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I am no great fan of the products of Folonari, a company that annually pumps out thousands of bottles of wine that rarely rise above the level of decent — not that decent is bad — so you could have knocked me over with a plastic pipette when I tried the Folonari Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2008 and found it to be not only more than decent but downright delightful.

Made completely in stainless steel and distinctly a wine of the moment — I mean, drink it before next spring — the Folonari Pinot Grigio 2008 is a pale straw color with faint green highlights. The bouquet is quite grassy and meadowy, not a meadow of flowers but of a multitude of grasses and herbs, and then with an intriguing bottom note that’s damp, foresty and piney. A wafting of citrus turns out to be more like lemon-grass than lemon; in fact, the effect is of that startling earthy grassiness that we used to get when we were kids chewing on grass blades, the ones that made a little whistle or squeak when we pulled them from the earth. Ah, those days of innocence! In other words, this wine is all about freshness and immediate appeal and vibrant acidity, and when I say that it goes down easily, I don’t mean that (in this case) as a criticism. Drink and enjoy, as an aperitif or with light appetizers and seafood dishes. Very Good. About $8.50.

Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York

(This is the 500th post to BTYH since December 2006.)

BTW, Readers, I just looked at the counter program that comes with Blue Host, the hosting entity for BTYH, and I want to thank you for making August the best month this blog has experienced since its inception in December 2006. Typically the summer months, especially July and August, reveal lower attendance, as people go on vacation, I suppose, and don’t have the time or inclination to check in. Thanks to you, however, August saw 34,058 visits to this blog, as well as 107,427 page views and 357,089 hits, though as I have admitted before, I’m pretty sketchy on what constitutes the difference between a “visit” and a “hit.” Nevertheless, while 34,058 doesn’t measure up to the Big Name Wine Blogs — and you know who you are — I’m pleased as punch about that figure. My only caveat? Let’s keep it growing! And when you do visit BTYH, click on what may seem to be those annoying Google ads; those constitute the only revenue this blog generates, and believe me, it ain’t much.

Anyway, all mercenary thoughts aside, thanks again for helping to made BTYH a success.

Remember: Drink well, drink carefully, say a kind word or two.

The email message usually begins like this: “Dear Fred” — does nobody comprehend that I hate to be called “Fred”? –”This is Heather from glamzinewine.com in London. We’ve been following your blog and really love it! We think you have one of the coolest wine blogs around! How would you like to contribute to our website? We would really be happy to have your words of wisdom about wine on our pages because we’re getting lots of readers that want to learn about wine! We’ll make sure to provide a link and add you to our blog roll. Looking forward to our partnership! Thanks and cheers!”

I get proposals like this, heavily overdrawn from the Bank of Exclamation Points, about once a week. Recently I even got one from China. Here is my reply to all of you out there that want to utilize my hard-earned words of wisdom in exchange for a link and a hallowed place on your sacred blog roll:

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

Actually, Dr. Johnson said that, and I would acknowledge my debt to him with a link except that he’s dead.

I realize that we live in a brave new webworld of media, where creativity, marketing, advertising, self-promotion, readership and personality exist in a so-far uneasy (and rather queasy) relationship to the old-fashioned notion of having a job and making a living. Social media are changing everything in terms of communication and interrelationships and the conveyance of knowledge and ideas, as ephemeral as they may be. Even I — yes, even I — who for so long adamantly refused to get involved in social networking am about to hop on the wagon of Facebook and (OMG!) Twitter, because I have come to acknowledge their value as marketing tools.

But, you know, call me a Gin-Soaked Capitalist Drenched in the Misery of the Working Class, but there’s just something about getting paid for what I do that makes me happy. I labored for 17 years in the Halls of Academe, and guess what? I got paid every month for teaching Beowulf and grading all those thousands of awful research papers. For 22.5 years I toiled as an ink-stain’d wretch in the sordid mines of journalism, and, know what? Yes, I received a check every two weeks. When Mr. Mason comes to cut our grass every other Thursday, I hand him money for his effort; I don’t promise him a link and a slot on a blog roll. That’s the way the world of work works.

I devote a great deal of time to this blog because I have a lot to say, there are many wines to review and many issues to comment about and I believe that what I have to express is valuable. My remuneration is in the form of wine samples, which while delightful, do not, as LL points out pointedly, pay the bills. Friends, I was laid-off from my newspaper job back in March. I have to spend every moment when I’m not working on BTYH scrabbling for free-lance writing jobs that pay, you know, money. I mean, the Internet might be wonderful to the extent of miraculousness, but it still runs on electricity, and the utility statement comes without fail.

