It's now the mid-point of the spring of 2012 and I don't need to tell the residents of Southern California this has been a pretty flaccid season so far. We've had bouts of morning sun followed by afternoon fog, June gloom in April, and hazy, overcast days outnumbering the clear ones as new shoots struggle to find anything resembling a sunny day.
Then, out of nowhere, we'll have a perfect day with the bluest of blue skies and the greenest of foilage providing all the joys of the season.
Then the promise of spring vanishes as the next day will be gloomy.
This is the beginning of rose season, and the first shipments of our great roses have arrived. But so far, we haven't had rose sunshine on a consistent basis. Yeah, we've sold almost 80 cases of rose this year, but the usual rose frenzy is slower to ignite this year because of the unseasonable weather.
And that's true in our house as well. Every time I come home and the sun is still out, I seem to reach for one, but Dale and I have only drunk our way through half of the roses we've received, so we're hoping for more sunny afternoons in the second half of the month. (All in the name of research for this blog, you understand.)
There have been wonderful surprises so far.
Of the roses I've enjoyed most this season, there is one leftover from last year--the 2010 Terrebrune Bandol rose (15.99 per half bottle), only available in half bottles now. Bandol is the most prestigious appellation in Provence, and it has a reputation for producing its finest rose wines because of their wonderful flavor, great structure and their unusual ability to stay drinkable for years. I've consumed 10 year old Tempier roses that are fresh tasting and wonderful to swallow. Saturday night we drank some 2010 Terrebrune rose and it was just about perfect. You really must pick up a few tenths and see for yourselves what an extra year in the bottle will do. There is no more available when the dozen or so half bottles are gone. (The 2011 Bandol roses are scheduled to arrive in June.)
I was disappointed to learn yesterday that the case-and-a-half of the remaining 2011 Clos Alivu Patrimonio rose from Corsica (18.99) is all we get. We drank this on Mother's Day and it blew me away. It would be my Rose of the Year, if we had some at the end of the year. I'll give our blog readers exactly two weeks to respond to this warning: order it or I will. It's that good.
Other roses that have rung my bell are the 2011 Domaine de Fonsainte Corbieres Gris de Gris (12.99), a delicious, delicate Kermit Lynch staple that is as reliable as any rose on the planet, the lively 2011 Domaine de Fouquette Cotes de Provence rose (15.99), the stately 2011 Domaine de Dragon Cotes de Provence rose (15.99), and the remarkable 2011 Domaine Sorin Cotes de Provence rose (10.99), a great value, and the finest rose Sorin has produced in memory. It oozes strawberry and sunshine. The popular 2011 Chateau de Pampelonne Cotes de Provence rose (17.99) is delightfully forward this year, unlike previous vintages where it took 6 months after arrival to gain its poise.
Reliable favorites like 2011 Bergerie de l'Hortus Coteaux de Languedoc Rose de Saignee (13.99) and the 2011 Chateau La Canorgue Luberon rose (15.99) won't disappoint this year. They rarely do. A newcomer to our shelves, the 2011 Chateau Routas Coteaux Varois rose (11.99) is pretty impressive, also.
For sheer value, I'm drinking a lot of Sorin, but I've also enjoyed our best seller so far this year, the 2011 Moulin de Gassac Vin de Pays d'Oc rose (9.99), a bottle that will disappear faster than the speed of light.
So far, all of these wines have been from the south of France--I wonder why they taste so good? Could it be that the south of France is the world's greatest place to make rose? Live with them for awhile and you'll be able to answer that definitively. Even unabashed California wine "homers" reach for these wines first. There are certain things the French do better than anyone, and rose is one of those things.
There is one more rose I need to point out this early in the season, and that is the arrival of the 2011 Sylvain Bailly Sancerre rose (22.99), a brisk Pinot Noir rose that looks like other beautiful roses, but tastes like the brisk, minerally white wines from Sancerre, a pure example of terroir. I don't recommend serving Sancerre rose with the olive-oil and garlic grill foods of the summer, but I absolutely love drinking this with poached salmon. It's a wine that follows the axiom What grows together goes together, and it's pretty nice drinking as an aperitif as well.
Well, there you have it. My pre-season starting lineup. Of course, Samantha will have her own list, as will Bennett, as will Ronnie, as will Andy. Rose, like all wine, is subject to personal taste.
I'm just giving you heads-up on what the Kemner household will be depleting before summer.