Rosé redux

It was dicey there for a while, but proper pink has finally prevailed over pink plonk. Sales of rosé are up as much as 45 percent in the U.S. this year. Bracingly dry and thrillingly complex wines, in subtle shades of pink, salmon, and copper, have been made for generations in France, and Spain and South Africa are producing very good (and often very well-priced) rosés. It is especially good news for Texas, where pink is perfect for just about everything we do and eat in summertime.

Rosé versions of many famous champagnes are often even more prized than their pale counterparts, as the extra skin contact with the pinot noir and the pinot meunier, two red-wine grapes that are included in most Champagnes, yeilds more body and intensity. Chandon’s California sparkling rosé gets its color and added body differently, however. It’s classically made from the two red grapes above plus chardonnay, but its intense color comes from the addition of still pinot noir just before bottling. The bubbles are fine and persistent, the flavors hint of berry and watermelon, and there’s a nice yeastiness on the nose.

The 2005 La Vielle Ferme Côtes du Ventoux Rosé’s a wine you could spend an entire afternoon with. The color is a pretty deep salmon, the nose is dry, almost powdery, and flavors tend toward crisp red apple.

The ’06 Perrin Reserve Côtes du Rhone is more of a straight-on pink, and (perhaps due to its youth) tasted more strikingly of pie cherry and raspberry, with a full-bodied oomph that made it a favorite. The cork-sealed 2006 Les Domaniers de Puits Mouret took the opposite tack: It’s a gorgeous light salmon color; and is tart, taut, brilliant and just slightly spicy with a touch of white peach. It’s also $18.

Spain is now producing many of the category’s best values. We tasted two, the 2006 Marques de Cáceres and the ’06 Cruz de Piedra Calatayud Garnacha (grenache), finding both meatier and more mature than their French counterparts. The Marques truly was a seductive wine with a little smoke veiling strawberry and raspberry flavors. The Cruz was deep in different ways, showing a little rose petal along with its full-bodied, stewed rhubarb and plum qualities.

From South Africa came the 2006 Mulderbosch Stellenbosch Rosé of Cabernet which was softer than any of the above but also scored with a “wet rocks” minerality and hints of tangerine and peaches.

The 2006 Texas Rosé of Syrah-Grenache from McPherson in Lubbock. It hit us over the head with strawberry soda, cotton candy … You could even put this baby up against dogs and burgers and be very happy.


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