A Tale of Two (or More) Texas Rosés on a Hot “Summer” Afternoon
It’s Summer in Houston! Well, technically, we may not have yet reached Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 (the coming first day of summer 2011), but nevertheless it feels like summer to me.
The afternoon temperature was 97 F outside and my wife’s Gerbera Daisies were wilting, in need of supplemental watering. I think that I could even see their little tongues hanging out panting in the hot Houston heat. Do flowers have tongues? I don’t know.
But, I know one thing I do know….
It’s time to break out a bottle or two of the pink refreshing liquid, we call Rosé wine. Why?
Well, when the days heat up in Texas, just as they do in the south of France, Spain and regions of Mediterranean “flare”, the cuisine lightens up, the charcoal is “lighted-up” and the wine of choice is not red or white, but pink.
Tonight as I made my escape to the second story living room of my townhouse, I made Canapés of salmon and a Pyrenees sheep’s milk cheese and settled in to appreciate the view in the garden, freshly watered. The aircon was set at a refreshing 76 F and the ceiling fan made a breeze the likes of which originate from the mountain highlands between France and Spain. The wine that initiated my evening festivities was a dry Spanish Rose of Grenache that I found in the back of the refrigerator. Nothing special, just a starter.
You may ask, “What does Texas have to offer?”
Many of you have already seen my notes on Texas Rosés featuring Becker Vineyards Provençal (pronounced “Proven-sal”) and McPherson Cellars Rosé here and on Culinary Thymes. These wines are dry and near dry, respectively, made in the classic styles of Europe using limited skin contact during pressing of red grapes such as Mourvedre, Syrah and Grenache.
The fare that I planned for this evening’s festivities was spicy to hot and finished a bit on the sweet-hot side. So, I’ve looked elsewhere for Rosés that not only show Texas’s best, but an off-dry character to semi-sweetness.
I felt like I was already cooling down and starting to enjoy a relaxing evening with the songs of Spanish guitars and castanets. My first course was spicy tuna roll sushi. It combined cayenne pepper with red-pink maguro tuna with avocado and brown rice served with soy sauce, wasabi and beni shoga (pink pickled ginger). The dominance of red-pink colors and piquant provided a fine pairing with Messina Hof 2010 Sophia Marie Rosé.
Its pink crimson hue, displayed a sensual taste of Texas Gulf Coast wine growing. This wine was young, excitingly crisp, and presented a nearly imperceptible hint of sweetness. This Messina Hof Rosé was from hand-harvested Lenoir (a.k.a Black Spanish), a grape with a 150-year heritage in Texas often associated with Port-style wines. In this case, the wine was made with a light press and only limited skin contact. It yielded light and bright red fruits including cherry and cranberry sensations. With about 1 percent residual sugar, the wine presented softness on the finish that ameliorated the cayenne and wasabi and integrated the saltiness of the fish and soy sauce.
From here, the main course elevated my food and wine encounter to still higher notes of honeyed zest with a bodaciously large smoked turkey leg served with a sweet Texas barbeque sauce made with brown sugar, molasses, chili powder, vinegar, and tamarind. The sweetness/heat quotient in this preparation was far beyond the capabilities of the starter Rosé. So, I turned to a long time Texas summertime wine that’s just made its way back into the marketplace from the ‘new” CapRock Winery, and now with a Texas High Plains Appellation, no less, smack dab on the front label.
It was the CapRock Winery 2010 Blush Royal and just as I remembered it, it was a beautiful rosy-red, semi-sweet wine: a Rosé of Ruby Cabernet. The wine offered red berry, strawberry and even watermelon notes that worked together with the piquant sweet sauce while its crisp acidity kept everything fresh, exciting and in balance.
In fact, the predominance of red fruit character from this wine made me think of an interesting way to enjoy my dessert. I used my quarter-filled glass of wine as a repository for my frozen strawberry fruit bar. I periodically removed it to slurp its icy red goodness that came with an infusion of fine pink wine.