Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Boston Wine School: Rosé Wines

Think Pink for the Summer!

I love Rosé wines and have reviewed a number of them in recent weeks. So when I had the opportunity to attend a tasting class on Rosé wines, including a few less common ones, I was eager to go.

The class was led by Jonathon Alsop at his Boston Wine School. His website states: "Jonathon Alsop is a wine writer covering wine, food and travel since 1988. He is author of the wine column "In Vino Veritas" as well as many articles for the Associated Press, Frequent Flyer, La Vie Claire, Beverage Business Magazine, Mobil Travel Guides, Fodor's Travel Guides, Boston Globe, and others. In addition to writing about wine, Jonathon founded the Boston Wine School in 2000 where he teaches wine and food classes."

This is the second class I have attended at the Boston Wine School, the first being a Wine Writer's course that is still going on (and which I will review later). But the Rosé class was the first tasting course I have taken there. The usual price of these tasting classes is about $50 though the Rosé class was only $35 as the wines are less expensive.

I have found Jonathon to be personable, knowledgeable and very down to earth. He is definitely not some pretentious wine snob. He wants the students to feel comfortable, to trust their own palates, and I think he accomplishes exactly that. There were fourteen people in the class and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves very much, opening up more as the evening progressed. Jonathon helped to make the class fun as well as informative.

The Boston Wine School is a good venue for classes and even has a kitchen area. The tables and chairs are generally set so everyone can more easily see each other as well as converse. It is an intimate setting, perfect for small groups.

Before the class began, Jonathon handed out flute glasses of a German sparkling water, Gerolsteiner Mineral Water, and there was a plate of fresh cantaloupe and strawberries. All intended to help us relax as many were coming directly from work. I thought the water was delicious, with a light and natural effervescence. It is something I am going to seek out as I am usually not a big fan of carbonated waters.

In additions to the wines, Jonathon provided an assortment of foods to nibble on, including figs, three different cheeses, some cured meats, bread, olives and pickles. This was a very nice touch and all of the food was fresh and tasty, especially the cheeses which included a Brie and a Gorgonzola.
We tasted twelve Rosé wines, sequenced from the lightest color to the darkest. Nearly all of these wines cost less than $20 making Rosé a good value.

2006 Dr. Loosen Villa Wolf Rosé de Pinot Noir (Pfalz, Germany): This wine had a very pale color with almost an orange tint to it. It had a subdued aroma with maybe a touch of red fruit. It was a dry wine with some strawberry flavor and a bit of tartness. It was also acidic and only had an alcohol content of 11%. It was ok but nothing special and probably something I would not buy.

2007 Domaines Corey Creek Rosé (North Fork, Long Island): This Rosé is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. I did not care for the smell as it seemed to have some vegetal notes, maybe from the Cabernet Franc. I also did not care for the taste as I still got green notes and some light effervescence.

2007 Charles Shaw White Zinfandel (Sonoma): Yes, technically White Zinfandel is a Rosé. And I must admit there was a time when I enjoyed White Zinfandel. But the more I have gotten into wine, the less sweet wine I usually want, except for dessert wines. This wine had a sweet strawberry aroma and tasted like strawberry jam or even cotton candy. It only has an alcohol content of 11%. It is still a popular wine but I am no longer a fan, preferring my Rosé to be dry.

2006 Bogle Petite Sirah Rosé (Clarksburg, CA): With a nice pink color, the nose seemed a bit closed as I could not really smell much there. It was a very dry wine with a restrained flavor of strawberry and raspeberry. Its finish was very short, the flavor vanishing very quickly in your mouth. Another Rosé that did not appeal to me.

2007 Louis Jadot Beaujolais Rosé (Beaujolais, Burgundy): I have never had a Beaujolais Rosé before so I was very curious about this wine. It is made from the Gamay grape and has an alcohol content of 12%. It had a pleasant nose of strawberry which followed through on the palate as well, mixed with hints of light cherry. It is a medium bodied wine and almost seems sweet because of the lush fruit but it is not. I found this a very pelasant wine and would recommend it.

