Rosé … a beautiful, refreshing summer sipper

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Rosé is the product of the fermentation of red grapes, where the skins are left on for a short time, resulting in a light color, lower tannins and a lower alcohol level compared to red wines.  The longer the skin contact, the bigger the body and the darker the color.  Rosé is usually made using the same grape varietals as the red wines from any given region.

The home of rosé is Southern France, with the French drinking more rosé than white wine. About 75% of the wine production in the Provence appellation is rosé. The production of the Tavel appellation in the Southern Rhone is 100% rosé. Other big rosé-producing appellations are Lirac, Côtes Du Ventoux and Côtes Du Luberon, with the most common grapes being Grenache, Cinsault, Mouvedre and Tibourin.

The best rosé I have ever had was Domaine Tempier, and it was damn near perfect:  an ideal balance of weight, fruit, elegance and acidity with wonderful flavors of strawberries, cherries and raspberries. We currently carry Domaine Tempier 2008 Bandol Rosé.  At $44 it’s quite pricey, but well worth the experience. Most rosé falls in the price range of $12 to $18 and most of them won’t disappoint you.

Today, most wine producing areas produce rosé, including Spain, Italy, California, Oregon, Washington and more.  Here are wine notes on several rosés that we currently carry.  Keep in mind that you drink these wines young and for the most part they hit the market starting in late May and are gone by fall, so enjoy them while they last:

Domaine Saint Roch Les Vignes 2008 Rosé (Provence, FR) $16/case $12.80
Notes: Dark peach color. Aromas of ripe strawberries followed by flavors of melon & peaches. A well-balanced and delightful rosé. Dry finish.

Domaine Ott 2008 Les Domaniers Rosé (Provence, FR) $21/case $16.80
Notes: Golden peach color. Just beautiful. Aromas of strawberries and melon. Smooth, velvety texture. Well-balanced and structured. Great integrated acidity. Strawberry and melon flavors all the way through. Hints of herbs. Provence, baby!

Fuente Del Conde 2008 Rosado (Cigales, Spain) $14/case $11.20
Notes: a dark pink color with aromas of wild raspberries followed by flavors of raspberry tart and blackberries. Great acidity and refreshing finish.

Triennes 2008 Rosé (Provence, FR) $18/case $14.40
Notes: Peachy pink color.  Beautiful aromas of sweet strawberries, honey dew melon. Smooth, velvety texture with perfect acidity. Elegant and very focused. Great finish. Fantastic rosé.  (Note: currently served at the Portalis Wine Bar by the glass for $8.25.)

Contributor:  Jens Strecker

Wines to pair with grilled meats

From Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar:  Food + Wine

The weather has been beautiful and we know you’re grilling because I had plenty of time over Memorial Day Weekend to compile this list of wine pairings for all kinds of grilled meats.  Hope this gives you some fun, reasonably priced suggestions for the next time you’re cooking out:

Chicken – The light meat of the chicken goes best with lighter, crisp wines as well as reds with low tannins and nice, bright acidity:
Neil Ellis 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa) $20/case $16
Ruggeri Corsini 2006 Barbera d’Alba (Piedmont, Italy) $20/case $16

Ribs – Here you’re looking for rich, full-bodied reds and dry to slightly off dry whites.  Think Zin, Italian whites or dry Riesling:
Nota Bene 2005 Syrah (Washington State) $32/case $25.60
Fattoria Laila 2007 Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi Classico Superiore (Marche, Italy) $13/case $10.40
Four Vines 2006 Maverick Zinfandel (Amador County, CA) $28/case $22.40

Steaks – Seek big wines with lots of flavor and medium tannins; Cabs, Syrah and Malbec are all a perfect complement:
Beckmen Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (Ynez Valley, CA) $27/case $21.60
Luigi Bosca 2005 Malbec Single Vineyard (Mendoza, Argentina) $22/case $17.60

Pork – You’re looking for straight-forward wines to not over power the light meat of the pork. Go with Spanish reds and reds from Montepulciano and Chianti:
Centorame 2006 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (Abruzzo, Italy) $21/case $16.80
Legado Munoz 2007 Garnacha (Tierra de Castilla, Spain) $11.50/case $9.20

Salmon – Richer flavored fish needs a richer flavored wine, but with low tannins. Pinot Noir is perfect:.
Byron 2007 Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley, CA) $25.50/case $20.40
Isabel 2008 Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, NZ) $16.50/case $13.20

