Schaefer on Wine: Those lazy, hazy, rosé days of summer

This marks another guest post on my personal blog.  Dennis Schaefer and I share wine columnist duties for the Santa Barbara News-Press, and his wine descriptions are always genuine, consumer-focused and on point.  Of the rosés featured here, I have to tip my own hat to the Tercero and the CrossBarn wines, which are remarkable both for their value and for the quintessential summer sipping they inspire.
-- Gabe Saglie, Senior Editor, Travelzoo

Story by Dennis Schaefer, published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 8/20/15

In California, we drink rosé year-round, but it always seems to taste best during the warmest dog days of summer. Just the thought of pulling chilled rosé from an ice bucket, the cold droplets of perspiration dripping from the bottle, makes me salivate.

Oh, it helps if there's some crudités, salami, olives and artisan bread on the patio table as well. But you get the picture. Here are some of the top rosé picks of the season.

Tercero Rosé of Mourvedre, Happy Canyon, Vogelzang Vineyard 2014 ($22): Light salmon in color, the red berry fruits on the nose jump out of the glass, augmented by orange blossom and mineral notes. Fruit-forward on the palate, the mourvedre grape gives a rosé plenty to work with, including flavors of strawberry, watermelon, cranberry and, best of all, pomegranate, the latter giving the wine a deeper and more complex underpinning. A wine of substance, it opens up as it sits in the glass and then finishes with crisp and tangy citrusy acidity.

Halter Ranch Estate Rosé, Paso Robles 2014 ($21): Bright garnet in color, this grenache-based rosé has a nose of cherry, red raspberry, watermelon and rose petal. Both red and dark cherry fruit come through on the palate, with a bit of a sour twist, then strawberry Kool-Aid and raspberry chime in along with a tropical touch of guava on the back end. Sounds complicated, but it all comes together with a fine focus on midpalate, while savory aspects, that lurk just below the surface, add to its complexity.

Justin Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles 2014 ($16): This cabernet sauvignon-based version, from Justin's flagship grape and picked from a select vineyard block, is Kool-Aid pink and has a big nose of red cherry and melon with hints of raspberry, strawberry and even darker fruits in the mix. Hard candy cherry, strawberry preserves, candied violets, savory herbs and a good dose of minerality come together on the palate. It's a big rosé capable of doing business with just about anything at the summer dining table.

Crossbarn by Paul Hobbs Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast 2014 ($20): This distinctive bottling has the pale pink color of Himalayan salt (I know, because I just bought some), with cherry, strawberry, orange blossom and brewed hibiscus tea on the nose. Just from the aromatics, it's very expressive yet seemingly very fragile at the same time. Delicate and multifaceted in the mouth as well, with flavors of hibiscus tea again, warm white peach skin directly from being picked, freshly grated jicama and crushed sea shell. Exotically tantalizing bordering on the erotic, it seems the more you taste it, the less you understand and the more enchanting it becomes. Great acidity on the upbeat finish invites another sip. One of the best I've tasted this year.

Saved Rosé, "Magic Marker," California 2014 ($18): Clay Brock, formerly of Zaca Mesa, now of Wild Horse in Paso Robles, has this "Saved" side project with tattoo artist Scott Campbell. He sources his fruit for this multi-grape variety blend not only from Paso Robles but also Monterey and Santa Maria Valley. Beautifully salmon hued (in a clear bottle), it has a strawberry and tart cherry nose. The strawberry and red berry flavors are enhanced by the bright, trailing acidity. Mouth-puckering and piquant, it's on the very dry side on the finish, just the way I like it. Widely available and a best-buy.


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