Sun 20 Jun 2010
I am fortunate to live within short or fairly easy driving distance of four or five excellent wine and liquor stores, and I happened to be in one of them a few days ago when my eye fell upon a selection of rosé wines. Now it’s already stinkin’, freakin’, awesomely and unseasonably hot in Memphis — it’s supposed to hit 100 today, and don’t talk about the heat index — and well-made, thirst-quenching rosé wines are among my favorites, so I perused this display with interest. There, amid the usual pale suspects, was a label I had never seen. This was the Margerum Rosé 2009, Santa Ynez Valley. The label was restrained and typographically elegant, but what really caught my attention was the line: “This is bottle 0801 of 1200”. Gathering the forces of a razor-sharp intellect, I performed a quick calculation and realized that only 100 cases of this wine were made, and the puffy, luminous thought-cloud above my head contained the question: “How the hell did this wine get to Memphis?”
Douglas Margerum makes this rosé by bleeding off some juice from a variety of grenache vineyards he works with, fermenting and storing in stainless steel, and then blending back 30 percent of the “regular” grenache. The result is a rosé whose color is a bit ruddier than watermelon pink and a tad paler than copper, with a cerise-like radiance at the center. Scents and flavors of strawberries and red currants with a hint of peach in the background are sustained by a wash of damp gravel and dusty roof tiles — how to explain? Think of limestone after a rain and the warmth of the sun on fired clay. There’s an undertow of plum, a touch of cloves and cinnamon, and evidence of a mild but firm tannic structure. Dry, crisp and vibrant, this is a rosé of uncommon suavity and resonance. Excellent, and definitely Worth a Search. The price at the winery is $21; I paid $23.