It’s still early spring but the 2007 rosés are beginning to appear on wine store shelves just as quickly as the flowers bloom and, as I was reminded this past weekend, it’s almost never too early in the season to enjoy a first-rate rosé or two.
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It was a cool but sunny afternoon when the phone rang. Neighbors were making lunch and invited us over to share some rotisserie chicken — not the kind you bring home from the supermarket deli department, but the kind you make yourself on your own rotisserie, thanks to their recent purchase of what seemed like the Rolls-Royce of gas grills, a gleaming, brushed-steel beauty complete with rotisserie and separate little burner for boiling and frying.
Now, of course I was going to bring some wine, and I just happened to have a couple of new rosés waiting for the right occasion. My idea, it turned out, was hardly original. The friends had the same thing in mind, with a couple of salmon-colored rosés cooling down in the freezer (yes, it’s OK to put wines in the freezer to chill them quickly, as long as you remember that they’re there).
The first one we tried was nothing short of irresistible — the 2007 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir from Robert Sinskey Vineyards in the Carneros area of California’s Napa Valley (gris refers to a very pale rosé). The bottle had a little sticker with the word “Crush” on it, indicating that it was purchased from the wine store of the same name in New York. I mention this, because, as I would soon discover, the wine has something that approaches cult status. With limited production, retailers talk about their “allocation” of it, and you will have to scrounge around for this one.
But it will be well worth it if you can get your hands on a bottle, even if the price tag does push $30. I was struck immediately by the refreshing zing and delicious fruit of this dry, organically made wine, which showed notes of white peach, apricot, melon and strawberry with a little citrus on the finish. At lunch it was a perfect counterpoint to the roast chicken as well as thin slices of lightly grilled green squash and cherry tomatoes stuffed with mozzarella.
The bottle didn’t last long, and so we opened a second California wine, the 2007 Roseum from Vina Robles in Paso Robles on the Central Coast. This one is a deeper pink color and is made primarily from grenache and syrah. It had raspberry and cherry notes with peppery and floral accents and is a very good value at about $13. It will be released on May 1.
The wines pointed up the fact that not only are rosés excellent aperitif wines, but they tend to match well with a variety of simply prepared foods, including fish and even meats.
In terms of price, the Sinskey wine is the exception. There are many fine rosés in the $10 to $15 range (or even less) from France, Spain, Italy, California and elsewhere, made from just about every red grape variety. In the coming weeks I’ll be tasting more of them and will have a longer list of some that stand out. In the meantime, why not pick up a few bottles of rosé to try with your spring lunch or dinner? Let me know which ones you like.
Edward Deitch is the recipient of the 2007 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Best Multimedia Writing. He welcomes comments from readers. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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