I was thinking last night: If I don’t write something about rosé soon, people out there are going to become really upset or, worse, think I’m some kind of square.
So here you go, my ode to pink:
This is what I say
It’s pink and clean
Could inspire a hat for the Queen
And there, folks, is my brief career as a poet.
Rosé, both in image and quality, has come a long way over the past 20 years. No longer defined by white zinfandel (which some would say is not really a rosé), people who never thought they would allow anything pink past their lips (and I am not talking about Pepto Bismol here) crack open a bottle whenever the thermometer rises above 60 degrees. Any red grape can be used to make it, and white grapes can be added as well.Rosé is made in nearly every wine-producing country and from many grapes. While the varietal character is toned down, you can still notice the spice in wines made from syrah and grenache, and the berries of pinot noir.
Since it’s so early in our rosé season and there will probably be more rosé columns to come, let’s stick to wines that are made in Rioja today. All the red grapes used in Rioja — tempranillo, garnacha (aka grenache), graciano and mazuelo — can be found in the region’s pink wines, and each one of these producers makes great wines across the board.
CVNE Rosado, 2010. The Compania Vinicola del Norte de España was founded in 1879 and is one of the top traditional producers in Rioja. It is a medium-sizedfamily-owned operation with property in Alta and Alavesa. Though it’s known for making fantastic, age-worthy reds, this rosé stands out on its own merits. Made entirely from tempranillo, it is incredibly fresh with plum and berry fruit highlighted by vibrant mineral undertones. Suggested retail: $13
Bodegas Marqués de Cáceres Rosé, 2010. Given its size — 10 million bottles — Marques de Cáceres does a good job keeping its quality up. Some of the wines are very good, and this rosé — which by no means has the aspersions of any of the reds — is quite a treat. Composed of 85 percent tempranillo and 15 percent garnacha, it has a mound of red fruits sprinkled with white pepper. Suggested retail: $10
Bodegas Muga Rosado, 2010. This phenomenal family-run estate makes some of the most sought after wines in Rioja, the Prado Enea Gran Reserva and Torre Muga Reserva. At every level, Muga’s wines are as good as you will find, and this Rosado is on par with the best from Provence. A blend of 65 percent garnacha, 10 percent tempranillo and 30 percent viura, a white grape, it is medium-bodied with a matrix of red berries and citrus, spice and minerals, and a long, divine finish. Suggested retail: $13
Pamela S. Busch is the owner of Skrewcap.com, founder of CAV Wine Bar and a Bay Area wine consultant. Please submit your questions to Pamela@Skrewcap.com.