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Advice needed on small scale Rosé tasting party

I am relatively new to rosé but absolutely love the wine. I'd like to have an excuse to try several rosés at one time;however, I am not sure how to set it up. I was originally thinking of having three different regions then I thought of doing three different varietals. I am good with food part but I would appreciate any advice on wines and organization of the tasting. Here are the parameters:

1. The group is comprised of all red wine drinkers (except DH and myself) but they do like Cavas. They really like Zinfandels and Cabs specifically a Zin from Jessie's Grove winery in Lodi and Frank Family Cabernet. We have regular wine tastings so I prefer it to be well structured rather than three of my favorite rosés.
2. Budget is not an issue and I have access to a lot of sources and am planning this well in advance in case I need to have wine shipped.
3. Thinking of having three wines and a sparkling wine.
4. I will have light snacks with the tasting and then we can proceed to the rest of the dinner so they can enjoy their reds should the rosés not be to their liking.

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  1. Different regions might be fun. Limiting yourself to varietal wines would unfortunately strike several of the top rosés off your list of candidates, since they're blends. Another thing to bear in mind is that many rosés are insipid at best and candy-sweet dreck at worst. Given that you're going to be preaching to the doubtful, I wonder whether your best tactic mightn't be simply to select the best pink wines you can lay your hands on. Were I in your shoes, my lineup would include as many of the following as I could fit in:
    - Domaine Tempier's Bandol rosé (Mourvèdre-based blend)
    - Bruno Clair's Marsannay rosé (100% Pinot Noir)
    - Domaine d'Alzipratu's Corse Calvi "Cuvée Fiumessecu" (70% Sciaccarellu, 30% Niellucciu/Sangiovese)
    - Domaine de la Mordorée's Tavel (Grenache-based blend), because it's a benchmark, not because I particularly like it or any Tavel for that matter
    - Domaine Saint-Nicolas's Fiefs Vendéens "Cuvée Reflets" (a pretty Pinot Noir, Gamay and Groslot blend)
    - Billecart-Salmon NV Champagne rosé (Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir vinified as white and blended with Pinot Noir vinified as red)

    All French, I know, but in my experience France makes the best pink wines. You should also check out the recent "Any rosé recommendations?" thread: www.chowhound.com/topics/385145

    2 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      Carswell, all this rosé talk got me interested and I started hunting around the house (no cellar) and found a 2005 Chateau de Ségriès, Tavel ($11.99) recommended by K&L, which we opened for dinner with fresh green beans, tomatoes, onions and okra from the garden. I have to say we enjoyed it as it was so fresh and crisp and had to drink the whole bottle even with the leftover Chianti we had with our pasta. You said, “not because I particularly like it or any Tavel for that matter”, so are the other recommendations that much better? If so, Tracy L is in for a treat.

      1. re: BN1

        Fresh and crisp aren't the descriptors that spring to mind when I think of Tavel. Hot and blowsy are more like it. In contrast to the short maceration time used when making most other rosés, the grapes for Tavel rosé are traditionally left to macerate for up to two days, then pressed and fermented like white wine. To my palate, the resulting rosé is dense, powerful, dull and unrefreshing.

        That said, I've no experience with the Château de Ségriès rosé, though I see from various websites that they're viewed as innovators and use the "saignée" process and limit maceration to overnight, both of which would produce a fresher, lighter wine. The WSJ (6/1/07) also appears to agree with your assessment: "Lovely, light and flavorful, with cherries, raspberries and a touch of orange zest. Clean and fresh, with good balancing acidity. A complete wine. Excellent with food. VERY GOOD - BEST OF TASTING." (BTW, the suggested retail price as $17.99, so sounds like you got a deal.) If the Ségriès is as you describe, it'd be a first for Tavel in my experience. The exception that proves the rule or the harbinger of a new trend? In any case, thanks for the heads-up.

    2. Second on Tempier and Billecart-Salmon.

      Chateau Simone is great.

      Robert Sinskey's rosé of pinot noir's the best California rosé I've had.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Third on the Tempier and Billecart-Slamon. If budget REALLY isn't an issue, the Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Elisabeth is usually a breathtaking wine, the '96 being easily the greatest Rose Champagne I've ever had (and one of the best Champagnes of any style). I have yet to try the '98, though.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Second on the Robert Sinskey rosé of pinot. Relatively affordable too, compared to his other offerings, though may not be as easy to find as the Domaine Tempier.

