Friday, July 27, 2007

2007: the Summer of Roses

1967 was the Summer of Love, when Hippie counterculture was born in the streets of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. Now, forty years later (ouch!) baby boomers and their younger friends can enjoy the Summer of Roses.

Rose wines are everywhere. In newspaper and magazine columns, piled high in end-cap displays, and on the internet, you can't move without coming into contact with another rose recommendation. Since December I've tasted nearly two dozen roses, and written up reviews here on the site of quite a few. My peak of consumption was in April with Catavino's Virtual Tasting of roses. They've come from the US, France, Spain, and Argentina and have been made of pinot noir, cabernet, grenache, and malbec. Eric Asimov may be the only holdout who is still not wowed by the prospects before him, even though Dr. Vino launched an impressive defense on the pink stuff's behalf.

The 2006 Cameron Hughes Lot 37 Campo de Borja Rose of Garnacha may be the best bottle of rose I've had all summer ($7.99, Costco; $10 from Cameron Hughes). This wine is not a salmon-colored, delicate Tavel-style rose--much as I love them, too. Instead, the deep, rich color of the wine is your first indication that this is a rose wine that most red wine lovers will find appealing. Floral aromas mix with whiffs of pretty raspberry and strawberry. The first taste you get is pure strawberry essence, with a note of watermelon on the finish. There are indeed some streaks of stony minerality running through it, but the overwhelming impression is round, rich, and dry. Made from 100% grenache, it is the perfect BBQ wine and represents excellent QPR.

Grenache, as I mentioned in a previous post, is superb with food grilled on the bbq, and this wine was no exception. I paired it with a recipe that caught my eye in the New York Times for cashew chicken. You make a paste with jalapenos, cashews, herbs, and spices and then smear it over the chicken (I used drumsticks) before popping them on the grill for 20-30 minutes. The wine's crisp berry flavors were the perfect foil for the green spiciness of the jalapeno and the buttery cashews paired nicely with the round, full-bodied feeling of this rose.

As with all Cameron Hughes wines, we don't know who grew the grapes, but we do know that they came from the relatively young Campo de Borja DO. I've bought quite a few Cameron Hughes wines recently, and I've yet to have a single one that has disappointed me or failed to represent excellent QPR. So use his "lot locator" on the website to see if your local Costco stocks this (and other) Cameron Hughes wines, or order some directly. There are two more months of hot weather before us. Get yourself some drums(ticks), a tambourine, and a tie-die shirt and celebrate. If you're going to San Francisco, both the San Jose and Novato Costcos have CH Lot 37, so pick it up on the way in to the city. It's the summer of roses. Cameron Hughes is making it easy for us to really enjoy it.


Orion Slayer said...

A rosé made from Grenache sounds great! Until this summer I was put off by rosé wines I'd had in the past. Trying a rosé made from Malbec and reading about the enjoyable experience of others has changed my mind. Who knew a rosé could be dry and interesting?

winedeb said...

Picked up another bottle of "Toad Hollow Dry Pinot Noir Rose" today! Summer and I had the Pinot Noir on the brain from your post the other day. So hey! One stop shopping! Toad Hollow is not too fruity and not too dry, just lip smacking perfect!

Dr. Debs said...

Hi Orion Slayer and WineDeb! I've enjoyed the roses I've had this summer, and like you have been completely surprised by the range and quality. I had a malbec rose, too, OS--what a revelation. And Deb, I just went to Toad Hollow and had some of that wine. It's really good, too, and great QPR. This Cameron Hughes wine is much, much more robust than the Toad Hollow--more in line with the Malbec rose that I had a few weeks ago.