Monday, May 01, 2006

Everything Is Coming Up Rose's

Okay, okay, so my title has been overused when it comes to roses -- but I'm talking about rose'. This is the time of the year to be looking for rose' to stock up on, and you'll find several during the Walla Walla Spring Wine Release weekend coming up May 6-7.

Remember, we are not talking about the jug blush from California. We are talking about true rose' - the French word for pink.

Every country has their pink wine. In Italy it's rosato and in Spain it's rosado. Even in the land of Blush, California, serious rose' is now being made by some wineries -- in Oregon and Washington, too. The good news is that much New World rose' is great wine, a return to true Old World style.

Some of the best American rose' is made from Grenache; I also like rose' from Cabernet Franc. You can find rose' made from Mourvedre and Syrah, too, even Pinot Noir. Rosato in Italy is made from varietals such as Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. Rosado in Spain comes from Garnacha and Tempranillio, typically.

A true vin rose is not a blend of red and white wines, but made from red grapes. It owes its lovely light color to the fact that it was neither fermented entirely with grape skins (like all red wines) nor entirely without (like all white wines). What I enjoy about a good dry rose is the crispness and lightness. It makes a perfect summer wine, and is easy to pair with outdoor-type foods. I have found that a rose', when matched well with food, isn't out of place on any table from Spring all the way to Thanksgiving. Indeed, turkey tastes great with rose'. Sweet potatoes, too.

Last week the woman's wine-tasting group I belong to tasted several different styles of rose'. It was a blind tasting, and all we were told about the eight wines was that three were from France, one was from Italy, one was from California and three were from the Pacific Northwest. What was so amazing is looking at the very distinctive colors of the eight wines - from a pale beige-pink to a hot pink - to a light red.

Since Walla Walla Valley's Spring Release is just around the corner and my blog is mostly about the valley and its wines, I'll concentrate here on the two rose's we tasted that came from two Walla Walla wineries - Dunham Cellar and Rulo Cellars. The 2005 rose' from Dunham was very light in color, almost a light honey beige with a hint of pink. It's made from 100 % Cabernet Franc, and shows a floral nose and spice on the palate. It's a wine I would like to try again, but the next time with food. Rulo's rose' was bright rouge in color and full of strawberry flavor with a crisp citrus finish. We couldn't find on the label what grape was used, but since Rulo makes some outstanding Rhone-style varietals, we assume it is made from Syrah. I took the bottle home.

Other roses' available in the valley include Three Rivers Estate Rose', Basel Cellars Caspia Rose, Syrah Rose' from the students at the College Cellars and a Sangiovese Rosato from Yellow Hawk Cellars. Ash Hollow will offer a 2005 Rose during Spring Release, as well as Waterbrook has a Sangiovese Rose' (Rosato). If you have an opportunity to try any of them, keep an open mind. None of these wines will remind you of that old high-school California jug blush.

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