But more than that, it’s the principle of the thing. For 25 years I have paid my dues in the world of wine, first with a weekly newspaper column that was distributed nationwide, then with a website and, since December 2006, on this blog. Experience, knowledge, maturity, humor, insight, a way with words, an ability to turn a phrase, a fund of poetry quotations in the back of my mind: All of these attributess count for something. So, youngster, you want content for your “collaborative web wine magazine”? Show me the money and I’m your man. You won’t be sorry.

Image by Guerruntz from indypendent.org.

As with many customs and institutions in Europe, the cultivation of vines and the making of wine in what is now Germany owe everything to the Romans and, later, to Christian monks. Ausonius of Bordeaux — for whom Chateau Ausone in St. Emilion is named — writing in about 370 AD, mentions the steep vineyards found in the Rhine valley. Five hundred years later, the Carolingian kings encouraged the spread of vineyards throughout the region by granting lands to monasteries that sent out missions, taking vine cuttings to propagate more vineyards. Little is known about the kinds of grapes that were grown or the sort of wine that was made then. Some of Germany’s best-known vineyards survive under the same name from as long ago as the 11th Century, and they still produce grapes.

During the Middle Ages, Germany established wine trade relationships with the Netherlands, the Scandinavia countries and England, using the mighty Rhine in its flowing to the North Sea, through the Netherlands, to advantage. The major wine trading cities were Frankfurt and Cologne. When Shakespeare writes about “Rhenish,” he refers to German wines popular in England during the Renaissance. (And don’t forget Byron’s “hock and soda water!” “Hock,” from Hockheimer, became a synonym for German wine in Great Britain.) The success of these trading efforts, however, was diminished by the expansion of the vineyards, leading to overproduction and falling prices, and by the devastation of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), which extensively damaged vineyard regions and reduced the pool of farm workers and craftsmen. (They were, you know, dead.)

The situation just briefly cited offers a microscopic view of a macro-historical problem. All ferocious economies of war aside, before the Industrial Revolution and the widespread availability of manufactured goods, the materials most severely affected by the inevitable forces of the market were agricultural products. Every aspect of the grape-growing, wine-making and wine-selling economy is slapped out of kilter by such elements as over-expansion of vineyards, the resulting decline in quality (as vines are planted in more and more unsuitable soils and climats), prices drop and surplus wine that cannot be sold builds up. Sounds like Soave and Valpolicella in the 1980s and ’90s or Vin de Pays d’Oc in the 1990s and 2000s. Greed never takes a holiday. Before the Thirty Years War, according to The Oxford Companion to Wine (Third Edition), vineyard lands in Germany amounted to — get this — 865,000 acres. That’s four times the cultivation of grapes in Germany today. Those must have been some yummy wines.

It took 150 years for the wine industry in Germany to recover from these crises, but more changes came with the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, which altered Germany politically and geographically and shifted much vineyard ownership from the church to private producers, a process that also occurred in Burgundy. (The German and Burgundian systems resemble each other in that small distinctive vineyards are often owned piecemeal by many individuals.) The fact that “Germany” was actually a collection of kingdoms and principalities imposed burdens of taxes and duties that restricted the trade in wine, but that problem was eliminated in 1871 with the formation of the German empire.

The 20th Century struck the German wine industry with new catastrophes. World War I, the economic travails of the Weimar Republic, the rise of National Socialism and the Depression of the 1930s, followed by World War II provided four decades of deprivation, while the introduction of branded wines in the 1930s — Liebfraumilch! — hurt the image of German wines abroad. National Wine Laws in 1892, 1909 and 1930 attempted to set standards, especially in the controversial area of adding sugar during fermentation to raise the alcohol level, but primarily these regulation left farmers and producers confused and dissatisfied.

War after war, famine, poverty, charging markets, the radical shifting political map of Europe, the clashes of dynasties: Then came the Wine Law of 1971, and what producer after producer described to my group touring organic estates in Rheingau, Rheinhessen and Pfalz last week as “the death of wine in Germany.” That topic deserves more thorough examination in its own post, coming up in a few days.

I may be smart, but I didn’t hold all this information in my head. My thanks to the aforementioned Oxford Companion of Wine (third edition of 2006), still under the leadership of the estimable Jancis Robinson; the fifth edition of The World Atlas of Wine, by Robinson and Hugh Johnson (Mitchell Beazley, 2001); and The Wines of Germany, by Stephen Brook (Mitchell Beazly Classic Wine Library, 2003). The excellent map of the German wine regions is from vinum-x-tellus.ie.

