Rosé fit for fall

As fall approaches and the weather becomes more fickle, wine-lovers may find themselves trying to decide if it's cool enough to open a bottle of red or warm enough for a white.

"Why not have both?" asks wine expert Lorn Razzano. Rosé is the perfect middle ground between a red and a white — made of red grapes but colored based on how long grape skins are in contact with the juice, he says.

"That's why you get color in rosés that range from light salmon to a deeper red."

First popular in the '80s and known as blush wines, rosés have recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, prompting many local wineries to make their own adaptation of the mercurial wine.

At The Winchester Inn wine bar, sommelier and tasting-room manager Drew Gibbs has several locally made rosés for tasting. The Winchester carries Quady North's dry rosé made by Herb Quady with strawberry and cherry aromas, a nice body and bright finish that is dry, but not drying. The winemaker recommends consuming the wine within the year of its release.

Also available at The Winchester is local winemaker Gus Janeway's Velo Rosé from Velocity Cellars made with malbec grapes sourced in Talent. According to the wine's tasting notes, malbec has proven well-suited to production of a low-alcohol rosé because of its tendency to reveal bright fruit flavors at relatively low maturity while maintaining excellent acidity.

Razzano says along with the new popularity of rosés, another local trend is making them from grapes not typically used for rosés of the past. "They are being made from varietals that didn't used to grow in the Rogue Valley," says Razzano, "like rosés of tempranillo, syrah and sangiovese."

An example of such new winemaking trends is Ledger David Cellars 2010 Sangiovese Rosé. The new Talent winery describes its rosé as having aromas of fresh-cut watermelon and a body with hints of strawberry and guava. The sangiovese rose is another product of winemaker Herb Quady, this one with balanced acidity, a crisp finish and alcohol content of 12.3 percent.

Cowhorn's 2009 Grenache Rosé is sold out, but there are a few bottles left at The Winchester Inn wine bar. "It's got a lot of tart strawberry flavors to it," says Gibbs. "It almost has this very subtle, soft, earthy quality to it — almost like a pinot noir, it has really nice acids to cleanse the palate. It's perfect with chicken and seafood."

At Enoteca in the Ashland Plaza, tasters can sample a 2007 Dry Rosé from EdenVale made from chardonnay, viognier, pinot blanc and pinot noir blended with dolcetto and syrah. EdenVale's rosé is described as a dry wine that is soft on the palate ending with a clean, mineral finish.

Available in the Pebblestone Cellars tasting room in Phoenix or The Winchester Inn wine bar is a new syrah rosé from Pebblestone's Dick and Pat Ellis. This new release has a strawberry jam-like nose, with a medium body derived from the syrah and a clean, crisp finish.

Popular Rogue Valley winemaker Linda Donovan has even tried her hand at making a rosé. Her Philanthropie 2009 Syrah Rosé is full-bodied and dry with a splash of grenache for a beautiful, deep, rose color. Half of the proceeds from this wine go to taking care of local animals at Committed Alliance to Strays, Dogs for the Deaf and Sanctuary One, just to name a few.

Locally made roses abound with variety from light and sweet to bold and dry. See what strikes your fancy on the spectrum before winter comes along and brings deep, dark reds to keep us warm.

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