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Rosé Still Surging

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By Dan Clarke

Rosé is the hottest segment in the world wine market.

But just a few years ago the category got no respect. What happened? Drier styles of rosé, the embrace of millennials, global warming—who knows?

While wine marketers are concerned about why this evolution happened—and how to sustain it—consumers needn’t worry about such things. Their part in the drama is just to enjoy an occasional glass of pink wine.

Some would opine that rosés are not really serious wines. Well, maybe not, but there’s nothing wrong with drinking something that just tastes good and doesn’t strain the budget.

Even before they became trendy, we’ve liked rosés. Refreshing on a warm day, whether you’re in in the south of France or on the West Coast of the USA, these wines aren’t just for sipping. They can be wonderful food-pairers, too.

Options in this category of wine have burgeoned and consumers have the benefit of many styles to explore. While color may give a hint as to how the wine will taste, it’s not a guarantee. In general, though, those bottles showing a deeper color will contain wines with more flavor. But is that necessarily what you want? Sometimes finesse and delicacy trump power. Sweetness levels vary greatly. In general, French rosés, particularly those from Provence, tend to be fairly dry and better with food than when poured as an aperitif. But dry doesn’t necessarily mean a better or more sophisticated wine. Rosé wine is now ubiquitous in the marketplace. We’d suggest you experiment a bit. Buy from a store with personnel who may be able to give you some suggestions. Fortunately, most rosé wines are not too expensive. Even if you make a mistake it won’t break the bank.

Recently, Taste Publications sampled four bottles of rosé from four different countries. Admittedly, four bottles of wine in the current sea of rosés is a tiny sampling, but we hoped we might be able to find some different styles we could identify and recommend to you. The exercise didn’t work out the way we’d hoped. Three of the wines we did not like. One, however, was pretty good and we think that you might like it, too.

herzog lineage rose Picmonkey

We first tasted a French rose, the 2017 Chateau Roubine Cru Classe Premium from the Côtes de Provence. This wine exhibited a very pale salmon color. Not much fruit was evident. It had no particular flaws, but didn’t show much that was positive either. It was thirst-quenching, but we thought it pallid overall.

Our second wine, the 2017 Vina Encina Rosado was a Spanish wine made from Tempranillo grapes. It was darker in color than the French wine (our notes describe it as “dark strawberry”). It did show some strawberry and cherry aromas, but they came across as musty. There was more fruit character to this wine, but we found its fruit flavors unpleasant and not the kind of taste that invites a second glass. The finish seemed somewhat bitter, too. We returned to re-taste this wine on the day after it was first opened. The mustiness and bitter finish were less evident. The taste in the mouth seemed gentler and “rounder,” somehow, but it still did not have a really nice finish.”

The third wine was the most disappointing of our four rosé experiences. The 2016 Pink Israeli Journey from Vitkin Winery had a problem that we couldn’t identify. It didn’t seem to be “corked” or the victim of the TCH taint that causes the musty, damp-newspapers-in-basement aroma. Nor did it seem to have suffered heat damage, but there was something unpleasant enough to know that most bottles probably didn’t leave the winery tasting the way this one did in Northern California in August of 2018. We really wanted to like this wine, but it was so far enough off from what we expected that we had to scratch it from the lineup. No review.

Not counting the deleted Israeli wine, we were 0 for 2 and didn’t want to enter a big K on our scorecard for this tasting. Fortunately, our final rosé was one we really liked.

Herzog is a Southern California winery, specifically in Oxnard, but the fruit for the 2017 Herzog Lineage comes from the Clarksburg appellation just southwest of the city of Sacramento. The wine is a medium-to-deep pink color. We didn’t find it hugely aromatic, but we thought there were subtle strawberry and raspberry notes in the nose. Those strawberry and raspberry qualities were repeated in the flavors and there were subtle herbal aspects in the background. We found this unusual in a rose, but it gave this wine a tinge of complexity. Herzog’s Lineage is fairly dry, but still shows an overall rich, round mid-palate and a pleasing finish.

The winery doesn’t specify which varieties were included in this wine, but indicates that it came from a “field blend,” a phrase which usually refers to a vineyard planted with various different grape varieties thought to be compatible.

It wouldn’t be wrong to slake your thirst by drinking this out by the pool, but you could also serve it with many lighter, yet full-flavored dishes. It would be a very nice accompaniment to poached salmon or something more exotic like scallops with a green curry sauce.

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