The first time I tried a pink wine, it was just that — pink — and it probably was poured from a half-gallon jug into a red solo cup. But over several decades, pink evolved into rosé, and since has eclipsed any memory of the essence of overripe strawberry dripping from a green-tinted bottle.
The sticky-sweet pink wine I remember from my youth bears absolutely no resemblance to today's rosés. They are refreshing, crisp and produced from all sorts of red grape varietals, from pinot noir to mourvedré, syrah, grenache and even cabernet franc or cabernet sauvignon.
A modern rosé (rosado in Spanish, or rosato in Italian) is crafted either by the traditional saignée style (saignée is French for "bleed") — the process by which the juice is bleed off the grapes — or via skin contact with the skins of red grapes. Naturally, the longer the juice "sits" on skins, the darker the color of the final rosé product.
The sixth adventure of the Central Coast Wine Press' tasting panel focused on rosé. A handful of members met at the home of Michelle and Jeremy Ball March 8.
Participating were Michelle and Jeremy Ball, Bottle Branding; Ashley Costa, Lompoc City Council member and tasting room manager at Loring Wine Company; myself, and for the first time, Matt Mauldin, wine sales professional and blogger; and his financeé, Melissa Miller, developmental analyst at UCSB. The size of our group likely will fluctuate in coming months.
Because were so few this time around we tasted just two rosés. The Ball's provided charcuterie, pulled pork sandwiches and slaw. We never leave the Ball's home hungry.
Comments about the wine, in the order we sampled them:
Wine One: "Tart, some spice, no strawberry, very little sweetness (this taster had the first pour and later noted that it "sweetened" up as it got air); low acid, even (more so) on the nose; salty, with mouth-smacking acidity; big and rich, zero minerality, strawberry, watermelon; (like a) basket of eggs on the nose, a little barn-y on the ending, soft on the palate."
Wine Two: "The fruit shows — cherry, strawberry, less so on the watermelon; the tannins make you salivate; floral, tropical, grapefruit on the nose; real floral, perfume-y; if I didn't know this was a rosé, I'd think it was a sauvignon blanc; banana; they must have blended some white wine into this; crisp (with) integrated, lighter minerality; like grenache with a sauvignon blanc; all back, no front palate; lean and mean, on the extreme side of racy, and juicy on the finish, although the fruit is more of a sensation; it doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up; piercing fruit on the front palate when paired with the proscuitto — the food equation opens up variables with feel … it's almost too acidic (on its own), and has no balance. It needs the fat (of the proscuitto)."
Wine One: 2011 Carhartt Vineyard & Winery, grenache rosé, $21 per bottle but sold out, according to carharttvineyard.com
Wine Two: 2012 Domaine de la Fouquette Cotes de Provence Cuvee Rosee d'Aurore, Provence, France. This vintage is comprised of Cinsault, grenache, syrah and rolle. Most interestingly, Michelle Ball let the cat out of the bag: While it's known as rolle in the south of France, it's vermentino in Italy and other nations in Southern Europe. And it presents like sauvignon blanc, with lots of bright acidity. $14 per bottle, according to wine-Searcher.com