2009年6月17日 星期三

Basking With Rosés

Basking With Rosés

Published: June 9, 2009

IT began seemingly as a brief flirtation more than five years ago, this American affection, if not passion, for rosé wines. It was something new, something different. Fashion magazines and other arbiters of cool zeroed in on rosé like a rising hemline and anointed it the “It” wine.

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Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

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Tasting Report

The wine panel was encouraged by how many bottles in the tasting were actually dry, without the soda-pop dollop of sugar that can turn a rosé into a wine cooler.

  • 1. Robert Oatley
  • 2. Jean-Paul Brun
  • 3. Wild Rock
  • 4. Commanderie de Peyrassol
  • 5. Domaine de la Courtade
  • 6. Château d’Oupia
  • 7. Château du Rouët
  • 8. Commanderie de la Bargemone
  • 9. Ameztoi
  • 10. Jean-Maurice Raffault
Tasting Coordinator: Bernard Kirsch
Best Value


Pairings | Pan Bagnat ‘Sliders’ (June 10, 2009)

But “It” wines are fleeting, like a whiff of a captivating perfume, or the beads of condensation on a cool glass in the afternoon sun.

This thing with rosé has evolved into a long-term relationship that shows no signs of fading.

It used to be that when warm weather rolled around, critics would try to talk up the virtues of rosé as a wine that deserved a place at the table, better yet a lunch table, best of all a lunch table outdoors, near the water, with pale blue skies, the smell of the sea and whitewashed walls thrown in for atmosphere.

Few Americans took rosés seriously, though, and the wines languished, except in their bastardized “blush” guises as sweetened wine confections that may have a place, yes, though rarely at the table.

But when Americans took that fashionable leap, they discovered what Mediterranean cultures knew all along: rosé is the quintessential daytime wine, perfect for outdoors, wonderful in the summer.

With few exceptions, rosés are simple wines, but that simplicity enhances their allure. As with cooking over a grill, drinking rosé emphasizes the elemental, uncomplicated appeal of the fresh, raw material, which makes them generally undemanding wines. Anything wrong with that? Of course not. Most rosés are like beach reading, but as anybody who has ever been stuck seaside with a dull book knows, a bad rosé is no picnic.

To assess this summer’s offerings, the wine panel recently sampled 25 bottles of rosé. Our only restriction was price: We wanted to spend $10 to $20 a bottle, but no more than that.

For the tasting, Florence Fabricant and I were joined by Mark Lugo, the sommelier at BLT Fish in New York, and Karen King, a former sommelier who is now a sales manager at Winebow, an importer and distributor.

In that price range we could have found hundreds of bottles. So just to be clear: The list of the top 10 wines in our tasting represents only those we liked in that small sample, although I think it offers an accurate cross-section of what is generally available.

For consumers, the news is good. We were encouraged by how many wines in the tasting were actually dry, without the soda-pop dollop of sugar that can turn a rosé into a wine cooler.

The wines we liked best were not overly fruity nor were they obvious. Instead, they emphasized mineral flavors, along with floral and herbal aromas. They were savory. In fact, that was the word that came to mind in describing our No. 1 wine, a counterintuitive choice in every way.

The wine, a 2008 Robert Oatley, came from the Mudgee region of Australia, which is not exactly a rosé destination, and was made from the sangiovese grape, which you don’t often see contributing to a rosé. Nonetheless, it had that savory quality we really liked, along with restrained flavors, a tangy presence and an inviting texture.

Texture — how the wine feels in the mouth — was a crucial ingredient in the bottles we liked best. As I said, these were not obvious wines, conveying powerful fruit flavors and aromas. They were more evocative, with their allure stemming from their ability to transport.

In previous rosé tastings, we very much liked American, Spanish and Italian wines. But in this tasting, French rosés dominated, taking 7 of the top 10 spots. These included rosés in many different colors and styles.

Our No. 2 bottle, the 2008 Beaujolais Rosé d’Folie from Jean-Paul Brun, was made entirely from gamay. It, too, had a wonderfully delicate texture with unexpected nuances in the flavor. Our No. 4 wine, the ’08 Château de Peyrassol from the Côtes de Provence, was a more typical southern French rosé, made of grenache, cinsault and syrah. It is pure pink with floral aromas and pleasing mineral flavors.

Meanwhile, our No. 5 wine, the 2008 L’Alycastre from Domaine de la Courtade, also from the Côtes de Provence, made of grenache, mourvèdre and the obscure tibouren, was an archetype rosé — chill, pour, drink and enjoy. Our No. 6 wine, the ’08 Château d’Oupia from the Minervois, was a spicy, peppery wine. At $13 it was our best value, though in this $10 to $20 range none of our favorites were bad values.

It’s the rare rosé that benefits from age. Two that come to mind are the Rioja from Lôpez de Heredia and the Palette from Château Simone. Both are superb wines, but out of our price range. All of our favorites were from the 2008 vintage.

