Rose - Is it getting more popular, or is it just me that thinks its cool?
It was not long ago there were a lot of people that had a saying "Friends don't let friends drink Rose". My new favorite saying comed from a great winemaker in Washingont State, Charles Smith, who says, "Yes, You can drink Rose and still be Bad Ass."
Rose took on a really bad name several years ago when the market was flooded by Mateus and sweeter styles of White Zinfandel that show more like a fruit cocktail then a wine with balance and intrigue. Now there are tons of interesting Rose's coming from all around the world whether it be it's home in Provence, Tavel, California or even here in Virginia. Now, is Rose great from all places and done in all styles? In my opinion, no, but this is something I learned more about yesterday.
The three Rose's could not have been more different in style from each other. The first one was a darker style, almost Ruby like with deeper fruit, lots of intensity and clean characters, if not slightly too soft to be as refreshing a Rose I normally enjoy. The second wine was my personal favorite in that it was crisp, bright and clean. It woudl make a great summer sipper which is part of the charm of Rose to me. I also found it somewhat complex, but not as much as I found it perplexing. If I had tasted this wine from a "Black" glass and couldn't see the color I would have said Sauvignon Blanc 10 times out of 10. It was grassy, showed grapefruit and boxwood notes, had bright acid, what else could it be. Turns out it was a Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah blend, what do I know. The third wine was the one that stuck out from the buch. It was full, rich and lucsious. There was intense aromatics and flavor profiles that showed strawberry preserves, stewed raspberry, caramel, and smoke. The palate was full, soft and generous. Once again, I though, well, it I couldn't see the color I might have a different impression of the wine. It was potentially my least favorite of the three as a Rose, but I was certainly alone. The other 6 people tasting unanimously said this was their favorite wine. It wasn't that I didn't like the wine, it was just different as a Rose.
So it turns out, and I did know it before I even sat down because of the color, that wine three was our own 2010 Rose. So why that glowing review I gave my own wine? It simply shows that there is often a matter of preference. All three wines were very well made and you could understand their direction in which they took. The first wine was a Rose from Viader (Their Dare line) from 2008 in Napa Valley and it is clear that it is going after the deeper Tavel style that is classic of the Southern Rhone appellation but using Bordeaux varieties. The second wine was clearly more in the traditional provencal style (almost Bandol like) in its bright acidity, lighter nature and it was from predominately Mourvedre which makes sense. I would also not be shocked to taste something like this made from Cabernet Franc in the Loire or really anywhere for that matter. It was the 2010 L'Aventure Cote de Cotes Rose. Ours, was coming from the 2010 vintage which was obscenely hot and dry. The fruit just had outrageous concentration so I was somewhat stumped on how to treat the wine. the flavor development started to occur only once the sugar was much higher then we would normally aim for Rose. Knowing the wine was going to have some higher alcohol for a Rose (just over 15%) I knew we could not simply do a cool stainless ferment, clean it up and get it in bottle. The wine would not have had the depth or weight to stand up to the alcohol and would be out of balance, so what did we do? We did a much warmer barrel ferment getting up to the mid 70's at teh peak of the fermentation. The oxygen exchange also gave the wine some extra "fat" to handle the intensity of the fruit. The finished wine is different, but everyone is telling me it is their favorite that we have produced. I think it would be a great Rose for sipping at a late Al Fresco dinner once the sun has gone down with some Roasted Game birds in Pan juices or some other rich poultry type dish. That said, it is pretty high octane for sipping at 100+ degrees in the middle of the afternoon and I also like it a bit warmer then most Roses.
When I asked around the table why everyone loved this wine so much over the others, the answer was pretty uniform in that it offers more substance acting like the structure of a Chardonnay, but the flavor style of a Pinot or other lighte red. It has appeal to those that don't tend to go toward a Rose. So I wonder, how many people really like Rose the way I do? We are coming up to harvest time for 2011 and I have myself guessing, was the 2010 Rose on to something even if it is not the style I gravitate toward? We are having a similar vintage so far (maybe a touch cooler which I know is hard to believe with the last two weeks heat) so it could be in the cards. Maybe we should do as we do every year and make that a gut feeling at the time of harvest?
So many decisions to make, but it is so hard without knowing the right questions. I know one question I have is, "Where is Rose going in the next 10-20 years?"