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8/07/2012

Spanish Rosados: Among Spain's Most Delightful Wines


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Spanish rosados, which I have been recommending to readers for years as some of the best roses in the world, are wonderful food wines. I particularly enjoy the great Garnacha-based rosados of Navarra. Saveur can talk about Hemingway downing them in one gulp, but he actually carried Las Campanas rosados around Spain with him in a cooling bag during the Dangerous Summer, when he was following Antonio Ordoñez and Dominguin.

During San Fermin, we drink them with meals every day. Some of the best are: Chivite Gran Feudo (excellent and cheap; 100% Garnacha), Señorio de Sarria (100% Garnacha), Malon de Echaide (100% Garnacha; very good, dry); Ochoa (100% Garnacha); and Las Campanas, which makes two 100% Garnacha rosados, the regular Las Campanas, which is quite good, and the superlative Castillo de Javier.

Castillo de Monjardin makes a very attractive rose from 100% Merlot, one of the best I have ever tasted from this varietal. Don't be put off by a Navarra Garnacha-based rosado that is a year or two old. They usually drink better in the second year than the first. I actually have had Rosado Reservas, including the memorable Las Campanas 1961, which I took to a wine expert in Bordeaux in 1978 - - he was floored by the wine. It was elegant, silky, complex, just delicious. It had been aged in used oak and had held up beautifully.

Viña Aliaga (Bodegas Camino del Villar; http://www.vinaaliaga.com/), a family-owned, vineyard-driven winery in southern Navarra makes an excellent garnacha rosado called Lagrima (tears) de Garnacha, from free-run juice.



Aliaga Lagrima de Garnacha Rosado.

From Rioja, Muga's rosado is first-rate. If you want to try something exotic but one of the great, great rosados, try Lopez de Heredia Rosado crianza (the current vintage is 1993! The 1988, which I am still drinking, was terrific. Then, of course, there are those wonderful, lovely pale rosados from the southeastern Rioja (from the villages of San Asensio, Cordovin and Badaran).  Called ojo de gallo (eye of the cock, known in other places as partridge eye roses) or claros, they are a pale, salmon-rust color, reminiscent of Billecart-Salmon rose Champagne.

Few of these wines reach the Amercian markets, but David Moreno, Florentino Martinez, Señorio de Villarica, and Bodegas Perica's Mi Villa are good ones to try. Muga's rosado (60% Garnacha, 30% Viura, 10% Tempranillo is somewhat in this style. Herencia Remondo (Alvaro Palacios's family bodega, where he consults) makes a good 100% Garnacha rosado. The reliable Sonsierra cooperative makes a 100% Tempranillo rosado. CUNE's 100% Garnacha is also good (sometimes in off years, when wines are normally more acidic, rosados are even better than in the good tinto vintages; CUNE's 1997 rosado, for instance.) Marques de Caceres makes one of the better Tempranillo-based rosados (80% Tempranillo; 20% Garnacha), a fresh pie cherry-red wine with good balance, good fruit, and a dry finish. There are others but I am sure neither the readers nor I have all day for this great category.

Garnacha rosado with alubias con chorizo, Cariñena.
Gerry Dawes copyright 2004


Think of rosados as "cold wines with character." You still drink chilled white wines in winter, no?

Gerry Dawes Copyright 2012

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