The most unusual in the bunch was our No. 9 wine, a 2008 Txakolina from Ameztoi in the Basque region of Spain. Dry white Txakolinas have grown highly popular in the last few years, but you don’t often see a rosé. This wine had a bit of effervescence, and surprising flavors of tropical fruit.

The Txakolina was made by blending the red hondarrabi beltza grape with white hondarrabi zuri grapes, a method that may be ancient in the Basque region but is prohibited in much of Europe. Otherwise, all of our favorites were made in the traditional manner of crushing red grapes only and allowing the juice to macerate only briefly with the pigment-bearing skins.

The European Union had proposed relaxing these rules, which would have allowed producers everywhere in Europe to blend red and white to make rosé. But after heavy lobbying from rosé producers, who feared that their more painstaking methods would give way to cheap blends of poor wines, the union on June 8 withdrew the proposal.

Good rosé may well be more than a fleeting memory.

Tasting Report: Sipping Under the Sun

Robert Oatley



Mudgee Australia Rosé of Sangiovese 2008

Bone dry with lovely texture and balanced, savory mineral flavors.

(Importer: Oatley Wines, Petaluma, Calif.)

Jean-Paul Brun



Terres Dorées Beaujolais Rosé d’Folie 2008

Rich yet delicate with restrained fruit flavors and plenty of nuances. (Louis/Dressner Selections, New York)

Wild Rock


★★ ½

Hawkes Bay New Zealand Vin Gris Rosé 2008

Crisp and tangy with dry, refreshing flavors. (Kobrand, New York)

Commanderie de Peyrassol


★★ ½

Côtes de Provence Château de Peyrassol 2008

Pink, dry and surprisingly rich with pleasing floral aromas.

(Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York)

Domaine de la Courtade


★★ ½

Côtes de Provence L’Alycastre Rosé 2008

Dry, earthy and straightforward; chill, pop, pour and drink.

(Winebow, New York)


Château d’Oupia Minervois Rosé 2008


★★ ½

Floral aromas with round, peppery fruit flavors.

(Louis/Dressner Selections, New York)

Château de Rouët


★★ Côtes de Provence Coeur Estérelle 2008

Delicate and straightforward with dry, gentle citrus and berry flavors. (Village Wine Imports, New York)

Commanderie de la Bargemone



Coteaux d’Aix en Provence Rosé 2008

Dry and earthy with intriguing floral and berry flavors.

(Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, Va.)

Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Rubentis 2008



Dry, tangy and lightly effervescent, with crisp, almost tropical fruit

flavors. (De Maison Selections, Chapel Hill, N.C.)

Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Rosé 2008



Tangy aromas and flavors of earth, herbs and almonds.

(V.O.S. Selections, New York)

2009年6月15日 星期一


Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Appleton

Published: June 15, 2009

One of the biggest hit songs of the 1940s was a comic tune performed by the Andrews Sisters, “Rum and Coca-Cola.” Decades later, a brand of premium-priced rum is suggesting that rum drinkers forgo the Coke — or any mixer, for that matter — and also say no to garnishes and other embellishments.

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Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum is urging consumers to “Sip up.”

In a print and outdoor campaign, with a budget estimated at $7 million to $8 million, Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum is urging consumers to “Sip up.” The goal of the humorous campaign, by DeVito/Verdi in New York, is to woo those who typically drink so-called brown goods like pricey Scotches and whiskys by presenting two varieties of Appleton Estate brown rums as good enough to imbibe on their own.

“To all Irish whisky drinkers, today is your lucky day,” the headline of one ad declares. A second ad carries this cheeky Q & A: “Looking for a good Scotch? May we suggest a rum.”

Other ads in the campaign assert that Appleton Estate is “the rum that needs nothing.” That idea is brought to life with illustrations showing, for instance, a twin straw in a glass of rum turning into a double-barreled shotgun, blasting away at a piece of pineapple trying to join the drink.

In another such ad, tiny plastic swords inside a glass of Appleton Estate stand, points up, ready to repel a cherry that wants to get into the act.

The campaign is the first from DeVito/Verdi since the Kobrand Corporation awarded the agency the Appleton Estate account in December, for tasks that include creative development, media planning and buying, events and nontraditional advertising.

Kobrand became the United States sales and marketing agent for the Appleton Estate rums in May 2008 after reaching an agreement with the brand’s owner, the J. Wray & Nephew Group of Jamaica. The Brown-Forman Corporation had handled Appleton Estate in this country from October 2001 through April 2008.

The campaign concentrates on Appleton Estate Reserve, which is 40 proof, and Appleton Estate 12-year-old, which is 43 proof. The former sells for $25 to $29 for a 750-ml. bottle; the latter is priced in the low $40s.

The campaign is trying to do for rum what has already been done for vodka and tequila: Expand drinkers’ perceptions of the quality of certain brands of distilled spirits to the point where they are willing to pay more for liquor in those categories than ever before.

DeVito/Verdi has some experience in that realm, having created campaigns for Grey Goose vodka when it was owned by the Sidney Frank Importing Company, which sold the premium-priced brand for more than $2 billion to Bacardi Ltd.

