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rose wines

Five Rosé Wines to Enjoy this Summer

The summer of rosé is in full swing! It’s an international love affair, with rosé wine being made around the world from a variety of different grapes.

Try one of these AG picks tonight:

Cune RosadoCune Rosado Rioja 2013
Rioja Alta, Spain

From CVNE (pronounced Coo-nay), a family owned and operated winery founded in 1879 in Haro, Rioja, this dry rosé is 100% Tempranillo. Produced using the saignée or bleeding method, the juice was removed from the grape skins and seeds after around 24 to 48 hours, resulting in a magenta-pink color. Floral aromas introduce flavors of strawberry, tart cherry and red currant.
$14, 14% alcohol by volume

Esporao Defesa RoséEsporão Vinha da Defesa Rosé 2013
Alentejo, Portugal

Established in 1973, Herdade do Esporão is a family-owned estate and winery that takes its name from the tower on the property that is thought to have been built between 1457 and 1490. This rosé is a blend of Aragonez and Syrah. The grapes underwent pneumatic pressing after a short period of skin contact. Bright pink in color with berry aromas, the wine has flavors of raspberry, cherry and Victoria plum, with a hint of mint on the refreshing finish.
$15, 13.5% alcohol by volume

Bridge Lane RoséBridge Lane Rosé 2013
North Fork of Long Island, New York

This wine comes from Lieb Cellars, founded in 1992 on Long Island’s North Fork. Lieb was the first winery on Long Island to plant Pinot Blanc, which has become their signature wine and makes up part of the blend in the Bridge Lane rosé. The 2013 wine is 63% Cabernet Franc, 21% Merlot, 8% Pinot Blanc, 5% Riesling and 3% Gewurztraminer. Light and easy to drink with a pretty pale pink color, the wine has flavors of wild strawberry, raspberry and rose petal.
$18, 11.9% alcohol by volume

Cape Bleue RoséJean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé 2013
Provence, France

The grapes for this wine from the noted French winemaker come from hilly vineyards near Salon de Provence, an area influenced by the nearby Mediterranean Sea.  It is a blend of 67% Syrah and 33% Mourvedre, and was made using the saignée method. Salmon-pink in color,  the aromatic wine will transport you to the South of France. Flavors of ripe strawberry, red cherry and rose are layered with subtle fennel and white pepper notes.
$14, 12.5% alcohol by volume

Houchart RoséDomaine Houchart Rosé 2013
Provence, France

Bought in 1890 by Aurélien Houchart, the 90 hectare estate near Aix-en-Provence and the foot of Mont Sainte Victoire has been consistently farmed since Roman times. Today it is owned by the Quiot Family and run by Geneviève Quiot, Aurélien’s great granddaughter. This Côtes de Provence rosé is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. This crowd-pleaser is pale peachy-pink in color, with delicate flavors of strawberry, loganberry and watermelon that culminate in a crisp finish.
$11, 12% alcohol by volume

 

Provence Rosé Continues to Impress

By Maxine Howard

Two years after a grand tasting of Provençal rosés prompted me to write “Rethink Rosé,” apparently many Americans have done just that. In 2013, U.S. imports of rosé wines from Provence increased by 40% over the previous year. Not only are we drinking more rosés from France, but we are also discovering new rosés by a number of California winemakers in the Provençal style using grapes traditionally blended by the French vintners.

And why wouldn’t we relish drinking these wines? They grab your attention with their gorgeous color, ranging from pale pink to salmon blush; they tantalize with aromas of flowers and tropical fruits; and they quench a summer thirst with their dry yet flavorful taste and a hint of minerality.

In their return to San Francisco for another tour in March, the Vins de Provence reinforced their stature as serious purveyors of rosé wines in the fragrant yet lean style. Twenty-one producers sampled their wines, showing a range of styles and flavors. Some of the differences reflected varying combinations of the traditional grapes use in Provence rosé: Grenach, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvedre, Tibouren, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon. Other differences resulted from the varying soil and climate conditions. And the final differences came from the sensibilities of the individual winemakers.

