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by Heidi Eisenhour
It’s true that dry rose wines go well with almost any dish and with so many flavors on the table during the holidays – rosé is a truly great choice. Recently Cracker and I took a little trip in search of some stellar small producers of Washington rosés’ for you. We had to look no further than Washington’s Walla Walla valley.
What follows is our abbreviated trip report – viva rosé!
There are many stellar roses being made in Washington. We’re only going to talk about two but don’t let that stop you from trying the others. No matter what grapes or exact blend, rosés should be fresh, aromatic, slightly fruity, and acidic with moderate to low alcohol levels. In our opinions rose should be served chilled.
Each rosé has its own character but we especially enjoy the ones made by Rulo and Lullaby Wineries. And, one of these winemakers recently moved her operation to the Olympic Peninsula from the Walla Walla Valley. Ooh la la! We have greatness in our midst.
Rulo Winery Rosé
First we want to tell you about our friend, Kurt Schlicker and his wife Vickie, who make delicious wines in the Walla Walla Valley at their Rulo Winery. Heidi met Kurt twelve years ago on her first trip to Walla Walla and has been a fan ever since. On our recent trip to Walla Walla we asked Kurt, “What wine should we tell our farmers and their friends to drink with a roasted bird.” Kurt broke into his characteristic laughter assumedly because the question was coming from a bird. He thought for a minute, eyes skimming the lined up posse of bottles and said, “The rosé!”
Imagine our surprise. “Why?” Cracker asked.
Kurt was quick to answer, “It has enough interest for red wine people and cuts through heavier meals like a white. Bottom line it’s a wine for everybody.” And it’s delicious. Rulo’s 2011 Rosé is made with 55% Mouverde grapes, 45% Syrah. It’s stainless steel barrel fermented, so no oak. It has a beautiful light salmon hue and fills your nose with grapefruit and strawberry galore. The mouth is bursting with strawberries and white plum. Fresh fruit cocktail echoes through the mouth with a finish hinting at rose petals. And in Kurt’s own words, ‘As always, this wine is bone dry.”
“The syrah comes from a Table Creek clone and we press the whole cluster which gives it grapefruit notes so it’s pleasing to white wine people. The mouvedre we leave on the skin for 2 days which gives the rosé it’s color and a little phenolic grip (tannins) which gives it enough interest for red wine people.”
Kurt then got technical on us “The syrah comes from a Table Creek clone and we press the whole cluster which gives it grapefruit notes so it’s pleasing to white wine people. The mouvedre we leave on the skin for 2 days which gives the rosé it’s color and a little phenolic grip (tannins) which gives it enough interest for red wine people.”
Now we want to tell you about our friend Virginie Bourge who lives just down the street and makes the most DE-LICIOUS rosé, which is sold in an adorable 500ml bottle under her Lullaby label.
The 2011 Lullaby Rosé was made with 100% Grenache grapes from from Alder Ridge Vineyard in the Columbia Valley. It is dry, fruity, delicate and elegant. Lullaby rosé has floral and fruity aromas of cherry, red currant, raspberry and citrus. It is crafted in the true spirit of Provençal rosé – you’ll find out why in a second. Only 183 cases were produced. And it is truly a wonderful wine.
Don’t just take it from us, folks with serious street cred in the wine industry think Lullaby Wines are special, “Virginie has brought an Old World style to Northwest fruit,” says Robert “Bo” Bonina, Washington Athletic Club, Vice President Food & Beverage and a sommelier.
Virginie is a native of France and a resident of Port Hadlock! Really, we’re not making this stuff up.
She was raised on a farm in Bonnieux (in Luberon, north of Provence), educated first at a viticulture and enology school in Avignon, went on to earn a master’s degree in enology in Champagne, next worked a year at Louis Roederer, another at Nicolas Feuillatte, and finally moved to the U.S. to do an internship at Ste. Michelle – all by the time she was 30 years old. In 2010 she moved from Walla Walla to the Olympic Peninsula to focus full-time on her own Lullaby Winery as well as to pursue consulting opportunities in viticulture and winemaking.
What do these winemakers, other than being great at what they do, have in common you might ask. They are small and they distribute their own wines. So, they are harder to find. But, never fear, we took that piece of work out of it for you and have a great selection of Lullaby and Rulo wines at the Farmstand.
As farmers, people lucky enough to have farmers for friends, and everyone else come together this time of year, many of their tables will have a turkey on them. We hope that after reading our travelogue here – those tables have a little rosé on them too.
As Virginie would say, Santo!
Love, Heidi and Cracker
Read more about Rulo Winery
Read more about Lullaby Winery
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