Always good to start off a blog with a clunker of a pun. But hey, wouldn’t a nice crisp glass of not-red-not-white wine make it better?
A brief on rosé: it’s usually the juice of red (or purple, or black) skinned grapes that is macerated with the skins for a short period. Leave it longer, and you’d just end up with red wine, because the skins impart the color (that’s how Blanc de Noirs Champagne is made— the juice from black grapes is still white!). There’s also the palest pink wine, sometimes referred to as vin gris that is just the juice with no skin contact. It all depends on the color of the pulp of the fruit. There are other methods, but it’s not red and white wine mixed, for the most part.
The two suitors for your hard-earned $15 or less this week are 2016 vintages of Crios Rosé of Malbec and Les Hauts de Lagarde Bordeaux. Bordeaux is a region known for blends, so the grapes in this concoction are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec.
I played with the tone in the picture, but only so the image more closely resembles the actual color of these babies! They are vivid and deep hued, nearly electric looking.
The Malbec is a bit more orange, a bit more transparent. The Bordeaux is basically the definition of “pink”. I picked it, in fact, because it was the deepest one on the shelf.
Prominent on the Crios label is the name Susana Balbo. Who is she?
According to the Crios site:
Born into a traditional family, Susana reneged of her fate since she was young by applying to study nuclear physics in Bariloche. Being this a very unconventional choice for the time, her parents refused to let her leave Mendoza. From that point, Susana decided to follow the family business (viticulture) professionally, thus challenging the contemporary social beliefs, because at that time no women had graduated as winemaker. In 1981 Susana received her degree in enology, and became the first woman in Argentina to do so. Her career started in Cafayate, Salta province at Michel Torino winery where she was in charge of developing and stylizing the Torrontes varietal. Afterwards she worked at many well-regarded wineries such as Martins and Catena Zapata. In 2012, she was recognized as one of the “Most influental women wine-makers” by The Drink Business magazine. Recently, in 2015, she was awarded by the same magazine as “Woman of the year”.
I love this. She just jumped to the top of the list of people I’d like to meet! Nuclear physics and wine!
As for the wine itself, the label tells the truth. It’s wonderfully dry and crisp. Checking what other tasters have written, everyone mentions strawberry and raspberry on both the nose and in the mouth— and while I agree (and perhaps I shouldn’t have eaten before tasting), I also get plum skin and…is that spice? I won’t pretend that I’m a sommelier. What I will say is that it’s delicious and balanced, and makes an ideal choice to convert someone who doesn’t like reds and only drinks whites.
The Bordeaux works the other way. So if you or a friend feels like white wine is red wine but with all the good stuff taken out, try this! Like red, it has all kinds of things going on: layers of tastes, aromas, sensations. It also smells a bit like red wine. In a truly blind test, I can imagine doubting myself, even the taste, if it’s at room temperature. The only thing that makes it stand out as not a full-blown red is the acidity, which balances out a pretty, fruity, completely dry yet somehow suggesting…a doughnut? A jam doughnut? Zero sweetness, but there’s a savory “fried bread” or maybe croissant-y butter that is right alongside the raspberry zing. You can dismiss me as fussy or crazy, but taste it and then tell me what you think!
Les Hauts de Lagarde is an organic producer, and also is vegan/gluten free. This is actually an important distinction, because the fining process—the last steps winemakers take to clarify and stabilize their creation— sometimes uses ingredients from animals, like egg whites or fish air bladders. It’s not that these things remain in the wine, but just like chefs use egg whites to attract stray particles when making a consommé, they do come into contact with the product.
So who wins this week? I say we all do. These are both winners! Rosés for everyone!
2016 Crios Rosé of Malbec Thirsty Cellist score: 8.5/10
Pros: fun, fruity, refreshing, awesome woman behind the wine
Cons: I do not know these cons of which you speak
Recommendation: buy and drink now. This wine is best young.
2016 Les Hauts de Lagarde Bourdeaux Rosé Thirsty Cellist score: 8.5/10
Pros: big for a rosé, fun to keep sipping and tasting new layers, stands up to food well, completely devoid of animal products and organically grown
Cons: These aren’t the cons you are looking for. Move along.
Recommendation: buy and drink now!
I wanted to close with a good Obi-Wan gif to go with the “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for” riff, but instead I found this while searching, and it proved too silly to pass up. More soon: I have a phone interview with a wonderful producer in Napa tomorrow!
Are you the trooper on the left or the right?