My two top pink wines this season
Rosé has arrived in the Hocking household what with all that lovely sunshine at the moment (sure to change, of course), and I’ve found a couple of stunners that we’ll be drinking quite a bit of this year. Of course, dry, Provençal pink wines will always be in fashion, as will Sancerre Rosé and quite right too – they are lovely…however, these two are a little different from the norm but merit further investigation.
Denis Malbec, former winemaker at Château Latour and since 2000 with his Swedish wife May-Britt vintner in Napa Valley, started to make wines under the Alienor label in 2005. Their red cuvée is a very good and highly recommended interpretation of red Bordeaux, and since based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, it’s more towards the St Emilion style than the Médoc. However, it’s their micro-production 2009 La Roseraie that we are drinking at the moment.
This rosé, the second vintage, is made with the saignée method by bleeding of the juice of equal parts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc (and only two percent of Petit Verdot) after just a few hours of maceration from the fermentation of their 2009 Alienor Grand Vin. Again, grapes are sourced from vineyards in Lake County. The pink coloured juice was fermented in neutral French oak barrels with commercial yeast and then kept in the oak for around one year, and during the ageing there was some bâtonnage. It’s a very classic rosé, pale pink in a typical French style, and the nose is quite elegant but also a bit closed.
Moving next to Wind Gap Wines and their extraordinary Pinot Gris from the Windsor Oaks Vineyard in Chalk Hill. Pax Mahle is the winemaker and owner of this project and we’ve known him a long time. Put simply, his wines are absolutely stunning. His 1936 American Wine Company building is hidden in the backstreets of Forestville. Friendly dogs wander through the cellar, while the crew works down a list of crush preparation. Wind Gap Wines are made using comparably traditional methods: no added yeasts, and red grapes are trod underfoot with the aid of beer and a modern sound system.
The orange-pink Pinot Gris is a nominally white wine fermented on its skins. With aromas of apricot, mango and a hint of cherry, this cool, clean wine floats rosé-like strawberry, watermelon flavors on a watery, Pinot Gris palate and finishes with satisfying astringency, a vibrant and food-friendly wine that may win accolades for the daring dinner host. You’ll have it if you come to my house!
Have fun trying…
Director of wine
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