The Wine Curmudgeon has finally figured out why Americans don’t drink more rose, and it’s not what I thought — that we confuse rose with sweet pink wines like white zinfandel. The real reason? It doesn’t taste like red wine.
How else to account for the odd reviews for the Le Cirque ($11, purchased) on CellarTracker, the blog’s unoffical wine inventory tracking software? Several of the writers complained that the wine was too light, and they were exactly right — if they were reviewing cabernet sauvignon. But since the Le Cirque is rose, that’s a good thing. Roses are supposed to be light and refreshing.
In fact, my only complaint about this rose, which is from southern France, was price — I thought it was $9 and not $11 when I bought it. Having said that, it was very nicely done: Bone dry, with lots of cranberry fruit that gave it a pleasant acidity to balance the fruitiness. In this, it is a good example of what a grape like grenache can do for a rose. Pair this with salads and even lightly spicy foods, since there’s enough fruit to handle the spice.
And yes, chill it and drink it on its own and ponder the metaphysical question of why more Americans don’t appreciate rose.
When the Wine Curmudgeon tastes this wine, he is not only enjoying one of the best $10 wines in the world, but remembering the day when he embarrassed himself in front of the legendary Riccardo Cotarella — not just once or twice, but three times.
The first instance has been documented, and the second I'll save for another day. The third came while tasting the rose, when I asked Cotarelli if the wine shouldn't be colder. It was at red wine temperature, and I had always been taught that roses, like whites, should be chilled 10 or 12 degrees more. No, no, no, he said. Don't drink it chilled. You'll never taste all of the flavors.
This was an amazing thing to say. First, how many $10 wines have more than one flavor? Second, it's not unusual for winemakers to want critics to taste their wines chilled, since that covers up most flaws. Third, Cotarella was correcting a critic, and while many, many winemakers would like to do that, most of them figure discretion is the better part of valor. Too many wine writers, secure in the knowledge that we already know everything, don't react well to criticism.
But Cotarella, secure in his talent and the quality of his wine, said what needed to be said. And I will always be grateful for that. This vintage ($10, purchased) is as well done as always, with some bone dry strawberry fruit and the nooks and crannies of quality that define the Cotarella style. Drink it over the Labor Day weekend on its own or with burgers or barbecued chicken, and you'll know why there is a special Falesco wing in the $10 Hall of Fame.
It's OK to drink wine over the Labor Day weekend. Really. The beer police won't come and arrest you. Holiday picnics and back porch barbecues usually mean lighter wines, and I've offered several suggestions below. But, assuming this summer's heat wave is ending where you are, Labor day also marks the return of bigger red wines, like cabernet sauvignon or merlot — not bad with ribs or burgers.
The Wine Curmudgeon will spend this weekend at the Kerrvile Wine & Music Festival, where I'll participate in a couple of panel discussions about Texas wine. It's one of my favorite wine events, and the music isn't bad, either. Stop by and say hello:
? Cortijo III Rose 2010 ($10, purchased): A solid and dependable Spanish rose, with more fruit (strawberry and watermelon) than most of its brethren but a bit of heft to remind you that it's still Spanish.
? Paul Cheneau Blanc de Blanc Brut NV ($15, purchased): This, along with a cava from Bodegas Sumarroca, were much better than the food at a Sunday lunch at a Dallas tapas restaurant. Very, very well done Spanish bubbly, with lots of tight bubbles. Highly recommended.
? Tormaresca Roycello Salento 2010 ($22, sample): This Italian white has lots of stone fruit (peaches) and a very floral aroma, similar to viognier (though it's made with fiano, a little known grape, even in its native Italy). It makes for a soft, relaxing wine that is very different from the usual sort of Italian low-fruit, acid-driven labels.
Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. Again this month, in honor of record-setting temperatures across Dallas, heat wave wines:
? Charles Shaw Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($3, purchased): What happens when $3 wine sits in a warehouse too long. Is there so much Two-buck Chuck left that Trader Joe's is still selling the previous vintage? Oily, but not in a good way, without much fruit and a bitter finish.
? Pacific Rim Sweet Riesling 2010 ($10, sample): A touch of petrol on the nose, and though it's sweet (just 8 1/2 percent alcohol), it has almost enough acid to balance the sweetness. In this, it's sweet enough to appeal to people who want sweet wine, but well-made enough for the rest of us.
? Crios Rose of Malbec 2010 ($12, purchased): Flabby and dull, without much fruit or acid and very disappointing. A rose that I actually didn't want to drink. Crios used to make much better wine.
The Wine Curmudgeon used to eat at a Dallas restaurant where the wine list was, to put it politely, pretty sad. This is not uncommon, of course, since too many restaurant owners tend see wine as an aggravation and not a way to please customers (and yes, I know I promised to write something about this, and it’s still on the agenda).
It was frustrating that the wine list had very little anyone would want to drink, since I liked the food and the prices were reasonable. Fortunately, the Pedroncelli rose was on the list, and I drank a lot of it. Like almost every time I ate at the restaurant.
And why not? The rose ($10, purchased) paired with the food that I ordered and it was cheap, especially for restaurant wine. Best yet, the wine was — and still is — well made, with some cranberry and currant fruit, a bit of juiciness in the middle, and even some heft. This is not a light rose, but one with body, and it’s almost as if there are tannins lurking in the back to remind you this is a dry wine and not that pinkish, sweet stuff. Pedroncelli is a fourth-generation California winemaker, and the family takes great care with what it does — quality wine at good prices. The chardonnay is worth trying, too.
Chill this (especially this summer) and drink it on its own or with any summer food — burgers and barbecued chicken come to mind. And be glad that one long ago restaurant owner had the good sense to have one quality wine on his list.
Why has the Wine Curmudgeon been writing so many reviews of wines lately that are difficult to find? After all, one of my reasons for being is that I don't write about wines that aren't generally available. But it's not my fault. Honest. Blame the the three-tier system, because each of the wines that I reviewed should be generally available.
That includes the Kinky Pink ($12, sample). It was going to be a wine of the week, because it's that well done. But the wine isn't available in the Dallas area (and no, special orders from one retailer don't count), and a wine can't be a wine of the week if it's not for sale in the ninth-largest city in the country.
But it's worth writing about, because the Kinky Pink manages to do something that few California roses do — it's dry, it's affordable, and the packaging will get the attention of people who don't normally buy rose. Look for a bit of cranberry fruit, no off flavors, and not a hint of sweetness. It's made with pinot noir, and bears a strong resemblance to the way the Toad Hollow rose has traditionally tasted.
Don't relegate this to summer wine, because it would work all year round with lighter red wine food and most white wine foods that don't have a cream sauce. And it's too bad that it's not for sale here; I'd buy some.
Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. This month, a couple of roses to close out rose week.
? Mo t & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Ros 2002 ($80, sample): Classic in style, with lots of acid and fantastic bubbles. Could probably age for a couple of years more to give the fruit a chance to show. A fine gift for someone who appreciates Champagne.
? El Coto Rioja Rosado 2010 ($10, sample): Much more New World than Spanish in style, with lots more fruit (strawberry) than a Spanish rose would have. Having said that, it's still dry and a fine, simple, fresh rose for summer.
? Mart n C dax Albari o 2009 ($15, sample): Spanish white had lemon fruit and was a little fresher than usual, which was welcome. But it's still $2 or $3 more than similar wines.
? Cantina Tollo Pecorino 2009 ($16, purchased): This white was bright and Italian, which means not that much fruit (pears?), balanced acid, and long mineral finish. Highly recommended.