This past Saturday brought Culinaria’s annual Rambling Rosé to Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, and for at least one day, it was all about pink.
And that’s just fine with me.
For the past nine years or so, Bonnie Walker and I have been part of the panel along with vineyard owner Richard Becker, sommelier Steven Krueger from the Westin La Cantera and selected friends of dry rosé, including wine merchant Woody De Luna, to talk about the appeal of this special style of wine while we sampled a half-dozen fine examples with two large groups of interested tasters.
Nine years ago, it seemed as if we were all speaking in some sort of vacuum. The audience was made up largely of people who only drank either red or white wine, and nothing but, and they weren’t about to change.
In the last three or four years, however, people have become more open. A good number of people in the audience now freely admit that dry rosé is part of their regular wine-drinking diet. It might be once a month or only when the temperature is over 100 degrees, which it was on Saturday. But the message that this wine is perfect for Texas is getting out.
Rosé is now the style of wine I drink most. I love the fact that you can ice it down and refresh yourself with its youthful essence. Plus, it’s a perfect food wine, whether you want a wine to go with beef fajitas with a spritz of lime or shrimp off the grill. Krueger made a good argument for having rosé with your Thanksgiving meal because it goes with so much of the meal.
You find more rosés of all price ranges, styles and even colors in the market these days, and they’re coming from all corners of the wine-growing world. Plus, they’re made with grapes as varied as Pinot Noir, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
On Saturday, we tasted several dry Old World styles from France and from Texas with bright acid, good minerality, vibrancy and an elegance that was quite pleasing. We also tasted several New World styles with lively fruit flavors and the occasional touch of residual sugar.
The lineup featured several from France, including the 2012 Le Poussin Rosé from the Languedoc-Roussillon and the 2012 Balandran Les Mugues Rosé from Costières-de-Nîmes. The 2012 Alexander Vineyards Rosé was from Bordeaux, and it was made by Claude Alexander, who is opening a tasting room next week along the 290 wine trail that stretches from Johnson City to Fredericksburg; his other wines include a Champagne and a German Riesling, with more, including Texas wines, to come in the future.
Also in the Old World style was the host’s contribution, the 2012 Becker Vineyards Provençal from Tallent Vineyard in the Texas High Plains.
New World-style rosés included the 2012 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Blanc from the Brugioni Vineyard on California’s Sonoma Coast and the 2012 I’M Deep Rosé from Napa Valley.
All are available for about $12-$15 a bottle, and all found fans among both audiences and the panelists. In the case of the wines we sampled, the Old World-style rosés were marked by a more copperish pink, or saumon color, as the French call it, while the two New World-style had more red in them.
It was great to hear the comments from the audience about what pleased them or whether they enjoyed a certain wine by itself or with the duck confit that chef John Brand had served. One gentleman, whom I recognized from having attended in years past, made the astute observation that the quality of all the wines has increased greatly overall. In fact, he enjoyed all six of the wines poured. High praise, indeed, and it’s also a clue as to why rosés have become more popular. After all, who doesn’t like a good bottle of wine at a reasonable price?
Another sign that some sort of cultural tide has been forded? In two panel discussions, the dreaded words “white Zinfandel” were not mentioned a single time, even in a derogatory manner. Rosé has reclaimed its position in the wine world.
If you haven’t tried any lately, what are you waiting for?
Culinaria’s next event, Restaurant Week, begins this Saturday and runs through Aug. 24. Click here for details.