Monday, August 10, 2015

Easy Like ... Rosé Wine

People make things difficult.  Sorry, but it is true; from rush hour, the work week, the boss, the in-laws, the land lord, the clerk in the store (who is supposed to be there to help!) and many other people in our lives seem to be there just to make things difficult on you.  Take the author for the Sommeliers; Tom Stevenson, in his authoritative tome the New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia, he describes the rosé wines of Provence France "...exotic is the last word that could be used to describe it's dull, flabby contents."  Admittedly wine making has improved since he pinned these words,  yet there remains his words of resistance that Sommeliers and other serious readers of this book have to overcome to develop their appreciation of rosé wines. In contrast from wildly popular web site BuzzFeed: "Rosé haters are either a) sad and ignorant enough to think that “pink is for girls,” or b) individuals who were exposed at a young and impressionable age to white zinfandel (a sugary, mass-produced excuse for wine that rose to power in 1970s California)".  And, so goes the information back and forth, like a great debate, everyone wants to weigh in and give their opinion.  One of my favorite web sites, Wine Folly, says; "rosé wine is both manly and sophisticated."  The hard numbers show that even with "haters" of this type of wine out there the category experiences sales growth of almost 40% annually.  A number that makes other wine styles green with envy.

The great thing about wine is that no matter what the experts and authors say about a wine; you can still pour the wine in a glass and experience it for yourself.  That is the moment of truth, you look, smell and taste, you experience it and you can come up with your own opinion, independent from whatever the "experts" say.  With rosé wine I find this rewarding because the wine is enjoyable and easy. Like the Commodores hit written by lead singer Lionel Richie, it is " Sunday Morning."  Rosé wine is easy on the eyes.  Rosé wine is easy on the nose. Rosé wine is easy on the palate.  Rosé wine is easy to pair with food. And, rosé wine is easy to love.

Which is why the Rambling Rosé tasting is so popular every year.  Celebrating another great vintage of the Becker Vineyard's Provencal and their new rosé Jolie!  This is one of the many Culinaria events that take place year round in celebration and support of the culinary arts in South Texas with a special emphasis on the coming Urban Gardens!  We thank every one who participated in this worthwhile, enjoyable and easy endeavor

It was a beautiful, and HOT Saturday in the Texas Hill Country AVA, Saturday August 8th, 2015.  Harvest has just begun in our wine region and you can feel the excitement in the air!  Harvest time is great because of all the hope and potential coming in from the fields has the team at the winery excited.  The visitors are also excited to be trying the wines in the tasting room and the six rose wines poured blind into their glasses.

Blind tasting is the only way to accurately judge and assess the quality of any wine.  The picture below shows the six wines at the start of the tasting.  The colors are beautiful and varied from pale pink, often called salmon, to richer pink hues that can become fairly red in appearance.  My notes and review of the wines are below following the order they were presented with the bottom right being the first and the top left wine being last.

Jolie, Becker Vineyards, Texas 2014
Brilliant and beautiful!  A very sexy shade of pink that shimmers and teases.  The aromas are expressive and seductive with cranberry fruit and a very floral rose petal quality.  The flavors are fulfilling and rich; with strawberry and cranberry, some meaty plum, a hint of minerals and a smack of leather in the finish.  This is the NEW rose from Becker made from primarily Tempranillo grapes and it is very impressive and delicious.  It was the hit of the day! 

Cote du Rhone, J Vidal Fleury, Rhone, France, 2014 

Light hues of pink with highlights of orange and gold.  The aromas has a hint of citrus with some berry notes an impression of cured meat and crushed flowers.  The flavor is tart at first, followed by pleasing richness, filled out by strawberry fruit, some dusty minrality heading to the quick finish.  Great wine for meaty and heavier food pairing opportunities.  Founded in 1781, Vidal-Fleury is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Rhône Valley. ( Thomas Jefferson visited the estate in 1787.)  Combining 230 years of tradition with a state-of-the-art winemaking facility.  The rose is made from 50% Cinsault, 30% Syrah, 20% Grenache. The vineyards are on a mix of calcareous, clay, and sandy soil at 650 to 1,000 feet.  
Provencal, Mourvedre, Becker Vineyards, Tallent Vineyard, Mason County, Texas Hill Country, 2014
Limpid pink colors with the deep hues of salmon pink, very classic rose appearance.  With a subtle, genteel aromas of strawberry and cranberry fruit that is tantalizing.  The delicate approach of the wine continues with the strawberry and cranberry fruit expression being very mellow with a wonderful note of orange peal coming in with the reflection of minrality in a finish that whispers into the distance of your taste buds.  This is a crowd favorite that was immensely enjoyed when blind and meet with cheers when revealed at the end.

