Now that the ski season (at least in-bounds) is officially over, what are you going to do with yourself?
You can keep skinning up Ajax or Highlands, or strike out for Marble, or perhaps wait for the Pass to open. Mysterious pink snow anyone? Or maybe you have made those travel plans to distant lands of sun, sand and surf. Or you decide to take a trip to the south of France, where the cold cold weather will linger for another month before heating up.
In any of these scenarios, spring is the season for rosé. Not only is the dearth of winter ready to be loosed, with the warm sun inspiring your taste buds toward summer, but in winery parlance, spring is rosé-release season. Resting most likely in stainless steel over the winter, this young wine is ready to go by February or March, with all of its delicate aromatics in tact; with its partridge-eye, salmon-pink color blooming in glory, and its strawberry, raspberry and light peppery spices ready to tickle whatever your fancy might be.
As far as trending, rosé is nearing the top of the arc that it has been climbing for the past decade or so, as wine makers, sommeliers, retailers and anyone with a remotely keen sense of wine-loving savvy are now seeing the fruition of those love labors. My good friend Mike Richmond, winemaker for Bouchaine Vineyards in Napa-Carneros, reports that they are switching their program of syrah to meet the expected increased demand for their wildly popular syrah-based rosé, which is released in March and is selling out earlier and earlier each year. If you have had it, then you know, there is know better pairing for sushi and ceviche, with its crisp raspberry and zesty lime essences. Last year, it barely made it through August before selling out, which is still the heart of rosé time. To meet the new market, Richmond is flipping the numbers around on the red and rose, cutting the red syrah in half and doubling the rosé production.
While new world production adjusts and sets its sights on even greater rosé glory, the old word is still doing its traditional rosé thing, as it has done for centuries, when vignerons first began bleeding their tanks for a more concentrated red, which resulted in this lovely, light yet spicy by-product. Lighter for sure than the often darker, almost red, rosés of the west coast.
Many agree former part-time Aspen resident Charles Bieler and his Bieler Père et Fils Rosé is the standard bearer that links the new world with the old world. To be honest, Bieler totally flaunts both with his domestic Charles & Charles rosé, for which he partners with Washington wine making rockstar Charles Smith of K Vintners and the Magnificant Wine Company and the Modernist Project. But with the Père et Fils, the rosé is pure roots, from the Coteaux d'Aix in Provence, France. The 2012 has just been released, and is once again nothing short of impressive. It is mostly syrah (55 percent) with grenache (25 percent), cabernet sauvignon (15 percent) and a touch of cinsault (5 percent), and shows a soft color, gorgeous nose and a palate of raspberry and wild strawberry.
Try it with salad niçoise, soft cheeses, chicken with olives, or just about any seafood; just like I did last weekend, when I grilled swordfish and served it with a mojo verde, along with lamb kabobs with Greek yogurt. The versatility of rosé always amazes me, when it can be so gently assertive, so close to perfection, with lighter fare, yet-with its great acidity — it can hold its own with red meats, and other heavier preparations.
And it's not bad for sipping all by itself, preferably outdoors, on a warm spring afternoon. Whatever you do, enjoy the offseason. Cheers! Remember, wine reveals truth.
Drew Stofflet lives in Carbondale. Correspond with him at firstname.lastname@example.org