Here are some favorites from the tasting:

Chateau de PampelonneChateau de Pampelonne Rosé 2012
This wine from Les Maîtres Vignerons de Saint Tropez in Gassin is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Tibouren and Mourvedre. The grapes grow in sandy soil on the St. Tropez peninsula next to the beaches. They are harvested early in the morning while they are still cool. They are macerated for just two hours before being pressed, and remain on sediment for two months.

The wine is pale pink and has floral aromas. The taste is well balanced with hints of tropical and citrus fruit and has a pleasant minerality on the finish. It would go well with fish and simple chicken dishes. But would taste just fine sipped by itself on the deck watching the sun go down. $19.99

Première de FiguièrePremière de Figuière Rosé 2013
Saint André de Figuière is a family-run producer located in La Londe-les-Maures. It is between the Mediterranean Sea and the hills of Provence. Beneath the top soil the ground consists of mica and schist, which the winemaker describes as fragile yet capable of producing wines with finesse. This rosé is composed of 50% Mourvedre, 30% Cinsault and 20% Grenache. That is a stark contrast with most of the area rosés in which Grenache predominates. Each variety is harvested and vinified separately before being blended.

This wine has a bit more blush than the Chateau de Pamplonne that I would describe as a pale salmon. The bouquet has more citrus than floral notes. On the palate one tastes peach and citrus as well as a little earthiness from the Mourvedre. The overall impression is of an extremely well-balanced, delicious wine. Because it is a little heartier, it should stand up well to seafood and fowl dishes.
$19.99

Chateau La MascaronneAnother wine I enjoyed at the tasting was Quat’ Saisons 2013 from Chateau La Mascaronne in Le Luc. Unfortunately, the winery did not have an importer at the time of the tasting. But the fascinating thing about the owner, an American from Indiana, is that he formerly owned and produced wine at the property now owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Readers will remember the Amateur Gastronomer’s review of Brad and Angelina’s Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé last summer. Apparently, the couple were flying over the Miraval estate in a helicopter and were stunned by its beauty. They made a generous offer to buy, and the proprietor had to agree. Already owning a second property, he moved all of his wine-making operations to Chateau La Mascaronne and has continued producing wines under its label.

The rosé is a blend of Cinsault and Grenache. It has a wonderful floral aroma and controlled fruits with both a touch of citrus and a pleasant minerality on the finish. Robert Parker gave the 2012 a 91-point rating. The suggested retail price is $22. Let’s hope it finds an importer soon.

More Rosé Wines | White Wines | Red Wines

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Winzer Krems Grüner Veltliner Sandgrube 2012

Kremstal, Austria

Grüner Veltliner is a white wine grape from Austria. Don’t let the name throw you off — the wine made from Grüner Veltliner is easy to drink and very food friendly. Crisp and dry, this light to medium-bodied wine has bright citrus fruit flavors and subtle white pepper, with gentle wet stone minerality and refreshing acidity. A touch of spice lingers on the finish. Extremely versatile, Grüner Veltliner can pair with food ranging from shellfish and salads, to spicy dishes and Asian cuisine.

El Supremo Torrontes 2012

Mendoza, Argentina

As Malbec is considered the red wine grape of Argentina, Torrontes may be considered the white wine grape of the South American country. This is an extremely aromatic wine, with floral and citrus notes. El Supremo Torrontes has aromas of jasmine, gardenia and Meyer lemon, with crisp flavors of white grapefruit, white peach and subtle honeydew. Give the wine some time to warm in the glass and the floral notes will grow more vibrant.

Colombier Ventoux Rouge 2012

Côtes du Ventoux, Rhone, France

In the area surrounding Mont Ventoux, the Ventoux AOC in France’s Rhone region is one of Provence’s most picturesque areas. Perched villages, local markets, sunflowers, lavender and acres of vineyards have inspired artists, authors and vacationers. The Colombier Ventoux Rouge is a blend of Rhone grapes Grenache and Syrah. Medium-bodied and richly textured, this wine has aromas of ripe black fruit and flavors of blackberries, plum, pepper, black olives, rosemary and a hint of mint.

