Sun 7 Sep 2008
Just because we’re into September and the official end of summer is two weeks away doesn’t mean that we should stop drinking rosé wines. Let’s say that someone pulls a platter of cold roasted chicken from the fridge for lunch; a clean, crisp, chilled rosé is the wine you need. Or say that you’re making sandwiches, chicken salad or ham; again, a rosé is definitely called for. A light Sunday supper, a soup and a salad, perhaps; again, rosé has you covered. Or maybe you’re just sitting out on the porch or the patio or the deck as purple evening shadows mark the end of day: I would estimate that you absolutely need a glass of rosé in your hand, or, even better rosé champagne or sparkling wine, my favorite form of alcoholic beverage. So, here are reviews of two of each.
*A glass of the clean, fresh Chateau de Valcombe Rosé 2007, Costières de Nîmes, glows like a shaft of pale salmon-colored light. Pretty, too, are the scents and flavors of strawberry, peach and melon, highlighted by a bit of tart rhubarb and bolstered by layers of limestone. A pleasing quaff. Very good. About $10 to $12. Costières de Nîmes lies in the southern Rhone Valley, between the river and the ancient Roman city of Nîmes to the west.
*The Domaine Sainte-Eugenie Rosé 2007, Corbières, blends 75 percent cinsault with 15 percent syrah and 10 percent grenache. giving the lie, at least in this example, to the frequently bruited notion that cinsault is a trash grape that should be eliminated from the South of France, for this is a superior rosé. While the color is a light yet vivid magenta, in the mouth the wine reveals how seriously it takes its resonant minerality and electrifying acid. These qualities are etched, though, with delicacies of melon and dried raspberry with a background of orange rind and dried Provencal herbs; an element of dried spice, like red fruit briefly macerated in cloves and cinnamon, develops in the glass. Very good+ About $10 to $12, Great Value. Corbières is in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, in the department of Aude, where France’s Mediterranean coast curves down toward Spain.
These French rosé wines are imported by Robert Kacher, Washington, D.C.
Now the sparkling wine and the champagne.
*Though the winery is in the Napa Valley, the Schramsberg Brut Rosé 2005 carries a North Coast designation because the grapes derive not only from Napa (36%), but from Mendocino (40%), Sonoma (22%) and Marin (2%) counties. The blend of grapes in this sparkling wine is 62 percent pinot noir and 38 percent chardonnay. The color is a rich, burnished salmon-copper; the bouquet bursts from the glass as pure framboise that opens to orange rind, fresh baked biscuits and a touch of candied citron. In the mouth this Brut Rosé is zesty and effervescent, dry and crisp, with flavors of citrusy dried strawberry and lemon curd set into a vibrant yet seductively lush texture. Drink now though 2010 or ’11. Excellent About $50.
*The House of Delamotte, founded in 1760, is a sister producer to the legendary House of Salon, which declares a vintage and makes its expensive blanc de blancs champagne only a few years in a decade. The association means that Delamotte benefits from the grapes that Salon does not use; the other grapes that go into Delamotte’s champagnes are grown in Grand Cru vineyards. The Delamotte Brut Rosé, nonvintage, is a pale onion skin color with a blush of peach for depth; in the glass, a fountain of tiny bubbles spumes upward. The bouquet offers strawberry and fresh bread with heaps of limestone and flint, though this exuberance is tempered by exquisite elegance and flair. In the mouth, a winsome combination of creamy effervescence and spare (yet spicy) flavors of dried red fruit is tempered by traces of an austere chaky, limestone quality and ringing acid. It’s a champagne characterized by refinement and breeding that allows its earthy nature a bit of play; it is, obviously, a champagne for special occasion. 800 cases. Excellent. About $99.
Wilson-Daniels, St. Helena, Cal.