Provence: The Prescription for your Pink Wine Phobia

Do you suffer from a crippling fear of rose-tinted wines? Do you wander the aisles of the wine shop, shielding your eyes from bottles filled with cheerful pink liquid? Do you find yourself frustrated on a hot summer day when a glass of room-temperature red is insufficiently refreshing yet white seems insubstantial for pairing with your barbecued fare? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be suffering from a debilitating condition known in the oenophile community as “roséphobia.” If you or a loved one is suffering from this disorder, do not despair—hope is on the horizon.

The most effective treatment to combat roséphobia is exposure therapy. Many sufferers are simply unaware of the breadth and depth of styles of rosé wine available on the market, especially those who are traumatized by flashbacks of saccharine Mateus and other similar products popular in the second half of the 20th century. However, these distressing memories can quickly become a thing of the past through the discovery of dry, high-quality rosés, particularly those hailing from the Provence region of southeastern France. This treatment may be administered under the counsel of a skilled professional, but roséphobics may also explore these wines on their own, taking comfort in the knowledge that just about any bottle is a safe bet.

Unlike the nearly neon-hued, sugary blush wines of (mostly) yesteryear, the rosés of Provence possess an appealing pale salmon color that is easy on the eyes. This visual aspect is important, as the first sensory interaction a roséphobic will have with a wine is the observation of its pigment. The delicate appearance of Provençal rosé can provide reassurance to those undergoing therapy that they may expect to consume a wine of balance and finesse.

Interference with treatment may occur if a roséphobic makes the false assumption that the muted shade of these wines bears a correlation to a lack of flavor. In fact, these rosés can be quite substantial and structured. Almost always blends, they combine the best assets of various locally grown varieties for a superior flavor profile and mouthfeel. Grenache gives fresh berry aromas, Cinsault adds bright fruitiness, Carignan and Syrah provide body, color, and structure, Tibouren contributes elegance and aromatics, and Mourvèdre lends spice, floral notes, and firm tannins. Awareness of the capabilities of these grapes is an important step in preparing the skeptical roséphobic for the first sip.

The next phase of treatment is the tasting. Though it may seem intimidating, former roséphobics have been known to look back on this part as the moment they realized they were cured. It is recommended to combine this step with a proper Provençal meal in order to enhance enjoyment of the wine. For best results, try a traditional bouillabaisse—a seafood stew flavored with olive oil, garlic, saffron, and fresh herbs. Provence’s dry, structured, and zippy rosés with notes of red berries, watermelon, orange citrus, stony minerality, and the local garrigue (a mix of wild Mediterranean herbs including lavender, rosemary, and thyme) are the perfect accompaniment to such a hearty, flavorful dish. On their own, they are equally enjoyable, providing plenty of refreshment without sacrificing substance.

Once you have consumed your first glass of rosé from Provence, you are well on your way to recovery. In fact, you may very well eventually find yourself experiencing symptoms of rosé addiction, which include seeking out high-quality rosé wines from other regions, frequently planning picnics, and compulsively checking the internet for reasonably priced airfare to warm-weather destinations. This should not be cause for concern—eleven out of ten wine professionals agree that a moderate case of rosé addiction can be beneficial for your enjoyment of life. Though the initial diagnosis can be alarming, roséphobia is easily treatable and the prognosis for recovery is strong. If you know someone who is suffering from roséphobia, please help spread the word so that no wine lover is forced to live with this unnecessary and tragic condition.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Bastille Day: Classic Bordeaux

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People often have the wrong idea of Bordeaux. While the names of Latour, Margaux and Pétrus dance so gracefully off of our collective tongues, these are not the wines that “regular” folks drink. Those of us who are more value drinkers are more in tuned with Bordeaux AOC, Bordeaux Superiore and Bordeaux Rosé (pink has risen up to the top of consumer awareness and is now being sought out).