Sierra Batuco Reserva Carmenere 2011

Maule Valley, Chile

Carmenere is a red wine grape that is originally from Bordeaux. Today you’ll find it primarily in Chile, where it has become the country’s signature grape. Pepper and spice characteristics are what make Carmenere a treat to sip, and make the wine an ideal pairing for steak and grilled meats. The Sierra Batuco Reserva Carmenere is full-bodied with concentrated flavors of blackberry, black cherry, black and green pepper, smoke and a touch of mocha on the long, velvety finish.

Winzer Krems Gruner VeltlinerEl Supremo TorrontesColombier Ventoux RougeSierra Batuco Carmenere

 

For more information on wine consulting by the Amateur Gastronomer email info@amateurgastronomer.com

Chateau Miraval Rosé: Worth It?

The hottest rosé to get your hands on this summer is the Miraval Côtes du Provence Rosé. Made by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in partnership with the Perrin family, the first cases to arrive in the United States sold out right away.

Chateau MIraval RoseThe new shipment has arrived on US shores and you’ll find it at numerous wine stores in Atlanta. But costing around $30 a bottle is it worth it?

Here are the AG’s tasting notes:

Location: Château Miraval extends over 500 hectares in the Côtes du Provence appellation. The Château is located in the town of Correns, north of Brignoles in southern France. Grapes for the rosé came from the organically-farmed Chateau and a selection of neighboring vineyards.

Grapes: The 2012 wine is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Rolle. The grapes were hand picked and hand sorted. Five percent of the wine spent time in barrels with batonnage (stirring of the lees).

Miraval RoseAppearance: Starting with the shapely bottle and minimal labeling, this is an eye-catching wine. You can’t help but be attracted to the color of the rosé: a lovely pale pink.

Nose: The Miraval Rosé has subtle aromas of pink grapefruit, white raspberry and rose. It’s not as aromatic as other rosé wines recently tasted by the AG.

Taste: Dry and elegant, the wine has flavors of raspberry, wild strawberry, grapefruit and lemon. Light in body with gentle mineral notes and a crisp finish, this is a rosé for white wine drinkers. There was a little heat on the finish (the wine is 13% alcohol by volume), which faded over time in the glass.

Verdict: This is a very nice rosé from Provence but take away the celebrity and it would be priced more in the $17 to $19 range. The Miraval Rosé won’t likely become your every day sipping rosé, but at $30 a bottle it’s fun to taste and well worth trying it for yourself.

Want more Miraval? A white wine from Château Miraval is expected to be released this fall, and a red wine is coming in spring 2014.

More Rosé Wines | White Wines | Red Wines

AG Pick: Mas de la Dame Rosé du Mas 2012

The French know how to do rosé right. And some of the best rosé can be found in Provence, in the south of France.

Les Baux and vineyardsThat’s where Mas de la Dame is, in a commune called Les Baux-de-Provence. It’s a gorgeous area in a beautiful part of Provence, best known for ruins of a fortified castle that overlook the vineyards and olive groves below.

Owned by sisters Anne Poniatowski and Caroline Missoffe, Mas de la Dame has 140 acres of vineyards at the foot of the medieval village of Les Baux. Farming is done organically, and the grapes are harvested by hand. Jean-Luc Colombo is the consulting winemaker.

Mas de la Dame Rose du MasIt’s hard to imagine a more perfect setting for enjoying rosé than sitting outside with a chilled glass during the summer in Provence. But with a glass of the Mas de la Dame Rosé du Mas 2012, you can nearly recreate the experience at your own home.

The wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Cinsault. The grape juice spent 4 to 8 hours with the skins to get its pale peachy-pink color.

The Rosé du Mas opens with aromas of fresh berries and rose. On the palate are delicate flavors of ripe raspberry, wild strawberry and peach, with subtle fresh mint notes. The finish is clean and refreshing.

This is a rosé to make even the most skeptical wine drinker a rosé fan.

