What's great in wine, beer, fine dining,
places to stay, & places to visit
in California State

Distinctive Rosés for the Season

Rate this item
(1 Vote)

By Dan Clarke

Rosé has been the wine world’s hot category for the last couple of years. Industry sources say that Millennials are driving this surge in consumption.

As one who is well past the Millennial demographic, I am often unaware of societal trends, much less used to leading them or even preceding them. However, I’ve been onto this rosé thing for quite a while.

Once upon a time Portugal produced a couple of rosé wines that were quite popular in the United States. Mateus and Lancers were a little sweet, but not sticky sweet. Girls liked these wines. And the emptied bottles could be used as candle holders, demonstrating a college boy’s sense of practicality as well as his sophistication. My own favorite in that era was a rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Simi Winery in Sonoma County. It seemed drier and evidenced some actual Cabernet character.

Some years later white Zinfandel became hugely popular. It was the pinkish to rosé-colored wine that every would-be wine connoisseur loved to hate. It really wasn’t bad, though. Among my many wine memories is sitting on the patio at a party next to the esteemed maker of Cabernet Sauvignon, Joe Heitz. There were three or four wines available, but he had a glass of Sutter Home White Zin. If he thought it was a good choice on this warm afternoon, who was I to dispute it?

Another rosé memory came still later in the southwest of France. I was introducing the new California Wine & Food magazine at Vinexpo. Though the wine show was held in Bordeaux, I was staying about 40 miles southeast of there with an old Rugby teammate and his wife. In the summer evening of my arrival Bruce poured us each a glass of local rosé as we sat in his backyard. He suggested that there was beer in the fridge if I preferred that, but that chilled rosé was a popular choice in this part of the world. I was happy do as the locals and enjoyed a couple of glasses before we started the barbecue. His pink wine seemed the perfect choice.

While Simi no longer produces its rosé of Cabernet, there are now more variations on the rosé theme than ever. Recently, we sampled two rosés from the Lodi appellation, each one made from a different grape variety.

The Grapes for both of our wines were grown in the Mokelumne subappellation of the Lodi AVA (American Viticultural Area) and feature the grape variety as part of their identity. Each winery chose a different medium to express its rosé leanings. D’Art Wines used Cabernet Sauvignon, m2 Wines produced its rosé from the Carignane grape.

Most American wine consumers will have some familiarity with Cabernet Sauvignon, but fewer will recognize the name Carignane, a grape native to southern France, Catalonia and Italy. Though the variety is relatively unheralded in California, there is quite a bit of it planted here. Until recent years it was mostly used as a blending grape, but some adventurous winemakers are now featuring it on its own. One such instance is what Layne Montgomery has done with the 2017 Rosé of Carignane from m2 Wines ($20). Made from 100% Carignane grapes, it’s relatively dry and shows good acidity. This wine resembles rosés from Provence and the southwest of France. It could be an attractive aperitif and, at 12.5% alcohol, a fit companion to many of the lighter dishes you’ll be serving this spring and summer.

Our second wine, the d’Art 2017 Cabernet Rosé ($22) is bigger and, at 14.8%, quite high in alcohol for a rosé. Had I noticed this number before I tasted it, I’d have been wary. However, the winery has carried it off. The overall impression is one of richness, rather than heat from the alcohol. It, too, would serve in lieu of a cocktail and might pair well with salmon, ribs and other barbecued pork choices.

The Lodi appellation continues to impress. Once the home of mostly Flame Tokay grapes distilled for brandy and Zinfandels destined for blending into anonymity in jug wines, Lodi now grows 125 different grape varieties and makes rosé wines from 17 of those varieties. They may not have made the claim to being California’s most diverse wine region, but I’d be surprised if they weren’t. Lodi growers are reaping the benefits of their commitment to scientific farming. More wineries and ever better wines are the result. The quality is there and, for the most part, the prices are right.

Copyright © 2005 - 2019. Taste California Travel. All rights reserved. | Phoenix Website Design by CitrusKiwi