A couple of weeks ago I was on deck pouring a "sippy sip" of four different wines. Since it was bloody H O T that week in Boston, it was only fair to choose wines that were thirst-quenching or perfect for grilled fare. A South African Chenin Blanc, an Italian frizzante-styled white, a Spanish rose, and an all-American Zin were on offer. The tasters enjoyed the Chenin more than any other selection but the Rose stirred up the most conversation.... When I posted last month about rose I spoke more about what it is (juice pressed from red grapes after short-lived skin contact, so as to impart a touch of color, body and texture) and what it is not (sugary sweet!). What I didn't really get into is the myriad styles that exist. Between reps absolutely clamoring to sell the shop their rose wares before it is too late in the summer and the many conversations I had at the tasting a couple weeks back, I can't help but go into more detail today.
Let's start with the Spanish rose offered at the tasting because it goes against the grain by blending in white wine, too (egad!). Typical to the Rioja region's approach to rose, the Muga Rosado 2007 is a blend of Grenacha, Viura (a white varietal famous in the region and often used in Cava production) and Tempranillo. The wine sees about 12 hours of contact with the grape skins, resulting is a distinctly salmon color. It also is aged in wooden vats for 25 days (another Rioja/Spanish characteristic, as they are the country most famous for oak application), which contributes a touch more oomph to the wine and a certain toastiness, too. The addition of Viura is no doubt where this wine achieves its subtle tropical fruit flavors and aromatics.
Next, let's venture to France, a region well known for it's rose. I tasted Louis Chave's 2007 rose of Pinot Noir and it knocked my socks off! This wine is classified as a Vin de Pay d'Oc (or table wine). Perhaps because of this designation, I couldn't dig up more about this intriguing, delicious wine - so I'll stick to it's flavor profile and encourage others who might know more on its context to comment below. A light watermelon color, this wine has a gently, "dusty", floral nose. It is in the French style, so beautifully dry, offering simple red berry fruit flavors, just a touch of tannin and subtle, food-loving acidity. Bottom line: this wine smelled and tasted like a pinot, but dialed it back a touch to rose levels of thirst-quenching, grilled chicken-loving, yumminess.
Traveling back to Spain - because this wine was that good and 100% rose of Merlot (very cool) - let's head north to the Penedes region where Cava (Spanish bubbly) is king. The 2007 Avinyo Vi d'Agulla Rose was quite a charmer. It had a beautiful, rosey, Merlot nose. There's no other way to describe it; it just smelled like Merlot should! On the palate, it tasted like the winemaker had put rose pedals and strawberries together in the blender and then liquified them into a refreshing, slightly bold libation. This wine had terrific balance (neither fruit, nor tannin, nor acidity overwhelmed more than it should). But what I liked most about it was that it was dry but offered a refreshing crispness, and was completely worthy of a pairing with bolder meat dishes.
Hopefully this quick sampling of rose styles is enough to wet your whistle and send you heading for your local wine shop! If you are wary to experiment, start simple: pick a wine from your favorite region of the world, or your favorite grape, (or both, if you can find one!) and go from there.
Have you tried a rose before? What's your pick this year?