I would rather stand in a vineyard talking with and listening to a winemaker than in a winery surrounded by anonymous steel tanks and ranks of wooden barrels. Being in a vineyard seems to bring out the expression and eloquence — like a fine wine — in a winemaker, and I always learn a lot under these salubrious circumstances. It doesn’t hurt that vineyards often occupy stunning landscapes and offer magnificent vistas of surrounding countryside. Certainly, I learned a great deal from Rainer Eymann, as mentioned two entries ago, while we walked through one of his vineyards last Friday in Germany’s Pfalz region.

Back at the Eymann facility, however, the story seemed different. Frankly, his wines were not the favorites of the three days of visiting wineries or sitting in restaurants with winemakers tasting wine. Remember, Eymann told us that because of using biodynamic farming practices, he thought that his wines were “more authentic,” that “the taste and smell of the vineyard is more intense,” and that the wines are “more sophisticated.” I’m not sure what he meant by “more sophisticated,” though there’s obviously the sense in which one could say that, for example, Solaia is more sophisticated than a $10 Chianti.

“More authentic” is the mantra we heard over and over from winemakers using organic and biodynamic methods when we asked if these methods “worked” and if the wines were different somehow. (I put “worked” within quotation marks to indicate that even this notion — farming methods “working” in some way — is ill-defined.) “More authentic,” of course, implies that a wine adheres to a standard, a profile of qualities imbued in and imparted by a particular vineyard; in other words, “more authentic” means that a wine exemplifies the terroir of a place, its “placeness,” better than it did before using organic or biodynamic methods. The unspoken question is: “So, why were you making and selling the ‘less authentic’ wines before? Just for practice?”

Anyway, my fellow tasters and I found the white wines we tried at Weingut Eymann — let’s save the reds for another day; they comprise a whole other set of issues — pleasant, lively and drinkable but not memorable. Of two sparkling wines and three still white wines, I rated two Very Good, one Very Good with a question mark, one Very Good+ with a question mark, and one a solid Very Good+. The latter was the Eymann Gonnheimer Sonnenberg Graubergunder (Pinot Gris) Trocken 2008, an enchanting, floral, spicy wine, redolent of almond and almond blossom and tasting of pear and melon in a cozily dense texture. Overall, the wines seemed quite high in acid, a fact pointed out by my colleague Ewa Wielezynska, from Magazyn Wino in Warsaw, and she asked Rainer Eymann about this perception.

“We are not a global player,” he replied. “We are a local player, and people like this style.” (The winery includes a popular restaurant, which, as we finished the tasting, was beginning to fill with patrons, most sitting outside on a beautiful late afternoon.) “We do not style wines for the international market,” he continued. “We make wines to be piquant and lively. These are practical aspects. People around here enjoy these wines for a meal.”

Well, that sort of precludes criticism, as “practical aspects” tend to do. If the locals appreciate and buy Eymann’s wines, if they come to the restaurant and drink the wines, if they like the wines for their piquancy, liveliness and pleasant qualities, who am I (or we) to say, “But, but, but … ”

The problem, however remains: Do organic or biodynamic methods — and Eymann went organic 27 years ago, way before most producers in Germany had ever heard of such a thing — make “better” wines or “more authentic” wines, and how can those standards or characteristics be measured, quantified and stated?

OPPENHEIM — I didn’t take my camera to the reception and dinner last night, thinking, silly me, “Well, it’s a reception and dinner, why would I need a camera.” I was wrong. We had a splendid dinner and excellent wines at l’herbe de Provence restaurant in Hotel Zwo, where many of the group are staying, and I wish now that I had some images for you.

I met my colleagues on this three-day tour of organic estates — we represent the UK, Finland, China, Japan, Korea, Belgium, Netherlands, Canada, the USA (that’s me), and the common language is English.

The wines for last night’s event came from Geheimrat Schnell, in a Rhein estate in Guntersblum. We began by sipping a pleasant and tart Chardonnay Brut, but the revelation was the Guntersblumer Weisburgunder 2007, a pinot blanc that was one of the most gorgeous wines I have ever encountered, bursting with camellia and jasmine, pears and yellow plums, limestone and dusty limes, all couched in a texture that was like powdered silk electrified by startling acidity. We drank this with the amuse bouche, a shot glass holding a little bread salad and a piece of sardine, and the starter dish, a brilliant combination of rouget barbet (that’s a fish) on braised apricots with tiny fried chanterelle mushrooms. Lord have mercy, the wine and the dish placed off each other beautifully.

