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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 3:41 am | Fair 49º


Laurie Jervis: Santa Barbara County’s Rosé Wines Are Summer in a Bottle

These increasingly sophisticated wines will leave you tickled pink — and they’ll whet your appetite for more

Alta Maria’s 2015 pinot noir rosé comes from the estate Rancho Viñedo Vineyard in the eastern Santa Maria Valley.
Alta Maria’s 2015 pinot noir rosé comes from the estate Rancho Viñedo Vineyard in the eastern Santa Maria Valley. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)

It’s summertime, and the living is easy — if you’re sharing a bottle of crisp, fruity rosé wine, that is.

The current crop of rosés typically hit market in late winter and spring, so they now are center stage in Central Coast tasting rooms and on store shelves.

Since the lighter 2015 grape crop forced some winemakers to scale back production of rosés (and other grape varietals), a few wineries I know limited their current rosé releases to club members — their best and most loyal customers.

Still, the number of winemakers producing dedicated rosés increases every year as they stretch to meet consumer demand.

That’s because the tasting public finally “gets” the modern pink wine — elegant, often understated fruit beauties that range in color from the palest shade of salmon to ruby red. Gone are the sticky-sweet fruit bombs of decades past.

One of the best characteristics of a well-balanced rosé wine is its ability to pair with a variety of foods, among them grilled sausages, rich cheeses, sushi and even moderately spicy meals. Acidity in wine always makes it a refreshing companion to edibles.

As in previous years, I started sampling the 2015 rosés earlier this year. Some I sipped in various tasting rooms, and others I shared with food and friends.

The following is a selection of my favorites, in no particular order:

» Buttonwood Farm, Winery & Vineyard, 2015 Estate Syrah Rosé: Light but sweet, typical of syrah rosé.

» Longoria Wines, 2015 “Cuvee June,” a 50-50 rosé blend of syrah and grenache, Santa Ynez Valley: Richard Longoria alternates the blend for his rosé every year, and this is a solid choice.

» Chronic Cellars, 2015 “Pink Pedals,” a blend of 89 percent grenache and 11 percent syrah, Paso Robles: Pretty in pink.

» Larner Vineyard & Winery, 2015 Estate Rosé, a Rhone blend of 57 percent grenache, 23 percent mourvèdre and 19 percent syrah: I tried this at a Rhone Rangers tasting in Santa Barbara, and it’s a super Rhone blend.

» Alta Maria Vineyards, 2015 Pinot Noir Rosé, Rancho Viñedo Vineyard: Luscious and with an essence of cream soda.

» Blair Fox Cellars, 2015 Haylee’s Rosé, blend of grenache, syrah and zinfandel: I keep going back to this beauty, year after year.

The 2014 Kessler Haak estate rosé is pure beauty in a glass.
The 2014 Kessler Haak estate rosé is pure beauty in a glass. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)

» Hitching Post Wines, 2015 “Pinks,” a free-run juice blend of pinot noir from the Santa Rita Hills and Valdiguie from French Camp Vineyards in Santa Margarita: A favorite of mine and a great buy.

» Foxen Vineyard & Winery, 2015 Rosé of mourvèdre, Vogelzang Vineyard: Light spice.

» Epiphany Wine Company, 2015 Grenache Rosé, Santa Barbara County: Understated.

» Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards, 2015 Z Gris Rosé, a unique blend of 99 percent grenache and 1 percent cinsault: Bright and full of flavor.

» Kessler-Haak Vineyard and Wines, 2014 Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir: A beauty, elegant and fruit-laden.

» Liquid Farm, 2015 Rosé of mourvèdre, Vogelzang Vineyard: Elegant in color and flavor.

For those who prefer pink bubbles, I suggest sparkling brut rosés from several producers, among them Riverbench Vineyard & Winery, Kessler-Haak, Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, Flying Goat Cellars, Blair Fox Cellars and Tessa Marie Wines.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Fess Parker Wines also makes the “Fesstivity” label, all sparkling wines. Click to view larger
Fess Parker Wines also makes the “Fesstivity” label, all sparkling wines. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk photo)

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