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March 16, 2020

Dry Rosé Favorites in Time for Spring

 The American wine consumer, once reluctant to drink pink wine, long ago abandoned the silly myth that pink equals sweet.  Dry rosé wines are now widely embraced for the freshness and zing that made them popular in southern Europe for decades.

Trust me on this: If you love wine, there is almost nothing more refreshing on a warm spring or summer day than a beautifully structured dry rosé.  By that, I mean a rosé wine that is cultivated to deliver bright acidity and fermented dry.  The crisp finish is the key element I look for when I buy rosé.

Of course, I have a few personal favorites that never seem to disappoint regardless of vintage.  As a first option, I typically look to the south of France, where they take their dry rosé wines very seriously.  I'm quite fond of the Chateau d'Esclans Whispering Angel, Cotes de Provence (average $22 per bottle per the Wine-Searcher website), for its subtle strawberry and citrus aromas and fresh acidity.

Fleur de Mer Rosé, Cotes de Provence ($20) provides a similar experience, as does the Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses, Languedoc ($14). All three of these rosés from the south of France are remarkably consistent and widely distributed, so they're pretty easy to find.

On the domestic front, Etude rosé ($19) has been most impressive over the past several vintages while sourcing grapes from California's Central Coast.  Eberle is another superb example produced from Central Coast grapes.  The Eberle rosé ($20) is primarily made from Paso Robles syrah and has lightened up in color and firmed up in structure in recent years, changes initiated by winemaker Chris Eberle just a couple of years ago.  Sonoma County's Rodney Strong is also hitting home runs these days with its dry rosé ($19) made from Russian River Valley pinot noir.

These are just a few of my go-to dry rosé wines as we head toward warmer weather around the corner.  Time to stock up!  

Find more rosé wines in the review archives at www.WneReviewOnline.com/wine_reviews.cfm -- click on the 'Wine Search' button.  

Posted by Robert Whitley at 12:30 AM

March 3, 2020

Merry Edwards

 Recently Merry Edwards posted pictures of her final day at the Merry Edwards Winery, which the legendary winemaker founded in Sebastopol, California, in 1997.

Merry, who started her career as a winemaker in 1974 at Mount Eden Vineyards in California's Santa Cruz Mountains, has retired after an illustrious 45-year career.  In this column I frequently called her the Queen of Pinot Noir, although she was best known in the early years for stellar Cabernet Sauvignon while at Mount Eden and for breakthrough Merlot during a stint at Matanzas Creek.

Yet it was the more than two decades at her namesake winery that cemented her reputation as a genius with the difficult Pinot Noir grape.  She was known to be meticulous and demanding of herself as well as her team, and that showed up in her wines.  Her many single-vineyard Pinot Noirs ran the gamut from brilliant to extraordinary, a record of excellence unmatched in California over the past 20 years.

I also would argue her Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc have few equals domestically.  Merry paved the way for retirement last February when she sold the winery to the French Champagne house Louis Roederer.  That followed a decision in October to hand over the winemaking reins to associate winemaker Heidi von der Mehden.

When I first started writing this column some 29 years ago, Merry was already a star.  That star only got brighter as the years rolled past.  Merry will be remembered for putting California Pinot Noir, particularly Sonoma County Pinot Noir, on an equal footing with Oregon and Burgundy, encouraging others to take a shot at that noble but tricky grape.   

I am confident the Merry Edwards Winery will continue to operate at a very high level, but there is also no doubt this is the end of a glorious era. 

Photos credit:  Merry Edwards.com

Posted by Robert Whitley at 1:49 PM