A small “surprise course” from the kitchen brought a dollop of braised calves’ tail in a pastry shell. With it we drank Geheimrat Schnell’s Guntersblumer Eieserne Hand Spatburgunder 2007, a lovely, light, delicate pinot noir with a ravishing bouquet of plums and mulberries, dried spices and dried berries, a wine that pulls up spice, brambles and lilacs poised in a satiny texture. Not a profound pinot noir, but certainly one you (meaning I) could happily drink every day. The price for this wine around these parts is 8 eruos, about $10; the Pinot Blanc 07 mentioned above costs 6.5 euros, about $8. And the winery is right down the road. Can you imagine “drinking locally” like this at such prices?
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Oops, just got back from breakfast in the hotel lounge, a magnificent spread of a dozen salamis and other cured meats (some rather mysterious looking) and the most beautiful breads in the world (all of which demand trying), cereals, bowls of jams and jellies gleaming like dark wobbly jewels, tomatoes, pickles and so on, and not a pastry in sight.

The bus is waiting to take us to Geisenheim Research Institute, the only viticulture department in Europe devoted to organic studies. We’ll have a seminar with Prof. Dr. Randolf Kauer, have lunch at the institute, tour the experimental vineyard and then come back to Oppenheim for a tasting with ECOVIN, the association of German organic winegrowers. And then another estate visit and then dinner tonight.

More later, with pictures.

Readers, I’ll be writing extensively about cabernet sauvignon wines from California throughout the next month, including a major post on classically proportioned wines from some old-line wineries; debut wines that I thought should be embraced or avoided; and caberets from a series of younger producers.

We start today with two wines from a small producer in the Red Hills district of Lake County, the county just north of Napa. Red Hills was approved as an AVA (American Viticultural Area) in September 2004. Lying at the foot of Mt. Konocti and along the southwest shore of Clear Lake, Red Hills is an appellation encompassed within the Clear Lake AVA.

Snows Lake Vineyard offers two wines, called, appropriately, One and Two.
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The Snows Lake One 2005, Red Hills, Lake County, is 100 percent cabernet sauvignon. It ages 21 months in French oak, 64 percent new barrels. The bouquet offers an immediate burst of slate, lead pencil, cedar and tobacco leaf, smoky and toasty oak and hints of intense and concentrated black currants and black raspberries; given a few moments, the nose draws up touches of leafy, dried herbs, brambles and underbrush. All of these elements testify to the wine’s structural integrity and tannic power. In the mouth, though, Snows Lake One 2005 feels sleek and elegant; it’s packed with spice and black fruit flavors but it’s neither fleshy nor over-ripe. The wine gains depth and dimension in the glass, darkening, as it were, as more mineral, tannin and oaken qualities make themselves known. The finish concludes with another burst of spice and a wild high-note of foxy plums. This would be great with a crusty rib-eye steak just off the grill, but will drink best from 2010 or ’11 through 2015 or ’16. Excellent. About $45.
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Snows Lake Two 2005, Red hills, Lake County, is a blend of 72 percent cabernet sauvignon and 28 percent cabernet franc. The oak treatment is slightly different; the same 21 months aging in French oak, but 46 percent new barrels. The alcohol level is slightly lower, Two having 14.2 percent and One measuring 14.5 percent, which seems to be the standard nowadays. The cabernet franc lends Two a bit of a darker color and perhaps its sense of being a little denser; certainly the cabernet franc also contributes to the wine’s intensity of licorice and lavender, its touch of astringency balanced by a cleansing element of blueberry tart. Two is compelling in its vibrancy and resonance and the concentrated of its spicy black fruit flavors, but the tannins are rigorous, and they seem to grow more powerful, and the mineral quality grows more forceful, as the minutes pass. Tasted side by side, these cousins reveal, as they should, similarities of place and grape variety as well as the divergences that derive from different intent and treatment. Give Two a little more time, say 2011 or ’12 through 2016 to ’18. Excellent. About $45.
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I derive unseemly amusement from the pronouncements I read that the Fourth of July, our most important national holiday and ritual, requires hearty doses of “that All-American wine, zinfandel.”

