30 Second Wine Advisor: Rosé of summer

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Rosé of summer

For a long time, rosé wine wasn't particularly welcome around this household. My wife, echoing the late, great British wine writer Harry Waugh, declared that "it is a wine's duty to be red," and I was fairly "meh" about the pink stuff myself.

A lot of wine lovers feel similarly uninspired by rosé, perhaps based on Baby Boomer memories of the once popular Lancer's and Mateus or, more recently, the entry level category of soft, sweetish "blush" wines like White Zinfandel.

But a loyal coterie of wine enthusiasts have always preached the virtues of true, French-style rosé wines, made from the fresh juice of gently pressed ripe red wine grapes, separated from the skins soon after a light rosy hue appears.

All it took to convert me was a few trips to Provence, winery tastings alfresco in olive groves, dining in sidewalk cafes in Avignon, Bandol and Baux-de-Provence, and presto! A rather expensive intervention soon turned my tastes around.

Now when summer's sultry heat burns down, I'm not at all loath to pull the cork from a Provence rosé, or for that matter, just about any pink made in the true European style: Bone-try and refreshingly tart, food-friendly and best served with light summer fare. Salade Niçoise, anyone?

You'll find my reports below on two good ones, Chateau de Roquefort 2010 "Corail" Côtes de Provence Rosé ($15.99), and Chateau Mourgues du Gres 2010 "Fleur d'Eglantine" Costières de Nîmes Rosé ($12.99)

Rosé makes a super summer sipping wine, the topic of attention in this month's Wine Focus in our WineLovers Discussion Group. .

Join us as our friendly international crowd of wine lovers share our diverse personal conception of what constitutes the ideal wine for summer's heat. Quenching, refreshing, bracingly acidic? Your mileage may vary.

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Today's Tasting Reports

Chateau de Roquefort 2010 "Corail" Côtes de Provence Rosé ($15.99)


Transparent and light, the pretty hue of pale pink roses. Gentle strawberries in the scent add an herbal note of fresh tarragon. Wild strawberries carry over on the palate, tart and dry, with a lemon-squirt of fresh-fruit acidity in a long finish. Subtle herb and fruit flavors and cleansing acidity at a moderate 12.5% alcohol make it a winning food wine. A multi-varietal blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Vermentino and Clairette. U.S. importer: Vintner Select, Mason, Ohio, and other regional importers. (June 19, 2011)

FOOD MATCH: Versatile with fish, chicken or vegetarian fare, it was excellent with a locavore farmers' market spin on Ethiopian gomen wat, subbing fresh garden chard and cabbage for the traditional collards stewed with onions, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, green chiles, cumin and turmeric. The wine works very well with both the intense green vegetable flavors and the piquant West African spice.

VALUE: Good but a bit spendy as it moves toward the upper teens. Wine-Searcher.com indicates that this price is about median, though, over a fairly narrow range.

WHEN TO DRINK: With only idiosyncratic exceptions, rosé is best when it's young and fresh. Best to drink up the 2010 this summer and look for the newer 2011 next year.

WEB LINK: The New York Times, in a review of rosés last summer, declared the 2009 Chateau de Roquefort "Corail" the best value in its tasting. (Link may require subscription.)

Find vendors and compare prices for Chateau de Roquefort "Corail" on Wine-Searcher.com.

Chateau Mourgues du Gres 2010 "Fleur d'Eglantine" Costières de Nîmes Rosé ($12.99)

Clear, bright copper color. Herbal scent of fresh tarragon melds with delicate red-berry aromas. Crisp, fresh and dry, a prickly hint of petillance on the tongue, a touch of red-berry fruit and a zap of citric limey acidity in the finish. Snappy acidity makes it an exceptional food wine with pork or poultry, and 13.5% alcohol, high for a rosé provides good body. U.S. importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, Pa. (June 19, 2011)

FOOD MATCH: It made a fine match with locally grown pastured pork chop dry-rubbed with black pepper and smoked Spanish paprika and grilled over chunk charcoal.

VALUE: I would back up the truck at the wine shop door even for my local $6 retail, and Wine-Searcher.com reveals prices as low as $4.75 among its abundant "hits."

WHEN TO DRINK: As above, the current vintage (previous calendar year) is generally the best bet for rosé, but the relatively high acidity and body should hold this one a little longer if you "lose" a bottle or two. I wouldn't really look for favorable evolution through cellaring, though.

WEB LINK: The importer's Website offers a short, older article about Chateau Mourgues du Gres.

Wine-Searcher.com finds abundant European vendors and a smaller number of U.S. sources.

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