You remember that guy, the one in school that you always liked to party with, but never wanted to study with? The guy who knew a ton, but was always crackin’ jokes so you didn’t get anything done? That’s Mark Oldman. He was known as the Bacchus on Campus back in the day. Now he’s the lead judge in the PBS TV series The Winemakers, a wine writer and wine book author. He brought his celebrity, dazzling blue eyes and showman style to the dusty grounds of Auditorium Shores for the Austin Food & Wine Festival, where he hosted a session called “Pink Without Blushing.”
He set the tone for the tasting of four rosé wines right from the get go by shouting out, “My first request is to start drinking. We need alcohol in us to lubricate our systems.” This was obviously not going to be a stuffy, professorial lecture on the technical aspects of the wine. Nope, this showman was there to tell stories and entertain the crowd in the dusty tent as they knocked back a flight of six wines.
Before getting into a discussion of the wines, Oldman brandished a chef’s knife and sabred a bottle of Champagne – slicing off the corked end of the bottle to the squealing delight of the people sprayed in the front row.
Knowing Texans have a macho persona that may have a bias against the pink stuff, he appealed to the crowd saying, “Rosé does not get a lot of respect. It’s like Donald Trump’s hair. You might think of it as a sissy drink, but real men drink rosé. There are plenty of burly, hairy-chested men drinking this by the gallon on the Riviera.” For those who were still skeptical, he encouraged us to “Drink Bravely,” which is Oldman’s motto that is thoroughly discussed in his book, Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine.
He didn’t have to convince me. I’m a huge fan of rosé and just bought a case of the stuff to knock back on hot nights. If you think of cheap, sweet white Zinfandel wine when you think of rosé, give it another try. Rosé is the epitome of sophisticated, dry, easy drinking wines.
Oldman mentioned a thing or two about each of the six wines, but didn’t say the name of each wine, give tasting notes, share much about the region in which it was produced or even say the types of grapes in many cases. He’s the fun friend, not the study buddy. Here’s what we had.
- Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque, Vintage, Rosé Champagne which goes for about $70 a bottle. It has a gorgeous salmon color punctuated by a steady stream of tiny bubbles. This bubbly has a toasty yeast scent, creamy mouthfeel and delicate fruit flavors. Oldman explained that rosé is more expensive than normal champagne. It is scarcer and more desirable because of the extra steps required to make it.
- Belle Glos Winery from Sonoma that had a bright pink with fresh fruity strawberry flavor. It was the kind of wine you want to take on a picnic. It’s not particularly the kind of wine I feel like writing about. Maybe I’ll try it again and change my mind.
- The third wine was unnamed, but Oldman explained that it comes from the most famous rosé producing region in the world; Tavel in the southern Rhone Valley of France. It had a deeper pink color with peach pit bitter fruit flavors and a ripping backbone of mineral. It was definitely not as fruity as the Californian with an herbal flair. The next time you are in a wine shop, ask the clerk for their recommendations for a bottle of Tavel. You can’t go wrong.
- Bonnie Doon 2011 Vin Gris de Cigare, a blend of Roussanne and Grenache Blanc from the Central Coast of California. This lovely lady wears light cotton candy pink nail polish, smells of peaches and strawberry and her pouty lips taste like silky watermelon and strawberry. Oldman explained that the picture of the flying saucer with a laser beam on the label is the winemaker’s way of making fun of French law that says no flying saucers can land in a particular town… I’m not going to bother to verify that tidbit from my non-study buddy.
- Doña Paula Los Cardos Malbec Rose from Argentina has a much deeper pink color from that big inky grape. It has a blackberry brambly scent and a bolder flavor. Its value wine that you can serve at brunch without breaking the bank.
- Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel is an elegantly light pink wine from Provence, France. Yes, angels whisper when you drink this wine with soft herbal breath and the taste of delicate cranberries and tart strawberries tossed with Herbs de Provence. It is as light and refreshing as aguas frescas.
Rosé is a fantastic light, refreshing style of wine tailor made for lazy summer days, brunch or picnic on the lake. The acidity and fruit also make it a great wine to drink with Texas BBQ.
Oldman encouraged the crowd to, “get your rosé in magnums (double bottles). When your friends come over they think there is even more for them to drink. There is a generosity premium when you serve a magnum.”