Last week I had the pleasure of attending a Rose tasting for the trade, along with a master class on Rose led by Master Sommelier, Gillian Banlace. I won a lunch with Gillian and other guests the following day. While waiting for a table, I ordered Rose. The waitress suggested a Brut Rose. We never discussed which one. She just brought me a glass and I drank about half before the group arrived and we moved onto other wines…great wines, I must add. But the flavor, texture, and freshness of this Rose lingered long after lunch was done…well into this week. So, I’m back at Brasserie 19 for the reveal. Veuve Cliquot Brut Rose (NV) with enticing flavors of watermelon, cherry and cotton candy. Almond toast finish. Dry, but luscious at the same time. I am feeling very indulged.
The Cliquot Champagne house was founded in 1772 by Philippe Cliquot. It is believed to be the first Champagne house to produce Rose Champagne (Pinot Noir). Fine Rose champagne has since always been the Cliquot house trademark. Barbe-Nichole Ponsardin, an educated young woman, married Philippe’s son, Francois, in 1798. She was left a widow in 1805. Because she had been included in Francois’ passion for and the running of his winery, the widow Cliquot (Veuve means widow) was able to take over the champagne house. Very unique for a woman in that day in time. Additionally, she went on to make revolutionary changes in the production of fine Champagne that are still used today. Fine being the key word. Veuve Cliquot has always been about making quality Champagne. Thank you, Madame Cliquot. I raise a toast to you.
My husband says our Rose choice is wet, cold and drinks well! I think he’s right! What does it matter if we enjoy it in a wine glass or a small soup bowl??ScarpettaTimido Brut Rose Sixth Edition (Non Vintage). Yeasty, dark cherries and berries with a hint of peach. Heavier than a rose from Provence and with a bit of dry tannin. The wine held up well to our Asian dinner of Razor Clams, Peppered Lobster and Fish Soup. All these dishes were a bit spicy. A little more sweetness in the wine would have been good, but that is a my pairing problem and not the fault of the wine. Sometimes it’s just what wine you have available in the fridge. Our waitress eventually brought wine glasses, but soup cups worked just as well while we waited. She eventually decided to try a taste of the Rose herself. She looked around for a glass and then picked up a small soup bowl from another clean table. We may have started a trend.
First, let me get past the myth that have so many of you as Pink Haters. There wasn’t one sweet wine among the twenty or thirty that I tasted. Sweet pink existed! There was pink Moscato. But sweet pink was not on my radar. I was looking for dry pink. Pink with some bubbles. Pink with a little tannin (that’s right!). Pink with a little attitude. I found all the pink I could possibly love and I left a swath of iced down, delicious pink still untasted… being enjoyed by other pink lovers…who had more time than I did. It hurt to leave. But the effort of leaving just kept me wanting more. God, I really do love good Rosé!! I admit… I even like medicore rosé.
Yesterday, Houston was home to pink. A treasure trove of Rosé (thank you Southern Glazers) put out for buyers to sip through and determine what pinks should grace their wine list for the summer…or even all year through. I was lucky to be there. What is my favorite Rosé? I’m still enjoying the looking, but here are a few that talked to me.
Casata Monfort Pinot Grigio Romato. This is an Italian Rosé made from a grape we consider to be a white wine grape–Pinot Grigio. However, Pinot Grigio grapes have a lot of color in their skin and this wine was created to be a Rosé. Skin contact with the juice gives the wine its coppery color and also some unique complexity. $20-ish
Palmer Brut Rose. Amazing. Bubbles. Could not spit this! $75(?). Spendy but so worth it.
Paul Cheneau Brut Rose. This was the most unique of the pink bubbles I tried because it was dry and loaded with, of all things, dark fruit flavor. Blackberry and dark cherry bubbles. Who knew? Lots of fun. $15.
Pleasant Hill Sangiovese Rose. This 2016 Rose hails from Brenham, Texas. Pink is even better when its local and this local is great.
Lageder Lagrein Rosato from Alto Adige. Another excellent Italian Rosé $18-ish.
