Wednesday, August 10, 2016

17th Annual Rambling Rosé at Becker Vineyards

One has to appreciate the challenge of doing something year after year, always endeavoring to do better yet NOT abandoning the original concept. Steadily and consistently working toward a goal. Loyally and dependably working to develop and grow no matter the ebbing and flowing of public opinion. Many will be able to grasp this idea but without the perspective of decades of experience; you can not understand the joys and heartbreaks contained within the years.

It is the compounding of the years and crush of change that makes a simple drive through the Texas Hill Country AVA, on Saturday August 8th 2016 that much more heartfelt. The beauty of the winding roads and the rolling hills at the time the harvest is beginning and the winemakers are rejoicing another exceptional vintage! The crushing of the grapes gets underway to vinify another vintage for the waiting masses of Texas wine drinkers.

The Rambling Rose event began in 1999 to celebrating the first vintage of the Becker Vineyard's Provencal! At that time all pink wine was assumed to be 'white zinfandel' by the average wine drinker and Richard and Bunny Becker set out to change the minds of those wine drinkers. Since then this event has become 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 The Farm!  We thank everyone who participated in this worthwhile, enjoyable and easy endeavor

Both seatings for this event were sold out.  The attendees were already rosé wine drinkers and enthusiast. Or, as Vanity Fair put it: "When did it become “a thing”?" From well heeled revelers in the "East End" (of Long Island) drinking pink wines for refreshment earning it the nickname "Hampton Gatorade." To social media posters tagging their exploits with "#roséallday" and from the men "#brosé." This delicious lightly colored wine is hip and trendy; exuding all that is right with the good life, it is here to stay and destined to go the way of French wine culture where more rosé wine is consumed than white wine!  It is great to see that the category of rosé wine is more popular than ever; this is a category of wine that Texas can make in quantity and quality that rivals the best rosé wine in the world.  I salute the Becker's leadership in making this wine and providing this forum to develop our knowledge and experience with rosé wine.

We tasted the rosé wines blind, blind tasting is the only way to accurately judge and assess the quality of any wine.  The picture above shows the eight 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 wine being the first and the top left being last.

Jolie, Becker Vineyards, Texas 2015
Tempranillo blend.
As it's name suggest this wine looks beautiful!  A flirtatious shade of pink that teases and beckons. Dusty aromas hint at substance with notes of red cherry and rose in bloom round out the attractive scents. With attention grabbing flavors that are a bit tart and tangy. Then the taste experience slips into fruity, strawberry flavors that are fun and underscored with notes of pepper in the finish. Great wine!

Bieler Pere et Fils, Coteaux D' Aix en Provence, 2015
Grenache: 40%, Syrah: 25%, Cabernet Sauvignon: 25%, Cinsault: 7%, Rolle: 3%
Light salmon pink in color and a little funky on the nose with a waft of cherry and lemon zest. Classic flavor profile that is gentle with a sensible amount of lushness. The fruit is sour cherry, with flavors reminiscent of watermelon rind, and notes of strawberry. A wine that seems like the girl next door from a producer who is flashy and flamboyant; interesting dichotomy. The #1 Rosé from Provence France. And only 35,000 cases imported to North America.

High Plains Sunset, Bingham Family Vineyards, Texas High Plains, 2014
100% Mourvèdre
Deeper and darker pink tones proceeding to rusty red color that hints that there is more character and flavor in this wine.  The aromas support this impression with earthy tones with fresh rain over an open field. With less fruit aromas it stands apart from the aromatics of it flight mates. On the palate the fruit is gushing with expression of watermelon, tart cherry, and light acidity. This grape grown in Texas makes beautiful wines that are oh so easy to enjoy, like this one.

Alexander Vineyards, Bordeaux, France, 2015
Very light in appearance with salmon pink colors in the glass.  The nose is closed, mysterious, very subtle. The mouthfeel is wide with sour cherry, plum, with tangy and dusty notes. 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 or half-way around the world.

Domaine de la Sanglière, Cuvée Spéciale, La Londe, Côtes de Provence, France, 2015
Light pale pink colors with rose petal aromas very typical of rose wine. Interesting experience of tart fruit in the attack of the wine and sweet fruit in the finish. Enjoyable sour strawberry flavors with a clean and quick finish.

Provencal, Becker VineyardsTallent Vineyard, Texas Hill Country, 2015
100% Mourvèdre
Pale pink hues with pretty coppery hues that are fun to swirl and appreciate. Aromas of carnations in bloom carried on a cool breeze.  The flavors deliver with greater brightness than expected with black and red cherry, strawberry and cranberry. The flavors are of a quality that many winemakers attempt to capture in the bottle but few actually do. Great wine from a great vintage! 

Rosé De Dolcetto, Wedding Oak Winery, Texas High Plains, 2015
100% Dolcetto
Rich pink color that pops in comparison to it's flight mates. The nose is aromatic; cherry and berry fruit notes with fresh blossom overtones. Pretty in it's aromas. The flavors deliver a richness that just feels right, with cherry, apple watermelon, and lemon fruit flavors it is complex and well balanced. Outstanding rosé!
(Note: on the first panel we confused the #7 and #8 wines on the reveal, I was very congratulatory to the Washington State producer for making such an great wine. Turns out it was from Texas and my own Wedding Oak Winery! A happy accident in the challenges of blind tasting.)

Charles & Charles, Columbia Valley, Washington, 2015
Syrah (61%), Mourvedre (12%), Grenache (10%), Cabernet Sauvignon (7%), Cinsault (7%), Counoise (3%).
Pretty pink color and pretty floral aromas. Subtle in the gentle, traditional rose style. The flavor start out with sour cherry and a note pf lime zest. Overall very pleasant, enjoyable and quaffable. The packaging is striking; based on a Hatch Show Print, the legendary poster shop from Nashville, TN created the original label. It’s an abstract American Flag in honor of the tremendous wine heritage and current practice right here in
our great country.

All eight wines are excellent and would make for an delightful and delicious selection for your next bottle of wine.  

Blind tasting is great fun! And if you can get a panel of experienced tasters to talk about their experience it is amazing!  It is no wonder this event is sold out every year. The experience is heightened and everyone learns from the sharing of their own personal impressions on the wine. On the tasting panel with me was: our hosts Dr. Richard Becker who is very insightful in his tasting comments, Rambling Rose co-founder, bon vivant and writer for the SA Current Ron Bechtolthe 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 Nabors from Alexander Vineyards (Texas, not California) helping us understand why we liked the wines, and with insight and insider information on the French and Washington wines; Kerri Putnam and Adam Eber from Republic Beverage.

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.  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!  

The next time we are enjoying a glass of rosé wine: let's say a toast to Richard and Bunny Becker! They are the trendsetters and pioneers and we are all very grateful!  CHEERS!!!

PS: Sommeliers....
The days of having one dry rosé wine on your list are OVER. If your list has one or none on it you are behind the times and are probably part of the reason your restaurant is loosing business. At a minimum a wine list must have at least one from Provence France, one from California or the Pacific North West, a sparkling variation and if you are in Texas at least one from here. Bare minimum. Most wine programs should be able to support six or more rosé wine offerings. Otherwise you are slacking. (If you think that your clientele won't buy them; it's not your customers, it's you.)

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