Pink Time! Part 2: Meanwhile, Elsewhere in France

 Originally Posted: May 26, 2014

  Meanwhile, elsewhere in France, vignerons are making their own pink wines, and we at Pour are busy ferreting out the best of them from Bordeaux, the Rhône, the Loire, the Southwest, anywhere and everywhere that rosé is enjoyed.  That every major French wine region sports its own version of rosé should be enough in itself to convince the doubters that pink is a color of wine to take seriously, but anyone desirous of finding out for themselves at no cost should drop by practically any of our daily tastings in Spring and Summer, where pink is the favored color. 

            Moving up the Rhône River from Provence, we come to Grignan-les-Adhémar, home of the Domaine de Grangeneuve.  There among the lavender and olive trees, the Bour family have been making wine for three generations.  For their summer refreshment, they make Le Rosé de Grangeneuve ($16, just called “le Rosé” around the shop, where it’s a staff favorite).  The 2012 blew through Pour like a summer shower, our 15-case allotment disappearing in three weeks.  This was satisfactory to no one, and so this year we’ve reserved enough for everyone to enjoy its rose petals, red cherry, strawberry, and raspberry and throughout the whole summer.

            Another wine we saw too little of was the stellar Château de Montgueret Rosé d’Anjou ($15) from the Loire Valley.  Here we take a turn to the heartier grape varieties that predominate in our other French rosés.  This is a blend of Cabernet Franc (70%) with the Loire Valley heirloom variety Grolleau (30%), lending it a fine fruitiness, a generous nose and palate of red cherry, watermelon, and red apple, and a bite of cherry pepper on the finish.  In the same part of the Val de Loire is the famous Cabernet Franc village of Chinon (birthplace of Rabelais, who sang the praises of its wines), where Marc Plouzeau makes his delicious Chinon “Rive Gauche” Rosé ($19).  Like biting into a fresh red apple, this is a wine of great refreshingness. The heavier tannin of Cabernet Franc lends it more red-wine character than other pinks in the shop, along with a snap of black pepper on the finish.

            Also made from fuller-bodied grapes is the Domaine Raissac Les Lys Rosé de Cabernet ($15), a long-time customer favorite, is made of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Its darker color clues you in that here is a rosé more mouthfilling and with darker fruit than many others, a little black cherry to underscore the red, a touch of plum along with its strawberry.  In the valley of the Lot, original home of the Malbec grape, Georges Vigouroux makes of it the dark-colored Pigmentum Rosé ($15), another staple of Pour’s summers (also hearty enough to drink throughout the year, but we’ll discuss that another time).  Full and unctuous, with a pleasingly supple mouthfeel, it brings luscious cherries and berries to the table, rich strawberry and bright raspberry.  All you Malbec lovers, try it on!

            Then there comes the time when just one bottle of pink won’t do.  Fortunately our friends at Wineberry, pioneers in putting quality wines in a box (well, in a bag in a box, anyway) have obliged with the Chateau Tassin Bordeaux Rosé ($52).  Four bottles (three liters) in one handy package, this is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  In Bordeaux, though, unpredictable things can happen to our old friends, Merl Ott and Cab Salve (sounds like a small-time bluegrass duo, doesn’t it?), and Tassin’s pink is light, refreshing, and quaffable, a grapefruity glassful (both white and pink) with passionfruit and even tangerine to go along with the more usual red cherry and strawberry.  Feel that box get lighter!

            Heartier grapes, heartier pinks, heartier foods.  These wines will go well with standard pink fare (which means they’re great alone in a glass), but their fuller body, darker fruit, and touch of savory tannin make them a perfect pair for when you want a burger or hotdog but not a red wine.  Take them to a barbecue and watch them disappear!