We've covered this territory before (June 4, 2013), but it's rose season again, so let's have another splash of the pink stuff. As satisfying as the stuff is, we'll make this a "refresher" course (ahem). Let's start with a little history, then move on to the contemporary rose scene, eventually landing in the present here and now with our currently rich store rose inventory.
As we have said in the past, roses have a particularly prominent place in wine history. Since red wines have only been made really dark and extracted using twentieth century technology, you could say that virtually all of wine making history has been a history of making varying shades of roses.
Prior to the middle ages, written records showed that sweet roses were genuinely preferred to stronger darker and drier wines. In the middle ages, Bordeaux became the center of the wine world but it wasn't the reds that were in vogue. Once again the records show roses to be the more popular style. Similarly, at about the same time, the Champagne region emerged on the scene with both sparkling and still wines and the style there too was a darker shade of rose. Bordeaux, of course, went on to fame as a dry red wine region while seventeenth century Champagne learned how to make truly white wine from red grapes. If there is a general historical trend with roses though, it is that they have become progressively drier through time.
Today fine roses are made in every wine production region of the world. Europe, as usual, makes the best rose with Spain and France currently being the leaders by acclamation. Greece lies outside of the popular purview but the Kir-Yianni Akakies Rose we have successfully sold here recently takes a back seat to none. Disappointingly, Italy, despite its amazing wine culture, doesn't seem to have created a rose style commensurate with its other production.
Not surprisingly, the best grapes for making roses are among the oldest. Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo,and Mourvedre are probably the best followed by Cinsault, Carignan, and in a different vein, Pinot Noir. France has the historical rose-making edge on Spain despite Spain being the older wine producing country. But for the popular American palate, Spain probably satisfies the best.
Because of their history, the French wine laws are definitive of just what kind of wine may be produced where. Those laws acknowledge southern France including Provence, the Rhone Valley, and Languedoc-Roussillon to be the primary rose region of the country and the rose epicenter of the continent. Spain, which no doubt had a history of rose production through the centuries, has only exploited its production in the modern era and now it is producing roses everywhere. While France is locked into its legally delimited production values, Spain, with its many modern wineries, is blending new grapes with the traditionals to create new roses.
We probably have a dozen roses here at the present time but I will only mention four. John Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rose is from that southern French rose locale just mentioned. Cortijo Rose is from the acclaimed Rioja region of Spain. Both are sale priced at $9.99 because they are the 2013 vintage and the new '14s have arrived. Castel des Maures and Chateau Paradis are both 2014 Provence Roses and are priced in the high teens. All are exceptional wines and priced appropriately.
At the weekly After 5 wine tasting on Friday, David Rimmer of Lynda Allison Cellar Selections presents French and Italian wines from his fine portfolio. Then on the 24th, Dean Johnston of Eagle Rock Distributing pours tastes of wines from six different countries on three continents. Please join us for these events.