chinon rose

chinonI converted a whole room full of people.

But don’t be thinking we were saying “Hail Mary’s” when we were done.

What everyone was saying was, “I never thought I’d like pink wine.”

Here’s what I did: I was hosting a summer-time wine tasting, and when I say “summer” I mean 90 degree temps plus 90 percent humidity. This is the kind of weather that makes you want to float in a pool with a very cold drink in your hand.rose

So predictably, my wine list included a snappy, grapefruit-y Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. But it also included Le Grand Bouqueteau Chinon Rose 2010. This wine is a beautiful pale salmon-pink color, and for many American wine drinkers, pink wine = sweet wine. At least out here in the Great American Heartland, the vast majority of pink wine is White Zinfandel, which my regular, wine-taste-attending customers wouldn’t touch with a ten foot straw.

So when I pulled out the Chinon Rose they looked at me like the heat had cooked my brain. But when I poured it, and they tasted it, their faces lit up.

This rose comes from the Chinon appellation, which is tucked into the Touraine region of France’s Loire Valley. In Chinon, the most widely-planted red grape is Cabernet Franc, and that’s what this rose is made from. It undergoes the same winemaking process as any other dry wine, except that the skins (the component that gives red wines their color) are removed after soaking with the juice for just a few hours. That’s why the color is so pale.

The Loire is one of the more northerly — i.e. cooler — wine-growing regions in France. And if you’ve been following my blog, you remember that cool temps create more acid in the grapes. Add to this the limestone soils of the central Loire, and you get grapes with bracing acidity and flinty minerality.

Put this all together and you get a great hot-weather wine. It’s crisp, snappy, bone dry and very thirst-quenching.

To be more specific: the nose is much more intense than the color suggests. I got pretty rose petals and strawberry, with a hint of minerality. The palate led with delicate red fruit that quickly turned to snappy acid and finished with a clean, flinty style. And it wasn’t “wimpy” by any means: there was body and structure that would make this wine stand up to meats or shellfish.

None of this is any surprise to European wine drinkers (or Americans who’ve enjoyed summertime in France, Spain, Italy or Portugal). All of these countries make boatloads of rose wine from all kinds of red grapes and quaff it in cafes, parks, on elegant picnics or around their own table.

If you haven’t experienced European rose, you really ought to try it. You may have to go the the “Other Imports” section of your wine store, or better just ask your friendly neighborhood wine retailer. Try it, and tell me how you like it. Cheers!

 

 

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