Thursday, May 31, 2018

BRAMBLES: Things are Rose'

A rose' or rosado or a rosato, has more than a pseudonym going for it.  By its very appearance it is a pleasant hue of blush, and presents itself as a bright reminder of the many summer fruits captured in that chilled bottle.  It also has a sense of mystery about it, due in part that it is made everywhere wine is made(hence the alias), and can be the product of just about any wine grape(s) that is dominated by red skins. It can be a malbec or a pinot noir, a native grenache or a sangiovese, or a combination of many.  Plus, it can be the result of blending white grape juice with red, an early manipulation in the cellar or a simple bleeding(saigne'e) of a maturating vat of dark grapes.  Think of that as the tea-bag method: the longer in contact with skin, the darker and more tannic the wine. Generally, today's blush wines are easy on the pocketbook, as they benefit from a comparatively low cost of production. Plus, being market popular, we find ourselves today in a value driven market where things are more than just rose'.
Sunny vineyards of Aix-en-Provence
Con-temporarily described as a 'lifestyle ornament', chilled rose' wines are today often to be found around sunny and lighthearted seasonal festivities. When it hit the market way back when as 'white zinfandel', cloyingly sweet and simple, it often could be found in a glass of ice.  It did satisfy our sweet tooth, and also helped build not only a category, but a brand or two, as well. Today, we increasingly find a broadening market selection of good acid, lower alcohol dry wines producing a(hopefully) mouth-watering crispness. This has become known as the, 'Provence-style'.  Historically, with wide-spread commercial refrigeration only becoming available in the mid-19th century, wines back then would often quickly oxidize in production.  Rather than turning brown like a sliced apple, red wines typically were bottled rose' pale.  In a weak vintage, rose' wines would become a red wine makers safety net for the many small regional producers.  Early in the 20th century, focused on the protection and regulation of its historic agricultural products, France enacted its important national Appellation d'Origine Controle'e(AOC) system.  In its continental climate Rhone valley, Tavel AOC, became officially regulated in 1936; and remains the only all-rose' appellation in France.

Now six months after the destructive firestorm that altered our local wine region, there are signs everywhere of a return to where we were. At retail you can still find dedicated sections and even prominent end-caps that are broad, international rose' selections. Distributors will tell you that the rose' market is 'hot', and a continued trending rise in those many south of France exports.  And, local restaurant wine lists maintain the exploration of a growing selection of rose' wines for their fashionable consumers.  For those of us with a rose' craving, exploring by the glass or at a local wine event, like the upcoming Grill 116, can help define our personal blush wine desires.

Looking for values among rose' wine producers is truly a journey that offers bright rewards.  As individual grape varieties have unique characteristics and personality, even when they are the early extraction of color and body, thirsty consumers can usually anticipate profiles of rose' wines made from different single red varietals, say, pinot noir vs. malbec.  Density of color of the blush hue is generally also found to be a good indicator of the intensity of fruit personality in these fresh bottlings. Becoming familiar with a particular region or producer will increasingly indicate the type of rose' style being offered.  And blends, typical across the south of France, will present a bellwether character that is increasingly easy to predict.  As rose' is about its freshness of the light red fruit signature, current vintages offer the brightest, most harmonious possibilities in the glass.

What grape(s) it was made from, how rich the extraction, where it was produced, and how young it is will typically direct consumers to a variety of styles of rose' wines that will please and entertain.  After that, you are on your own.  Add happy company, fresh Mediterranean inspired foods and a couple of bottles, and you will find that things around you are rose'.

Value Wine:
E.Guigal 2016 Cotes du Rhone Rose': think dried strawberries and watermelon rind driven by refreshing acid, offering balance and length at a modest price and widely available from a Rhone benchmark producer.



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