In a recent trip to Bordeaux, those are the wines that I drank; never did one glass of the “big” name classifieds crossed my lips. Not that I would not have enjoyed a glass of Lafite, instead I ended up drinking what most everyone enjoys on a day-to-day basis and guess what? There was no less enjoyment to be found; the everyday Bordeaux took care of my needs quite nicely.

So what should we be drinking in everyday Bordeaux? Château Bonnet Blanc has been one of Bordeaux’s top white wines for more than a decade. Vintage after vintage, the wine shows pure fruit and crisp acidity as it finishes with a food pairing bite. The Château Bonnet Rosé is another winner, showing a shading of salmon and pink in its color; crisp and bright, the wine asks for a lightly grilled salmon. On the red side, I recommend the 2013 Domaines Baron Rothschild Reserve Speciale Rouge. The wine is straight-forward and delightfully balanced; perfect with grilled hamburgers.

Let us celebrate Bastille Day and liberate Bordeaux from the shackles of its high priced profile. Yes, the classifieds (1st to 5th growth) are wonderful, but mainstream Bordeaux values provide an everyday enjoyment that we can afford.

Go pink for Valentine’s Day

In the weeks preceding Valentine’s Day, storefronts often look like they’ve been sprayed down in Pepto Bismol or been redesigned by Victoria’s Secret – red and pink hues dominate the windows and shelves, reminding us that the day where one celebrates love is fast approaching.

Though I don’t mind a pink card or the occasional box of chocolates, the best pink for Valentine’s Day comes in liquid form – rosé. More specifically, rosé Champagne. Pink bubbles are a perfect fit for Valentine’s Day, whether you are celebrating with your sweetie, your best friends or curled up with a good book.

Most rosé wine gets its pink color from a process known as “saignée,” when juice is removed after a brief maceration time with its skins,  enough time to gain color, but not long enough to gain the typical red wine characteristics. This is the most common practice for sill rosé. Occasionally, thvdayough much less common, red wine is blended with white to make rosé, except in Champagne, where this is the norm rather than the exception.

Champagne is already a blend of different lots of still wine, often different vintages of still wine. To make rosé Champagne, still red wine is added to the blend to impart a rose color. The final blend then undergoes the typical secondary fermentation in the bottle to create those magnificent bubbles. Though some producers do use the saignée method, adding still red wine to the blend is more common in Champagne.

Rosé Champagne is such a delight to drink. The essence of Champagne with a pink tinge, giving the wines a bit more body and a whole different personality. Still lively and fresh, it is one of those wines that makes the occasion! Some favorite producers include Pol Roger, Gosset, Henriot, Taittenger and Ruinart. If not Champagne, try some sparkling wine versions outside of the region, like Graham Beck (South Africa), Lucien Albrecht (Alsace), Jansz (Australia) and  Roederer (California).

And if you’re not into bubbles, just going pink is an excellent February plan. We even have two very cool gift ideas for giving pink – a half-dozen or dozen “rosés,” which equal a half case or case of mixed rose wines. I have to tell you, this is MUCH better than flowers in my opinion, though I’d be happy to take both!

Learning to drink pink

It was perhaps the wettest June on record in the Pacific Northwest. Well thank goodness it was a record, because if this was normal I'd be moving back to California in a heartbeat. But summer did finally decide to show up and we even had a heatwave!

One of the reasons I missed this hot weather was because of my rose. I look forward to rose wine every summer, because while it tastes good anytime of the year, I find it very seasonal and it is one of my quintessential summer wines. And when temperatures are in the 80s it's all I want to sip – somehow it is not as appealing when it's 50 degrees and raining.

Consumers have come around for the most part in accepting pink wine as a quality beverage. Though rose has been made for decades – centuries actually – most Americans associate it with the sweet blush White Zinfandels that became so popular in the 1980s. Well, DRY rose is back on people's table. Thank goodness! And as we enter another high-temperature weekend, here are some fun rose facts – dry vs. sweet.

