Please give Guest Blogger, Andy Doyle, a warm McKinneyFoodie.com welcome. Andy is the owner and manager of the McKinney Wine Merchant located in beautiful historic downtown McKinney. To learn more about Andy, click here.
By Andy Doyle, McKinney Wine Merchant
A few years back, as a wholesale seller at the winery level, I’d all but given up on Rose’ wines in terms of their capacity for expansion and was recommending to my employer that we cease making any more than what might be sold through our wineries’ shops so that our outside sales people could focus on labels in more viable categories. It was 2009 and we’d been in the ring for several years trying to get traction with a couple of good and interesting wines but the field was crowded and the seasonal, abrupt nature of Rose’ makes for a market which favors the quick and the early. Going in to the year, demand was flat. Consumer sentiment was soft. But new wines in attractive packaging and a string of favorable press, capped by a June 2009 Wine Spectator cover story lauding Rose’, buoyed the industry with as much promise as ever.
In 2009, the Spring push ran as ordinary. Restaurateurs printed their features. Retailers shelved and stacked the new arrivals. But no one drank any more, or less, than previous years. September brought about poised, ‘end-of-vintage’ sales which were followed, predictably, by hysterical ‘FIRE!’ sales in December. It seemed then that the stars had aligned for Rose´but nothing happened. My attitude soured toward refreshing pink wines.
The challenges that Rose´wine presents to the trade are several:
- Nobody drinks them in winter. The retailer or wholesaler who owns a lot of Rose´ the day after Thanksgiving has a problem on their hands.
- They all hit the market at once. Grapes harvested in October* are made to wine which is bottled in late winter and sent to market in early Spring. Like the Sooners of the Oklahoma Land Rush, smart suppliers sell purposefully from mid-January to early March, securing placements for scores of wines in a finite universe. The vendors who show up after Mother’s Day pitching pinkies are respectfully and quietly pitied. *Note that Rose’ wines of the southern hemisphere, harvested about March, are excepted for the sake of this piece.
- They are perishable. Most Rose´s lose their verve and get flabby after 9-15 months. Worse, when that pink color starts going bronze, it can’t be concealed – or easily sold.
- A sizable demographic simply will not partake. Many red-blooded American men will not drink a pink wine for much the same reason as they will not get a pedicure, or drive a Subaru.
During my period of disinterest, a funny thing happened – Rose´ became popular. I wasn’t paying attention so I won’t try to explain why, but last year, (2014) about late April, I began getting a lot of requests. And, not just requests, specific requests for Rose´ made from various grapes, from different regions. Happily, I ramped up my selection and stock to about quadruple the previous year and customers stepped up and consumed! It was a fun ride, especially so since I sold the last bottle of the 2013 vintage the week after Thanksgiving, allowing the dormant season to arrive free and clear.
Consider Rose’ to be any pink wine. ‘True’ Rose’ is a wine made from red wine grapes where, after pressing, the juice is allowed to remain in tank with the dark skins for only a short period of time, about 18-30 hours. The pigment or color of a grape resides in the skins and solids and it is a period of around 4-5 weeks whereby the color of a typical red wine is extracted. ‘Not-really -true’ Rose’s are blends of finished white and red wines, often with a fair amount of residual sugar and named “Blush”, “Pink —-“, or “White Zinfandel”. True Rose is typically dry and crisp and with citrus, floral and/or berry notes though gravel, cassis, tobacco and an array of other flavors might reveal themselves as well.
I ordered McKinney Wine Merchant’s French lineup for this year in January from the reliable and well connected importer, Wines with Conviction, founded and operated by the venerable James Gunter who, for most of his career, acted as the French wine buyer and liaison for Glazer’s Family of Distributors, a very large wholesaler. Three wines were chosen and they arrived on April 9th straight up from the port of Houston after clearing customs.
Minervois is an appellation (legally defined wine growing area) in Southern France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region. It is made from 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache and was recognized by the Dallas Morning News’ wine panel as the best Rose in a May 2014 review.
Cotes de Provence, in the Southeast (Riviera) part of France is perhaps the most recognizable Rose’ source. Vingtinieres is made from 50% Cinsault, 40% Grenache and 10% Syrah
Chinon is an appellation to the north of the others, along the Loire River, and the cradle of Cabernet Franc – the ‘parent’ grape of Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.
Wanting to gain immediate consumer feedback, I arranged for a panel tasting among a group with intermediate to high wine tasting experience. I put them to the task of sampling the trio of Rose’s on a mid-April Tuesday evening at Gregory’s Bistro in McKinney. The group included:
Ken Linxwiler: Small business owner. Grape grower and bootlegger with a half acre vineyard along Highway 5 in Fairview where he produces, among other wines, a Rose under the Lungavista label.
Barbara Linxwiler: The bootlegger’s wife. Famous not for her wine vocabulary but for a good palate and unabashed candor in saying whether or not she likes a wine.
Dr. D.R. M.D.: Gynecologist who did not properly fill out his publication release. Wine lover. Best known to me as the man who helped make my wife’s life a lot better.
Lydia Moreaux: Part-owner, Manager, and Reservation Confirmationist at Gregory’s Bistro…and Rose’ enthusiast.
This Writer: Owner of McKinney Wine Merchant
The results and a few comments below:
3 first place votes and 2 last place votes. Cranberry color. Detractors thought it a bit dry and lacking body. Fans cited an intriguing canteloupe rind aroma, citrus flavors and seeming food friendliness (salad)
The Cotes de Provence
2 first place and one last place vote. Salmon hue. Compliments included “fruity nose”, “silky mouth feel”. It seems that one reviewer doesn’t care for “cat pee”
No first or last place votes. Electric pink. Fruity, sharp, almost a ‘lip-curler’ (tart). Lydia figures this would match wonderfully with the Eden Brie cheese sold at Gregory & Lydia’s Market next to the bistro.
These wines might be purchased at the following Metroplex retailers:
McKinney Wine Merchant, McKinney
Manager & Owner
McKinney Wine Merchant
120 W. Virginia St. 75069