May 2009

Rosés and Sauvignon Blancs

Howard Goldberg writes up Channing Daughters' 2008 Sauvignon Blanc and 2008 Tre Rosati.

Grassy young sauvignon blancs evoke springtime, and vivacious young rosés herald summer afternoons. Last month’s blast of premature hot weather induced me to sample both from the 2008 vintages of Macari and Channing Daughters. 

At its best, Macari’s spirited sauvignon blanc can be wonderful. The latest version, called Katherine’s Field ($21.99), is delicious. Like top-flight New Zealand sauvignons, this wine delivers a seductive cut-grass aroma and flavor. The scent and taste are also redolent of melons, and a gooseberry-like tartness suggests a sophisticated gin-and-tonic. 

Channing Daughters’ winning Mudd Vineyard sauvignon blanc ($20), the color of pale brass with a greenish cast, is subtler. Soft and round, clean and zippy, it tastes slightly of asparagus and green beans. It would make a fit accompaniment to hot or cold pea or sorrel soup. 

Almost all rosés are frivolous, but some are seriously frivolous, especially at Channing Daughters. 

In cool growing seasons like those of 2008, the acidity in grapes at harvest tends to stay high — a boon for the refreshing rosés that James Christopher Tracy makes there. 

Taking his cue from the food-friendly wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in northeastern Italy, he produces three dry $17 rosés, each from different grapes. He calls the program Tre Rosati. 

The cabernet sauvignon rosato, from Mudd grapes, is almost a red wine. Its aroma brings summer roses to mind; its flavor, baby strawberries. The merlot rosato (also Mudd) is soft, a little plush and easygoing. The cabernet franc rosato, from Croteau Farm Vineyard fruit, has an almost sweet aroma; it is lean, feather-light and graceful.

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