Of all the world’s problems, you would think that a battle over how to make rosé would be pretty far down on the list of priorities. But the issue produced headlines this week over a European Union proposal to relax the rules and permit the making of rosé by — dare we say it — blending red and white wines. It became a war of the rosés.
In case you thought rosés were, in fact, a mix, let’s clarify. Most quality rosés are made solely from red grapes. The juice, which has almost no color, is given only brief contact with the color-producing skins during maceration at the start of the winemaking process, resulting in the lovely hues of pink and salmon we admire in rosés.
The blending idea would have let winemakers produce rosé more cheaply and use up some of their surplus stocks of red and white. But rosé traditionalists in France, Italy and Spain thought the only place for such a notion was, to be a bit inelegant, in the spittoon.
So seriously did the French take the issue that François Millo, the head of a vintners group in Provence, France’s top rosé region, took his case directly to the public, not only in Europe, but also in The New York Times, where he wondered, “Has the European Union lost its sense of taste?”
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He argued that blending red and white wine would devalue the image of high-quality rosés, noting “it has taken many years of patience and exacting attention to quality control to convince the public that rosés are a worthy accompaniment to a wide range of dishes.” Well, the next day, the EU’s agriculture commissioner threw up the white (or was it pink?) flag and withdrew the idea.
For my wine money, the purists happen to be right on all counts. These days, when you buy a bottle or two of rosé from France or Italy or Spain, you stand a decent chance of finding a satisfying, food-friendly wine, a fact that has been reinforced in my own rosé tastings in recent weeks. A good place to start, in case you missed it, is the list in my column on rosés last month .
A few others are also worth noting as we move into high-rosé season this summer. The first is the 2008 Cape Bleue Rosé from Jean-Luc Colombo in the Coteaux d’Aix en Provence area of southern France. It’s a blend of syrah, mourvèdre and counoise, some of the region’s signature red grapes. Dry and effortless to drink, as rosé should be, it offers flavors that suggest peach, strawberry and watermelon with a mineral note on the finish. It’s a top value at $12.
From Italy, I liked the 2008 rosé from the Planeta family in Sicily. Made from 100 percent syrah with a suggested price of $16, it’s crisply acidic and slightly floral with notes of strawberry and orange peel. Both wines are imported by Palm Bay International, Boca Raton, Fla.
And from closer to home, consider the 2008 dry rosé from Paumanok Vineyards on Long Island’s North Fork, made from cabernet sauvignon and notable for its generous fruit character, with peach, raspberry and vanilla notes. It sells for $15. For availability, go to Paumanok.com.
I enjoyed these wines with a number of dishes, including grilled chicken, a pasta mixed with an asparagus pesto and pan-seared pork chops with a sage and white wine sauce. The list could continue with other simply prepared meats and fish.
With angry rosé politics sorted out for now, do enjoy some of these delightful — and authentic — wines.
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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