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In This Issue
 The last rosé of summer September's lingering heat suggests a pink wine.
 Viña La Rosa 2004 La Palma Cachapoal Valley Rosé ($8) A hearty, full-flavored pink wine, big and bold for a rosé.
 Viña La Rosa 2002 "Don Reca" Cachapoal Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($20) Full, balanced and ageworthy, a very fine Chilean Cabernet.
 California Wine Club Gift Giving That's Rewarding To You!
 This week on We debate genetic modification, rank Riojas and meet a new team at Rusack.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index Links to recent articles in the Wine Advisor archives.
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The last rosé of summer

Sometimes I envy my friends who really enjoy pink wines and slurp them all summer, finding relief from the heat in their crisp, chilly freshness.

No lectures, please ... I know this is a personal issue.

To put it provocatively for the sake of debate, pink wine is a mere compromise, a wine made by the almost apologetic process of passing red grapes only briefly through the fermenter but discarding them before they've had a chance to deliver the flavor that nature gave them. Unable to decide whether it wants to be red or white, it rarely delivers the body, complexity and flavor interest that I look for in wine. If I want something cold and refreshing to drink, I'll save my alcohol allocation for another time and knock back a tall glass of iced tea. (And I'm talking about dry pink wine. The rosé category is further confused by sweet, low-acid White Zinfandel and other "blush" wines, a completely different style that bedevils consumers who like "blush" but don't like dry rosé - or vice-versa - and can't always tell which is which from the label.)

But there's an exception to just about every rule, and the other night at dinner I had the pleasant experience of encountering a rosé that I really liked.

It was my pleasure to meet Ricardo Ullrich, the friendly U.S. Sales Director for Viña La Rosa, a Chilean producer, who joined a group at dinner and came with a sample of the firm's brand-new La Palma 2004 Merlot-Cabernet Rosé, a vibrantly noteworthy pink wine that seemed just right for a warm September evening. Call it the last Rosé of summer.

Following are my notes on that wine, with a bonus report on another offering from Viña La Rosa, a Cabernet Sauvignon of real character. Both wines are from the winery's vineyards in Chile's Cachapoal Valley, which with the more familiar Colchagua Valley makes up the Rapel vine-growing region south of Santiago.

Whether you share my usual disdain for pink wines or would like to try to talk me out of it, you're welcome to comment on this topic (or any other wine-related issue) in the round-table online conversations in our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where you're always welcome to join in the conversations about wine.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

These wines were tasted in a restaurant setting. I regret that label photos aren't available. Prices listed are the winery retail; the Cabernet Sauvignon was available from the restaurant wine list (L&N Wine Bar in Louisville) at $3.25 for a 2-ounce taste, $9.50 for a 6-ounce glass or $37 for a bottle.

Viña La Rosa 2004 La Palma Cachapoal Valley Rosé ($8)

This exceptionally appealing rosé, a blend of 70 percent Merlot and 30 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, is a beautiful clear light cherry color. Fresh red-berry fruit aromas lead into a surprisingly full flavor in a fruity but dry rosé that presents much of the structure you might expect in a red wine, with texture and body suggesting relatively high alcohol. Juicy berries and fresh acidity persist in a long finish. Importer: Independently distributed in various states of the U.S. and widely available in the UK. Check the winery Website under "Our Products" for distributors, or ask local retailers. (Sept. 11, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: A food-friendly wine, it showed well both as an aperitif and as an accompaniment to a diverse selection of appetizers and main courses, from creamy lobster bisque and a gourmet-style spin on fried green tomatoes to a stylish "vegetable Wellington" with grilled veggies in puff pastry on a sweet-tart red and yellow bell pepper coulis.

VALUE: Rosé is rarely expensive, and this one significantly exceeds its modest price point.

WHEN TO DRINK: It won't fade overnight, but rosé shows its best in youth, and this sparkling-fresh wine of the Spring 2004 harvest in Chile will reward early consumption.

Viña = Veen-yah (The tilde accent over the N - not shown in our plain-text edition - adds a twist to the pronunciation of the Spanish word for "wine.")
Cachapoal = Cah-cha-poe-ahl

WEB LINK: Viña La Rosa's Website, available in Spanish and English, re-sizes your browser to show a "Flash" movie; it's best viewed with a fast computer on a high-speed connection.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: Check out prices and vendors for Viña La Rosa on,

Viña La Rosa 2002 "Don Reca" Cachapoal Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($20)

This dark-garnet wine shows a classic Cabernet aroma and flavor profile of cassis (blackcurrant) and herbs, full and structured, with smooth but substantial tannins and good acidity to balance the fruit, suggesting good aging potential. Red meat helps ameliorate the tannins for early consumption; flavors open up and the tannic astringency mellows as the wine airs in the glass. Importer: Independently distributed in various states of the U.S. and widely available in the UK. Check the winery Website under "Our Products" for distributors, or ask local retailers. (Sept. 11, 2004)

FOOD MATCH: A red-meat wine, perfect with a restaurant course of strip steak grilled medium rare, with a Point Reyes blue cheese and red-wine reduction.

VALUE: As one of the higher-quality Chilean Cabernets I've tried, competitive with good Cabs from California or Australia, its $20 suggested retail price is more than fair.

WHEN TO DRINK: Clearly cellar-worthy, with good potential for improving over the next five to 10 years.

For Website and sourcing information, see the tasting report above.

California Wine Club

California Wine Club:
Gift Giving That's Rewarding To You!

For nearly 15 years, members have told us that a gift of wine from The California Wine Club makes a memorable holiday gift for business associates and a tasteful referral gift for the medical community.

We are now excited to introduce a program that benefits the Gift Giver. Our Corporate Rewards Program combines high quality wines and exceptional customer service with substantial savings and benefits just for you.

If you plan on sending holiday gifts this year, you may find it valuable to review The California Wine Club's Corporate Rewards Program at
or call them at 1-800-777-4443.

For a fun and unique gift, or to experience a monthly wine adventure for yourself visit

This week on

Here are links to some of our recently published articles that I think you'll enjoy:

Oxford Town Wine: Genetically modified vines - science vs. tradition?
It had to happen, columnist John Juergens says. Recently the news was filled with reports about worldwide hand-wringing over impending field tests of genetically modified vines in France. Champagne giant Mot et Chandon plans to resume tests on grapevines modified with the insertion of a silkworm gene to deter bacterial disease, and near religious fervor-level concern is once again being raised, not only in France, but around the world.

Schaefer on Wine: On course for quality at Rusack
Rusack Vineyards It was a red-letter day when Santa Barbara's Rusack Vineyards signed the husband-and-wife team of John and Helen Falcone as their new winemaker and enologist. The Falcones hit the ground running with the 2001 harvest and their hard work paid off, as wine quality immediately took a quantum leap. The current Rusack releases are even better, writer Dennis Schaefer reports, adding that the wines are attractively priced for their high quality.

Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: "Tier system" for Rioja
One of the more unjustly overlooked wine categories may be the Spanish Rioja, where the ageworthy red Tempranillo-based wines are capable of greatness but show up all over the map in terms of style. Rioja enthusiast Joe Perry recently proposed a "Tier system" akin to the 1855 Medoc classification in Bordeaux, in which he seeks to sort out the Rioja producers by rank and wine style. His modest proposal started quite a discussion, and you're welcome to read it or join in. Check out this current topic in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group:

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 U.S. drinking more wine (Sept. 10, 2004)

 Meeting a Rhone Ranger (Sept. 8, 2004)

 Reorganizing the wine shop (Sept. 6, 2004)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: More rolled food (Sept. 9, 2004)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here


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Monday, Sept. 13, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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