Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Domestic Rosé Defends Itself

The story: I encountered two resistive statements to rosé this week and found that they came into direct conflict with each other. The first was not against rosé in general, but the wine blogger extraordinare Alder Yarrow posted a rant on the poor quality of domestic rosé. His argument was that U.S. produced rosé are often too big, too powerful, too extracted to truly offer what a great rosé should: a crisp, dry, refreshing, and light profile. Yarrow notes that 95% of domestic rosé is not distinctly 'pink' and rather a slightly retracted red wine in disguise. Grapes for rosé should be picked at a lower brix (the sugar content of the grape that gets higher as it gets riper) than grapes grown for red wine, but many domestic producers use the same grapes simply bleeding juice off of the skins after a day or two to make a few barrels of rosé. This practice absolutely affects the crispness, the acidity, and the flavor profile.

The other resistance was my friends who saw me bring a bottle of rosé to dinner. The menu was quiche and salad, plates of olives, fresh summer tomatoes and hummus, and all served outside under a big oak tree. What could be better with this than rosé? However (and sorry for selling you out J) comments where made such as 'you brought a pink wine?' and 'shouldn't we just open a pinot?'

And yet it was this second rebellion that made the first one a moot point in the end. The rosé we drank that night had a little meat to its bones, offered a hints of a red wine profile but with a crispness that made it clearly not a red wine. The wine was delicious chilled, slightly fruity, and converted my skeptical friends to rosés place in a wine drinker's repetoire. So Yarrow may be correct in the difference between domestic and European rosés, and he may have a point that there is something insanely appealing about a Provencal rosé that dances across your palette, but that does not mean there is no place for what the U.S. producers are doing. This is not an excuse for lazy winemaking, or for producing rosé as an afterthought, but it is an argument that there is a place for bigger, New World styled rosé and it is NOT only 5% of the production.

The wine: At the dinner party we poured the 2008 Anglim Rosé. Made up of 67% grenache, 19% mourvedre, 10% syrah, and 4% viognier this is all Paso Robles fruit and only 229 cases were made. The Anglims did use the saignee method, bleeding the juice off of the red wine grapes in order to reduce its exposure to the skins (which give red wine its color, tannins, some of the flavors, etc.) and they did this the same day for the syrah, the next morning for the grenache, and 2 days later for the mourvedre. This left the wine a bright pink color that leans towards red and away from salmon. The wine gives aromas of fresh strawberries, a subtle mix of herbs, and a faint savory aspect reminisent of smoked meat. The wine has some great red fruit up front, particularly strawberry and ripe cherries, a bit more of the herbs and spice across the mid-palette, and finishes with some nice acidity to hold it all together. It is so obviously a rosé in that it really does not offer any tannins or over extracted fruit flavors, but instead comes across as crisp and refreshing.

The verdict: I can see where this rosé leans into some of what Yarrow was complaining about, but I have to wholeheartedly disagree with his dismissal. It was precisely the fruit, and the hints of complexity that the mourvedre and syrah brought to the wine that made my friends so positive on this rosé. It paired beautifully with our food, was incredibly appropriate for a warm al fresco summer evening, offered lots of complexity (the herbal, savory aspect) even when chilled, and was wonderfully different from the white wine before it and red wine after. This wine sold for $15 from the winery, and showed so well in the tasting room that it sold out (in two months). I know the Anglims have already said that they will make more next year, so contact them here to inquire about getting your hands on some next spring. In the meantime they have a zinfandel and grenache that would go beautifully with summer grilling, and a rousanne that really highlights the unique white grape and would drink great on a summer day. As for a score this rosé gets an easy 3.5/5 which when coupled with a $15 price tag, makes this a must buy for me.

I'm for one am an advocate of domestic rosé from here forward.


  1. Thanks for the nod on this posting. Perhaps you've found a good domestic rosé here. They certainly do exist. Or maybe your tastes are different than mine.

    In any case, I agree that rosé sounded like a perfect pairing with the salad, and the fact you managed to win your friends over is a great thing. We need more pink drinkers.

  2. Thanks Alder. The wine was delicious, but certainly New World in style.