Trendy though it may be, pinot noir is a pretty amazing thing. I don’t mean this just because it makes some of the best red wines in the world, but also because it is responsible for some of the most esteemed Champagnes and other sparkling wines, white wines (yes, it has white juice, so, in the absence of skin contact, it makes white wine) and rosé. It is the latter that I would like to discuss today.
As those of you who read this column regularly may know, I think it is fine to drink whatever you want, whenever you want it. Champagne is certainly not bound by season, syrah in the summer is perfectly acceptable and riesling is my drink of choice when I get off the slopes. That said, if there ever was a time to drink rosé, my friends, it is now.
Rosé can be made with a multitude of grapes, and as long as red grape skins are somehow involved, even white grapes can be used. Rosé will pick up the characteristics of the grapes from which it is made. So when I feel like something refreshing, rosé made from pinot noir is perfect. Light-bodied and filled with berry fruits, it can be like punch for grown-ups. Also, its high acidity is especially thirst-quenching.
Before I recommend three wines for you to try, please take note that alcohol, no matter the color or temperature, is dehydrating — so please, drink water with your wine, especially when it’s hot.
Saintsbury Vin Gris, 2007 (Carneros, California): This wine is one of California’s best-kept secrets. Known for a range of red wines made from pinot noir, Saintsbury’s Vin Gris is a delightful, medium-bodied, blend of strawberries, cherries and blood oranges, with a juicy, dry finish. Suggested retail: $14
Etude rosé of pinot noir, 2007 (Carneros, California): Under its founder and winegrower, Tony Soder, Etude has been one of the leading producers of pinot noir in California since the mid 1990s. Made entirely from estate fruit, its rosé has fresh strawberry, cherry flavors with an underpinning of minerals and racy acidity. Suggested retail: $20
Charles Audoin Marsannay rosé, 2007 (Burgundy, France): Cyril Audoin is a bit of a prodigy, having made his first wine when he was all of 15 (even in France, that is not the legal drinking age.) Now, at 27, he is widely considered one of the top winemakers in the village. Though Marsannay is known for its red wines, this rosé is a fine representative with tart, fresh strawberries and a marked minerality. Suggested retail: $24
Pamela S. Busch is the wine director and proprietor of CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen in San Francisco.