I have to think making rosé is like going outside for recess to winemakers. I know I feel like I am on the playground when I drink them.
All those whites and reds and blends have so many rules and expectations. But a rosé can be something whimsical, light, dry or fruity. It can be rose-colored, pink, even salmon in hue. It can be a blend of classic Rhone varietals, a stoic and stout pink version of syrah, a sultry strawberry take on tempranillo or an orange and slightly fizzy offering of pinot noir.
When my son Philip was in Paris last June, the rosés were everywhere and being sipped all day long by people in parks with picnics, at cafes and restaurants –– pairing them with bread, cheeses, sunshine, warm afternoons and gentle breezes. Now is the time to follow that example. Rosés would go nicely with much of your Cinco de Mayo fare.
Many American vintners took a U-turn from that old-school “white” or pink zinfandel jug wine stuff a generation ago, and for the last 10 to 15 years they’ve been making some killer mostly dry rosés. The most common method is to just limit the time the red/black skins are allowed to macerate in the juice to control color and other attributes. The skins and juice are usually separated within a few hours or a few days. It all depends on the varietal and what the winemaker is trying to accomplish.
Though you can usually find rosés throughout the year, now is when the 2016 vintages are arriving, and for my money, the most current versions are usually the best. Though I will pick up a 2015 if I see a bargain, the 2016s will be fresher and much more aromatic. Rosés are made to be sipped sooner rather than later.
You can find them almost anywhere in a price range of $10 (or less) to $30 and beyond at most grocers and wine shops. They make for the perfect summer cocktail to serve with appetizers, seafood and mildly spicy dishes. Many of them are in the 11 to 12 percent alcohol by volume range, so guests can enjoy them without immediate danger of overindulging. I like to drink them at about 50 degrees, which means refrigerate them and then set them out for 15 minutes or so.
I likely shop for wine at the same places you do: Boise Co-Op Wine Shop, 915 N. 8th St, Boise; Trader Joe’s, 300 S. Capitol Blvd, Boise; Costco, 2051 S. Cole Road, Boise; and a variety of grocery stores. (I hit Whole Foods, 401 S. Broadway Ave., Boise, when seeking a great selection of Rosés, and the Grocery Outlet, 5544 W. Fairview Ave., Boise, when looking for a bargain or feeling like gambling.)
The five rosés I’m starting my diary with came from these places. But I encourage you to experiment, and share with the rest of us as I am now with you.
▪ 2016 Stift Gottweig Pinot Noir Rose, Messwein. I usually don’t look to Austria for a Rosé, especially one from the Pinot Noir grape made from a recipe and winery dating back to 1083 A.D. But that’s the story behind this beautiful, salmon-colored, almost fizzy sipper. It is acidic with grapefruit and stone fruit notes. At 11.5 percent ABV, it’s my favorite way to spend $16 at the Boise Co-op Wine Shop.
▪ 2016 Gerard Bertrand Coté des Rosés. This is a classic French blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah from the Languedoc Appellation in France. I find it to be one of the most pleasant and crisp sosés out there for the money — $13 to $14 at Costco or the Boise Co-op. It is 12.5 percent ABV.
▪ 2016 Cotes du Rhone Le Reveur by Guillaume Gonnet. Another French-style rosé, this is a salmon hue at 13 percent ABV and is a 50-50 blend of grenache/cinsault. If I had not tasted the Messwein at the same sitting, this one might have topped my list. $13 at the Boise Co-op.
▪ 2016 Isabel Rosé from Michael Mondavi in Napa, Calif. Mondavi did a makeover for this vintage, and I got to sample this mostly cabernet sauvignon grape infused with a bit of barbera and muscat. I didn’t take to this one immediately, but after it had been opened for a half hour I really enjoyed its bold Cab Structure and muscat twist. It clocked in at 13.5 percent ABV and sells for $20. Mondavi said to look for it on Boise shelves later this month..
▪ 2015 Luna Rosé, Napa, Caif. This year-old bottle has a dark ruby red color, is made from the sangiovese grape and packs a punch at 14.3 percent ABV. I found it at Grocery Outlet for $6.
So far, I have tasted only a few 2016 vintages. Get them while you can.
▪ 2016 Cinder Dry Rosé is made from tempranillo/syrah and is just delicious with strawberry and watermelon notes at just over 12 percent ABV. Good news/bad news: The winery, 107 E. 44th St. in Garden City, has sold out of the bottles, which retail for $20, but you may still find some at Whole Foods and the Boise Co-op. Another option is to buy in to Cinder’s flask program — $30 for the reusable canister (like a growler for wine!) — and then pay $15 to fill it with rosé.
▪ 2016 Split Rail Dry Rosé is made from 100 percent cinsault, which is a very aromatic yet perky varietal, crisp and feisty on the palate. It is usually part of a blend, but Split Rail makes a straight-up red with it, too. At 11.9 percent ABV, you can find the $16 Rosé at the winery, 4338 W. Chinden Blvd., Garden City, and I’ve seen it at Whole Foods.
Others to look for include the 2016 Indian Creek Dry Rosé, $16; Williamson Blossom Rosé (usually made from sangiovese) and Sawtooth’s Dry Grenache Rosé.
If you taste a wonderful Rosé from Idaho or elsewhere, share your finds with me at email@example.com, and I will pass it on.
Mother’s Day Weekend Wine Events
More than a dozen Idaho wineries will play host to Mom over the Mother’s Day weekend May 12-14 featuring special releases, unique tastings, food and entertainment.
Prices seem to range from the regular tasting room fees of $5-$10 up to $20-$50 at places offering elaborate food and entertainment. Since we’re talking rosés, you can check out the “Rosé Release & Mother’s Day” at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 13 at Huston Vineyards. For $50 per person, you will be treated to food from Open Table Catering, music by Billy Braun and a wine glass.
Other highlights on Sunday, May 14, include: the start of the Ste. Chapelle summer concert series, 1 to 4:30 p.m, $12; the 28th Annual Mother’s Day Tasting at Sawtooth Winery, noon to 5 p.m. with jazz, Tiki’s Shaved Ice and a number of Boise food trucks on site, $25 pre-sale, $30 at the door; and a whole slew of things going on for moms and kids from noon to 5 p.m. at Indian Creek Winery, $15.
Details and directions at idahowines.org/Events or sunnyslopewinetrail.com.