Moet and Veuve Cliquot had a great presence… but I never made it to that side of the room. Whispering Angel and Miravel showed up, too. But you have already heard about them, I’m sure. They are top sellers in the United States, respectively. They have helped put Rosé in your shopping cart. You are putting Rosé in your shopping cart??!!
To add icing to my pretty pink cake, the Southern Glazers offered up a Rosé Master Class led by Gillian Balance, Master Sommlier. It was an Old World vs. New World tasting and both came up as winners. Three tiers of Chateau Minuty rosés Cote de Provence) made up the Old World entrants. The Chatea Minuty 281 retails for over $60. Talk about a serious Rosé!! And it was awesome!! Matua Pinot Noir Rosé (Marlborough, New Zealand), Chateau St. Jean Bijou Rosé (California) and A by Acacia Rosé (Napa Valley) were the New World offerings. Slightly darker in color. A bit less acidity. All the wines were fresh, dry, enjoyable and lovable.
The men are hanging the light fixtures and painting the ceiling while I’m dusting out and re-organizing the cabinets.
It’s December and should be prime season for red wine, but it was 81 degrees today. There are two young men outside spreading dirt and they are working up a sweat. The wine fridge is booby trapped by a swathe of floor patch. I already skated through it once today. I’ve learned my lesson.
So Charles & Charles Columbia Valley Rose 2015. Bursting with cherry, watermelon, woody stems, and a faint trace of bubble gum! $12-ish as I recall! Goes down boldly and easily. It’s a blend of 61% Syrah plus Mourvèdre, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Counoise! This Rose is just dying to talk to you and your palate!! And after a day of remodeling, it’s a conversation I’m ready to have.
The Wine Spectator 40th issue magazine has an article about canned wine. One of the photos features cans of Underwood Wine. For the few of you that follow me, you saw it here first (August 2016)!!
Wine in Cans for Fishing, Boating or At the table? You tell me!!
Wines in cans. How extraordinary! I recently tried to purchase some French Rose in cans at my local Specs Liquor store. The wine salesman seemed somewhat appalled that I would ask. (Honestly, I didn’t blame him.) Of course, I came bearing my recent issue of Food & Wine magazine that featured not one, but two, French Roses in a can. He then was more polite about saying they didn’t carry canned wine.
So while I am at Trader Joes to purchase a gallon of milk, I came acress these little canned cuties. Yes, I somehow ended up in the wine department. Go figure. So I scooped them up ($5.95 each, 12 oz). I left the canned Pinot Noir on the self — it just doesn’t seem possible that you could find good or even okay Pinot in a can. They may label it Pinot Noir, but it won’t taste like Pinot Noir. Darn, now I will have to go back to double check-because journalists must investigate.
I shared these cans of wine with a couple of friends. One of my friends insisted she drink them from a glass and decreed the idea of drinking wine from the actual can as “horrifying.” But once we got past that little sticking point–she actually enjoyed them.
These wines come from the Union Wine Co. and the grapes are sourced from somewhere in Oregon. No single vineyard. No estate winery. But don’t hold that against them. The Pinot Grigio, our favorite of the two, was crisp and dry with flavors of ripe, bruised pear and apples and ripe peach (13% ABV). The Rose had nice flavors and aromas of peach and strawberry (12%). Give me a hot day and I would drink either of them if a host offered one to me nice and cold, and in a good Yeti. I like many other wines better, but these both have their place… in the sun!!
Sometimes life takes you in different geographical directions. It is best to handle all that running around with a glass of wine.
Sunday morning my husband and I found ourselves in the historic area and little shopping mecca of Old Town Spring. We were so early that not much had opened, so we wandered around window shopping. I saw one place I wanted to check out when they opened and that was the Envy Wine Room. I am so glad we stopped in because not only did they have some nice, nice wines (affordable too!!!) but I found a kindred spirit there!! A kindred spirit is worth a hundred bottles of wine! Effie Stees, the owner, was behind the counter of this wine bar, wine events, retail wine shop, wine accessories, cute as heck clothes and other fabulous accoutrements of retail therapy. So what made Effie a kindred spirit?? The fact that she, like me, is genuinely excited and happy when she has helped you find the perfect wine or introduced you to a wine that you haven’t tried before and now LOVE!! That is kindred enough for me.
