The drama! The intrigue! In a battle of the taste buds who will survive?! *cue dramatic Iron Chef-type music*
Huh? Are we watching reality television? Is this thing on?
Fortunately (or unfortunately) there will be no Kiva reality series. (Although, I tend to think it would make for some very entertaining material!)
There will, however, be another monthly wine and cheese pairing featuring notes from Ziggy and Josh, our wine and cheese buyers. This one is particularly interesting because of their difference of opinion. There is only one way to settle this dispute and that is to taste for yourself!
Ziggy: Since it’s beginning to look like spring is here, everything is coming up rosés.
If you think sweet and sickly when you see pink, you might want to rethink your drink. Rosés are often misunderstood and their versatility can be under-appreciated.
A rosé wine can vary in color from palest pink through peach and orange hues to varied shades of clear, vivid red; and can vary in palate from delicate to bold. Some, yes, are sweet, and some are dry with varying degrees of tannin. The right rosé can complement a mild fish dish or take on a grilled steak, and the color alone won’t tell you a great deal about the character of the wine.
There are several ways rosés arrive at their rosy hue. Most are made from grapes used to make red wine, either as a single varietal or a blend, and colored by being allowed to remain in contact with the skins, where the pigment resides. Others may be produced by blending white and red wines. While this is not a popular method in many regions, there are some very tasty wines that result from it.
Most rosés will be crisp and have vivid fresh fruit notes like strawberry, cherry, apricot or melon, and, served chilled, will complement and enhance a summer afternoon or evening.
We chose Territorial’s Pinot Noir Rosé for our pairing this month. The Kiva has carried Territorial wines for many years, and their Rosé has shown consistent quality and been a steady seller.
We are currently stocking the 2010 Rosé; and the 2011 is expected in soon. I and my tasting partner found it to be drinking extremely well. While the usual advice about drinking rosé fresh is good, many will continue to show well for at least one or two years after bottling. Don’t throw ‘em away without uncorking a taste.
We found the 2010 to have a bright, deep rose color. On the nose, I found notes of violet and strawberry lollipop. The palate was light, bright, and crisp with lots of soft, icy fruit including cherry and stone fruits. We drank it chilled but not iced.
My tasting partner and I particularly liked the rosé with the Fern’s Edge Pleasant Hill cheese, which has a young, sharpish cheddar-like flavor, a crumbly texture, and a bite on the finish. This cheese brought out fresh fruity notes in the wine. Of the Fern’s Edge cheese we tried, this pairing was by far our favorite.
While Josh and Emma especially enjoyed the Mt. Zion with the rosé, I have to disagree. The cheese is excellent–earthy, meaty, and scrumptious–but I wanted to pair it with a big, rich, full-bodied wine (like a Washington Cabernet). I found that it made the rosé taste alkaline and overpowered its bright and fruit notes.
The feta was fresh, rich, mild, and, while salty, it was not overpoweringly so. We thought it went well with the Territorial Rosé and brought out some tannin on the palate.
The Five Corners was soft, initially mild, but with a complex buttery musk on the finish. The Territorial Rosé was a pleasing accompaniment, but the butteriness of the cheese seemed to blunt the wine’s acidic crispness a little.
Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Pays d’Oc 2011: Less than 1000 cases produced. I found this to be crisp and lucid, with clean, clear berry fruits. Quite dry but not acerbic. Made from a blend of Grenache and Cinsault grapes from the Roussillon region. Many pairings are possible, but grilled chicken and vegetables is a top choice. $15.50
Calcu Rosé 2010: A perennial favorite of mine from the Valle de Colchagua, Chile. Made from 50% Malbec, 40% Syrah, and 10% Petit Verdot, there is some complexity to this round, slightly magical blend. It deserves its name, which means “magician” in a local language. $11.75
Druid’s Fluid Pink 2009: Lightly sweet, fruity, and easy to drink, Druid’s Fluid wines hail from Oregon’s Troon Vineyards in the Applegate Valley. If you’re looking for a crowd-pleaser, it’s “the wine for everyone”–in their own words. $12.00
Hey Mambo Kinky Pink 2010: A California Pinot Noir Rosé. A tasty, dry rosé that will cool off a hot afternoon, accompany salmon on the barbeque, or otherwise serve any function you desire of a dry rosé. Good value–and a fun name. $10.50
Melrose Two Dog Red 2009: Sweet but not too sweet, with a residual sugar of 1.7%, this rosé contains a fair amount of Pinot Gris. Another easy quaffer for a warm summer night, it would also make a good aperitif with many hors d’oeuvres. $12.00
Cardwell Hill Rosé of Pinot Noir 2011: From a small producer of excellent Pinot Noir, Cardwell Hill’s Rosé is dry and bright with a cherry/berry nose and a fresh finish. A fine value and versatile dinner guest from the Willamette Valley. $10.50
Charles & Charles Rosé 2011: Yes, you can drink rosé and still be bad… Edgy packaging and copy, and a solid mouthful of dry, bright syrah rosé. A bucket of ice is all it lacks. $10.50
Del Rio Rosé Jolee: A rosé that tastes sweeter than its official figure of .5% residual sugar because of the predominance of the heavenly fragrant Early Muscat that makes up 63% of the blend. 17% Riesling and 20% blend of red grapes makes up the rest of this salmon-colored wine that would be equally at home with spicy Asian food or a cheesecake dessert. $11.75
This list is not exhaustive, and it doesn’t even touch sparkling rosés, which also come in a spectrum ranging from the fascinating, complicated, and elegant to fizzy pink grown-up soda-pop. As the season warms up (yes, it will–I think it will…) we’ll be seeing more rosés from France, Spain, and Italy. Ask Ziggy to tell you exactly what’s in stock!
Josh: “I don’t have to go away for the weekend, I’m already here, ” says Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy owner, Shari, as she casts a proud glance across her farm indicating her view of Dexter Lake through the trees. She has been raising award-winning dairy goats at her beautiful farm in Lowell since the early 1970’s.
Happy goats produce good-quality milk, and her goats have every reason to be happy. Each goat is named and cared for as a member of the family, grows up on organic feed, dutifully produces milk, and then retires with her fellow “beloved old ladies” to live out her days in the bucolic pastures of the farm. She pays to have each goat’s milk tested every three weeks to ensure the health of the animals and the quality of the milk. Her impeccably-clean dairy results in fresh, clean-tasting cheeses that would never be described as “goaty”.
I chose to celebrate this devotion to sustainable farming, happy, healthy goats, and high-quality local cheese, by selecting Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy’s pride and joy, their Mt. Zion aged goat cheese, for this month’s wine and cheese pairing:
The Wine: Territorial Vineyard’s Rosé is fruity, bright and clean, portending of lazy summer evenings to come.
The Cheese: Mt. Zion is a raw, toothsome aged artisan farmstead goat cheese in the style of a Spanish Manchego. This cheese serves as a showpiece for a great collaboration between the goat herd owner and cheese-maker that brings together decades of of dairy goat experience with generations of cheese-making experience.
The Pairing: A good, straight-ahead, innocently refreshing rosé meets an older, more seasoned cheese and suddenly becomes more interesting.