by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier of Épernay
Tired of drinking the same old blush plonk that you don’t even like anyway?
Feel lost and overwhelmed in the rosé aisle these days?
Not sure how to get the biggest bang for your buck amongst the current sea of pink wine?
With summer season approaching and your Nantucket social calendar quickly filling for the next few months, now is the time to brush up on your rosé wine tasting skills and discover a few new favorites to pair with your summertime activities.
While most pink wines that hail from the traditional rosé region of Côtes de Provence in France are a blend of grapes that grow exceptionally well in this warm, southern region, rosé wine these days is made from almost any red grape variety (sometimes with a splash of white added as well) and from an array of regions. Pinot Noir, a thin-skinned, low-tannin grape, produces a soft, lovely rosé and offers different characteristics in the wine based on where the grapes are grown.
Long Meadow Ranch, located in Rutherford of Napa Valley, is well-known for excellence through sustainable farming. Not only do they grow their grapes sustainably, their estate is also home to a large garden of organic heirloom fruits and vegetables, beehives where the tenants help to pollinate the vineyards, and a growing flock of egg-laying chickens. This holistic approach to agriculture leads to the health of the vineyards without the use of pesticides and chemicals, creating a wine that is clean from the vineyard to the glass.
Long Meadow Ranch Rosé of Pinot Noir comes from their cool climate estate of Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. This mouthwatering wine is full of floral aromas, hints of stone fruit and fresh wild strawberries. It is fresh on the palate, with the gentle power of spice. The long length and layers in the wine will remind you of a colorful, sultry sunset at Cisco beach.
Perfect Pairing: Cypress Grove Chevre Sgt. Pepper Fresh Goat Milk Cheese with a secret combination of four peppers, exotic spices, and pepper threads that results in a complex taste experience.
Flowers Vineyards and Winery is located in the far west, true Sonoma Coast of California. You can easily see the Pacific Ocean from the vineyards, less than two miles from the estate on top of the coastal range mountains. The ocean helps to generate cooling sea breezes and coastal fog (sound like Nantucket, anyone?), while the extremely high elevations ensure an abundance of sunshine for a long, slow growing season.
Flowers Rosé of Pinot Noir has aromas of rosé petals and subtle hints of grapefruit. The palate bursts with flavors of fresh orange and lemon zest, with a silky texture that draws you back for more. The lively acidity makes this more of a wine to enjoy with a lobster bake from Souza’s Seafood. Perfect Pairing: Wasik’s Missouri Truckle that is a delightful clothbound aged cheddar named after cylinder shaped truckles that are used more often in cheese aging.
Copain Wines is located in the bucolic Russian River Valley, minutes from downtown Healdsburg. These Pinot Noir specialists source their grapes from cool-climate vineyards in the surrounding areas, offering more of a delicate style with a hands-off, minimal intervention approach to winemaking. This boutique winery creates small production batches of a few select wines, making them masters at their artisanal craft.
Copain Rosé of Pinot Noir “Tous Ensembles” (meaning “all together” in French) is a wine with resounding freshness and appeal. Aromas of white flowers and crisp red fruits greet you on the nose, followed by flavors of honeydew melon and white strawberries. This lighter style rosé is an excellent accompaniment for your cocktail party overlooking the harbor at the Nantucket Dreamland.
Perfect Pairing: Alexian Forest Mushroom Paté, a sumptuous slice of terrine made with chicken liver, onions, spices, salt and garlic to round out the all-natural ingredients.
When most people here the word Sancerre, they think of Sauvignon Blanc. However, Pinot Noir is the red grape of this lovely region located along the Loire River in the cool-climate of Northern France. Unlike many Sancerre Rosé producers, Gerard Boulay harvests his Pinot Noir specifically to make his pink wine by direct pressing the grapes, then putting them into tank. It is not a selection of young vines as he has none!
Gerard Boulay Sancerre Rosé “Sibylle” is a wine that does not lack personality. Acidity, minerality, layers of flavors, and an opulence of aromas make this a more complex, yet inviting wine to sample. Do not shy away from the slightly denser hue of this wine, as the well-integrated structural components of this pinot noir rosé are worth the adventure. Sometimes the underdog does win the Miacomet Golf Club’s annual member-guest tournament.
Perfect Pairing: COVAP Sliced Iberico Chorizo, pure acorn fed with a deep, meaty paprika flavor and ready to eat in thin slices.
Tasting a selection of rosés made from the same grape variety, yet from different regions, is an excellent start to your summer rosé refresher course. Eventually, with enough practice, you will be the master of your own palate and you discover your new favorite wines for this season (and maybe even a new to you beach!).