Dry Rose:
The traditional rosé method (for dry rose), saignée, creates a pink wine by pressing red grapes and allowing the juice only a brief period of contact the skins, retaining a bit of color, but lacking the heavy influence of tannins.

France is the only country to have a region whose production is restricted to rosé. One of the oldest appellations in France, Tavel is a pink only Appellation Controllée.

Dry rose is crisp and refreshing like a white wine, but with a touch of red characteristics in fruit flavor and texture.

Sweet Rose:
White Zinfandel is made with Zinfandel grapes, but with a faster process and added sugar. It's almost always sweet.

White Zinfandel hit its peak in the 1980s. Sutter Home White Zinfandel production went from 25,000 cases in 1981 to 2.9 million cases in 1989.

In 1991, White Zinfandel accounted for 34% of wine sales nationally. Today, it still accounts for 10% of wine sales in the U.S.

  

 

Pairing Wine with Fireworks

As with all fun, festive celebrations, beverages are key to your Fourth of July party.  And because you’re celebrating our nation’s birthday, keeping the wine American is a nice tribute. After all, our wine industry has come a long way since Mr. Jefferson’s attempt at vine growing in Virginia. As we gear up for the grill and what will go on it, I’ve been pondering the question – What to pair with it all?

Here are some wine picks for some typical 4th of July grills – some are common matches, but that’s because they work so well!


Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah – my pick for meat

So these choices are slightly typical. But We’ve got a great deal on the Rubicon Cask Cabernet Sauvignon ‘05, and it’s one of my favorite California Cabs (organic grapes, too!) – it’s perfect for a small gathering as it’s a more pricey wine. It would be amazing with a grilled ribeye with just a little salt & pepper. Yum…

For larger get togethers, you’re going to want fun AND affordable – stock up on Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon ‘06 – good producer for under $20.

Love Syrah with meat. I’m often torn between peppery, spicy Syrah vs. Juicy, fruit-concentrated Syrah… It’s great to find a wine with both and the Havens Hudson Vineyard Syrah ‘04 does just that. But it’s also on the more pricy side, at the $40 mark – but SO worth it! If you’re really adventurous, try pairing it with grilled leg of lamb.

For the everyday (under $20), crowd-pleasing Syrah, try Bonterra’s Organically Grown Syrah ‘06 or Bonny Doon’s Le Pousseur Syrah ‘05.


Oregon Pinot Gris– my pick for chicken and/or veggies

Oregon Pinot Gris is so delightful in the heat. It’s refreshing, but also so aromatic and lovely to sip over a summer evening. It’s hard to recommend producers as I have not yet had an Oregon Pinot Gris that I didn’t like! Some favorites include Adelsheim, Elk Cove, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Eyrie, Willakenzie Estate and King Estate. Most are on the ‘07 vintage, which was a cool vintage so the wines are nice and crisp. 2006 was warmer and that vintage produced a richer style of wine.


Rosé My pick for pork, chips & salsa or anything with a spicy kick!

Rosé can be a great aperitif before the dinner, but a hearty one will go great with pork or another meat, especially if you have some spice on it. From lighter style to heavier style & from dry to sweet – Etude, Bonny Doon & Red Truck’s Pink Truck are nice matches. Note that the Pink Truck is off dry, so some spice is nice (try salsa on the pork).


ZinfandelMy pick for burgers

The great American grape. With the great American food. The sweet fruits & spice are a great match to a juicy burger. Bogle Old Vines or Gnarly Head are great value Zinfandels. If you want to go a bit higher, try the Murphy Goode Liar’s Dice – it’s got some kick to it. Ravenswood is a reliable producer with lots of different single vineyard wines to try and Ridge is a classic – the Three Valleys is a great burger pick.


Bubbly –  My pick for fireworks

Okay, so you’re not grilling fireworks, but you definitely need some bubbles when you watch them! At the $20-ish mark, I love the Roederer Estate, Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs and Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rose. Also a great choice is the Argyle Brut – best bubbly in Oregon! So pop the cork and watch those fireworks sparkle.