2004 Long Beach Shiraz Rosé (Robertson, South Africa): Another Rosé to intrigue me because of its country of origin. I have had only a couple Rosés from South Africa and usually have enjoyed them. This wine was a darker pink color with a more unusual but interesting nose, a bit of apricot and almost tropical fruit. Possibly due to the fact it is older than most other Rosés on the market. Its taste was just as intriguing to me, with touches of apricot but a little strawberry as well. There was also a hint of smokiness that seemed to come and go. A very different Rosé but which is enjoyable. Another wine I would recommend.

2005 Marea Rosato del Salento (Puglia, Italy): This was another older Rosé but it did not fare as well. It was a bit orangey in color with an offputting, medicine smell. It tasted sour with apricot notes and I did not like it.

2007 Kim Crawford Gisborne Rosé (Gisborne, New Zealand): We now moved on to a biigger, bolder Rosé with a vibrant strawberry nose. It was a more full bodied wine with an alcohol content of 14%, though the alcohol was balanced. It is a dry wine with lush fred fruit flavors and would definitely be enjoyable on a summer day.

2005 Galil Mountain Rosé (Galilee, Israel): This was another wine that really intrigued me as I have had very few wines from Israel. This Rosé is a blend of 65% Sangiovese, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon and 13% Syrah. I certainly had no idea they grew Sangiovese in Israel. It had a vibrant dark pink color with an enticing nose of mixed red fruits. It was a full-bodied wine with an intriguing taste of strawberry, raspberry and a touch of watermelon. It was slightly tart and had a nice, long finish. I thought it was a very good Rosé and I would recommend this as well.

2007 Marques de Caceres Rosado (Rioja, Spain): I have had this Rosé before and enjoyed it at the tasting as much as I have before. It is a Tempranillo blend and just the image of a good, down-to-earth Rosé, with excellent fruit flavors, dry and a nice crispness. Another wine to buy and share with friends.

2006 Domaine de la Mordoree Tavel (Rhone Valley, France): This Rosé was the star of the show and the most popular for many of the attendees. This is what you might think of as a more serious Rosé, a subtle and complex wine. It is a dark pink color and has a nose of strawberries and cream. On the palate, you get an assortment of red fruits with hints of spice. It has a satisfying, long finish and may be the heavy weight with an alcohol content of 14.5%. This wine shows that not all Rosés are simple wines. I highly recommend this wine!

2007 Saintsbury Vin Gris of Pinot Noir (Carneros, CA): We ended on a poor note, the darkest wine of the bunch. I recently tasted this wine at home and found it unbalanced, the alcohol too prevalent and masking the rest of the wine. At this tasting, I was once again disappointed, the wine unbalanced and bitter. What makes it more disappointing for me is that I like most of the other Saintsbury wines. They make excellent Pinot Noir so I wanted to like this wine too, but I just can't.

This was an excellent tasting class and motivates me to sign up for other classes at the Boston Wine School with Jonathon. Jonathon provides a fun environment to learn about wines without pretension or snobbery. I highly recommend you check out the list of upcoming classes and sign up for something interesting. You won't be disappointed.


Wine Tasting Guy said...

Wow. Great post. Nice to have discovered you.

Jonathan and his Boston Wine School sound great. I am all for removing the pretension from wine and people trusting their palates.

And as a big Israeli wine advocate I'm thrilled to see your positive review on the Galil Mountain Rose'. I have not tried that particular wine, but Galil Mountain has a UC Davis (CA) trained winemaker who makes some excellent wines.

Great post. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Richard, I sat next to you at this tasting and my friend Natalie and I agreed that Tavel was the star of the show! I drained the bottle!

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Wine Tasting Guy and welcome to my blog.

Thanks for the kind comment on my post. I would love to have some recommendations from you of other Israeli wines I should try.

Wine Tasting Guy said...

Hey Richard-

Israeli wine recommendations, where to begin...

I'll start you with one of my favorite bang for your buck wines. It is another from Galil Mountain. It is called "Yiron" and is their Bordeaux blend. The blend itself changes from year to year, and lately has included some Syrah. It should be in the $25 range (although it has been creeping up every year and the new vintage, 2005, I gather gets even a bit more expensive) and is well structured, complex & delicious.

Feel free to visit my blog or contact me directly.

Looking forward to reading more of your food/wine posts!