France, Bordeaux, Various Rosés

Feb 1, 2010
2010 / Feburary 2010

In this month of romance and roses, let’s talk about Rosés. While many wine regions make this pink-hued wine, it is rare to find one produced solely from the noble grapes of Bordeaux. The exception is the Rosé of Long Island, 75 miles east of New York City. A region where red wines are overwhelmingly based on Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc — the major grapes of Bordeaux’s finest wines — it follows that it would create its Rosés from the same varieties. The results are intriguing.

Take those of Wölffer Estate. Winemaker Roman Roth made Wölffer’s first Rosé in 1992, and he has been making it ever since. Light in color with crisp acidity, its fruit flavors show a hint of strawberry and a delicate floral essence. It is the perfect apéritif.

Bouké Rosé, on the other hand, is full-bodied, deep salmon-shaded and emphatically flavored, which gives it a character assertive enough to accompany any number of entrées. Winemaker Gilles Martin makes it mainly from Cabernet Sauvignon with 26 percent Merlot.

Bedell Cellars Domaines C. C. Rosé, a blend of 80 percent Merlot with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, brims with fruit flavors. It is coral pink and richly aromatic.

Wölffer Estate’s Roman Roth is also the winemaker of Roanoke Vineyards De Rosa Rosé, and his deft hand shows in this pale salmon, fruity, fresh-flavored Merlot-dominated wine.

Harbes Red Horse Rosé, produced entirely of Merlot, is deep-shaded, almost the color of a light red. It is dry and fruity with an aroma that conjures up ripe strawberries and the crisp freshness of lemon.

The Rosé of Shinn Estate Vineyards, 75 percent Merlot, 25 percent Cabernet Franc, is also deeply colored with an enticing nose reminiscent of ripe watermelon, inviting fruitiness and a dry finish.

Croteaux Vineyards is a winery that makes only Rosé and several different bottlings of it, all 100 percent Merlot. Of those I’ve tasted, my favorite is Merlot 3 Rosé. Like all Croteaux wines, it is extremely pale in color and displays ripe fruit flavors. But this one is surprisingly full-bodied and assertive on the palate.

Long Island Rosés range in price from $16 to $19 — a small price for year-round pleasure.

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