A Tale Of Three Rosés
One of life’s unfortunate characteristics is limited choices. In August one cannot lounge about in St. Tropez and hike Oregon’s Cascade Mountains at the same time. Bicyclists must choose to go touring or trail riding. People lucky enough to have a horse or a boat know that there are other horses and other boats that would greatly increase their enjoyment of the sport.
Thankfully with wine you can have it all. Take the three rosés that graced our table in just one week. They covered a range of tastes, bodies and hues that made summer meals enjoyable and memorable.
We first had a 2005 Chateau De Roquefort, from Cotes De Provence. This Biodynamic beauty is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan and Clairette. We were told on the label that it was hand made between September 12th and October 4th.
The very pale straw color of this rosé is unique; it is lighter in hue than even a Domaine Ott. Yet the refreshment was intense, very light and bright flavors of lemon and lime with a subtle bouquet of strawberries. The spice notes were there and probably came from the Cinsault. There was a local field blend quality to this wine and we could imagine the proprietor and the workers having a glass after a hot harvest day. We chose to accompany this wine with some fresh goat cheese and local oysters. The pairing was perfect as the delicate flavors of the wine allowed the food flavors to remain clear and bright. We love this wine nice and cold with simple food.
Next we had a local to us rosé from Shinn Estate Vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island, a mere 80 miles from Manhattan. Shinn is almost biodynamic. They are trying to do everything right in a very difficult wine-growing region. When they have to intervene to save the crop they do so with natural alternatives. They have an almost Napa style winery with a B&B and a catering kitchen.
Their 2008 rosé is a blend of 25% Cabernet Franc and 75% Merlot. We agree with the tasting notes on the label that the wine has aromas and flavors of strawberry, raspberry and watermelon. Shinn has made this one “bone dry” and “squeaky clean.” We tasted a little peach fruit too. This wine accompanied a pasta and pesto meal and was a perfect choice. The basil was grown within a few miles of the Shinn Vineyard so there was pairing in the DNA. What we loved about the two dishes (accompanied by a field salad and artisanal bread) was the clear flavors of food and drink, which facilitated the enjoyment of both. The “bone dry” rosé left no lingering sweet taste on the on the tongue so that the salad and pasta remained distinctive. Overlooking the water at a summer table groaning with local food and wine had a true taste of terroir. Thank you Shinn Estate for this lovely rosé.
Lastly, but not least, we opened a 2007 Yorkville Cellars Rosé De Franc made from organically grown grapes in California’s Mendocino county. This is beautiful farm country and one of the epicenters of organic and biodynamic winemaking in the new world. The vineyard is a small family operation and the Wallo family of Yorkville (population 145) invites all to come and have a “picnic under the shady oaks.”
This is a delicious wine. The darkest hue of rosé of the three and the fullest in body. The intense ruby color and viscous body were made to stand out. We tasted earth and fruit and straw and smoke. The cool nights and warm days of Mendocino put the grapes thru changes that clearly strengthen their flavors. Interestingly and by coincidence we had this wine with a Cioppino, a legendary San Francisco fish stew. San Fran is only a hundred miles south of Yorkville. The pairing was a total success. The strong well crafted wine and the bold flavors of clams, mussels and fennel worked so well. A lesser wine would have been overwhelmed and a lighter food might have been too, but in reverse. We think this wine should be drunk with hearty food or just by itself. The rich red color of the Cioppino and the rich red hue of the rosé gave the table a glow not easily forgotten.