Brosé: [broh-zey] –noun a pink wine enjoyed with friends.
‘Tis the season… to drink pink, of course! Everyone and anyone who knows me, knows that once spring has sprung and things are starting to blossom and turn green, all I’m thinking is pink.
I wait all year for this season to arrive and look forward to the array of rose-colored bottles that appears on the table at our Cambridge location. So, when a fellow monger asked me to write a little something about rosé for the Formaggio Kitchen blog, I figured it was the perfect excuse to revisit some old favorites while trying some new pinks too!
My go-to pink wine is from Commanderie de Peyrassol. I truly get excited when we open the first case of the year, exposing the perfect watermelon-pink bottles inside. As quickly as possible, I run to the register, purchase a bottle and promptly put it in the walk-in to chill so it’s in perfect condition for my post-work libation. This year’s Peyrassol did not disappoint. This wine, made from grapes that were harvested in 2010, is not sweet: notes of berries and cherries are balanced with a good acidity. It is full-bodied and dry, but very crisp and easy to drink.
The finish has a nice minerality and it’s excellent with most spring/summer meals. When I see someone standing near the rosé table, pondering the selection, I usually steer them in that direction.
But, because I am so familiar with the Peyrassol, I always feel a bit biased. All the rosés need love! In order to remedy this imbalance, one night a week or so ago, a fellow monger and I tasted through six different bottles of rosé.
We put together a plate of nibbles and cheese, chilled the “brosé” and then began the tasting. Not sure what lay in store, we tasted from lightest to darkest on the theory that this would lead us from the most delicate to the deepest flavored wine. In general, this assumption proved to be pretty accurate and, if I were doing the tasting again, I would probably taste in the same order. As we went along, we discussed, took notes and tried the wines both straight up and in combination with food. Here are my notes:
1. Getariako Txakolina, Ameztoi, Rubentis, 2010
I first had this wine last year with tapas. Instantly, I fell in love. Along with the Peyrassol, this is one of the rosés that I have been waiting for all year. The tasting was the first chance I had to try the 2010 vintage. As with the 2009 – it was light, crisp and effervescent, all the things I loved about it the first time I tried it. This winery is perched overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the sea air gives the grapes a salty tang. This is the wine that I want to drink at the start of a meal, when celebrating, or while eating oysters on a hot summer night – it has fast become one of my new favorites!
2. Mas Sainte Berthe, Passe – Rose, 2010
This rosé is a pale orange-ish, pink color. Despite its pale color, however, it had a much heavier mouth-feel than the Ameztoi. This was the first of two wines we tasted from the Les Baux de Provence region in France – a region so well-known for its wines that it has been awarded the AOC designation. Of the wines we tasted, this was, for me, the most challenging. Flavor notes were citrusy – reminiscent of bitter orange peels or a robust orange marmalade. It was a shame we didn’t have any cheesecake to try with it! Or, given its robust citrusy notes, I suggest using it for sangria. Add a little brandy, some triple sec and soda water. Cut up your favorite fruit, let it chill for at least an hour and enjoy a super easy and affordable pink sangria.
3. Mas de la Dame, Rosé du Mas, Les Baux de Provence, 2010
This rosé was slightly more peachy in color with a nice heaviness and a lot of flavors concentrated at the front of the mouth. Like its compatriot, the Mas Sainte Berthe, this rosé also presented notes of bitter orange but in a slightly softer way. We got a little hungry during this round, so we decided to pair it with Lake’s Edge, a goat cheese from Blue Ledge Farm. The wine and the cheese complemented each other beautifully, working to bring out their respective brightness and a fresh, not cloying, sweetness.
4. Le Fraghe, Ròdon, Bardolino Chiaretto, 2010
This wine is a deep rose color, but is light tasting with a hint of effervescence. You can definitely taste stone fruit and berries. This is the wine that we thought paired well with everything we were eating: Julie’s chicken liver mousse, the Lake’s Edge and Ardrahan and Gubbeen (both Irish washed-rind cheeses). The conclusion: this is a perfect picnic wine, not only does it pair awesomely with a variety of foods but it also has a handy screw top!
5. Château Musar, Musar Jeune, 2009
I was particularly intrigued by this wine because, when I think about Lebanon, I don’t necessarily think of luscious vineyards. This wine is a lovely deep rose color and, although I don’t typically fancy dark rosés (associating deeper color with sweetness), this one was quite delicious. It had a buttery feel on the center of the tongue and a clean, fruity finish. Like the Mas de la Dame, it paired really well with the Lake’s Edge.
6. Coturri Winery, Rosé, Sonoma Mountain Rosé Wine, 2009
I confess that, given my predilection for lighter colored rosés, I approached Coturri’s wine with skepticism and probably never would have bought a bottle if we hadn’t decided to do this tasting. The color of this rosé is really deep, almost brown in color. True to my expectations, it was the sweetest of the rosés we tasted but, contrary to my expectations, it blew me away! It was amazing – complex and unique. Every sip made me want another, just to see what I would taste next. Initially, it was a little tingly on the tip of my tongue but then smoothed out and became sweeter. The sweetness was balanced with a really amazing hint of sourness, kind of working the way sour patch candy does. This is a perfect post-dinner rosé – something to drink with friends, whiling away a summer evening on the porch. This wine was a real lesson to me: never judge a pink by its color!
Well, that’s the round-up! We had a lot of fun comparing these wines side-by-side and approaching them in a more formal way – smelling, tasting, discussing and taking notes. It forced me to really think about what was going on in my mouth and with the foods we were eating. As a result, I have a much better idea of which rosé I will choose for different occasions or to pair with different foods. Another takeaway from the evening – we decided we need to do this more often!
p.s. If you decide to do a rosé tasting like this at home, I recommend inserting the Peyrassol in position 3.
Download: if you would like to do a rosé tasting of your own at home or with friends, here is the rosé tasting guide that Erin used.
Among the many hats she wears, Erin Tevlin is a cheesemonger and the Office Manager at Formaggio Kitchen, Cambridge.