Thursday, May 05, 2016

Ramblings on Rose

At the end of last summer, I insisted I was over rose. I'd had enough of the pink. I moved on.

I should've known I was fooling myself. Here we are, nearly a year later and now that it's springtime in Baltimore, I'm fully back on the rose train.

Coteaux du Libron 2013 by Flickr user Chris Pople
I  kicked off rose season with a bang a couple weeks ago, when I downed way more pink wine than necessary at Kyle and Mary's daughter's fourth birthday party. The weather was nice, the company was good, and Alexander Valley Vineyards Sangiovese rose pairs perfectly with both of those things.

Things that do not pair as perfectly with rose: Sunday mornings. Ouch.

But this post is not about hangovers. It's actually just a long way to say that since we are, theoretically, approaching warm weather, rose has been on my mind lately.

A few weeks ago, I had a nice chat with Brigid McAteer, a wine buyer at The Wine Source in Hampden, all about rose. She gave me some good advice - paler wines are better for porch-sipping and darker shades are better with food, for one. Drink it young, she said. Most rose is not built to age. And, of course, keep it cold, especially when it's hot outside.

McAteer also said that even if you think you only want to drink dry-as-a-bone roses (wines that are as far from white zin as you can get), you actually might appreciate more sugar than you think.

She used that Alexander Valley Vineyards wine as an example. "It's a best seller and a favorite," she said, commenting that as far as roses go, it is on the fruitier, sweeter side. McAteer also recommended roses from the Loire Valley.

Of course, when I think of rose, I think about Provence. Long before I even started drinking pink wine - back when there were few legit rose options available at local shops - I associated rose with the southern French region. (Thank you, Peter Mayle.)

And that is why I jumped at reading this Punch article about rose and Provence, by Jon Bonne, who does a great job illustrating the tension that occurs anytime you combine business with either art or science. Since winemaking is both...there's a lot of tension.

(As an aside, Punch has quickly become my favorite food/bev website. Solid reporting, interesting articles, boozy boozy. I love it.)

The short version of the article is this: Provence has always been about rose and the summery, pink lifestyle that goes with it. As rose has grown in popularity, the increasing demand for pink has influenced the strategies of Provence producers, resulting in fewer interesting reds and whites out of the region...and lots and lots of rose.

And not even more complicated, interesting roses. Winemakers are shifting from tricky Mourvedre to heartier Grenache.

This is all unfortunate, the author laments; as Provence's approach has changed, some of the culture that makes it such a special place - and that makes rose a special type of wine - starts to slip away.

Of course, people are always longing for the good old days - and I'm sure the winemakers aren't crying too much over their newly fat bank accounts.

But that doesn't mean they're not mulling over the changes they see...over a couple glasses of rose. Though it'll probably be Grenache.

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