Enjoy & cheers!
Ross, Server (Fri, Sat, Sun)

Saskia Prüm visits from the Mosel Valley (Germany)

Saskia Prüm, winemaker at S.A. Prüm, with Jens Strecker, owner of Portalis Wines in Seattle
Saskia Prüm, winemaker at S.A. Prüm, with Jens Strecker, owner of Portalis Wines in Seattle

Saskia Prüm holds an honored position for us at Portalis.  She is the first German winemaker to do a tasting at our shop since we opened in 2003, and it was well worth the wait.  She was lovely.  She told me a little about the history of the winery … Located in the village of Wehlen (southwest Germany) near the one of the most famous vineyards in the Mosel Valley, the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, the estate has been in her family since her great grandfather began in 1911.  The estate flourished under father, who began running the estate in 1971, and as of 2005, it has been in Saskia’s hands.  She said that she knew from an early age that this was her calling.  With a smile, she said she had probably participated in her first wine tasting at age 9. She received a Diploma of Engineering in Winemaking from the Technical University in Geisenheim.  After that she completed a series of internships in Pfalz/Reingau, Baden & Alto Adige.  Her time in Alto Adige must have been particularly interesting, 1) because it was a huge 200 hector co-op compared with the 16.5 hectars of the S.A. Prüm estate and 2) she got to go hang out in Northern Italy, after all.

Americans so often have a block against white wine that’s not dry, but I can’t encourage you enough to open your experience to these wines as German Riesling is considered some of the finest white wine in the world (and S.A. Prüm is an excellent example of this style of wine).  It’s a thinker’s white wine … beautiful fruit flavors with an amazing acidity that off-sets the slight ending sweetness of the wine.  It’s refreshing as a stand alone sipper, but Riesling also rates as the most versatile white wine to pair with food.  The acidity as well as the fact that it’s not dry allows it to pair beautifully with appetizers, fish, shellfish, chicken, pork and especially cheeses.  It can also handle sweeter & spicier flavors (perfect for Asian cuisines) and the tanginess and heat of Middle Eastern & Mexican dishes.

Here’s what we tasted with Saskia, as well as her commentary on the wines:

S.A. Prüm 2007 Essence Riesling
$12.50/case $10
This wine has a spiciness to the fruit which is lovely, off-set by beautiful acidity.  Lighter than the next wine, it is a beautiful sipping wine.

S.A. Prüm 2003 Bernkasteler Lay $39/case $31.50
This wine has a little more body and a little more yellow in the color.  It has lovely grapefruity flavors and surprisingly, Saskia suggested pairing this wine with a red meat such as lamb.

S.A. Prüm 2007 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett $24/case $19.20
This Riesling comes from the most famous vineyard in the Mosel, the Wehlener Sonnenuhr. As a Kabinett, this wine is sweeter than the first two, but pleasantly so with the tingling acidity off-setting the sweetness beautifully.

S.A. Prüm 2003 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese $39/case $31.50
Auslese, from a selection of highly ripened grapes, is sweeter still than the Kabinett, and moves into the dessert wine category.  Try this with your favorite artisan blue cheese, for an amazing salty sweet combo.  You can enjoy this wine now, but Saskia said that you can lay it down for up to 20 years.

Contributor:  Julie Howe

Food+Wine: On the Menu … Frog Legs

It’s traditional French bistro fare with Chef Tracey’s most recent addition to the menu.  Her art for preparing the frog legs is similar to brining.  She marinates them in buttermilk, Worcestershire sauce & tobasco.  Frogs legs can be tough, but this marinating process makes the meat tender.  After about a day and a half in the marinade, the meat is so tender that it flakes when fried.  In France, you’d most likely have your frog legs sautéed, but Chef Tracey is serving these frog legs fried with a side of whole-grain mustard-tarragon potato salad for a nice seasonal twist with some American flair. 

This dish pairs beautifully with a broad range of wines, including white, rosé and more medium-bodied reds.  Here are some suggestions to choose from based on your mood:

Boedecker Cellars 2007 Old Vine Pinot Gris $8.00
Domaine Lecomte 2006 Quincy $9.00
Boedecker Cellars 2008 Rosé $8.00
Bishop Creek Cellars 2006 Pinot Noir Barrel Selection $9.00
Domaine des Espiers 2007 Gigondas $9.50