The Terroirist: Summer Sun

Roses - and I've often wondered why even in English, they are known by their colour in French - as a class, have never really been given much respect. Although they are often one of the first types of unflavoured wines that people try, more often than not after they've moved on to reds and whites, they completely abandon the pink coloured wines.

In large part, this is because the very qualities that are approachable to new drinkers - the light, sweet, candy notes prevalent in the 'white' Zinfandels, and the Mateus roses of the world - tend to be ones that more frequent drinkers pass off as uncultured and simple. They're right, for the most part; a great wiine is much more than juice or soda precisely because of the complexities it can offer.

Of course, not all roses fall into the catagories mentioned above - in fact, traditionally, they don't. The vast majority of rose wines are fermented to dryness and, if properly made, exhibit great deals of complexity. It is to these roses that the cognoscenti turn in the warmer months, when the heat and humity makes a deep brooding red seem like too much of a chore. Thankfully, the LCBO has recognised that it is rose season, and are coming out with quite a few new bottles in Vintages this Saturday. Enjoy them.

Something Red:
Chateau l'Hospitalet 'La Reserve' 2003 (Cot. de Languedoc, France) $18.95, #682492

The region of Languedoc lies in the Midi, which is not too far from the Rhone Valley; as a result, you can often get delicious Rhone-style wines at a fraction of the cost. This Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvedre blend is no exception. From it's deep cherry red colour, to it's aromas of raspberry, vanilla, and spice, this wine screams southern France, while showing a personality of its own. In the mouth, it's rich and weighty, with raspberry, cherry, spice and herb notes all coming to the floor. Roast lamb would do this wine nicely.

Something White:
Arrowood 'Grand Archer' Chardonnay 2002 (Sonoma, USA) $26.95, #674879

Sometimes wines are exactly what you expect them to be like; othertimes, they are radically different. For me at least, the Grand Archer falls into the latter catagory. Expecting, as is typical for California Chardonnay, an overly oaky, overpowered, in your face wine, I was pleasantly surprised by the deep golden coloured liquid that ended up in my glass. Was it powerful, forward, and showing influences of oak? Yes, absolutely. However, the balance that was struck is what put it in a rare league. The nose was typically Californian: full of melon, tropical fruits, and buttery cream. The palate was amazingly smooth. Creamy and buttery, but not oaky, fruity, but not cloying, with pear, mandarine, and pineapple throughout. Would match wonderfully with a chicken alfredo or fish stew.

Something Pink:
Bonny Doon 'Vin Gris de Cigare' 2005 (Santa Cruz, USA) $17.95, #707018

A proviso, to serve as disclosure: I have always been a big fan of Randal Graham and the Bonny Doon vineyard. From their colourful labels, to the Rhone Ranger's fun approach to wine, Doon has never ceases to amaze me - and to produce expressive, tasty wines. The Vin Gris de Cigare is the rose that the Bonny Doon winery puts out, and, as with much of their offerings, is in a Rhone Valley style. A pale salmon in colour, the nose offers whiffs of strawberry, herbs, plum, and melon. In the mouth, it is light and crisp, although not without body. The flavours veer towards the herbal at first, but with quite a bit of berry and a touch of pepper nearer the end. Perfect with an olive tapanade, sardines, or a nicoise salad.

Go, enjoy, drink.


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