          And fourth on the Billecart-Salmon. But given that the OP is a new rosé drinker, I'm a little afraid that having her start with the Billecart may ruin her taste buds with all other rosés for good, and maybe champagne as well. The first time I had CdP was a Beaucastel, and few if any CdP's following have ever lived up to it. Maybe work your way up to a Billecart?

          1. re: mengathon

            The Sinskey's quite expensive as still rosés go. More expensive than the Tempier, which is a considerably better wine.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Strange, I'm pretty sure the Tempier is more expensive than the Sinskey. I seem to recall not being able to find the Tempier rosé for less than $27-30 in NYC, yet buying the '06 Sinskey rosé for right around $20. I also don't agree that the Tempier is a considerably better wine, but they're both very pleasurable.

              1. re: mengathon

                I guess I've just found the Tempier at a good discount. Looks like it lists for around $30 vs. $20 for the Sinskey. There's so little of the latter that it doesn't get discounted much.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            RSV does make an excellent Rose of Pinot(I guess it is easy to do when you have such amazing fruit). His most recent vintage is a Vin Gris 2006 which is very highly sought after but very difficult to find.

            I recently tried Belle Glos' rose of Pinot which I thought was quite good -- in the lower $20s.

            I would highly recommend obtaining a Cote de Provence if you are doing a rose tasting as well as a Tavel -- IMO these are how roses should be made and are the model for a rose producers around the world. I have had Domaine Tempier's Bandol (cannot recall which vintage) and liked it quite a bit. If you want to be trendy and overpay for rose (a good rose nonetheless) get Domaine Ott -- either the Cote de Provence or he Bandol Rose.

          3. I’m a fan of Jessie’s Grove Zin too and have avoided rosé like the plague in the past. However, I just bought a Goldeneye, “Migration”, Vin Gris of Pinot Noir. It was $20 at the winery.

            1. This is just me but I've enjoyed rosés from Spain, Italy AND France. I think that it would be cool to cross a few borders during your journey. Again, this is just me.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Chinon00

                I've like Spanish rosados but have yet to encounter an Italian rosé that thrills. (The closest I've come is a one-off Rosato di Nebbiolo made from California grapes by Bonny Doon, a fabulous wine.) Any reccos?

                1. re: carswell

                  From Puglia, try the Metiusco Salento Rosso or try a Cal-Ital rosato from Palmina called Botasea.

                  1. re: carswell

                    I'd reco 2 Italian rosatos.

                    Current favorite is Bastianich 2006 Rosato Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC. Made from 100% Refosco. Just had some I discovered last week, and it's a new favorite rose.

                    In previous years, I've also had luck with Cantalupos "Il Mimo" rosato if nebbiolo, though I'm personally finding this year's model a bit sweet for my taste...it seems to have a touch of residual sugar in it.

                    As far as Spanish Roses, current favs are old vine garnachas (i.e., grenache) from the Navarra regoin. Crisp, clean, loaded with strawberry flavors, but not at all sweet. All the bottles I've found that fit under this definition are pretty good, so if you can't find specific marks, pick one and give it a shot. I've had good luck with Artazuri, and a more mass market brand called "Two Guitars"

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I agree. But in prior years, it seemed less so. I bought a case at the beginning of the summer, based on past experience, and I think I've still got 7-8 bottles left. In the meantime, I must have had 2-3 cases of other roses. I just didn't enjoy the Mimo. Don't know if they intentionally left it sweeter to broaden appeal or what, but it just seems different this season.

                2. If you want to have the central coast (California) represeted at your party, may I suggest L'Aventure Rosé 2006. It is elegant and complex, with notes of strawberry. Sounds like a great party.

                  1. "we can proceed to the rest of the dinner so they can enjoy their reds"

                    So in essence, this is a dinner party with a very small wine tasting as amusement beforehand.

                    In that case, that you say "We have regular wine tastings so I prefer it to be well structured rather than three of my favorite rosés" doesn't make all that much sense to me. I believe I know 'where you are coming from' but my view is you needn't.

                    Why not have your favorite rosé wines as the tasting? What's wrong with such an idea? Wouldn't you be able to discuss these wines with a greater basis of knowledge?

                    This is not a strictly educational or strictly critical wine tasting. It's something you are doing for fun. A few friends to taste this then taste that. Really, how much structure do you need?

