Thursday, August 17, 2017

Rosé Shows its Mettle

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Posted by Burke Morton On July - 16 - 2009

Rosé...or: How Long Do You Age Your Rosé?
I conducted a little mini-tasting on my deck today--we don't get such beautiful days here often...besides, where else should one have a tasting of Rosé? I opened six wines: 2008 Muga, 2007 J.K. Carriere Glass, 2005 Domaine Ott Château de Selle, 2004 Château Musar Cuvée Rosé, 2003 (!) Pascal Cotat Sancerre, and 1998 (!) Domaine de la Mordorée Tavel.

The idea was to have some wines with presence, and to see how they held up. Hard to rank these, given that they were all sensational. I bought these over the past five years, after having tasted them in their youth, so I was predisposed to like them--take that at face value. I knew that the older ones should hold up, and I am happy to report that they did.

Experiencing the Wines
That the Mordorée Tavel was brilliant was not a shock, but it was so warming and suffusing that I didn't relate to it much as a Rosé--it had taken on a life of its own, in much the way that older Alsatian Muscat does (where the orange blossom scent is gone and replaced by caraway, which gives it a quality of ancient wisdom in a package that still seems youthful). It had a curious meat-juice quality that was so fresh and deep that my first thought was of the Grilled Duck Breast Salad I used to get at one of my previous restaurant jobs.

I suppose that I was drawn most closely by the Cotat Sancerre Rosé. It has some red wine characteristics, and as it warmed up, it displayed more of that tone, and this is not uncommon with Pinot Noir rosé. It never lost its rosé-ness, however--there was an ineffable notion of sunshine through it--and yet it was six years old. A year ago I wrote that the '04 from the same producer was the best Rosé I had ever had. This doesn't top that, but it's smashing wine that supports the legacy of quality from this estate.

Domaine Ott releases this wine a vintage behind the current wines in the market, and I bought it in the fall of 2007. It was moody (for rosé) and deep, possessing traits akin to white Burgundy, which is the style cultivated by this estate for this wine (they have others that are more crystalline and gossamer, but Château de Selle is their "serious" wine), and it was perfect for a day like today. Had it been hot, I would probably have enjoyed it anyway, as the weight of the wine is not its main feature, but because it is barrel fermented, its edges are more integrated.

J.K. Carriere was a sensational delight, again. I am amazed by this wine and its depth of flavor and richness of texture. Other than because it's rosé of Pinot Noir, it has these qualities because Jim Prosser, the winemaker/owner of J.K. Carriere, dumps Chardonnay lees [lees are the dead yeast cells, grape skins, seeds, pulp, et al., that settle to the bottom of a fermentation tank when fermentation is complete] into the wine, giving it that creamy texture and moody aroma. If you can lay your hands on some of this wine, I would do it.

Chateau Musar was fabulous. I have heard that it is entirely Cinsault, but I'm going to have to look that up. Current vintage is 2005 (in this market, anyway), and I believe the '06 is on the way, so this '04 is a bit behind, though not really by Musar standards. It was still fresh and lively, and it had an exotic, heady aroma, which I enjoyed greatly. I have come to expect this in Lebanese wines...I would like to see them achieve better market penetration. Dark color--I've had some some Pinots Noir from Germany and Alsace that aren't this dark!

Muga--for $15, you should be buying this wine, by the case if you can. Wow--has some Viura blended into the Tempranillo, and it works wonders. Not that Tempranillo needs help, but it makes it more of a rollicking experience. Gloriously beautiful color--salmon-ish, not unlike the Domaine Ott in that way,

So I had all of these wines with a lunch of Italian bread, Caprese salad, and some balsamic-marinated portabello mushrooms, and the pairings were remarkably reliable. Only the Muga and the Tavel tangled with these, and for differing reasons. The Tavel's acidity was not prominent, and so it bucked against the mushrooms, and the Muga tasted fine with the Mozzarella, but not so much once the tomatoes were introduced.

All this tasting was done with the swirl-sniff-sip-spit method, of course, but I did return to the J.K. Carriere for an actual drink of wine.

There's always an exception to every rule, but I hope we can put to rest the notion that Rosé doesn't age.... The lion's share of Rosés don't age well, so perhaps it would be better to say that some Rosés improve with age. The task is to find them.

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