While I am known to enjoy them in all seasons, late Spring and Summer see the return of Rose' wines to my table. There is just something refreshing and lively in a rose', something inherently spring-like about these wines, that makes them perfect for this time of year. Perhaps it is their youthfulness; these wines have been made for immediate consumption, from grapes harvested just last fall, and have undergone just the barest amount of conditioning. Even as I write this, there are ships laden with these wines headed for our shores.
Unfortunately, pink wine has a sweet and terrible stigma attached to it. White Zinfandel has given rose' wines a bad name, and lots of people automatically associate pink color with a sweet flavor profile. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the original White Zinfandel was a mistake. As legend has it, the winemaker was attempting to produce a traditional, dry rose' from the juice of Zinfandel grapes, and somehow fermentation was inadvertently arrested. This resulted in a wine with high levels of residual sugars and a somewhat lower alcohol. He realized that that he had captured lightning in a bottle, and that this sweet and fruity wine would suit the American market perfectly. It went on to take the country by storm and became a wine that made them millions and millions. I remember being in high school and a 5 liter box of this being as much a grocery staple for my parent's house as eggs, milk and bread. And while it is the custom of Cork Dorks such as myself to look down our noses at White Zinfandel as sticky kid's stuff, let's be honest: it is the gateway drug of wine, and is responsible for producing more new wine drinkers than any of our beloved Burgundies or Chateaneufs.
Made by the rapidly growing wine firm founded by Francis Ford Coppola of cinematic fame (and yes, I can quote parts of Apocalypse Now and The Godfather from memory), Sofia is a line of wines named after his daughter, who has some renown in cinematic circles herself. The 2012 Rose is a blend of Syrah and Grenache sourced from Monterrey County. This 80/20 blend turns on its head the traditional ratio of grapes often found in wines of this style from southern France, which favors Grenache as the dominant force.
What struck me about this wine was that it had a deeper coloration than most European rose's. According to the website, this is because the grapes undergo a two day cold soak, which allows the skins to give greater pigmentation to the wine while forestalling fermentation. On the nose, the wine has a subtle bouquet of fresh red berries and a slight herbal note. On the palate, it is all strawberry and raspberry, light, fruity and juicy with a restrained but discernible sweetness. This doesn't have the bone-dryness that a Provencal wine might, but it doesn't veer off into White Zinfandel territory either. I could, however, see this as being an introduction for people who prefer sweet wines to a little more serious side of the wine world.
This wine would make a great accompaniment to lighter summertime fare: salads, a cheese and charcuterie plate, or some cold fried chicken. In fact, I could see this as being a perfect companion to a summertime picnic lunch. Clocking in at only 12.5% ABV, this is benign enough for midday enjoyment, provided you don't have much to do later than perhaps cook dinner or open another bottle. And the price is modest as well, I only paid about twelve bucks for this bottle.
So, go ahead and give one of these a try. I'm a big guy, I drive a 4X4 truck and do lots of manly things. But I also like pink wine. Find yourself a nice bottle of Rose' and enjoy a taste of summertime in a glass!