Wine & Beer

Beat the summer heat with a crisp rosé wine from Paso Robles

Good rose has a crisp kick and a fresh berry essence that can revive the flagged spirits and heat-dulled tongues. As you would expect, rose works with those foods and fruits of high summer, like vine-ripened tomatoes, corn on the cob, red peppers, berries of all sorts.
Good rose has a crisp kick and a fresh berry essence that can revive the flagged spirits and heat-dulled tongues. As you would expect, rose works with those foods and fruits of high summer, like vine-ripened tomatoes, corn on the cob, red peppers, berries of all sorts. TNS

Makers of rosé wine recommend it for quaffing year round. But let’s face it: A refreshing pink wine is the perfect antidote for summer heat.

Rosé sales have been growing at a steady clip for several years, and much of that growth has been among wines priced at or above $12. As sales have grown, more and more rosés have shown up on store shelves. Many of them are serious efforts, but some are, shall we say, best described as novelty brands — White Girl Rosé, anyone?

Although some wine drinkers are still stuck on the notion that pink wines must be sweet — think white zinfandel — the popularity of rosé is being driven by wines that are dry or nearly dry. The wines can be made from any red grapes (sometimes white grapes are part of the mix, too, as is the case with the Halter Ranch rosé). How deep or pale the pink color is simply is a function of how long the juice stays on the grape skins, which is where the color is.

There was a time when a lot of rosés were something of a byproduct of red wine production. Juice was bled off a tank of red grapes in an attempt to concentrate the red wine. That pale, bled-off juice was turned into rosé. But rosés made in this fashion could turn out too heavy and alcoholic, rather than refreshing. Now, a lot of the best rosés are made from grapes that are farmed specifically for pink wines or at least picked earlier than they would be for red.

From Paso Robles, most of the pink wines I’ve tasted are made from Rhone grapes, like grenache and syrah. The aforementioned 2015 Halter Ranch Rosé ($21), for example, is a blend of mostly grenache, with a substantial addition of picpoul blanc and a little mourvedre and syrah. Made from fruit farmed for rosé, it’s racy and fresh, with cranberry, raspberry and a squeeze of lemon.

The 2015 Adelaida Rosé ($20) is also primarily grenache, along with some carignane, cinsault, mourvedre, counoise and syrah. Some of the grapes are picked early, when acids are high, while others are picked later to add more body. The wine displays ample racy cranberry, red cherry, strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Tablas Creek has been making Rhone-style rosé for many years and now produces two of them. The 2015 Tablas Creek Dianthus Rosé ($30) is mostly mourvedre and grenache, all from the estate vineyard. Dianthus is a fuller-bodied rosé with a darker color, and it displays bright berry and plum flavors, an earthy note and a persistent finish. The 2015 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rosé ($25) is mostly grenache and made mostly from purchased grapes. It has more of a racy, refreshing profile, with plenty of red berry fruit.

The Chronic Cellars Pink Pedals ($17), which is mostly grenache with a little syrah, combines raciness with a touch of spicy sweetness.

Read more from Laurie Daniel at her blog, lauriedanielonwine.com.

Pick of the week

Chronic Cellars 2014 Sofa King Bueno ($22) Here’s a great red blend (mostly syrah, grenache and petite sirah) for grilled food. It’s bright and structured, with berry fruit, some spicy notes and a hint of blackberry leaf.

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