Rosé of Distinction from Virginia

I€™ve judged many Virginia wine competitions over the past decade, and one category I always dread is rosé. As much as I champion Virginia wines,
when these wineries make a pink or €œblush€ wine it typically seems
like they€™re trying to make the best of a mistake. €œOops, we took
the juice off the skins too soon and there€™s no color. I know, let€™s
call it rosé!€ Or, €œWell we couldn€™t ripen the Franc again, so
let€™s blend in a little of this vegetal Seyval Blanc and call it a
blush.€ They€™ll tell you it sells like wildfire at the winery
tasting room, but man, it tastes like sweet, unbalanced dreck.

Perhaps it€™s a sign of the maturity of the Virginia wine industry that I tasted two dry rosés this past weekend that would do the Old Dominion proud. Albemarle Rosé 2005 from Kluge Estate just south of Charlottesville
is made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and
Malbec. Essentially, the winery bleeds off about 20% of the juice from
its premium New World Red and its second label, Albemarle Simply Red, to
concentrate their flavors. That means it makes about 1,000 cases each
year (aiming for production of 5,000 cases when the winery reaches its
planned capacity) of this juicy rosé, deep pink in color in the new
style that€™s reaching a most welcome vogue €“ finally! €“ in the U.S. market.

Paler in color and more delicate in flavor, the Barboursville Rosé 2005
is winemaker Luca Paschina€™s first effort at a pink wine. Paschina
hails from Piemonte, and his rosé reminds this Francophile of the
Provencal style just across the border, packing much more flavor than
the color might suggest. Crisp and refreshing, this wine is made from
Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc, and I do not mind saying that it is among the best rosés I€™ve ever tasted.

With the Fall weather turning cool,
you€™re probably in a red-wine frame of mind. But I urge you to keep
rosé in mind €“ and these two in particular if you happen to be near Charlottesville or elsewhere in Virginia
€“ for your Thanksgiving table. Both of these fine wines will
accompany any variety of foods. And, as any true self-respecting
Virginian will tell you, the first Thanksgiving was actually in Virginia, at Berkley Plantation. But I don€™t want to get into that silliness.


Dave Mc

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