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Serendipity Infuses Rosé

By Amy Madsen | June 06, 2016
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For anyone who remembers the dirt-cheap, syrupy-sweet Boone’s Farm Tickle Pink of the 1960s, the fruity, fizzy Mateus Rosé of the ’70s and the cloying white Zinfandels of the 1980s, it might be hard to embrace a pink wine.

But dry rosés, like those traditionally enjoyed during the hot months in Provence, are perfect on a warm afternoon or a balmy evening. And a stellar example is The Ojai Vineyard’s 2015 Rosé.

This blend of six varietals is a “serendipitous” semi-accident, according to winemaker Adam Tolmach.

Last year’s small crop of Syrah from Roll Ranch in Ojai and Grenache from John Sebastiano Vineyard in Santa Barbara County sent Tolmach frantically searching for more grapes for the winery’s rosé. He found a solution in Rhone varietals at Camp 4 in the Santa Ynez Valley. The addition of Counoise, Cinsault and Carignan to his usual base of Syrah and Grenache was further augmented by a bit of Riesling to propel the aromatics.

Tolmach treated his red grapes the same way he does his whites: whole cluster pressed then fermented and aged in older French oak barrels for complexity and texture. Once the lots were fermented, Tolmach gauged which combination of floral notes would produce the light and lively rosé he favors. Through what he calls the “magic of craft” Tolmach created a rosé he calls “beguiling, with just the right balance for easy enjoyment but with enough complexity and tension to make you try another sip.”

Dry rosé pairs well with many summer foods, and this one will complement anything from spicy barbecue and ginger-based Asian dishes to classic Mediterranean dishes such as ratatouille.

Tolmach recommends serving it very cold—about 40°. “When the weather is warm it will get to the perfect temperature very quickly,” he says.

The Ojai Vineyard 2015 Rosé, Tolmach says, puts him in mind of the commedia dell’arte Harlequin in Venice, “dancing around with a flute followed by a string of revelers ... colorful, oblivious and playful.”

—Amy Madsen

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