Wine and Spirits Rose'-tinted Glasses

The French, especially in Provence and the Loire Valley, have known for many years that there is nothing more refreshing during the hot summer months than rose' wine.

Daniel Rogov
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Daniel Rogov

The French, especially in Provence and the Loire Valley, have known for many years that there is nothing more refreshing during the hot summer months than rose' wine. Rose's are made by crushing red grapes and leaving the juice in contact with the skin for a relatively short while, allowing the wine to take on a color anywhere from pale pink to bright strawberry red while avoiding the sometimes firm and even searing tannins and body of heavier red wines.

Generally light- to medium-bodied, sometimes semi-dry and sometimes as crisply dry as a white Chablis, these are wines best served well chilled. Ros?s go as well with breakfast or brunch as with dinner, with fried or grilled seafood or fish and small cuts of veal or pork.

For too many years the ros? wines of Israel were made from second-class grapes and were so sweet and so lacking in acidity that they had little appeal. Those bad-old-days are now happily behind us, and as is the case throughout France, Italy and Spain, ros?s are not only coming back but are most definitely "in." Following are reviews of five recently released local ros?s. As always, those wines noted with an asterisk (*) are considered to be good value for money. A K signifies the wine is kosher.

Galil Mountain, Ros?, 2004: A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (92 percent, 5 percent and 3 percent respectively), this crisply dry light- to medium-bodied ros? is refreshing, lively and fruity while maintaining a surprising level of sophistication. Not recognizable as Sangiovese but you cannot miss the berry and light spices here. An unmitigated pleasure, lightly frizzante when well chilled. NIS 30 Score 87. K. (*)

Tabor, Cabernet Franc, Ros?, Charsit, Adama, 2004: Bright cherry red in color, crisply dry, with good balancing acidity and appealing berry, cherry and plum aromas and flavors. A lovely breakfast or brunch wine but medium-bodied and round, strong enough to stand up to grilled chicken, fish or veal dishes. A well made and "fun" wine. NIS 35. Score 87. K (*)

Chateau Golan, Royal Reserve, Cabernet Franc, Ros?, 2004: Somewhere in color between bright cherry red and red ros? petals and far deeper than a standard ros?, this medium-bodied, soft and round wine shows appealing aromas and flavors of raspberries, cassis and cranberries, turning almost sweet on the surprisingly long finish. Made in a limited edition of 800 bottles. Drink now. NIS 97 for a 500 ml. bottle. Score 87.

Vitkin, Ros?, 2004: A blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Carignan, not so much pink but bright cherry red, a light, dry and lively quaffing wine, with aromas and flavors of strawberry, cassis and orange peel. A fun wine. Drink now. NIS 30. Score 85. (*)

Benhaim, Ros? de Cabernet, 2003: A ros? made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes kept on the skins for only a short time and then allowed to develop in 500 liter barrels for two months. With aromas and flavors of strawberries and raspberries, a pleasant and refreshing little wine. Drink now. NIS 30. Score 84.

Dalton, Ros?, 2004: A pot-pourri of all of the red grapes available to the winery that spent 12 hours on the skins to gain its rich strawberry to ros?-red color. Semi-dry, medium-bodied with strawberry and plum fruits but lacking the natural acidity to keep it truly lively. Drink now. NIS 35. Score 84.

A local collection

Dalton Reserve, Sauvignon Blanc, 2004: Unoaked, fresh, crisp and aromatic, with light herbal hints playing nicely with aromas and flavors of apples, melons, spices and minerals. Medium-bodied, well-balanced, enchanting and complex. Drink now-2006. NIS 45. Score 87. K (*)

Galil Mountain, Pinot Noir 2003: With six months in oak, this medium- bodied wine shows well integrated soft tannins and appealing plum, cherry and wild berry fruits together with a bare meaty-herbal overtone. A pleasant effort. Drink now-2007. NIS 60 Score 86. K.

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