Holding on to a summer wine well into fall

If wine followed the same rules as fashion, some would say that rosé is the color white of the wine world.

Je protest!

Fall is officially here, but that does not mean pink season is over. Those of us in the Bay Area can at least hope to have one month of warm weather, especially considering we were seriously shorted by the sun this summer. And if Mother Nature does not pay up, well, there is still a place for rosé.

At this point, I think it is safe to say that pink wine — or at least pink wines that are not sweet — are finally respected. That doesn’t mean some sweet rosés are not good, but I don’t want to digress.

Rosé makes a terrific aperitif. It is also generally food-friendly. While a natural with tomatoes and a lot of summer produce, rosé also matches okra, celery root and pumpkin as well as anything.

As a rule, rosé does not age more than a couple of years, so you probably won’t see any wines that go further back than the 2008 vintage, and most are from 2009. The 2010s will start shipping in the spring (and some from the southern hemisphere have already arrived on shelves) and retailers will be cutting prices on rosés to make room for more red wines in the fall and winter, so this is a good time to look for some deals.

Here are three that are superb (they may not be on sale, but are worth the money regardless):

Cuilleron Rosé, Sybel, 2009 (Rhone Valley, France): I’ve written about Cuilleron’s wines before, but credit is due once again. Made entirely from syrah, this wine has presence, but is not too forceful. With sublime watermelon and strawberry flavors plus a pinch of black pepper, it is nicely balanced and leaves a very pleasant finish. Suggested retail: $17

Beckmen Vineyards Grenache Rosé, Purisma Mountain Vineyard, 2009 (Santa Ynez): Tom and Steve Beckmen chose this site in Santa Ynez knowing they wanted to focus on Rhone varietals, which includes grenache. As many of the great rosés made today are grenache-based and come from the south of France, it is most fitting that a rosé is part of their lineup. The jammy quality of the fruit gives away that it is New World local, but it is balanced and with a plethora of berry fruit, very tasty. Suggested retail: $20

Preston Vin Gris, 2009 (Dry Creek Valley): Preston is a relative old-timer in Sonoma, and seems as if it is sometimes overlooked that hundreds of other wineries have sprung up in Sonoma since its birth more than 35 years ago. While vin gris means gray wine, the term is also used for rosé at times as well, for white wines made from red-skinned grapes. Composed of grenache, mourvedre and cinsault, this pink wine is a typical southern French blend. Extremely and wonderfully floral with refreshing cherry fruit, it is a reminder that Preston is alive and kicking. Suggested retail: $25

Pamela S. Busch is the wine director and proprietor of CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen in San Francisco.

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