Friday, April 25, 2008

Color My Spring Pink

It seems high time to mount my high horse and expound on the pleasures of a good, dry blush wine. Think pink, man! That should be every wine merchant’s battle cry this time of year, because pink wine, is perfectly balanced for the slightly warmer weather, and all of the cuisine that goes with it. Most people however, see the pink stuff in the glass and assume that is going to be sweet. Thank you Sutter Home and Beringer White Zinfandel for that false sense of syrupiness.

For those of you still disbelieving in the pink stuff, the good rosés are bled from the grapes right after or during the process of skin removal, giving the juice some of the pigmentation of the skins, but not all of it, hence the color and lightness of hue. The term for this is “saignée.” The aim is to produce a lightly pinkish red wine that boasts more flavor and more phenolic structure, giving it more grip on the palate and providing more flavor character for the consumer. Typically, these wines drink fuller and richer than many rosés, such as wines from Provence, Burgundy and Bordeaux.

One prime example is the Kenwood Pinot Noir Rosé 2006 ($8.98) is delectably crafted from a saignée of 100% Russian River Pinot Noir that exudes fresh strawberries and raspberries in the nose, continuing on the enlivening fruit and floral palate to its refreshingly crisp and invigorating finish.

Another surprisingly good blush is the Juno Rosé 2007 ($7.69) from South Africa. This mindblowingly delicious pink made entirely from Pinotage (surprise!) is loaded with strawberry and watermelon notes, filled with lovely acidity and finishing with juicy ripe citrus and red berry tones. Here’s a nice pink wine for the summer that certainly won’t break the bank (we’ll leave that to the oil companies!).

From Oregon comes the amazing Abacela Rosado 2006 ($14.59). This blend of 93% Tempranillo and 7% Grenache has notes of fresh strawberry, sweet cranberry and orange peel flavors. This blush is almost garnet in color, and possesses more body and depth than a typical blush. Intense red berry and cherry fruit flavors abound, giving this a wonderfully juicy quality.

Also, coming from Santa Barbara is the Epiphany Grenache Rosé 2005 ($14.99). This wine doesn’t even drink like a rosé, with an almost-Pinot Noir-meets-Syrah character, this medium-bodied pink gives you a lot of fresh strawberry and cherry notes, with juicy watermelon intermixed within its delicious, round, lively character. It has an extraordinarily long finish, with layers of complexity not found too often in pink wine.

There is a vast array of rosés out there, the majority of them being very dry, and extremely refreshing and well-suited for food. This time of year, with light chicken and seafood dishes, sweet barbeque sauces, and things like potato salad and deviled eggs, just serve pink.

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