Friday, May 18, 2012

Drink the Pink

Maybe there are still some people out there who associate rose with sugary plonk, but they must simply not give a shit, because the American rose consumer has never had it better. There are more roses made in more styles from more grapes grown in more regions than ever before.

Over the past few years American consumers have seriously wised up to the fact that pink wine is awesome.

Living in the capitol swamp of DC, I spend much of the summer hiding from the midday or fleeing the city for the Jersey Shore. When I’m stuck here on a hot day, though, popping a bottle of rose is always a good idea. With the heat and humidity on the horizon, I attended a rose tasting put together by my good friends Brett and Alyssa for Brett’s birthday. He graciously brought almost all of the wines from his collection. (Who knew a metalhead had so much pink wine?) The wines paired very well with a melange of sushi, cured meats and cheeses. We popped all the bottles and helped ourselves, revisiting the wines over the course of the evening, checking their evolution, discussing the nuances. I dutifully took notes, and here they are...

Old World Roses
We had a great selection of roses from different regions of France, and a Lopez de Heredia thrown in for good measure.

2010 Domaines Ott Côtes de Provence Rosé Château de Selle - France, Provence - The bottle is shaped like some French perfume. Very light copper color. A burst of lemon and wild strawberry on the nose. Sharp acid, mineral-driven, with flavors of wild strawberry and white pepper. Finishes with soft tannins. Lots of focus on the minerals here, less in the way of flavors I usually associate with Provence, but a lovely style. A blend of grenache, cinsault, syrah, cabernet sauvignon. (90 pts.)

2011 Domaine de la Mordorée Côtes du Rhône Rosé La Dame Rousse - France, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône - The bright strawberry color stands out among some of the paler shades of pink at the tasting. Nose of cherry candy, macintosh apples and a hint of pepper. The palate shows significant tannins, which back up the sweet cherry, strawberry and peppert flavors. This is a hefty rose, but absolutely delicious. (89 pts.)

2011 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Rosé - France, Loire Valley, Chinon - I've heard good things about this wine, and I'm officially on board. Light copper color with a bit of a spritz in the glass. Elegant aromas of peach, white flowers and tangerine. On the palate it starts off plush, but then the acid streaks through, creating a palate-coating effect without being heavy. I love the strawberry and white cherry fruit, which is underlined with limestone and lemon. Very long finish. Lovely stuff and it paired perfectly with sushi. (91 pts.)

2011 Château de Peyrassol Côtes de Provence Rose Commanderie - France, Provence - Very pale cherry color, almost clear. Melon rind and peach aromas, along with pepper and underbrush. Lots of pepper on the palalate, along with wild strawberry and lemons. Huge acid on this wine, which carries to the finish and leaves the palate refreshed. Very elegant. Grenache, cinsault and syrah. (90 pts.)

2000 R. López de Heredia Rioja Rosado Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia - Spain, Rioja - This is the third time I've had this wine, and, while I enjoy it, I don't love it. Sorry, I know a lot of people at the tasting raved about this wine, but for my palate it didn't hold up against some of the other excellent roses in the tasting. Tangerine color. It smells like cheese rind, strawberry greens and a canteloupe melon that's been left out in the sun for a long time. Austere acid on the palate. The best part about this wine is the minerals, which are fresh and lively. Thick mouthfeel with macintosh apple and brie rind flavors. This is a really nerdy wine that is fun to sip and dissect with others, but in the end, if I'm pouring myself a glass of rose on the porch, I'd go for something else. (86 pts.)

2009 Clos Cibonne Tibouren Côtes de Provence Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes - France, Provence - Orange/copper color. Aromas of watermelon, kumquat and marijuana, seriously. The palate shows juicy cherries and strawberries, along with a nice herbal-hemp flavor. This wine tastes old school, like it was made without much technology, and I like that. It definitely stood out as a funky, quirky wine. (87 pts.)

New World Roses
Of course, this was Brett's birthday, so his favorite region, the Pacific Northwest, was heavily represnted. I haven't been following roses from Oregon and Washington, but I clearly need to, because there are some great pinks out there.

2011 Gramercy Cellars Olsen Vineyard - Washington, Columbia Valley - This wine is unfiltered, showing a slightly cloudy pink color. Aromas of lemonade, roses and pepper. Lots of strawberry fruit on the palate, with tangy acid, medium tannins and a rush of minerals. Anise and hints of tobacco add even more complexity. It maintains elegance the whole time. The winemakers admit this wine is inspired by Chateau Peyrassol. While drinking that wine, they realized they had the exact same varieties planted in their Olsen Vineyard and decided to make a rose. The end result is delicious, a rose that clearly pays homage to Provence, while still showing its Columbia Valley roots. A blend of cinsault, grenache, syrah. Stellar stuff. It was really fun to drink this alongside the 2011 Chateau Peyrassol and compare them. (91 pts.) 

