Last night, I hosted what is becoming an annual tradition: a late spring rose tasting, accompanied by a vertical selection of the rose from Domaine Tempier in Bandol.
The tasting incorporated rose wines from the United States, France, and Spain, many of which (like the Syncline Grenache Rose or the Toad Hollow) were quite good. Others, made in too "American" a style (i.e., either with new oak or juicy over-extracted fruit), didn’t thrill me but had their fans among the group.
Early on, we tasted a mini-vertical of Chinook’s Cabernet Franc rose, with wines from 1998 (fabulous, and gaining real maturity much like a red wine), the 2002 (good), and the new 2004 (nice, needs time to overcome the first blast of juiciness and gain deeper character).
For the Tempier vertical, I served 1999-2003 (pictured here). The 2004, sadly, hadn’t hit the market yet, at least anywhere I could easily snag a bottle in time. The 1999 and 2000 are definitely showing signs of losing their herbaceous edginess and sliding into a smooth maturity. Both were nice wines, but are lacking the tangy saltiness that accompanies these wines in youth and middle age. The 2001 was unambiguously the star of the show, as it has been since release. I believe it’s the best vintage of rose since the 1998 (of which I have no more in the cellar). The 2002 continues to be very nice but "lesser" in all respects. By itself it’s a terrific glass of wine with olives, but in comparison it doesn’t stack up. Finally, the 2003 continues to be the "pale cousin" of the other vintages, but what it lacks in color it makes up for in tangy crispness.
We followed these wines with a blueberry cheesecake, made by Wayland (our dessert virtuoso) and served with a Chapoutier Muscat Rivesaltes 1998, brought by Bill and Laura.
The evening finished with a comparison of young Madeira with "vintage" Madeira, brought on by a question within the group. The young Madeira was Barbeito’s 10 year Christopher Columbus, and the vintage was the D’Oliveras 1903 Bual. Night and day, naturally, the 1903 is an amazing lemony nutty acid bomb. Phenomenal. Paling in comparison was the L’Ecole 41 1983 Faux Pax sherry, which I always try to get people to taste, just for a unique Washington wine experience. A terrific evening overall.