Chateau Bonnet, Bordeaux, 2014

Transparent salmon pink hues and a lacy, light and attractive appearance.  The aromas are shy; subtle berry expression and hints of tart apple. The flavors are a little more forthcoming with cherry and berry notes and a richness enhanced by an unexpectedly pronounced herbaceousness.  Over all a very satisfying wine with that surprising bell pepper flavor making it a prime wine for pairing with salads and seafoods.  Château Bonnet has been in the Lurton family since 1897. Château Bonnet, the largest estate in the region, with vineyards consisting of 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon; 17-year-old vines planted on clay-limestone, clay-siliceous soils.  It offers the best of both “Old” and “New” worlds; it is château grown and bottled in the legendary “terroir” of Bordeaux, France by famed producer André Lurton. AND... sealed by a screw-cap, making them easy to close, store, and travel with.  Easy.

Alexander Vineyards, Bordeaux, France, 2014
Oh so light in appearance with the orange relections of salmon pink and a bright beauty in the glass.  Intriguing aromas of “gunflint” minrality (a kind of smoky note) and the impression of fresh berry fruit.  The flavors start out tart with strawberry fruit that is straightforward and enjoyable with a Lou Bega "Mambo No. 5" flavor experience with a little bit of acid, and a little bit of minrals, and a little bit of fruit, and a little bit of ... hitting the right spot for rose wine; purely pleasurable and easy.  Made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot from the unlikely Bordeaux location of the Texas Hill country.  The winery was opened by Claude Alexander in September 2013 believing that it’s about the quality of wines produced no matter if the grapes are grown in Texas of half-way around the world.

Rosé D’Anjou, Sauvion, Loir, France, 2014
Bright pink with a shinny happy appearance hinting at the pleasing and friendly aromas of cherries and strawberries with a blooming floral quality.  The flavors are smooth and enjoyable with hint of sweetness over the strawberry and cherry fruit, ending in a rich finish.  A great wine to step up from white zinfandel and into a more serious and mature wine selection.  Made from 70% Groslot, 30% Gamay grapes from 30-year-old vines planted in schist-clay soil in the Sevre et Maine region best known for their Muscadet wines. Still family-owned, all of Sauvion’s winemaking is done by fourth-generation vintner Pierre-Jean Sauvion. 

All six wines are excellent! Every one of them will make for an easy and enjoyable selection for your next bottle of wine.  The category of rosé wine is more popular than ever, both seatings for this event were sold out.  The attendees were already rosé wine  drinkers and enthusiast.  This is great news because this is a category of wine that Texas can make in quantity and quality that rivals the best rosé wine in the world.  I thank the Becker's leadership in making these wines and providing this forum to develop our knowledge and experience with rosé wine.

On the tasting panel with me was: our hosts Dr. Richard Becker and his son Dr. Joe Becker both are was very insightful in their tasting comments, the Becker Vineyards winemaker Jon Leahy who is a very funny guy, author extraordinaire and co-founder of Savor SA web site John Griffin who is unsurpassed in his passion for rosé wine, our very own science teacher Dana from Alexander Vineyards (Texas, not California) helping us understand why we liked the wines, and Nichole Bendele the tasting room goddess of Beceker Vineyards with a great wit and humor with a sharp pallet for wine tasting.  Blind tasting is great and if you can get a panel of experienced tasters to talk about their experience it is amazing!  The experience is heightened and everyone learns from the sharing of their own personal impressions on the wine.

The wines were made all the better by the cuisine of Chef John Brand of the Hotel Emma in the historic Pearl in the midtown of San Antonio.  It was a Branzini fish aka European sea bass and it clearly demonstrated how well rosé wines pair with food.  If you are ever in doubt on which wine to pair with almost any meal you can reach for a bottle of rosé wine, it is very food friendly.  The ultimate test that proves this is Thanksgiving dinner; the turkey, the ham, dressing, potato salad, green bean casserole, cranberry relish and everything else on the table will go with rosé wine!  

Do you have a favorite easy to enjoy rosé wine?  Please comment below...

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