2011 Sleight of Hand Cabernet Franc Magician's Assistant Rosé - Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley - Neon strawberry color. Initially, the nose reminded me of a highland single malt scotch, with this kind of caramel, toast and apple. That blew off a bit, and the macintosh apple aroma really came to the forefront. The palate shows tangy acid and sweet fruit, candied cherries and watermelon. I like this, but it lacks the minerality and complexity of some of the other roses in the tasting. (86 pts.)

2009 Cayuse Grenache Edith Rosé - Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley - This is a bold rose that demands attention. Very light copper color with thick legs. The butter and spice on the nose reminds me of chardonnay, but there's also some melon and peach. On the palate, this is definitely the creamiest wine of the bunch. It's like drinking whipped fruit. Lots of red apple skins and strawberries, along with butter and cream. Very long finish. This is a much different style, but I still loved it. I imagine this would actually be better on the second day or with another year in the bottle. (90 pts.)

2009 Cameron Saignee of Pinot Noir - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills - This was my wine of the night for sure. I've swooned for Cameron pinot noir in the past, and this wine is like a lighter version of the Clos Electrique pinot I love so much. It's a vibrant strawberry color in the glass. Complex aromas of beef, goat cheese, fresh cherries, oregano. The palate is bold and palate-coating, with cool cherry and raspberry fruit. It softened up a lot with time and got more expressive with rose, potpourri and mushroom flavors. There's a lot of cut on the palate, which keeps it fresh. The flavors in this wine are so pure, that's the best way to describe it. They evolved almost every minute, showing flashes of mushroom, cassis and all sorts of nuances. Incredibly long finish. This wine is made by bleeding off 10% of each fermenter of pinot noir and then fermenting the rose-colored juice in neutral oak barrels. Thanks, Brett, for bringing this and showing me once again that Cameron is one of my favorite producers, period. I don't put a lot of weight on scores, but I'm not kidding with a 93. Stunning. (93 pts.)

A Champagne shines, while a cremant de Bourgogne sucks ass.

N.V. Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé - France, Burgundy - I couldn't name  a specific fault in this wine. Maybe something's chemically wrong with it, but I'm not sure what it is. If it's not flawed, it sure sucks. Bright pink color in the glass. Aromas of underripe cherries and seaweed. The palate shows lots of acid along with bitter cranberries and bug spray. Gross stuff. I let it sit for a while, came back to it, and it was still crappy. Scoring this wine would be an exercise in futility.

2008 Roses de Jeanne / Cédric Bouchard Champagne Blanc de Noirs Les Ursules - France, Champagne - What a phenomenal Champagne. Complex aromas of toasted baguette, key lime and yeast. The acid in this wine is pure and bright, and it just rips across the palate. Intense lemon curd and key lime flavors and a lot of crushed limestone and minerals. This wine is so damned young and powerful, and definitely needs time to sleep, but it's pedigree is undeniable. (92 pts.)

Non-Pink Wines
A Cameron chardonnay and a quality pinot noir... a great way to finish off the evening.

2000 Cameron Chardonnay Blanc Abbey Ridge - Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills - I've never had a Cameron chardonnay this old, so it was really interesting to taste one with 12 years of age. Beautiful golden color in the glass. Aromas of pear, honey and wax, a little bit of oxidized aromas as well. Some butterscotch aromas came out with time. The palate is thick but high in acid. It has a kind of aged vin jaune aspect to it, with butterscotch, peanut shell and wax. Underneath, the flavors of yellow apple and honey show through. Lovely acid lingers on the long finish. Delicious stuff, and this got better and better with more air. It's probably time to drink up, though, as the oxidized flavors are quite strong. (90 pts.)

2010 Domaine des Moirots Givry - France, Burgundy, Givry - I loved the 2009 vintage, and the 2010 is excellent as well. Bright cherry color. Smoky fruit on the nose, like someone threw cranberries on the grill. There's a musk and beef broth aroma too that I love. Sweet cherries on the palate, along with flavors of broth amd musk. Very savory, but still light and balanced. Tastes great now, but I'd love to taste it again in five years. Considering the price and quality, I need to buy up a whole bunch of these. (90 pts.)

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