Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Rosé is a Rosé

You know, I'm not sure I've blogged about a rosé yet. I find that shocking, because I love them so. Luckily, I have two to tell you about today, since summer finally arrived in Seattle and I've had a chance to drink a few. But first, I should take a moment to clarify what exactly a rosé is, since there seems to be much mystery surrounding the issue.

Color in red wine comes from the skin of the grape. So does tannin. Rosé wine is made by removing the skins early in the wine making process, so the wine only ends up with a little bit of color ... and only a little bit of tannin. So what you end up with is basically something with the flavor of a red wine (perhaps a tick or two down on the intensity scale), with the light body and refreshing acidity of a white wine.

They're awesome.

In early August I tried the Angove's Nine Vines Rosé (South Australia, 12.5% ABV, 70% Grenache/30% Shiraz). I couldn't pass it up at the store. $4.99 marked down from $9.99, you say? What a deal!

Not so much. You see, I failed to follow one of the Wine Wench's very own rules ... when faced with a deal, always, ALWAYS check the vintage. And this one, I realized while taking notes, was a 2008. Oops.

Rosé, you see, should be drunk fresh. The current vintage. Very good ones can be drunk a vintage late. But this one was three vintages behind. So it's no wonder it tasted lackluster. Not terrible. I finished my glass. I just didn't have another. It smelled of bright strawberry and ruby grapefruit with bell pepper, rhubarb, and tart strawberries with cream - that hint of vanilla on the edge of the bouquet that comes from oak aging. This promising, delightful aroma is what makes me think that a current vintage of this wine would probably be quite tasty. But on the palate it was over acidic, weak, and flabby.

Last week I washed that disappointing Rosé flavor out of my mouth with a stunning example of the style. Susana Balbo of Argentina makes some of the best Malbec in the world, and her 2010 Crios Rosé of Malbec (13.9%, Mendoza) is no exception.

For starters, when poured into the glass, it was brreathtakingly beautiful. The first word of my notes is "Wow!" Seriously. It was a brilliant bright, clear crimson, like a perfectly ripe dewberry (Seattle's local trailing raspberry), a sort of pinkish-ruby. Truly stunning. It smelled of cranberry, raspberry, bell pepper, and ginger. On the palate cranberry and tart watermelon blend into raspberry and white tea lifted by the perfect balance of acidity and tannin. Of course. 'Cause it's Balbo. And she's a genius. Definitely put this in your face. I scored it on sale for $10, but it's well worth the regular price tag of $13.

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