                    While it is fun drinking new wines, I find it also fun to drink wines I know I like. Some people forget that almost always there is nothing wrong with the wines they like (the caveat because some people like Retsina).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: FrankJBN

                      Actually, if it isn't structured they might not be interested in tasting at all; somehow the educational part of the tasting lends more credibility for them. For example, a few of us visited Portland, OR. a few years ago. Up to that point I don't think anyone was remotely interested in Pinots but one person suggested we try a bottle the first night of our visit. From there we decided to try other Pinots and possibly have a Pinot tasting party. While they weren't as crazy about Pinots as they were about their favorite Zins they liked learning about Pinot. Additionally, we usually do our tasting first then proceed to food.

                      Lastly, I am still new to rosés so selfishly I'd like to have an excuse to buy and compare several bottles at one sitting.

                    2. Thanks for the input. I think I'll start off with Champagne and then have one from Spain, Italy and California.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                        Many Spanish rosados tend toward the sweet side, so choose carefully. Here are three I have liked:

                        Certainly one of the most interesting rosados out there is R. Lopez de Heredia's Vina Tondonia Rosado from La Rioja, aged like a red in large barrels for an incredibly long time. I think they have released the 1996 vintage this year. Amazingly bright and tangy for the age, but with lots of spicy subtleties and sherry-like oxidized notes. About $22, surely will spark conversation. Do not overchill.

                        Not really as good, but certainly unique as well is Pago del Vicario's rosado from La Mancha made from 100% Petit Verdot. Tangy, fruity, lavendar notes.

                        Reliably non-sweet is Bodegas Estancia Piedra rosado from Toro, made with Tinta de Toro (the local Tempranillo). Dry, smoky asphalt, strawberry up front then black cherry with a peppery, bitter finish, nice and inexpensive wine.

                        As far as Italians, I have liked Il Mimo and didn't notice that this year's was sweeter than last year but I only had it once. I like the slightly bitter finish in the Nebbiolo rose.

                        This year I tried a rose from Sardinia, Argiolas Serra Lori, fairly simple and just dry enough--but not drier than Il Mimo.

                        An extremely dry rose is 05 Heinrich Mayr Nusserhof Sudtirol Lagrein Kretzer from Alto Adige...very tart, lemons and raspberries, from an odd grape and an interesting region, so that might be a fun choice.

                        1. re: kenito799

                          I was curious about the Vina Tondonia Rosado from La Rioja, so I did a little research, I think this wine will fit the bill. It meets the groups tastes on a lot of levels as well as introducing them to rose. Thanks for the suggestion.

                          1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                            Lopez de Heredia makes fantastic old school wines...thanks for reminding me, I am going to get some of the rosado at a storewide sale at Crush wines in NYC tomorrow!

                      2. I finally had the party and wine tasting. It went really well, we started of with the Domaine Tempier -- everyone enjoyed this a lot, I need to get another bottle to have some for myself, I was busy with some kitchen duty so I just got a small taste. Next we tried 2006 St Edmunds Bone-Jolly El Dorado County Gamay Noir Rose. I chose this specifically because the wine is from a region we like to visit as a group and it is practically in our backyard. I loved it, nice long finish yet refreshing. Others liked it but not as well not as much as I did. Next we had a 2006 Mulderbosch Rose from South Africa, this was definitely the crowd pleaser and winner so to speak. One red wine only friend, encouraged everyone else to try it as it "had lots going on". We finished the tasting with the Vina Tondonia Rosado from La Rioja, just as kenito799 mentioned it was quite the conversation piece. Everyone liked it, as well as appreciating the old school production. It was a nice contrast to the others, they all thought it was going to be sweet because the aroma was reminiscent of sherry but all were surprised because it was not sweet and appreciated all the other spicy notes going on. In the end my red loving friends completely surprised me. Thanks for all the suggestions. I will definitely incorporate more Rosés when entertaining.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                          What a great selection of wines! Thanks for the report. And congrats on helping red-wine-only drinkers to appreciate a nice rose. Good job!


                          1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                            Thank you for the report! I am happy to hear that the Tondonia was a hit. I like that people appreciated old school and new world-type wines as well. Sounds like you opened some minds, too. Wine is amazingly diverse, discoveries to be made everywhere, and people who limit themselves to what they think they like will miss out on great experiences.