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Three Continents of Rosé PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Citara, BT Contributor   
April 2016

Red, white, and you: Agreeable wine for $12 or less

IVino_1f you’ve been following the presidential campaign so far, you probably need a very stiff drink. White lightning, maybe. Or rubbing alcohol.

Listening to the whole sordid lot of liars, thieves, con men, and buffoons is like being chained in a dark room while a pack of rabid weasels gnaws on your toes. No wonder half the country is desperate for anything to ease the pain. This being Vino, however, we beg you to forsake the industrial-grade solvents for, you guessed it, vino. In this case, specifically, rosé.

Rosé has many things going for it. For one, it’s pink. And if that helps you feel the Bern of democratic socialism, it’s okay by me. For another, it’s easy to like, not as heavy and fruit-bomby as many reds, not as austere and acidic as many whites. For a third, it’s inexpensive, even cheap. So you can afford to drink enough to keep those rabid weasels at bay. For a fourth.... Uh, I can’t think of anything else right now. All this talk about politics must have damaged my cerebral cortex.

Luckily, my taste buds have survived. But it was close, because they barely made it unscathed past the 2014 Marqués de Riscal Rioja Rosé. The odd yellow-pink color was the first giveaway, the second was the tarry, medicinal aroma that wafted out of the glass. The third, of course, was the taste. Bad rosé. Bad, bad rosé.

It did get considerably better from there. The 2014 L’Ostal Cazes also showed off a gold-tinged pinkish hue (though much less so than the Rioja) but was nothing like it in the mouth. Light-bodied and easy on the palate, it tasted subtly of fresh raspberries and orange flower water riding atop a mellow Meyer lemon acidity, with a few floral notes thrown in for good measure. At ten bucks a bottle, it’s an excellent value. It’s got an excellent pedigree too, with the winery owned by the Cazes family, which owns the producer of one of my favorite Bordeaux of all time, Château Lynch-Bages.

The Cazes is one reason why I always look first to France for good rosé; another is the 2014 Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Reserve. A blend of mostly Grenache with Syrah and a touch of Mourvèdre, its flavor profile is very similar to the Cazes -- raspberries, strawberries, a hint of orange flower water, a firm (but not stiff) mineral backbone. It’s light, crisp, and refreshing -- ideal for warm-weather sipping.

Where both French wines were rather shy in the aroma department, rosés from Italy and Argentina offered heady scents that didn’t follow through so much on the palate. The 2014 Conte Priola Pinot Grigio Rosé was at first as festive as a summer block party, with vibrant aromas of red apple, strawberry, and raspberry, and an orangey-citrusy acidity. Much of that vibrancy didn’t translate to the palate, though, where the fruit flavors were more muted and citrus ones more prominent, especially at the long, lemony finish. Definitely on the tangy side of the citrus-fruit equation, it’s a well-made wine that’s not for everyone.

The 2014 Finca Flichman Misterio is only a buck more, and it too offers summery aromas of strawberries, raspberries, and red apples, albeit with beguiling notes of passion fruit. It is fuller-bodied and more flavorful than the Conte Priola, with softer acidity that sits easier on the taste buds.

If your taste runs to even more fruit-forward rosés, then think domestic. The 2014 Apex Cellars from Washington State is a good example, with aromas and flavors of fresh berries and apples and citrus, plus a bit of toasty oak and a faint bitterness on the finish. It’s a good enough wine at a good enough price, though not one I’d make a special point of seeking out.

I would, however, make more of an effort to find the 2014 Sobon Estate ReZerve, which delivers all the vivid, ripe fruit California wines are known for. There’s no yellow-gold tinge here. The color is ruby red, the aromas like drinking a glass of orange juice in the middle of a summer-ripe strawberry patch. That’s pretty much the way the wine tastes too, with just enough of a citrus-green apple backbone. Good stuff.

And now I’ve got to go. Something’s chewing at my feet.

 

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