WINE & SPIRITS
NOTHING RINGS IN SUMMER QUITE LIKE PRETTY-IN-PINK BOTTLES WITH LOCAL ROOTS
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T here's a bounty of world-class rosés right in our own backyard—gorgeous bottles that come in effervescent hues ranging from eye-of-the-peacock to tangerine to copper to an array of pinks and rubies. With its cool maritime climate, Long Island has the ideal terroir for making crisp, dry rosés. Here are four of the region's specialists, as well as a roundup of North Fork wineries that release a single rosé in smaller case lots. They're as light on your wallet as they are on your tongue—the bottles below max out at $18.
Croteaux is the only producer in the United States dedicated solely to rosés. Owner Michael Croteaux modeled his rosés and his Southold winery, complete with tasting room amid a flowering garden, after the style of Provence. He elaborates rosés from three Merlot clones; one is light and tropical with guava and mango flavors, a second is cantaloupe colored with melon and citrus notes and a third, aged briefly in oak, has butterscotch nuances. "This year, I've added a full-bodied Cabernet Franc, which can match with meats," Croteaux says. Chalk up the exquisitely and distinctly shaped bottle and elaborate labels—not to mention carrying cases—on Croteaux's background as a graphic designer.
Wölffer, set in the heart of the Hamptons, was the first winery to make dry rosé popular on Long Island, lowering its sugar level to a bone-dry effect. Winemaker Roman Roth has upped the production to 6,000 cases. "The 2009 rosé has a freshness and vibrancy," he says of the enchanting orange bottle. "It's fruit-driven with a more linear, focused structure than the '08." Roth also makes a fabulous sparkling rosé in méthode Champenoise; Noblesse Oblige '06—fresh, creamy and yeasty—is an elegant, flashy bubbly. The Noblesse Oblige '05 in magnum is the pinnacle of luxury-—a luscious sparkler that packs a big impact as a Hamptons weekend gift.
Channing Daughters, an artisanal winery, has been a rosé master since 2005, elaborating focused, delicate, aromatic dry bottles from single varieties. The Merlot has raspberry and watermelon notes and pairs with everything from seafood to steak. The Cabernet Sauvignon has characters of plum and currant. The lightest and most mineral of the lot is the Cabernet Franc, which has a crisp acidity that's ideal for fish. "I'm making another rosé from Refosco, a northern Italian variety," says winemaker Christopher Tracy. "The flavor profile is 'savage' with bramble fruit and alpine berry flavors." Tracy's rosés come from 100 percent red grapes.
Sparkling Pointe, a winery founded in Southold less than a decade ago, is already raising eyebrows and snatching up medals. The winery elaborates only sparkling wines, all in méthode Champenoise, producing 3,000 cases a year on 10 acres. Winemaker Gilles Martin, who ages the bubbly for three years, first launched the 2004 Topaz Imperial Brut Rosé. It boasts an intense fruitiness of berries and sour cherries and a toasty brioche character from the aging. "Topaz was named for the Brazilian gemstone of a pale pink color," Martin says. "I like to think of this sparkling rosé as light as perfume and also as intense as perfume." This summer, Martin will release 250 cases of the '05 Topaz Imperial.
A ROSÉ, BY ANY OTHER VINEYARD:
Over the years, I've tasted and loved quite a number of Long Island's finest. ¶ Winemaker Kelly Ubanik of Bedell Cellars and Corey Creek just bottled the Domaines CC Rosé. "It has very bright fruit and the characteristic aromatics of cherry, raspberry and strawberry," she says. "It's refreshing on the palate with a high acidity, making it very food friendly." She alerted me to the 360 rosé bottles in magnum, available at the winery in Cutchogue. ¶ Macari Vineyards uses five red grapes in its blend. The '09 Macari Vineyards is fruity with a strawberry accent and crisp with a medium body that makes it a great match for seafood and white meats. ¶ Shinn Estates makes a bone-dry rosé that's floral and fruity with notes of watermelon and raspberry. "Our rosés are somewhat unique," says co-owner David Page. "They are redder, with a bigger texture and structure. You can drink them year round and even serve them with barbecued red meats." ¶ At Palmer Vineyards, winemaker Miguel Martin creates a very aromatic rosé produced with a long, cool fermentation. "It has good acidity," he says. "Pair it with creamy cheese, grilled seafood or paella." ¶ Castello di Borghese puts out a mildly dry rosé called Fleurette that works well as an aperitif. ¶ And the Martha Clara Vineyards rosé is sweeter, with notes of watermelon. The winery's bubbly, Brut Rosé, a tea-rose pink, displays red berry flavors and thrives when paired with fruity desserts, especially chocolate-covered strawberries.