Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Catavino Virtual Rose Tasting #2: the French Entry

I'm having a great time with Catavino's Virtual Wine Tasting for April, which is focusing on rose wines. The folks at Catavino know how to time an event--the May 31 Wine Spectator will have rose on the cover and a big story with their tasting notes. But thanks to the blogosphere you get a jump on the competition in the wine store!

For my last rose post for Catavino, which gave tasting notes for a 2005 Bonny Doon Vin Gris, I experimented with a new format, first tried here at Good Wine under $20, called the "tag-cloud review." Here's my latest experiment in reviewing, which attempts to take the standard color/aroma/palate wine review and put it in the context of a much more common social interaction: meeting up with someone new. After all, having a glass of wine should be the start of a beautiful relationship between you, your five senses, and the wine in question. Most reviews just try to give you the high points you can expect as you get to know an unfamiliar bottling. But maybe this will put it in more friendly terms! I got great feedback on the "Tag-Cloud Review", so let me know what you think of the "Getting to Know You Review."

Getting to Know the 2005 Mas Grand Plagniol Costières-de-Nîmes Tradition Rosé (Beverages and More, $9.99)

First Impressions: I've never seen a rose this dark before. It's the color of slightly diluted cranberry juice, which makes me think this is going to be a rich, round wine. It's packaged in a relatively plain bottle, which has an attractive shape. And the wine comes from a region in the Languedoc-Roussillon area of France, an area known for its superb roses, so I'm pretty confident that this meeting won't be disappointing. Though I find it odd that this wine from the area where the Languedoc meets the Rhone has Rhone all over it and Languedoc no where on the label. Is this a case of Rhone wines being more familiar than Languedoc wines?

Shaking Hands: I pop the cork on the bottle, and give the bottle a good sniff (never can wait until it's in the glass). Already there is a garden of flower smells emerging, especially roses (or do I just think I smell roses because of the rosy color? Is this the power of first impressions?) and sweet berries. The wine, once poured into a glass, is still that rich cranberry color, and still has all the smells of a warm summer garden. I already think I like this wine.

Getting to Know You: Now it's time to really get to know this wine. I take my first few sips, and my first impressions were not wrong: I like this wine. It has round, strawberry flavors that tinge towards more powerful cranberry notes (or am I being influenced by my first impressions, I wonder?) It is not as dry as the Bonny Doon wine I had earlier, but it is not sweet either. It is ROUND and ripe, like a field-ripened, fresh-picked strawberry, and it even has a fresh strawberry's tannins around the edges, puckering up the borders of your tongue and making you thirsty for more wine. I wonder what's in it in terms of varietals, and the web reveals that it has 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 10% Cinsault grapes. This explains a lot, since grenache is known for its berry and floral flavors and aromas, as is syrah. The Cinsault is best known as a blending grape with a sweet, sunny personality and low tannins. It's a nice blend here, and I particularly like the predominance of Grenache which I can really taste. And it goes well with my dinner companion, a rosy chicken tikka masala with warm spices, grilled marinated meat, and a creamy-tomato sauce.

Waving Good-bye: I feel like I've found another friend on the wine shelves, one that is juicy and round without being sweet, that will go with nearly every food imaginable, and one that is priced right. Is there another wine type around that delivers so much in the neighborhood of $10? I don't think so; this wine is food-friendly, has abundant varietal characteristics, and excellent QPR. Will I buy a Languedoc-Roussillon rose again? Absolutely! (and I sure hope folks drink some for WBW #33). Am I sorry to leave you, yes. But is that a Spanish rose I see around the corner?? This rose makes me want to get to know more pink wines, and to deepen my knowledge of European rose bottlings.

You still have time to participate in this April tasting, and you don't need a blog. If you've had a rose this month and remember what you thought about it, drop a note in the Catavino Forum. Two Good Wine Under $20 readers and fellow bloggers have already posted over there, Nate from VinVenio and Deb from Key West Wine Deb. The forum participants have left some good recommendations for you to check out when you need a rose in the upcoming months, and I'm putting some of my rose finds from Rhone Rangers in a separate forum post. I'll pop the cork on my Spanish rose, the grand finale of my April rose experiences, this weekend and post the notes in the forum and on the site on April 30.


winedeb said...

Dr. Deb's you did it again! I am off to the store this morning to look for a French Rose, besides the Bicyclette. I so enjoyed your writing also about the French Rose. I love it because it is up close and personal! A major bonding with your wine! Thanks!

Marcus said...

I hope I'm not discouraging WBW 33 participants from posting on Midi rosés. In general they are all around $10, whereas I set my mid-range price range for the event to $15-30.

And if that weren't enough Dr Deb, I can say that the bottle label is trying to tell you something re: Rhone. It is Rhone! I myself just caught wind of this before announcing WBW 33: Costières-de-Nîmes is now officially part of the Rhone Valley, not the Languedoc. (Although as you correctly point out, it is right between the two.) Suffice to say, I would never turn away a nice Costières-de-Nîmes -- you have my word on it.

Anonymous said...

WOW, I love French Rose and I might just have to look for a Languedoc Rose for WBW. It's funny Spain is so close to France but since I've lived here French wine has become more difficult to find.
Guess I'll need to rent a car a spend some time across the border one of these days!

Ken said...

I have honestly never tried a French Rose (crazy but true)...after reading your description this one sounds more to my liking than I would have imagined.

Dr. Debs said...

Hi everybody! I was surprised by this rose, too. And not just the deep, dark, color. Marcus, I was confused by this issue, so thanks for clarifying. It does say Rhone on the bottle, but all the websites and books I looked at said it was in the Languedoc so I labelled it as such! Will correct, and meanwhile, thanks for setting us straight. The beauty of classification systems!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.