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Chateau Gassier, Côte de Provence (Provence, France) “Esprit Gassier” Rosé 2018 ($19, Wilson Daniels)
 This delicious and sophisticated rosé smells like a dreamy strawberry and peach shortcake (fresh fruits, cream, biscuits, a touch of spice).  Made from 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault and 5% Rolle, the wine is perfectly dry, with a little nudge of acid and a good, firm finish.  Chateau Gassier lies in Cézanne’s beautiful Mont Sainte Victoire landscape, and the Gassier family has been making wine here since the late 19th century.  
92 Marguerite Thomas


Posted by Rich Cook on July 16, 2019 at 10:42 AM

Summer Standout: Halter Ranch, Paso Robles, Adelaida District Rosé 2018 ($26)

As the heat of summer sets in, my mind turns toward wines that speak most eloquently when sun comes fully ablaze each day in all its glory.  I’m far from alone in having those thoughts turn to rosé.  Thankfully, the current craze for dry versions seems to have no ceiling, and more and more producers are jumping on the bandwagon with each successive vintage.

My first memories of wine, undoubtedly like many Americans my age, involve rosé wines consumed by my parents in the late 1960’s.  Brands like Lancers and Mateus, which were on the sweet side, but came off as tart, fresh and delicious to a child raised on chocolate milk and sugar-infused cereals.  Today, the best dry rosé wines grab me the same way that those simple wines did years ago.

My attention was grabbed in a big way recently by the 2018 Halter Ranch Rosé.  The winery is located on the west side of the Paso Robles area in the Adelaida District, the westernmost of eleven sub-appellations established in 2014.  It’s in the transition zone of Winkler Region 2 and 3 in terms of growing “degree days,” and can receive more than twenty five inches of rainfall annually.  Elevations go from 900 to 2200 feet above sea level, and the vineyards regularly have diurnal temperature swings of as much as forty degrees during the growing season. 

All of this means that it’s a real sweet spot for wine grapes.  Simply put, it’s on the cool side, but within its boundaries are several microclimates that allow a wide range of grape varieties to perform at a high level.  In the case of Halter Ranch, this means a focus on both Rhône and Bordeaux varieties spread across 280 acres of the 900 owned.

Kevin Sass, a Cal State Fresno - educated winemaker who has been at Halter Ranch since 2011, blends Grenache, Mourvedre and Picpoul Blanc again in 2018, with percentages near the ’17 version of the wine, and it’s a stunner of a rosé.  The wine was crafted with a clear intention to stand above its competors in terms of aroma, flavor, finish and food pairing versatility.

It’s a beautiful, crisp, dry wine that hits all my rosé markers -- strawberry, white pepper, racy acidity, mild leafy herbs and a long, lip smacking citrus driven finish that doesn’t wipe off the other flavor elements, thanks in part to a core of stony minerality that keeps the flavor elements bobbing and weaving on the palate.  It’s the best Rosé I’ve tasted in a good long while -- including examples from Provence, Tavel and the like.

I suspect that the inclusion of the Picpoul Blanc makes this wine a standout.  The acidic pop it delivers carries the fruit, spice and other elements long into the wine’s finish…and likewise keeps my glass in need of refilling.  95 Points

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
Wines of the American Southwest
Jessica Dupuy

Summer means many things to different people. From backyard barbecues and Fourth of July fireworks to beach lounging and reading by the pool. But for me, summer also inevitably means one thing: Road trip. For as long as I can remember, I've been a great fan of packing up the car with necessities and sundries and hitting the open road for a week or more. This summer was no different. Just a couple of weeks ago, with my family in tow, we made our annual pilgrimage to Colorado for a family ranch vacation. But this time, instead of taking the most direct path, we opted for a little excursion through some of the Southwest's wine regions. Few people may be aware of the burgeoning wine industries making their way in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona, but there's actually quite a bit to discover in this part of the country.
Beaujolais: A Versatile Wine
Michael Apstein

One of the many things I love about Beaujolais is its variety and versatility. There's Beaujolais Nouveau, a beverage that's almost closer to alcoholic grape juice than to wine, and which many in the American wine press deride regularly. Then there's juicy Beaujolais that are fresh and fruity wines perfect for chilling and drinking at this time of the year. A step up is Beaujolais-Villages, wines coming from any of the 38 villages in this area just north of Lyon that have the potential for better wine. Finally, there's the serious side of Beaujolais. The Gamay grape can reflect its origins or, in modern terminology, be transparent, just as the Pinot Noir in the Côte d'Or.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Pasta alla Norma

After seeing Ron Howard's delightful documentary, 'Pavarotti,' we decided to honor the great tenor's notorious love for all things pasta by making Pasta alla Norma, a dish that originated in Sicily as a tribute to Vincenzo Bellini's opera Norma. This is a dish that is relatively quick and easy to prepare, and very easy to fall in love with (even for people who aren't normally partial to eggplant, one of its main ingredients). It is also one of the most wine-friendly of all pasta preparations. Pavarotti himself is said to have preferred accompanying pasta alla Norma with high-end, chilled Lambrusco, the red wine of his native Emilia Romagna. We didn't have a bottle on hand, but certainly would be glad to try it.
On My Table
A Tuscan- Californian- Rhône-Inspired Italian Red
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

Sogno Mediterraneo 2016 is a red IGT Toscana wine produced by Casadei, a winery located in Suvereto in southern Tuscany. Casadei is a collaboration between Stefano Casadei, a prominent viticulturalist who works throughout Italy and has been particularly involved in the coastal Tuscan DOC zone of Bolgheri, and Californian Fred Cline, of Cline Cellars Winery in Sonoma. At Cline Cellars, Fred and Nancy Cline are long-time proponents of Rhône grape varieties, and so it is no surprise that Sogno Mediterraneo is a Rhône-varieties blend -- unlike the majority of internationally-inspired Tuscan wines that are focused on Bordeaux varieties. The wine is 60 percent Syrah, 20 percent Mourvedre and 20 percent Grenache.