Friends (and colleagues), zinfandel is about as American as figgy pudding. Or, to keep on topic, as American as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, syrah and, um, alicante bouschet, all grapes that came to the New World from Europe. Years of research and, more recently, cogent DNA testing revealed that zinfandel didn’t, like Topsy, just magically grow in North America. It’s the same grape as primitivo, which grows in Italy’s Pulgia region (and where it has been revived because of the interest in zinfandel wines made in California). Zinfandel/primitivo are related to — but are not the same as — the plavac mali grape of Dalmatia and the islands of Croatia. How American is that?

It’s true that the zinfandel grape reaches its apotheosis of greatness in certain parts of California, but the Golden State also provides zinfandels that plumb the depths of the grape’s weaknesses and Bad Boy attributes.

Anyway, go ahead and drink zinfandel on July the Fourth if you want, I don’t care, I might crack open a bottle myself if I can find an example that doesn’t overpower my pizza with cloying over-ripeness and towering alcohol — July 4th coincides with Pizza and Movie Night at our house — but if you really want to drink American, go to a farm or local winery and buy some scuppernog or muscadine wine. Thomas Jefferson may have brought fine European wines to these shores, but the common folk of the new country were drinking wine made from native grapes. They may be floral, they may be musky and foxy, they may be weirdly spicy, they may taste like sweet gasoline, but they’re All-American in a sense that zinfandel can never be. Nobody ever said it was easy to be American.

(O.K., just a sip. And don’t spit it out, you Europe-centric merlot-lovers.)

Inspiring patriotic image (modified) from flagamerican.net.
Muscadine grape image from appellationamerica.com, courtesy of Irwin-House Winery.


Let’s pull the cheese toast thing back a notch. We’ve seen cheese toast with tasso, with sun-dried tomatoes, with roasted peppers, with black bean and corn salsa, with leafy greens, with olive tapenade. I mean, what’s next? Hungarian goulash cheese toast?

Let’s go classic, elegant. The cheese toast pictured here has nothing on it except for mustard and cheese and a dusting of dried basil and black pepper. The cheese, let it be said, is a combination of five cheeses: strips of Emmanthaler in one direction, strips of aged Gruyère in the other direction (making a pretty little lattice), shreds of Manchego, shreds of a Pecorino Stagionata con Vinaccia (soaked in the must of sangiovese and montepulciano grapes) and of course grated Parmesan. All of these melded (and melted) into a welter of great-tasting and piquant cheesy earthiness.

What wine did I choose to accompany this wonder of simple deliciousity? Why what else but a Blaufränkisch from the Finger Lakes!

This is the Heron Hill Reserve Blaufränkisch 2007. The winery, which specializes in riesling, the great grape of the somewhat neglected region in central New York state, also makes wines from chardonnay and other vinifera grapes. Heron Hill sits on the southwest shore of Keuka Lake, about three miles north of Hammondsport. Quick, what are the other Finger Lakes? Once, many years ago, when I was a lad in Rochester, I could have told you instantly, well, Seneca and Canandaigua, of course, but I’m leaving out a couple others, which are … Cayuga and then Owasco and Skaneateles and Hemlock, and more to make 11 together, all carved by glaciers eons ago. Only Keuka, Canadaigua, Seneca and Cayuga are part of the official wine-producing appellation.

Blaufränkisch — “blue grapes of the Franks” — has a long history in Central Europe. Grown primarily in Austria, it is also cultivated in Germany, where it’s called Lemberger. The grape takes various names in the eastern European countries (all local variations of Blaufränkisch) and can even be found in Italy’s northeastern Friuli region as Franconia. As Lemberger, it’s made into a typically robust wine in Washington state.

The Heron Hill Reserve Blaufränkisch 2007 is a first release, not only for the winery but for the Finger Lakes region. The color is deep black-ruby; aromas of red and black currants are permeated by dried baking spices and a slightly leafy, black olive aspect, as if the wine were a combination of pinot noir and cabernet franc. At first, the wine seems light and approachable, but give it a few minutes to marshal its forces, and it gains depth and dimension, adding earthiness and minerality, flavors of ripe and briery black currants, mulberries and plums, loading on the spice and burgeoning floral qualities. The structure is full-bodied and robust, and tannins are dense, grainy and chewy, yet the wine is not rustic or heavy-handed; its character is essentially balanced and integrated. An intriguing, contemplative wine for drinking with cheese toast or strong, aged cheeses or hearty grilled meats or autumnal fare through 2013 to ’15. Production was 250 cases. Very Good+. About $35.
Available beginning July 1 at heronhill.com.

