What To Drink Now: Refreshing White and Rose Wine

Some wine drinkers tend to only open a bottle of Rose in the summer time…quite sad as the delicate, approachable sometimes earthy, sometimes fruity Rose tastes great anytime of year, especially in Texas where we always seem to be a little bit warm.  The same could be said for some white wines that are only pulled off the store shelves when people think of sipping something on a patio.  Here are a few bottles to consider as we go through these last few weeks of summer, and hopefully you’ll be convinced they taste just as good in November as they did in September.
A few selections were sent for editorial consideration.

I first tried the latest release of Stoller Rose of Pinot Noir last December when it was still in the stainless steel fermentation tanks just after a very late harvest in Oregon.
I was shocked at the intense ruby red grapefruit flavor of the wine at that stage.  I tried it again on a recent trip to Oregon and was pleasantly surprised by how those juicy, red grapefruit notes were still present, though softened slightly with additional layers of oranges, strawberry and a touch of spice.  A beautiful Rose to enjoy anytime of year, but keep an eye out for it as once released at the winery it does sell out fast.

Jaboulet Parallele 45 Rose from the Rhone region of France blends 50% Grenache with 40% Cinsault and 10% Syrah for a vibrant, racy and bone dry Rose.  Easy to drink and elegant with tart red berry notes, and a good value usually priced between $10-$15 a bottle.

Another Rose from the Willamette Valley hills comes from Soter Vineyards, the Oregon winery owned by Tom Soter, the founder of Etude in Napa producing incredible Pinot Noir from his Mineral Springs Ranch.  Their North Valley Highland Rose is always made with Pinot Noir, but each year additional varieties added to the blend changes just slightly.  Their 2011 blends 16% Chardonnay and 4% Gewürztraminer (a very rarely used varietal in Oregon) with earthy Willamette Valley Pinot for an interesting twist, adding fragrance and spice to the juicy, berry filled wine with a long, lush finish.

Villa des Anges Old Vine Rose defines why so many Rose lovers gravitate to those from France.  Made from 100% Cinsalt in the Languedoc Roussillon region in the south of France, this pale pink wine made from 35-40 year old vines is both fresh and lively, as well as balanced and complex, blending strawberry, red currant and cherry flavors together, creating a consistent, inexpensive Rose (about $12 a bottle.)

Adelsheim Winery continues to evolve even after 40 years. One of the first established in Willamette Valley, started in 1971, they continue to try new things and introduce new wines every year.   In 2005 the winery decided to start producing a Rose that was crisp and aromatic, like a white wine, yet also round with good texture like a red wine, and still distinctly its own – the result, Adelsheim Rose of Pinot Noir.  The latest release is filled with strawberry and raspberry with touches of ripe melon and hints of fresh herbs, making it ideal to sip on its own or pair with smoked salmon, tangy cheese or grilled shellfish.

Pioneer Wine Company held a portfolio tasting for the trade the other day and I had a chance to try several of the high quality, often small production wines the company brings into the city.  An affordable standout included Chateau Julien Barrel Select Chardonnay from Monterey County, California. Fresh peach and ripe pear with lemon cream and a touch of vanilla.  A great bottle for around $15.  Through September Chateau Julien is offering a buy 5 get one bottle for $1 via their website.

Another one was the Pink Fiddle Rose from Fiddlehead Cellars, also a Rose that sells out quickly, and for good reason as the Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir grapes pop with fresh strawberries, cranberries and spice with a dry, but fruit filled palate. Great for anything from toasting on its own to serving with grilled salmon or roasted pork tenderloin.

Another wine Pioneer distributes that offers great value for the quality is Bishop’s Peak, the second label of Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande, California.  A few weeks ago I had dinner with Brian Talley, tasting through his Talley Vineyards Chardonnay, some upwards of 30 years old.  This was my first chance to try his introductory line and though not as complex as the Talley Winery line, the Bishop’s Peak Chardonnay was lively, fresh and balanced with aromas of white flowers, golden apple and tropical fruit.  A solid $15 Chardonnay.

Italy never disappoints those looking for an unusual, yet delicious wine from one of over 500 known varieties produced in the country. Insolia (or Inzolia) is one of these, grown predominantly in Sicily and usually used in the production of Marsala. Cusumano makes a dry Insolia filled with toasted almonds, fresh sage and thyme and layers of citrus. Lively and delicious for around $12 a bottle.

The best addition to going to the movies in Dallas is the opportunity to enjoy your favorite film with a bag of freshly popped popcorn and a bottle of Chardonnay, one of the best pairings in the world. If you are at the Landmark Magnolia grab a bottle of Wild Horse Central Coast Chardonnay, filled with crisp green apple, golden pear and sweet spice notes, with just a touch of creaminess from sur lee aging. Pairs nicely with roasted white fish or creamy pasta as well, but the popcorn pairing is hard to beat.

Deakin Estate Moscato from Australia is a fresh, low alcohol, effervescent wine filled with juicy green apple, melon and floral notes which pair well with fruit based desserts.  Residual sugar is high, so be prepared for something sweet, but a nice balance of acidity from sustainably farmed grapes keeps it fresh on the palate.

Pepi Winery has been producing approachable, affordable and uncomplicated wines in California since the 1970’s.  They recently added a Chenin Blanc – Viognier blend to celebrate two lesser known varieties, balancing floral characteristics of Chenin Blanc with ripe stone fruit often found in Viognier.  The result, an easy to drink white filled with ripe peach, apricot, honeysuckle and melon flavors.

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