Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beguiled and Bedazzled! Juliette's Dazzle

A few months ago, Gilles Nicault, general winemaker for Long Shadows Winery asked me, "Do you remember Dazzle? It's coming back."

Oh my yes, how I remembered "Dazzle." Dazzle was a project of Long Shadow's back in 2003, shortly after they first opened their doors. It was a project that was never released - - at least not through Long Shadow's. Due to labeling issues Dazzle, a brilliant red syrah rosé packaged in a clear bowling pin shaped bottle with a gold foil-like label, was scrapped for Long Shadows. I remember Gilles gifting me a few bottles of Dazzle with the original label (I think I may still have one tucked away).

Fortunately, the orphan bottles of Dazzle were kept in "the family." Marie-Eve Gilla, winemaker and partner of Forgeron Cellars is also married to Gilles. Forgeron was able to purchase the wine and relabel it appropriately by COLA (Certificate of Label Approval). At the time (seven years ago) it was a huge undertaking to sell a rosé to a population of domestic wine drinkers who were still under the mind-set that it was going to be comparable to a "California Blush." I know this first-hand as I was one of the sales staff at Forgeron Cellars at the time. The tough part was getting the public to try it. Once they did - - sold ! My key sales words? "French-style" "Made by a French winemaker" and "Scrap the Pinot Noir. Get bold and pair it with your Thanksgiving turkey." Needless to say the pretty dark pink liquid "flew" out the doors.

Winemaker Gilles Nicault has a gift for making rosé. It would make perfect sense when you consider he gathered some of his winemaking craft in vineyards and wineries of Provence. Provence, the site of France's oldest vineyards, is the only place in the world that really specializes in rosé. Rosé has been the focus of Provence winemaking for centuries ever since the Greeks brought wine to the area in 600 BC, the people of Provence have been perfecting the art of dry rosé production.

I can remember back when Gilles first came to the valley and was a winemaker at Woodward Canyon Winery back in the late 1990's. Every opportunity I could get I would rush to Woodward Canyon's Spring Release, especially if I knew they had just released a rosé.

Yes, Dazzle is back. "Juliette's Dazzle" is a special project of Allen Shoup, CEO and founder of Long Shadows Winery and named the wine after his 11-year old granddaughter, Julia. You won't find this rosé at the winery, either. It was produced especially for wine shops and restaurants under the "Dolan & Weiss" label, which also has a family connection.

This clear red rosé is produced from Pinot Gris, a grayish pink grape which is classified as "white." The pinot gris was lightly mascerated and fermented like a red wine on its skins, giving the wine it's sole source of color as in traditional Provence rosés. However, Gilles added 3% sangiovese to add more fruitiness and to enhance the vibrant color. This luxurious liquid has not touched a hint of oak.

This is truly an elegant "porch sipping" wine for those lazy afternoons or cool summer evenings. There is 1.4% residual sugar, which has also given the wine a natural "spritz" making it fresh and bright with every sip. There are enough crisp acids in the wine, like a riesling, to keep the natural fruit sugars balanced without being cloying.

The packaging is beautiful and would make a wonderful wine for entertaining during these summer months. Also, "Scrap the Pinot Noir. Get bold and pair it with your Thanksgiving turkey," that is if you can keep it around that long. Juliette's Dazzle would compliment fruit salads, lemon bars, fruit pies, rich and creamy cheeses, Asian-influenced dishes, as well as delicate chicken and seafood dishes.

Also keep the bottle and use it as a summertime patio vase for your posies and roses from the garden. Sante!

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