to sweet.  The region also benefits from being the only region in France with all three distinct soil types (clay, loam and sand) making the wines expressive of place across various plots of land in connected vineyards.   

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Domaine Marcel Deiss is a leader in bio-dynamic practices within Alsace and has been actively pushing the boundaries of wine production using bio-dynamic practices since 1990.  In Alsace there are officially 13 varietals of wines. Many producers in the region have single vineyard plantings of varietals, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, etc. but Jean-Michel, the winemaker, practices selection massale, growing multiple varietals in one vineyard. 

Our favorite wines of the tasting were the 2002 and 2013 1er Cru Gruenspiel comparison, which is a blend of Riesling, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer. I also enjoyed the vast differences between the three Grand Cru wines we tasted, Mambourg, Altenberg and Schoenenbourg, 2013.  We also tasted a 2001 Altenberg which was amazingly complex and a roadmap to the way the young 2013 will evolve. 

Schoenenbourg 2013 pictured left and '02 1er Cru Gruenspiel pictured right

Schoenenbourg 2013 pictured left and '02 1er Cru Gruenspiel pictured right

'02 1er Cru Gruenspiel pictured left and '01 Altenberg pictured right 

'02 1er Cru Gruenspiel pictured left and '01 Altenberg pictured right 

FUN FACT

Schoenenbourg was one of the most famous wines of the Middle Ages, revered for its ability to age and evolve.  The unique pure clay subsoil in Shoenenbourg has 40% natural gypsum, yep the stuff in we use to make walls, making it remarkably resistant to oxidation.    

 

GEEK OUT 

Learn more about the evolution of Alsace.  The new and old generations are transforming classifications and recognizing the value in distinct wines that qualify as Grand Cru. http://ow.ly/GsQ230cTBcw

MAKING MEMORABLE MEMORIES

Normally when one gets invited to a stranger's home over the internet we pause and reflect, delete, ignore or move on swiftly. When the invitation involves Bordeaux wines from the 60s and 70s and knowing Google could help me figure out if the group was legit, I took a closer look at the invitation. I had never met the wine group that reached out to me but their fearless leader had seen me speak at an event in Boston and asked me to share some thoughts on the wine market to the monthly gathering of Vino Veritas. On a rainy Sunday night, abandoning family and my visting brother-in-law I set out to Lexington to see what this "club" was all about. Walking into the room of wine loving friends, my eyes quickly analyzed the room and my gaze immediately moved to the table of decanters and wine bottles in the middle of the kitchen. What was on the table made it clear we were in for a wine adventure. As I was politely introduced and sparkling wine was offered it became clear this was not a wine coven but a group of fun loving friends who genuinely enjoyed each other's company and the pursuit of learning more about wine and food.

Each couple brought a wine and a food to match. The theme of the night was old Bordeaux versus Bordeaux less than 10 years old (which was stretched to 15). As we were seated at the table, the first of the wines appeared. Old versus new, pairing after pairing, the journey of wine and time could not have been more extraordinary. The food was thoughtfully prepared and lovingly shared and I realized how powerful wine can be. See all the wines here.

One member of each couple was tasked with sharing the details about the wine from various online sources. They shared how they bought them (including being abandoned in the aisles by a retailer) and how they acquired the wines via mail order auction over 45 years ago. We talked about why they chose the wines they did and how excited they were when they arrived by mail and then deciding to cellar them. There was nothing formal about the night other than a beautifully set table and proper care of the wines. There were so many questions and surprises in the bottle and the conversation was enlightening.

As a so called wine "professional" I learned more about education and tasting in that night than I have in many years of formal tasting and education. The '61 Phelan Segur was fresh and sprightly with beautiful tertiary aromas and flavors but still balanced and approachable. The 1967 Lynch Bages versus the 2012 Lynch Bages was an epic experience where you knew both wines were from the same varietals and place on the nose, you could tell they were the same wine, but with over 50 years of age on this wine it was mind blowing in its complexity on the palate.

It was another moment where I realized wow, if we could all just wait, take care of ourselves and our wines, it would be incredible if we could be blessed to live so long as to meet a wine grandmother and her grandchildren.

With so much negative in the world right now and for all the challenges we face each day, Vino Veritas was a true testament to what is right in the world. Dear friends getting together, learning, openly and honestly about a product that has brought them so much joy over time. They have fun together, they are organized and thoughtful and they care deeply about sharing wine, their homes and their experiences. I can't thank Vino Veritas enough for including me in their night.

As we kick off summer and we begin to form memorable memories of sunny days and cool nights, enjoy yourself, take note of what is in your glass and who is at your table. May Memorial Day, Bank Holiday or every other holiday this summer cause us to reflect on those we have met, those we will meet and all that can go right in the world, particularly over a glass of wine.