By Kim Fuller Published in the Vail Daily
Taste of Vail events teach that rose wine is more complex than expected.
Note: Associated Press style has journaslists leave out the accent mark on rose, the wine. So while it seems to read like the well-known flower, read it here as it is pronounced in French, like “rose-a.”
Speaking of being lost in translation, rose wine is just recently recovering from its negative association with white zinfandel — a generally sweet and inexpensive pink wine made popular in America in the ’70s and ’80s.
Sydney Hunter-Edwards is the assistant portfolio director for Shaw-Ross Fine Wine Division and led the “Wake Up and Smell the Rose” seminar for Taste of Vail on Saturday morning at Sweet Basil, featuring the four roses of the Château D’Esclans winery in Provence, France.
“Once they taste it, it’s a different story, but convincing them that it’s not going to be sweet and that it’s going to be a nice, dry, easy-to-drink rose is pretty much the entire battle,” said Hunter-Edwards of introducing rose to wine drinkers who assume a pink drink only means sweet and cheap.
Château D’Esclans has been setting the bar for rose production and consumption since becoming a rose-only winery in 2006. In its 20th anniversary this year, the winery sells the most expensive bottle of rose in the world — the Château D’Esclans Garrus Rose (80 percent grenache and 20 percent rolle), at $100 a bottle.
“There have been so many producers that have started making great roses,” Hunter-Edwards said. “And it’s only helping us because the word gets out about rose in general.”
The word has been heard in Vail, certainly, as a big crowd packed the Grand Ballroom at the Arrabelle at Vail Square in Lionshead on Wednesday afternoon for the Taste of Vail’s third year of the Debut of Rose tasting.
These are the featured pairings from the “Wake Up and Smell the Rose” breakfast seminar with Château D’Esclans Roses.
1. Whispering Angel Rose 2015, paired with summer berries — Château D’Esclans’ Whispering Angel is the winery’s most popular rose. It’s has floral and berry aromas, but its taste and finish are dry. The wine is aged in stainless steel, and very Provence-style, as it’s light, refreshing, crisp and easy to drink.
2. Rock Angel Rose 2014, paired with sharp cheddar and caramelized onion quiche — Château D’Esclans launched Rock Angel last year. As the winery puts it: “It started with a whisper, and now it’s time to rock.” This blend has more minerality and spice than the Whispering Angel; Rock Angel is fermented half in stainless steel tanks and half in oak barrels, which gives it more of a silky and structured texture.
3. Les Clans Rose 2013, paired with smoked salmon with lemon cream cheese profiterole — Sydney Hunter-Edwards, assistant portfolio director for Shaw-Ross Fine Wine Division, said this wine is “getting into a very serious rose.” It’s 100 percent oak fermented, with grenache grapes that come from 60-year-old vines. Only about 1,500 cases of the Les Clans are produced for the United States each year. The rose is light in color, reminiscent of a white burgundy in its look and taste. The wine stands up well to a lot of different foods.
4. Garrus Rose 2013, paired with pork belly scone — The Garrus comes from Château D’Esclans’ oldest plot of land, from the top of the vineyard. There are a limited amount of 80-year-old grenache grapes to work with to get a small amount of free-run juice for this wine. Each year, only about 25 barrels are produced for the world, with about 1,000 six-bottle cases for the United States. New French oak barrels are used to age this rose, giving it a velvety texture with notes of vanilla.