In one of those funny ways the ball sometimes bounces when it hits the pavement on Madison Avenue, by claiming that Appleton Estate is tasty enough to never see the inside of a blender DeVito/Verdi is differentiating the brand from the Bacardi Ltd. flagship, Bacardi rum, which has built its leadership in the category on ads that pair it with mixers like Coca-Cola, orange juice, tonic water and club soda.

“Bacardi is the 800-pound gorilla” in the rum market, acknowledges John Pennacchio, director for spirits at Kobrand in Purchase, N.Y., “and with the addition of flavors its share of the category has grown.” His reference is to new flavored Bacardi varieties like lemon, vanilla and apple.

“Rum is the second largest category after vodka,” Mr. Pennacchio says, and like vodka it is “an ingredient category,” in that it is known for being part of mixed drinks and cocktails.

If you go out for a drink and “you say, ‘rum and Coke,’ you’re not going to get yelled at,” he adds.

And then there are rum drinks like daiquiris, mojitos, piña coladas and Mai Tais, just as with vodka the cocktails include martinis and bloody Marys.

But at the same time there is a counter-trend, Mr. Pennacchio says, in that many consumers “are looking for more complex tastes in their foods, in what they drink,” compared with what he calls “the liquid candy” of sweet drinks.

“The sipping and the savoring” embodied by the “Sip up” theme become a call to action” to those drinkers, Mr. Pennacchio says, adding: “We’re not against mixability. We’re saying rum is on par with the classic spirits” like single-malt Scotch, small-batch bourbons and Cognac, which can be enjoyed without accompaniments.

“Taste tests give us very good confidence there’s something there,” Mr. Pennacchio says, referring to work done before the campaign was introduced.

And “the ad that gets the most reaction,” he adds, is one for the 12-year-old variety of Appleton Estate. “It spent 12 years in a barrel,” the headline says. “The last thing it wants to see is the inside of a blender.”

Other ads express that sentiment in similar fashion. “Sorry, Coke,” one headline reads.

Another ad urges rum drinkers to realize that “the aroma of butterscotch, orange peel and vanilla should enter your nose. Not a cocktail umbrella.”

Then there are ads that seek to establish the upscale credentials of Appleton Estate in a cheeky fashion typical of ads from DeVito/Verdi.

“Considered Jamaica’s finest legal export,” one headline declares slyly. The headline of another ad pokes at a competitive brand fronted by a pirate: “A rum well beyond the rank of captain.”

A tongue-in-cheek approach is important, says Brad Emmett, creative director at DeVito/Verdi, because to so many drinkers “rum is fun.”

“We didn’t want to take it to a stuffy place, to say, ‘There’s no more fun in rum now that it’s in the world of sipping like Cognac,’ ” Mr. Emmett says.

“You look at these ads and they bring a smile to your face,” he adds, particularly the ones in which the straws and swords “are knocking out anything that doesn’t need to be in the drink.”

To underline the message, “we kept the ads clean, we kept them simple,” Mr. Emmett says, featuring only a glass and a bottle posed on plain white backgrounds.

That also serves, says Andy Brief, director for account services at DeVito/Verdi, to help the campaign in “shedding the existing conventions” of rum advertising like depicting sunny beaches.

“There’s such an ingrained image of rum,” he adds. “And because it’s consumed with various mixers, the actual flavor of the rum goes unnoticed.”

“There has always been a feeling this category could use a different direction,” Mr. Brief says, “and along comes Appleton with this aging story similar to those you’d find with other brown goods” like Scotch, bourbon and Cognac.

To someone who is “used to drinking rum with a paper umbrella sticking out of it, it may be difficult” to accept rum as something to sip, he adds, “but to those used to brown drinks, it’s a discovery process.”

The print ads in the campaign are running in magazines like Black Enterprise, Esquire, Fast Company, Golf Digest, GQ, Men’s Journal, Out, The Robb Report and Wired. The outdoor ads are appearing on buildings, bus shelters and phone kiosks.

DeVito/Verdi and Kobrand are considering ideas for commercials, which would run on television and online.

If you like In Advertising, be sure to read the Advertising column that runs Monday through Friday in the Business Day section of The New York Times print edition and on nytimes.com.

Mine All Malt (smooth, 5 percent ABV)

Greetings from Taiwan: weather hot, beer cold

It was a killer flight, something like 20 hours from Baltimore to Taipei, but after some naps and several beers, I am up and about.

So far, I have sampled a Mine All Malt, a Taiwan Beer, a Tiger and an unidentified draft beer (it tasted like Bud) served by a unique machine at the Toyko airport.

Parked in the airport lounge waiting for a flight, I placed a chilled glass in the holder of this beer-dispensing machine. When I pressed the start button, the machine grasped the glass, tilted it, then filled the glass about three-quarters full with lager. Finally, a second spout topped the glass with foam.

It was terrific theater. Small children watched in amusement as their fathers got brews. The trouble was the beer was weak and watery.

So far my favorite beer is the Mine All Malt (smooth, 5 percent ABV) . Also, I tell myself after experiencing this humidity, I will temper my complaints about Baltimore weather.