My linkedin profile.


After work yesterday, LL said, “I need a Friday sort of wine. A rosé would be nice.”

So, I opened a bottle of the Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah 2008, from Chile’s Colchagua Valley. We remarked on the bright cherry-ruby hue of the wine, noting that it seemed pretty dark to be considered a rosé color; rosé, after all, means pink in French. And while the wine tasted pleasant enough, it conveyed neither a rosé character nor anything particularly syrah-like. The wine seemed to have sacrificed everything that makes rosé wines important to our lives — the delicacy, the immediacy, the minerality, the refreshing and thirst-quenching qualities — for a robust, blockbusterish New World statement that we did not find compelling or even attractive.

It’s the Rosé on Steroids Syndrome.

The natural home of rosé wines is Provence, where the pale, fresh, dry wines are perfect for drinking during the hot, windy summers. The method involves crushing red grapes, such as grenache and cinsault, and letting the juice stay in contact with the skins long enough to derive a little color. (Remember that grape juice is clear or “white”; the color of red wine comes from the skins.) The maceration may last anywhere from a eight hours, for the darkest grapes, to two days, for the lightest. After the maceration, the juice is drained or bled off (saignee) and fermentation continues. The palest rosés of all, called vin gris, or “gray wine,” receives no skin contact. The vin gris color is sometimes described as “onion skin” or, more poetically, “eye of the partridge.”

It seems to me that so-called rosé wines so completely macerated or extracted that they defy the pleasures we normally associate with such wines — and we see “rosé” made in this fashion from Australia and South America and to some extent from the West Coast of the U.S. — should be called something else. “Rosé: The Miss California Version” or “Rosé: The Terminator Selection.”

As I’m writing this post, I’ll inform you, I am sipping from a glass of the pale copper/onion skin-colored Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare 2008, which carries a California designation. This rosé wine offers all of the nervosity and verve, the delicacy and subtlety of a true rosé; its elements of dried strawberries and raspberries and apple blossom touched with melon, orange rind and a hint of dried thyme, its dry, almost chalky minerality and the austerity of its finish testify to a producer who is serious about the archetypal models of rosé wines. (Very Good+. About $15, a Great Value)

Vin Gris de Cigare 2008 is a blended wine. The components are 58 percent grenache, 18 percent cinsault, 10 percent roussanne, 7 percent mourvèdre, 4 percent syrah and 3 percent grenache blanc. Hold on a sec, you’re thinking, roussanne and grenache blanc are white grapes; what are they doing in a pink wine? Well, it’s O.K., in the United States of American there are no prohibitions against blending whatever the hell grapes you want. I mention this concept because it brings up another issue having to do with rosés.

The pragmatic New World attitude of blending red and white wines is not allowed in making rosés wines in France, however, except in the case of rosé Champagne. In Provence and elsewhere in the South of France, in the Loire Valley, where roses are increasingly important, and in other winemaking regions in the country, rosés must be made from all red grapes. (Please understand that I’m well aware that many “New World” producers of rosé wines employ the traditional method.)

That tradition may change, though, if the powers of the EU have their way. In January, the Brussels-based bureaucracy assayed the concept that producers of rosé wines in France should be allowed to blend red and white wines instead of adhering to the old ways. Wow, wouldn’t that be easy! Lots easier than the traditional method! And producers could get rid of their surplus red and white wines just by — yes! — blending them to make rosés! And French producers could compete with Australia and South America and California on their own terms! Watch out, white zinfandel!

This proposal raised such a storm of protest from producers in Provence and elsewhere in France, that the government, which was initially right in line with Brussels, back-tracked a bit and indulged in a lot of placating throat-clearing and harumphing. A final vote at the EU has been postponed until June.

You, my readers, will have no trouble estimating which side I take on this issue. Go ahead, I say, let every damned maker of rosé wines in the world make the stuff any way they want to, as long as they indicate the method on the back-label. (Well, that would be hard to enforce.) As for wine producers in Europe, please enforce the old traditions. Allow them the integrity and authenticity of their heritage, because with a few exceptions, the best rosé wines still come from France.

Top image by LL. The order of the wines (left to right, palest to darkest) is Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare 2008; Maison Bouachon “La Rouvière” Tavel 2008; Montes Cherub Rose of Syrah 2008.
Second image by FK. The order of the wines is reversed, with the Vin Gris de Cigare on the right.

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