Martin and Shaun here to team up on the wine for summer, dry rosé. We have plenty of great rosé from right here in California, and there’s no better time than the present to start bringing yours home. 2005 Vinum “It’s OKAY” Rosé, Napa ($8.99) Wow what a color! This rosé of cabernet has a bright ruby red robe that absolutely shines, and a wonderful dry frais du bois nose that promises richness. Not to fail on the palate, a dry burst of strawberry cherry and raspberry fruit makes the mouth water. And you’ll be doing a good deed by purchasing this one; a portion of the profits will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, a cause we can all support. What have you got Martin? Shaun, I’m glad you asked. I myself came around last year to the surprising pleasures of elegant rosés, and my first pick is 2004 Miner Family Rosato ($14.99), a wonderully balanced rosé made with 100% sangiovese grapes from very chill Mendecino County. This producer is sometimes known for weighty, full-bodied, richly textured wines but this is rosé is all about finesse and refreshment. A perfect drinker or a lunch-time sipper. Mmm, I’m getting hungry, Shaun. Going to my kitchen to take a look. Take over for a second. Will do, Martin. Everyone loves Bonny Doon, the eccentric winery of Santa Cruz Mountains, and the 2005 Bonny Doon “Vin Gris de Cigare” California Rosé ($9.99) is a perennial favorite. Provencal varietals comprise most of the grapes here, and the dry spicy fruit on the palate mingles with olfactory resonances of Provencal fields of sweet herbs. Fun, exciting, mouthwatering and esoteric rosé that is hard to resist. Who needs dinner? Grab an ice bucket and some hors d’oeuvres and head for the back yard for a mini vacation any day of the week. What’s next on your list Martin? Well, Shaun, a wise man once said, “If you like pink, the world is your playground.” More or less, I think that’s what he said. Anyway, that was the case when I tasted the 2004 Red Car “Think Pink” Rosé ($14.99). A Rhone varietal menage, this pleasurable elixir shows up wearing nothing but a lovely ruby grapefruit hue, and opens into juicy Bing cherry, fresh strawberry, and hints of exotic, tropical wonders. Have this with seared ahi or grilled butter-sage chicken with fresh vegetables. Okay Shaun, let me cool off, back to you. Let’s see, the 2005 Elizabeth Spencer Sonoma Coast Rosé ($15.99) is a rich and bright rosé of syrah to keep up the Southern French motif. The soft watermelon color belies the powerful palate of strawberries and blueberries mingled with Provencal flowers and zingy acidity. Rich enough for dinner, and shows a nice long finish. What are we going to finish with Martin? The 2005 Soter “North Valley” Rosé ($19.99) from the same man who’s brought us Etude all these years, is a thing of beauty. Equal parts whimsical charm and refined elegance, this pinot noir-based (what else?) stunner from Oregon stopped me dead in my tracks. Rocking with almost any food, Soter commands your attention the way few rosés can. Take this one to any party, picnic, BBQ, you name it, and show it off to anyone who’s ready to laugh at rosé for being “unsophisticated” because this baby’ll laugh right back. A real winner. Until next June, this is Pink & Bean, purveyors of fine “Off-reds” for your drinking pleasure, signing off. Enjoy! —Shaun Green and Martin Reyes
In Bierzo, unlike most of the famous regions in Spain, tempranillo is not the big grape. Rather it’s the unique indigenous varietal, Mencia that matters. While it is planted elsewhere in this corner of the Iberian Pennisula, this grape seems to do best here. Located between the cool region of Galacia and the hot uplands of the Duero, this relatively cool climate allows the grapes to fully mature while still retaining their acidity. Mencia and Bierzo are cameleons; you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes they’re like Loire Valley Cabernet Franc other times Northern Rhone Syrah. Confusing? Yes. Boring? Never. Their unique flavor profiles make them a delicious accompaniment to many dishes. Right now we have several in stock: 2005 Bodegas Y Vinedos Luna Beberide Luna ($12.99) This is in that Northern Rhone vein: meaty. Don’t let you inner vegetarian be scared away, there is also plenty of rich dark fruits on the nose and palate. Elegant and pleasantly structured, this wine really opens up and shows more spice and minerals with some decanting. 2004 Dominio de Tares, Baltos ($13.99) Less extreme than the above but no less enchanting. Brighter red fruits with a floral hint and a touch of earth on the nose. On the palate this wine offers lots of red fruits, minerality and spice. It sees several months in both American and French oak. 2004 Pucho, Bierzo ($12.99) Here is a Loire Valley expression of Mencia. Bright and snappy with red fruit, herbs and spice. Medium bodied, with good intensity and persistence, the palate has plenty of juicy red fruit supported by moderate tannins, leather and spice. This was instantly a staff favorite. —Kirk Walker
I have just returned from a fall time trip to South America and have had some awesome wines from Argentina and Chile. Here are a few suggestions for your casa this summer or for any season! 2005 De Martino Organic Sauvignon Blanc, Chile ($12.99) The South American wine press always ranks the wines from De Martino at the top of the heap. Their latest offering is this organic Sauvignon. Fresh and full of citrus flavors, the perfect aperitif or poolside sipper. 2003 Santa Ema Reserve Carmenere, Chile ($12.99) This offering from Santa Ema shows of all of the charming qualities this often maligned varietal. Full of soft plummy fruit, this red has aromas of tobacco, currants and vanillin oak. Enjoy this Carmenere with grilled pork chops! 2004 Pascual Toso Reserve Malbec, Argentina ($14.99) The folks at Pascual Toso have been making wine in Maipu since 1890. Recently, they hired to Paul Hobbs as consulting winemaker. The combination of Italian tradition and California flash results in a Malbec with style and grace. Packed with ripe blueberry/blackberry fruit, this inky red has a suave palate feel and a long finish. Fantastic with ribs! 2003 Kaiken Ultra Malbec, Argentina ($17.99) A blend of 92% malbec and 8% cabernet, this red wine is a broad shoulder bruiser with aromas of roasted coffee, oak and blackberry. The burst of ripe fruit really packs a punch on the palate. Enjoy with grilled sausage! 2004 Viña Montes Syrah Colchagua Valley, Chile ($15.99) A wine so good that it will make the angels sing, the Montes Alpha Syrah is packed with blackberry/raspberry fruit and a long peppery finish. This red has more style and substance than wines at twice the price. Perfect for steak! Buen Provecho! —Anne Pickett
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