30 Second Wine Advisor: Where pink meets red

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 Where pink meets red
Continuing our July survey of rosé wines, we sample a pink from Southern France that approaches a light red in color and style.
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 Les Jamelles 2005 Vin de Pays d'Oc Cinsault Rosé ($12)
Crisp and refreshing, loaded with red berries and citrus, an exceptional rosé for those who'd really just as soon have a red.
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Where pink meets red

Trying to be a good sport and get into the summer spirit of our monthly Wine Focus feature on the WineLovers Discussion Group this month, I'm tasting a fair amount of pink wine.

The problem here, as I've occasionally lamented before, is that I simply don't turn instinctively to rosé. When I want a red wine I want it to be red. If I'm in the mood for a white, I want it white. Pink seems a little too much like a compromise, a red that didn't quite make the grade.

But I keep trying, and the other day asked a trustworthy wine merchant to suggest a hearty, full-flavored rosé that could ring a red-wine enthusiast's chimes. She rummaged around and came up with a pink beauty from the Languedoc region in the south of France, a relatively affordable item made from the relatively obscure Cinsault grape.

The producer, "Les Jamelles," broke ground some 15 years ago as one of the early Languedoc wine makers to market wines with "varietal" labels emphasizing the name of the grape more prominently than the region ("Vin de Pays d'Oc" or "country wine of Languedoc"). This practice, commonplace in the U.S. but then rare in France, positioned the brand in competition against modest varietally labeled American wines.

The grape, most often spelled in the alternate form "Cinsaut," is widely grown in Languedoc, Corsica, and even in Northern Africa, back when Algeria was part of France. It's often planted with, and somewhat resembles, Grenache. It's lightly regarded because, frankly, it lends itself to "overcropping," nurtured to a large, profitable but uninspiring crop. Cinsaut may be best-known to wine "geeks" for the role it plays as one of the parent grapes - partnered with Pinot Noir - in the cross that yields the trademark South African grape Pinotage.

Nowadays Cinsaut most often turns up in blends or anonymous rosés; Les Jamelles is unusually forthright about printing the name of the grape in the largest letters on the label.

But they've earned the right: This is no insipid pink wine. It lived up fully to the wine merchant's promise as a rich-colored, hearty rosé, redolent of mixed red berries and citrus, snappy, dry, food-friendly and refreshing. If more rosé was like this, I might drink more rosé. My tasting notes are below.

Les Jamelles 2005 Vin de Pays d'Oc Cinsault Rosé ($12)

Les Jamelles

Clear salmon with orange glints, on the dark side for a rosé. Full, pleasant strawberry, raspberry and citrus scents; crisp, tart and dry in the flavor, a lot of fruit and body for a rosé. A lime note adds a refreshing snap in the long finish. An exceptional rosé for those who'd really just as soon have a red. U.S. importer: Cellar Door Selections LLC, Columbia, Md. (July 9, 2007)

FOOD MATCH: The winery website suggests it as an aperitif or with salads, braised meats, grilled meats, stuffed peppers, pasta or cheese. I like pink wines with Asian fare; it went very nicely with a Cantonese-style beef and broccoli stir-fry.

VALUE: Although the $12 local retail price seems fair for a rosé of this quality, it pays to shop around, as it's widely available for less than $10.

WHEN TO DRINK: Full body and balance and abundant fruit will hold this one for another year or two, but with few exceptions the rule of thumb for pink wines is to drink the youngest available. Start looking for the 2006.

Cinsault = "SaN-so"
Jamelles = "Zhah-mel"

Les Jamelles has a Website in English, but it's profoundly irritating, depending heavily on oversize Flash and Adobe Acrobat pages and subjecting the visitor to a background chorus of chirping crickets in order to reach a commercial and content-light set of pages. If you still want to see it, try this link to reach the English-language home page:
The U.S. importer has a brief article about Les Jamelles (and no background sound) at this link:

Check prices and locate online vendors for the wines of Les Jamelles on Wine-Searcher.com:

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