Homie of the Day: Catherine from Grapes of Cath

We’re delighted to have our friend, and wine aficionado, Catherine from Grapes of Cath back again (remember her holiday post on the bubbly?!).   This time ’round she’s presenting us with a killer guide to rose wines for your springtime sipping pleasure.  Thanks, Catherine!  Cheers, all!


My dad sent along a few gifts for my 28th birthday this past November.  In his card he wrote, “something whimsical, and something not.”

The whimsical was this playful painting.

Recognize the rhyme? Hey Diddle Diddle...

Pretty silly, but I adore it just the same.  I hung it up right away, and glance at it often just to remind myself…on days when I start to take life a little too seriously… to never say never, that there are a million things unseen, to believe in the ridiculous.   All because in some place, at some time, there was a cat that played the fiddle and a cow that jumped over the moon.

When it comes to wine, nothing seems to command whimsy like a glass of rosé.  In my world, rosé is a year-round thing- its dusty romance is never lost, no matter the season.  But, here we are in May with new vintages hitting the market, and bottles of it everywhere – just begging to be brought home, chilled, and sipped on a blanket in the park.  Rosé, rosato, rosado, vin gris, blush- dew on the grass- all so new!

The making of rosé is a craft.  Depending on the producer and their practices, it is often more time-consuming then making red or white wine.  Rosé, you see, has to be just so.  Though there are a few different techniques (blending, skin contact, saignée, etc.), each producer has his own variation on the theme.  In the end it depends on the grape, the winemaker, the typical style of the region.  Some are made to last for quite a few years, many are meant to be quaffed just months after they are released.

Generally, rosé can’t really be generalized.  As a category, it is capable of all sorts of substantial and flighty, weak and strong.  As far as flavor, body, and shade go, the span of rosé is vast. If Elle Woods has taught us anything, let it be to give pink every bit of respect as the rest of the color wheel.

Here are just a bunch that I’ve been diggin’ on from across the spectrum – a few somethings whimsical, a few somethings not.

Bandol from Mas de la Rouviere.  About $23

This wine is made almost entirely from old-vine Mouvedré, which shows itself particularly well in the dry, hot, limestone soil ofProvence, along the Mediterranean and nearby the port of Marseilles, in southern France.  Mas de la Rouviere is a small estate owned by the Bunan brothers.  The deep old roots deliver a poignant spice and deep herbaciousness- and has been said to resemble our dear friend Mary-Jane.

Canavese Rosato Rubiconda by Orsolani.  About $15

How to describe this delightful wine coming fromItaly’s northwest region of Piemonte?  Its specific growing area is Canavese, a valley carved out by a large glacier that slid down from the nearby Alps long, long ago.  There are many notable things to say about this location, and this producer as well.  But let’s begin with the grape – it is called neretto and is one of very few grapes out there that has both red skin and red pulp (most pulp is white).  Orsolani, a very talented white wine producer, removes the skins of the neretto grapes just after harvest and vinifies the juices as a white wine.  Because of the tinted pulp, the result looks like a rosé.  Tricky, huh?  Maybe as tricky as the blushing tart on the label!

 Cotes de Provence Cuvée Tradition Rosé by Clos Cibonne.   About $24

Made from an ancient grape variety called Tibouren, this rosé is interesting to say the least.  Produced by Clos Cibonne, an estate in sunny southeast France, it is aged in barrels with flor, a layer of yeast that rests atop the aging wine (traditional in sherry production).  The flor contributes great intricacy, character, and complexity.  Pleasantly-oxidized.  Not exactly pretty – but handsome.  Dashingly-handsome.

Vin Gris de Cigare by Bonny Doon.  About $16

Bonny Doon is a most wacky and natural estate in California’s CentralCoast.  Headed by the equally wacky and natural Randall Grahm, one of the original “Rhone Rangers” (check out his book, Been Doon So Long, for understanding and entertainment).  Grahm’s wines, are excellent – you sip them and the joie de vivre of Bonny Doon translates through the bottle.  Possible?  Stranger things have happened.  This vin gris is composed of typical Rhone varieties – grenache, mouvedre, grenache blanc, roussanne, and cinsault.

Cerasuolo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo by Valentini.   About $80

From near Loreto Apruntino in the central Italian region of Abruzzo, this wine is from the montepulciano grape, and from the mysterious (and maybe genius) Edoardo Valentini.  What is used, and what is done, no one knows.  There is a basket press, there are cement tanks, there is Slavonian oak botti, there are about 8 hectares planted to vines.  The details are fuzzy, but you taste this wine and know something – that this is an interesting wine, a rosé that can withstand the years.  It wins many awards, but that is not what matters.  What matters is that there is a bacon on the nose, tomato leaf too.  Actually, there is a whole meal that you have not even thought to make yet – and the table is beautifully set, and all of your friends are there, and the conversation is full, and in between courses you dance your favorite dance, sing your favorite song, and know that you have found some sort of infinity in a glass.  Priceless.

Muralhas de Monção Rosé by Adega Coop Regional de Monção.   About $8

There are incredible deals to be found in Portuguese wines.  I believe that this is one of them.  This wine comes from the sub-region of Vinho Verde and is made by a cooperative.  Cooperatives have long been common for European wine production – keeps prices down, vintners paid, and bellies full of wine.  Most Portuguese wines come from native grapes specific to the country.  They are usually borderline unpronounceable.  Alvarelhão, pedral, and vinhão are the players here.  Fresh, fresh, fresh.

Viña Tondonia Rosé Gran Reserva by López de Heredia.  About $26

A serious rosé if there ever was one, coming from one of Rioja’s oldest bodegas, Viña Tondonia, and run by family with a long history of love and respect for their land and work.  Made from temprañillo, garnacho, and viura.  Aged in barrels for over 4 years, bottled unfiltered by a winemaker who believes in magic.  Sturdy yet bright.

Rose by Wölffer.   About $14

Made on the Wölffer estate on Long Island’s South Fork by German-born oenologist, Roman Roth.  A little merlot, a little cabernet sauvignon, a little chardonnay, a little cabernet franc.  A lot of peach, a decent amount of acidity, a touch of confection.  German influence, Provence-inspired, New York made.

Sancerre Rosé by Pascal Jolivet.   About $21

Pinot Noir grown in “the garden of France,” that being the Sancerre appellation of the Loire.  This wine is simply really good.  Unctuous, cherry, fresh earth.  Pair with a good G. Dead album.  Jerry!


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