Chateau La Mascaronne 2015 quat saisons Rose from Cote de Provence
These vineyards are owned by an American businessman who has a passion for restoring old neglected wineries and turning them into fully functioning organic vineyards. He bought Chateu Miraval in 1993 and sold it in 2012 to Brad Pitt and Angelina Joie. This estate, La Mascaronne, is a more recent purchase. Bought for the limestone rocks that blanket the vineyards, it now produces about 10,000 cases of six different wines. (Think unique and lovingly crafted!!)
This Rose is made with the red grapes of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre (now there is a mouthful of grapes that sound nothing like Cabernet) which are hallmark varieties for Rose and red blends from the Provence wine region. The wine is not red, because grape juice itself is clear. It is the contact with the skins that impart the color. If the juice is only in contact with the skins for a few hours, than only a little color is imparted. Think pink!
This Rose has intense aromas and flavors of lemon citrus and strawberry with a salty minerality that always makes me think of crab cakes and oysters. This one was enjoyed by my husband at the Envy Wine Room in the company of Effie and her assistant, Gabby I only had a few sips. Quat saisons– meant to be enjoyed four seasons of the year and by real men, too!!
So that was the noon wine.
We then returned to Houston and decided to lunch on the way home. We chose Benjy’s on Washington Avenue. I chose another easy to find Rose´ available by the glass — Gerard Bertrand Gris Blanc 2015. Pale salmon color but its brisk acidity and bright flavors would allow this to be enjoyed with a wide variety of salads with olives and capers, seafood dishes and even Thai Curry (yes!!!!). I was having an awesome lunch of lightly grilled Scottish salmon on a quinoa broccoli salad with pine nuts and vinaigrette. The flash fried Brussel Sprout appetizer was pretty darn good, too. It was a very happy pairing.
Scottish Salmon on quinoa and broccoli salad– so darn good!
Gerard Bertrand Gris Blanc 2015
And if you love the idea of this wine, you can buy it at HEB Grocery for $15. In fact, their new Instacart service will deliver it to your door –IN ONE HOUR — just in case you don’t feel like going out to get it. I haven’t used the service yet, but if I was having a wine emergency….
Wine is a daily essential part of my life. I am either tasting it, drinking it, reading about it or studying it pretty much everyday. Sometimes I do three out of four! As much as it is a centerpiece of my daily routine, I don’t consider myself a wine snob. My goal is to find wines that can be enjoyed on a regular basis and reflect value for the purchase. Sure, I can easily enjoy a $200 bottle of wine… as long as someone else is paying for it!! That, unfortunately, doesn’t happen often . It it did, I might be a wine snob — but I’m not.
So unless I win the big lottery (Alas, you have to actually play to win), I will keep writing about the wines that bring everyday pleasure.
Mulderbosch Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon.
You can now tell your friends you drink South African wine! Why did I choose this one? Less than $10. Lots of flavor. And it is readily available at your local, un-snobby, retail wine store or grocery. It really isn’t fun to read about wines that you can’t find near you or, if you do, you can’t afford them. .
This is not some red wine bled off early in the winemaking process to give more flavor to what remained in the tank. The Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were grown specifically to make Rose´. It is a beautiful deep pink rose color and has flavors of bright cherries, pomegranate, and Fanta orange. There is a little earthiness that reminds me of woody stems.
I enjoyed this wine with some Thai food. My Chicken Larb (oddest name ever!) Salad with some red pepper hot sauce washed down very well with this little gem. My husband liked it with his Thai dumplings. I also liked it just sitting on our patio. No surprise there!! At 12. 5% alcohol you can sip it solo or pair with shrimp, salmon, cheeses, barbecue, sandwiches, roasted pork, fish tacos, etc., etc., etc. Because that’s how it is with Rose´.