Enjoy the Mas de la Dame Rosé du Mas outdoors on a warm and sunny day with lunch or as an aperitif. It pairs well with salads, light pasta dishes, grilled pork, barbecue or fish. Serve the Rosé du Mas chilled.

$14, 12.85% alcohol

Wines for Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Whether you prefer to say “I love you” with something sparkling, sweet or pink, here are wines that are perfect for celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Demarie Birbet Brachetto
Roero, Italy
$20, 6.5% alcohol by volume

Lightly sparkling, a touch sweet and a deep magenta hue make Brachetto an ideal sip on Valentine’s Day. This wine comes from the Piedmont region in northwest Italy and is made entirely from the Brachetto grape. Like Prosecco, Brachetto gets its bubbles from the Charmat method.

The Demarie Birbet Brachetto has flavors of ripe raspberry, strawberry and cherry, with floral notes of rose and violet. Enjoy the Brachetto as an aperitif or with dessert.

 

Biltmore Pas de Deux
Monterey & Arroyo Seco, California
$19, 12.5% alcohol by volume

The Biltmore Estate, a popular destination in Asheville, North Carolina, produces a range of wines using grapes grown at the estate and sourced from California. The Pas de Deux, a gently sweet Methode Champenoise sparkling wine, is made entirely from Muscat Canelli grapes from California’s Central Coast.

Meaning “a dance for two,” the Pas de Deux is meant to be shared with someone special. It has round flavors of orange, lemon, white raspberry and wildflower honey, with small and energetic bubbles. Enjoy the Biltmore Pas de Deux as an aperitif or with lightly sweet or cream based dishes.

Click here for more sparkling wine suggestions

 

Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer 2011
Alsace, France
$30, 14% alcohol by volume

If it’s flowers you enjoy giving or receiving on Valentine’s Day, then Gewurztraminer is the grape for you. This white wine is extremely aromatic – take a sniff and you may be able to smell honeysuckle, jasmine, gardenia and rose.

The gentle sweetness in the Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer is nicely balanced with mouth-tingling acidity. Flavors of Meyer lemon, tangerine and a hint of white chocolate culminate in a pleasing finish that has a lingering touch of orange blossom honey. Oysters are a great pairing with the Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer, as are other shellfish, seafood, and spicy dishes.

 

Domaine de Triennes Rosé 2011
Var, France
$18, 12.5% alcohol by volume

The French know love – and rosé wine. This rosé from Provence is a partnership of two of Burgundy’s great estates: Aubert de Villane, co-owner of Domaine Romanee-Conti and Jacques Seysses, founder of Domaine Dujac. The wine is mainly made from Cinsault, with some Grenache and a dash of Merlot.

Light peachy-pink in color, the Triennes Rosé is elegant and aromatic with red fruit and floral notes. Round flavors of wild strawberry, raspberry and a hint of herbes de Provence come together in a clean, dry finish.

Mini Rosé 2010
Languedoc, France
$11, 11% alcohol by volume

This rosé from southwest France is made from the Cinsault grape. Pale salmon in color, the Mini Rosé has delicate flavors of white raspberry, strawberry and red grapefruit with refreshing acidity. Enjoy this wine with fish, grilled chicken, salad or pasta. Bonus: with only 87 calories per glass, you won’t feel guilty consuming a few extra pieces of chocolate.

 

Dark Lady of the Labyrinth Pinotage 2011
Wellington, South Africa
$20, 13.5% alcohol by volume

Smoky and seductive, the Dark Lady Pinotage is sure to spice up your Valentine’s Day. This red wine from South Africa offers a unique alternative to Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.

Intense aromas of smoked meat, leather and black fruit introduce a palate of blackberry, black cherry, black pepper, mocha and pipe tobacco. The wine has a silky mouthfeel, with gentle tannins and a long, satisfying finish. This wine demands to be served with a steak.

Surprising Lake County Wines

By Maxine Howard

What is so surprising about Lake County wines? The surprise is that they’re interesting, well-made, and reasonably priced.

