The Winos’ Tasting Series: poolside pink

By Jesse on April 28, 2008

The Young Winos occasionally tire of doing their boozing exclusively under the shadow of night’s darkness like some coven of irresponsible vampires, so when a recent sunny day presented itself to us, we decided to adjourn to a nearby swimming pool for some indiscreet imbibing. And what better companion to a day spent soaking up the sun’s relentless rays than a bottle (or three) of fruity, refreshing rosé?


We’re pleased to have recently received a number of sample bottles, among which arrived several rosés from various producers and importers. This past Sunday, seven of us packed a cooler full of ice, grabbed the three bottles (as well as a 30-rack of cheap beer for after the wine ran out), and headed for the nearest body of cool, chlorinated water.

First in line for poolside evaluation was the 2007 Francis Coppola “Sofia” Pinot Noir Rosé (Sonoma Coast), presented in an alluringly-shaped bottle and retailing for $17. “This smells delicious,” purred Andrew upon taking a whiff. It was a big nose, to be sure; Emily raved about the peach and bountiful red berries she was picking up, and Max got floral and apple notes. Jordan thought it was almost too concentrated for a rosé bouquet, and Jason agreed the massive fruit might’ve been a little over the top, but most of us were having a ball.

The palate followed suit; Andrew said it was “very fruity” and Jason called it a “berry-fest.” Jordan found it a bit too round and was disappointed by the lack of crispness. Andrew pointed out the light tannins, and we all agreed this Pinot Noir rosé really wasn’t too far a cry from a light-bodied, big-berried red Pinot (much less of a contrast than between, for example, white Zinfandel and red Zinfandel). Jason called it “a cran-razz grape cooler,” and while he thought it was “a nice summer wine,” he would’ve preferred it less fruity. Max noted that he’d like to make sangria with it, but several others pointed out that it already tasted like sangria. Most of the Winos present wouldn’t drop the $17 when in the mood for a crisp, refreshing wine; that said, it’s a very distinctive rosé, full-berried and dry, and we were pleased to have discovered it.

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We tried to feature every style of sunglasses known to mankind; quick, open it while the lifeguard’s not looking; these two didn’t waste any time

Next up was the 2007 Michael-David “Incognito Pink” (Lodi). We’d enjoyed the red Incognito last month, so we were curious to see how the pink version faired. A distinctive Rhone blend of majority Cinsault, followed by Grenache and Mourvedre, this wine made a huge impression with a big raspberry nose right off the bat. Total raspberry all around — Noah got cran-razz, but hey, that counts. Max picked up a certain “Sauv Blanc grassiness.” I agreed; definitely some interesting spicy herbal character going on.

Andrew found this palate quite refreshing, and he applauded its structure. Jason agreed: not a ton of fruit, but some light spice character, solid acidity and even a hint of tannin. I picked up some solid notes of bright red berries, but Jason pointed out that this one wasn’t like “a berry gang-bang in your mouth.” Jordan thought it was a bit “flat” throughout, inoffensive but uninteresting. He suggested that a hint of sweetness might’ve benefited the light fruit character; like the last one, this was a dry rosé (which in and of itself can be a pleasant surprise when drinking California blush). At $14, this was a winner for several Winos present.

Rounding out the tasting was our sole European entry, the 2006 Red Guitar “Old Vine” Rosé (Navarra, Spain), made from 100% Grenache. A very interesting citrus element pervaded the nose; Jason thought it was orange, but Noah and Jordan insisted on tangerine. There was also some herbal character going on; I picked up parsley, while Max thought it might’ve been cilantro, and Jason said dill, “like a cheesy dill dip, or like tzatziki.” I got serious cherry notes as well, and Noah agreed. “A real cherry,” chimed in Jordan, “not a maraschino one.”

On the palate, we picked up our first sweetness of the day — “disturbing sweetness,” claimed Jason. I pointed out some nice candied fruit throughout, and Noah agreed. Emily appreciated that it wasn’t at all sour; she was loving the sweetness, and stretched out blissfully on her chair, mumbling something about wanting to go to Spain. “Too sweet,” said Jason. “Barely sweet,” countered Andrew. The candied fruit persisted on the finish, and Jason agreed, saying it reminded him of a Jolly Rancher. “The whole thing is a little Jolly Rancher,” said Andrew, “but it’s not too sweet for me.” It was unusual to discover that the one European example was the only wine in which sweetness played a role, which might’ve been more of an expectation with the Californian bottles. Retailing for between $9 and $12, this import was judged a relative bargain by all present.

One thing we clearly learned was that the Winos apparently don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to rosés. The Red Guitar had been Emily’s favorite, and Jason’s least favorite. “All three of them have been ok,” said Andrew. “It’s easy to make an ok rosé,” Jason speculated, “but if you want to make a good rosé, it’s difficult.” My favorite had been the Incognito, with its light berries and crisp acidity; Max begrudged its lack of fruit and had preferred the Sofia. Jason made one of his rare statements meeting universal approval when he offered that all three were certainly refreshing by the pool. And isn’t that the whole point?

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Emily approves of the Red Guitar, and we approve of Emily; mmm, tart and delicious; a surprisingly effective way to chill one’s glass (which is an important concern when tasting in bright sunlight, believe me)

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Jason blends in with the rest of the dads; this is why we don’t let Andrew take pictures; yeah, you know exactly what we’re talking about

The Young Winos of LA — edutoxicating Los Angeles since 2005


  1. I got so sunburned…Let’s do it again very very soon.

    Comment by Jordan M. — May 5, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

  2. Hey! That photo was for the express purpose of showing Max chilling his glass with the ice-swirling technique. I didn’t even notice the background!

    Comment by Andrew Lang — May 9, 2008 @ 10:55 pm

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