Wine Ink: It’s almost Rosé season — time to think and drink pink
Under the influence
Clif Family 2016 Rosé of Grenache: So I guess there is a history of cycling and wine lovers. Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford, before founding Clif Bars and Clif Family Wines, were avid cyclists who fostered their love of wine on summer bike trips through Europe. This rosé, though limited in its distribution and a bit pricey at $26 a bottle, is worthy of the ride. Made from 100% Grenache grapes grown in Mendocino County, its pale pink color gives way to a bountiful basket of fruits that range from bright cherries to perfect pears.
My favorite tweet of the week came not from the White House or the Congress, and it had nothing to do with health care or unmasking.
No, my favorite tweet of the week appeared last Monday, the first day of Spring, as a re-tweet of an Instagram post (I think I got that digital path right) from Wineman Bobby Stuckey. It read, “Today is spring equinox also known as the official start date of Rosé Season.”
It was a missive that may have arrived a bit early, as snow still sits on the decks of many of our homes. But none-the-less it was an unabashed celebration of sun and the seasons to come, when rosé will once again be our wine of choice.
AMERICA TURNS PINK
Over the last decade, one of the great stories in American wine has been the rise in the consumption of rosé. Once considered a light, regional wine style best enjoyed on a hot afternoon on the coast of France, or perhaps before dining in a Sicilian seaside village, rosé is now a summer staple for wine lovers.
There are a plethora of reasons for the growth of the category. Start with the premise that it was overdue. In a world where people are craving lighter styles of dry wines that are generally a bit lower in alcohol, fresh, young rosé wines are a perfect fit. And, when you combine that refreshing style with the beauty of the range of pink-hued wines that reflect the summer sun, you have magic in a glass.
For winemakers, the beauty has to do with economics. Rosé can be, and is, made from just about any red grape. And because it is released shortly after harvest and rarely sees extended aging, winemakers can reap the profits quickly from one season to the next.
For producers who are used to releasing red wines years after they are harvested, made, and aged, there is a benefit to making a wine that they can sell quickly, freeing up space and resources in their wineries for the next vintage.
This also allows the wines to be sold inexpensively to consumers. Of course there are premium priced rosés, including those of Miraval (made by Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Marc Perrin, and no, the winery is not on the market despite the divorce), or the extravagantly packaged Domaines Ott, whose wines can range over $25 a bottle. But a perfectly good import or domestic rosé can be purchased in the $10- $15 range. A steal.
While traditionally in the south of France and the Southern Rhône, rosé is made from blends of grenache, syrah or mourvedre, today you will find global winemakers who make rosé from other red grapes, including pinot noir, cabernet franc or zinfandel.
The Italians make Rosato, their pink wines from the regional grapes in their neighborhoods (think sangiovese in Tuscany or nebbiolo in Piedmonte). In Spain, Rosado is often produced from garnacha or tempranillo. And let’s not forget the Rosé Champagne from France that is made by using the color of the pinot noir grape skins in blends with chardonnay.
In America, rosé has become a favorite for consumers due its versatility as both a quaffer on its own and as a wine to pair with the foods of summer. The acidity and structure of a good rosé can transport you to a place where the breeze blows, the sun shines, the seafood is fresh and life is, well, sublime.
THE WINEMAN COMETH
So I used the description “Wineman” in my introduction of Stuckey, much like the phrase that Hawaiian’s use “Waterman,” to describe someone like Laird Hamilton. It connotes someone who is deeply, passionately and completely into water, or in Bobby’s case, wine.
As a member of the Court of Master Sommeliers, he has gone on to create with partner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado, one of America’s top wine destinations. Coincidently, Frasca last week received a James Beard nomination for Outstanding Restaurant in America.
And he has become a champion for the wines of Italy, especially those from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia, region where he has produced and imported wines under the Scarpetta label
The second part of that Spring tweet/post, from Stuckey heralded the American arrival of his rosé made from the Italian nero d’avolo grape, noting “Our Squadra Rosato lands across the US today. Enjoy.” Bobby and the boys have made a rosé with a label that pays homage to their love of cycling. Sounds like the perfect wine after a long ride.
Over the next few months, you will see an ocean of stories about America’s growing passion for pink wines, but just remember, you saw the first one here. In the spring.
Thanks to tweet from a Wineman.
Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass, Colo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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