Twenty-one wineries from Lake County (just north and east of Napa) showed off their recent vintages at a tasting in San Francisco in September. We only had a chance to sample about a third of the offerings, but came away with a desire to visit Lake County to explore others.

The whites had a light touch. Sauvignon Blancs predominated but there were some lightly oaked Chardonnays. The reds exhibited bold flavors and nuances created by some interesting variety combinations.

Langtry Estate and Vineyards had one of our favorite white wines. The 2011 Guenoc Sauvignon Blanc was made from the Musque clone, from the Loire Valley, so it had some characteristics of a Sancerre. It showed terrific fruit at the start, continued with hints of the minerality you would find in its French cousins, and finished with dry grapefruit notes. At $16 a bottle it seems like a great option.

Among the red wines offered, Rosa D’Oro had two interesting bottles. The 2010 Primitivo (Italian Zinfandel) was a full-bodied wine with ripe berry flavors and the peppery accent you would expect from a Zinfandel. It is priced at $20. The 2010 Aglianico (an Italian variety related to Cabernet) was a substantial mouthful. The fruit was well balanced, there was a bit of earthiness, and the firm tannins should allow it to age well. It costs $24 a bottle.

Steele Wines showed off an interesting blend called Outcast Red ($22), which included Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Barbera, and Petit Verdot. The bold, dark fruits were balanced nicely by earthy tones for a spectacular taste.

Another fascinating blend was a joint production of Shannon Ridge Winery and Vigilance Winery. The 2010 Dalliance ($19.99) is a blend of Zinfandel, Barbera, Syrah, Tempranillo and Grenache. It lures you with a spectacular deep color and aromas of blackberry and cherry. Here again, the blending of grapes with varying characteristics results in a complex, full-bodied wine with balanced fruit, a mellow taste and a dry finish.

Lake County wineries produce small quantities each year that are not as widely distributed as their better-known counterparts from Napa. But if you can find them you will discover they are well made and worth a taste.

For more information visit the Lake County Winery Association at www.lakecountywineries.org.

images from the Lake County Winery Association’s Facebook page

Rethink Rosé: A Taste of Rosé Wines from Provence

By Maxine Howard

The Provence Tasting Tour rolled into San Francisco in April to showcase rosé wines from the beautiful south of France. Nineteen wineries arrayed their offerings around the bar at the Bluestem Brasserie, demonstrating a range of hues from pale pink to deep salmon. As I made my way around the wines I encountered Jean-Jacques Breban, Vice President of the Provence Wine Council. I tried to get him to confess to a favorite though naturally he was diplomatic, saying, “they are all good, but all different.” While I might not have liked them all, they indeed were diverse.

The rosés of Provence are unlike those made in the United States. Here we tend to find fruitier wines that seem to straddle the line between white and red, an attempt to add fruit to a white wine. In Provence the ideal is “rosé sec” – dry rosé that blends the minerality of the soil with an aroma of the flowers that cover the countryside.

Producers in Provence use a variety of red grapes to make their wines. Most combine between two and four grape varieties, the most common being Grenache and Cinsault.

To make rosé wine the grape skins are removed before fermentation begins. According the Wine Council this results in wine with the character of a red and the crispness of a white.

Three of my favorites demonstrate the range of possibilities for rosé of Provence. Pétale de Rose from Château Barbeyrolles is made from Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre. It had a pale blush appearance and just a hint of fruit aromas. The taste was crisp with lean fruits, yet it also had a spiciness on the tongue.

The rosé from Château La Sauveuse is made from Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. It had a peach tint and floral aromas that did remind me of the Provencal countryside in bloom. On the palate it showed a great balance of fruit flavors without being too fruity.

I also fell in love with the red wine from Château La Sauveuse. Made from Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, it wowed me at first sight. The color was a deep garnet that portended greatness. It had potent aromas of red fruits with smoky undertones. The ripe dark fruit flavors expanded on the palate. Well-structured with nicely balanced tannins, I recommend trying it if you find a bottle.

