Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Should Pinot Noir go Rose'?

I'm not a big fan of Pinot Noir Rose'. Before you conclude that I know nothing about wine and might be better off blogging about some other subject, hear me out. First of all, yes, there is some really good Pinot Noir Rose' out there. The Oregon winery Van Duzer consistently makes one. Kenwood makes a nice one from the Russian River Valley. But, give me my choice of grape for Rose', and I'll pick Granache or Syrah any day of the week. Here's why: When I think about the characteristics that attract me to Rose', I think of the crisp acidity of a white wine combined with the richness and body of a red. Now, let's think about Pinot Noir - Are richness and body two words we often use to describe this grape? Elegance- Yes.Depth & complexity- Of course. But, if I'm using the terms richness and body to describe a Pinot, I'm usually also wondering if it was grown somwhere much to hot, or if it's been blended with (gasp) Syrah.
Obviously, a Rose' wine will not have the richness and body of its red counterpart. This is by design, caused by the much shorter skin contact time. So, why would we want to use a grape that is already light or medium bodied to make a wine that will reduce its body even further? I say, let's use a big juicy, intense Syrah or Grenache and preserve a little of that richness.

Here are a few that I like:

Mas de la Dame, Rose du Mas, Les Baux de Provence
A treat in pretty much all vintages, and the 2007 delivers what I like: Crispness, a bit of minerality and lush strawberries and roses. Syrah, Genache, Cinsault.

Pax Rose, Sonoma County
This is a big Rose'. The 2007 is mostly Granache. It's not cheap, but worth the occasional splurge.

If you're looking for a great value Rose', try the Crios de Susana Balbo Rose' of Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. Again, using a full-bodied grape, gets you that in the wine. The 2007 is definitely a porch-pounder. Drink it before the weather turns cold!

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