The first sign of spring this year wasn't crocuses poking through the tundra; it was the steady pink stream arriving from the West Coast in the form of rosé. The gush began a few weeks ago, and if you're a rosé fan, you'll want to try these refreshing bottles now with a bit of soft goat cheese. Preferably outside.
Among the first to arrive was a glorious bottle from Arnot-Roberts. Duncan Arnot and Nathan Roberts were dubbed winemakers of the year by Jon Bonné of the San Francisco Chronicle, and they are notable among the new wave of California wineries making French-inspired, lower alcohol wines. They also like to use relatively obscure varietals. This blend is 80% Touriga Nacional and 20% Tinta Cao, both grapes associated with the Douro region of Portugal. The Arnot-Roberts rosé has lush strawberry flavors as well as good acidity. It's a bottle worth seeking out, even at $22.
Last year I fell in love with winemaker Ryan Zepaltas' rosé. While I'm less enthused about this year's offering, it is still tasty juice produced by a Wisconsin native. Zepaltas makes wine for Siduri and Novy, and his rosé is part of a side project he has under his own label. There are caramel-like notes in the mid-palate as well as a pleasant brightness. And the wine may settle down some yet, so hold onto a bottle for comparison later ($18).
The 2012 Waters rosé is ethereally light. A blend of 63% Syrah and 37% Viognier, this is aromatic wine with big peach flavors from Washington state's Walla Walla Valley. There is a floral kick from the Viognier that is remarkably lively, and makes this a bottle perfect for brunch or for starting a dinner party ($18).
My favorite rosé of the year so far - aside from Robert Sinskey's, which had such a tiny allocation to Madison that it's already gone - is from Copain Wines in California's Russian River Valley. Superbly balanced and almost austere by comparison to the others, this 100% Pinot is dry but luscious. Copain winemaker Wells Guthrie also takes his inspiration from lighter French wines, and this well-rounded bottle is a testament to his skill and aesthetic. Minerally and crisp ($21).
A great value rosé this spring hails from Northeastern Catalonia, along the Mediterranean. The Espelt Corali 2012 is earthy, savory and even a touch salty. Think cherry blossoms and cranberries carried on a sea breeze. Made from sustainably farmed 30-year-old Grenache vines, this riveting porch-pounder is a mere $12. Instead of goat cheese, pair it with a dish heavy on garlic.