Sunday, April 24, 2016

Rosé Revival

Rosé wine is trending these days.

Earlier this year, when the Significant Other and I joined a hip friend for dinner at a high-end pizza place in Southern California (no, not Spago), he suggested ordering a bottle of pink wine.  

This was a new thing for me.  My only rosé memory was of my grandmother drinking a glass on special occasions.  She and my grandfather sometimes stocked their cereal shelf with Cocoa Puffs (mostly for him, I think), and they delighted their grandchildren with large bowls of ice cream after dinner.  She was a wonderful person -- generous and smart and stylish -- but I grew over time to think of pink wine as the sort thing that appealed to a person with a sweet tooth.

Our dinner companion was a sophisticated fellow, and so we decided to live dangerously.  We ordered the rosé.  When the wine came, it looked like this.  



The winery, Mouton Noir, describes the product thusly:  

          Love Drunk is an intoxicating rosé. Much like new love, it clouds the brain, causes 
          eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise, and lips to pucker.  Provocative 
          aromas of strawberry and raspberry, followed by refreshing flavors of wild strawberry, 
          watermelon rind, and a hint of kiwi.

Like most wine descriptions, this is a bit over the top, but in fact Love Drunk is refreshingly inexpensive, and it tastes very good.  

So good that when the SO and I returned to the restaurant about six weeks later, we ordered it again.   Turned out the place had sold out its entire supply.

Not to worry, the waiter said.  There were five other rosés on the wine list.  (Five rosés!  More evidence of a trend.)  He offered to let us sample them.  We accepted the offer.

Three of the five tasted mostly like seltzer, and the fourth was reminiscent of strawberry soda.   The fifth was drinkable, and so we ordered that.  But it was no Love Drunk.

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Love Drunk comes from Mouton Noir, a winery in the middle of Oregon's Willamette Valley, one of the best places in the world to grow pinot noir grapes.   Perhaps to harmonize with its French name, the winery describes its home state as "Oregnone."

Mouton Noir doesn't seem pretentious, however.  Company literature describe its products as "unique and distinctive garage wines, initially created for some of New York's best restaurants," where founder André Hueston Mack worked as a sommelier.

The rosé is a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes.  The light color develops when the combined juices soak for a few days with noir grape skins.

I was surprised to learn later that Mouton Noir is the same winery that makes Other People's Pinot, a drinkable and unusually affordable pinot noir that is gaining something of a reputation on both coasts.  We served O.P.P.  to family and friends at Christmas dinner last year.  There were no complaints.


Unfortunately, Mouton Noir's rosé has not gained traction yet in the critical New Jersey market.  

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For a party last week, the S.O. went to the "good" wine shop in our town.  At the suggestion of an employee, he bought a couple bottles of the above, a French vintage from Provence, which tasted fine and was relatively inexpensive.

Apparently people in France have been onto this rosé stuff for many years.  French rosés (like many things French) are a bit more complex than our domestic varieties and can stand more aging than American ones.  

I even read that Mick Jagger is a fan of fizzy pink wine, specifically, Cristal Rosé.  

This makes sense to me.  Mick is about the same age my grandmother was when I remember her sipping rosé all those years ago.

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