Cuvee 946 from Château Gassier is a rosé that incorporates Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vieux Carignan and Cinsault. The wine had a beautiful apricot color and smelled of citrus and red fruits. The taste was wonderfully balanced with a subtle complexity I attributed to the variety of grapes used.

Any of these wines would make a lovely accompaniment to hors d’oeuvres on the patio in the late afternoon, or a dinner of seafood or pork.

In France rosé wines outsell white wines. After sampling the wines from Provence I can understand the allure.

AG Pick: Quivira Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2009

It may seem odd that a winery would use its foe as label art, but Quivira has done just that. The animal pictured is one of the Dry Creek Valley’s wild pigs, a cross of the Russian boars and Italian pigs that were brought to the United States in the 1800s.

Though seemingly cute and innocent in the illustration, these wild pigs can be a nightmare for growers. Ripe Zinfandel grapes are irresistible to the pigs that are also prone to destroying deer fencing during their snacking.

Like the wild pigs, the weather too can be a struggle. Fortunately that wasn’t the case for Quivira in 2009, when consistent temperatures towards the end of the summer allowed the Zinfandel to ripen to a rare level of even maturity.

It’s not just the optimal growing season that makes the 2009 Quivira Dry Creek Zinfandel worthy of a spot at your dinner table. It is the addition of a supporting blend of grapes that enhance the Zinfandel base, elevating the wine to another level.

As described by winemaker Hugh Chappelle, “this wine exemplified our pursuit of the sum being greater than the parts.”

The wine is 83% Zinfandel, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Sirah, 3% Syrah and 2% Grenache. The grapes were hand harvested primarily from Quivira’s three certified Biodynamic and organic estate ranches.

The wine was aged for 14 months in a combination of French, American and Hungarian oak barrels, less than 20% of which were new.

In the glass the 2009 Quivira Zinfandel has a lot going on. Deep violet in color, the wine has aromas of ripe blackberry and boysenberry. These flavors continue to develop in the mouth, layered with intense notes of dark plum, leather, tobacco, cedar and a touch of black pepper. Chewy tannins give the wine a round and pleasant mouthfeel. The finish is extremely satisfying with lingering spicy dark fruit.

Full bodied and well balanced, this is a wine you’ll want to drink now – and often.

Pair this wine with steak, grilled lamb or chicken, pizza or spicy tomato-based dishes. Quivira’s favorite local pairing is wild pig sausage – a nod to their love/hate relationship.

A bottle of the 2009 Quivira Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel costs $20.

alcohol 14.8% by volume

More Red Wines | White Wines | Under $20

AG Pick: 2007 Black Slate Porrera

Terroir is such an important part of wine.  The taste of a grape can vary dramatically because of where it is planted.  Much of the success of a particular vintage is determined in the vineyard; the climate, geography and geology of a vineyard can have an equal, if not greater effect on a wine’s final taste than the work of a winemaker alone.

Terroir is important in the Black Slate Porrera 2007 — in particular the soil, as you can tell from the name.  This Spanish red comes from Porrera, the easternmost village in Priorat, in Catalonia.  Black slate refers to the mineral-rich Llicorella (slate) soils where the vines grow.

The grapes used in the Black Slate are ideal for this unique soil.  The wine is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Carignan (Garnatxa and Cariñena in Catalan), from 60 to 100 year old vines.  Carignan is said to transfer the characteristics of the soil better than other red wine grapes.  The wine is aged for 12 months in two year old French oak barrels.

The Black Slate is magenta red in color, light enough that you can see through the glass.  Berry aromas introduce a palate that is rich in dark fruit flavors and spice.  Notes of baked cherries, plum, boysenberry and blueberry mingle with licorice and a hint of vanilla, with a pleasing touch of minerality from the slate soil.  The wine is upbeat, fresh and bright, with very soft tannins and a smooth finish.

The Black Slate is extremely well balanced and easy to drink alone or with food.  Pair it with lamb, moderately seasoned pork and chicken dishes or bean and lentil dishes.

A bottle of the 2007 Porrera Black Slate costs around $22.

14.5% alcohol by volume