Summer is officially upon us and, with this week’s temperatures heating up, it’s time to go pink with chilled dry rosés and the start of the wild salmon season.
It now seems like everyone is making a rosé, and the best are dry crisp examples, which makes them ideal for a chilled refreshing alternative to many favorite whites.
Roses can be made utilizing a number of red grape possibilities and several fermentation processes. The red grapes are generally picked early in the ripening when the acid levels are higher and sugars are in check, resulting in wines that are crisp and lighter in alcohol.
As for grape choices, it seems like a number of coastal producers are using pinot noir, which results in a lighter color and a good balance of acidity and fruit. Our local wineries do not have a pinot noir option but have found great success with a number of other regionally grown red grapes. One of the most popular is grenache, which again lends itself to lighter color but can come in varying styles of fruitiness.
Lavender Ridge Winery in Calaveras County makes a wonderful fuller-bodied grenache rosé, while the new Yosemite Cellars in Groveland makes a grenache rosé that’s lighter bodied while still capturing a watermelon-like character associated with many rosés. Up in Amador County, Sobon Estate makes a sustainably grown grenache rosé that’s bright and on the medium-dry side with a zesty berry finish.
Other Rhone style grapes have also become big players in winery’s playlist of rosé grapes with several being blends. Look for the new release of “Baby Doll” rosé from Prospect 772 Winery in Calaveras County. Fresh strawberries come to mind with their Rhone blend of grapes for the wine. They actually do a bleed off of their vineyards grenache, syrah and Mouvedre grapes juice before fermenting the three for their red program. All the above rosés are from the 2015 vintage. Avoid buying older vintages, as this style of wine shows best at a young age.
Several other successful foothill grapes and producers include an award-winning sangiovese rosé from Noceto Winery in Amador County and a tempranillo rosé from Gossamer Cellars in Calaveras County.
Some other California favorites include producers from San Louis Obispo County including Robert Hall 2015 Rose d Robles, the recent State Fair winner for Best of Show Rosé, and the crisp, dry 2015 pinot noir rosé from Tolossa Winery.
Globally, some of the most famous and summer friendly dry rosés come from the south of France and, in particular, the Rhone Valley and Provence. This explains why the French drink more rosés than white wine as of late.
And don’t be misled by some of the big producers who are trying to capitalize on increased interest in rosés by making sweeter versions that hail back to days of Matuse and Lancers, those soda-pop pinks of decades ago.
And speaking of pink, try matching a dry rosé with fresh Copper River salmon that’s been poached in wine with fresh summer herbs, or grilled Pacific king salmon with a cilantro and lime butter. And finish the bottle as a pink sun sets on a warm summer night.