A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg
I took some time to stop and smell the rosés this week when Whole Foods Market wine specialist/buyer Mark Pfeiffer took me on walk through his wine garden of delights. (I know … it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!) Rosés are in full bloom these days, turning what used to be a warm weather seasonal go-to into a year-round favorite blend.
It’s been happening over the last three years, explains Pfeiffer. “We’re getting a lot more dry rosés and more people are experimenting with rosés. More sommeliers are really excited about the food pairings with high acid rosés and we’ve been fortunate to partner with some local producers who have been producing excellent quality roses for our One line of wine, which have been delightful as well.”
That One Wine line includes exclusive partnerships with local vintners Ampelos Cellars, Au Bon Climat Winery, Clendenen Family Winery, Fallbrook Winery, Happy Canyon, Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Winery, Hearst Ranch Winery, Margerum Wine Company and Sextant Wines, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
When I asked Pfeiffer what was driving the popularity of rosés, he told me, “I think that winemakers are taking rosé to a new level and I think that in the restaurants and the consumers themselves too, they are opening themselves up to this new rosé and saying, ‘wow this is not only great in the afternoon or as the first course, but it really goes great with oysters or with seafood or with a saffron rice too.'”
Whole Foods has an impressive collection of high-quality rosé wines, none of which could be confused with the overly sweet old-fashioned White Zinfandels that Grandma used to drink. This includes a variety of vintners from all over the world, including custom, local and imported brands.
Topping the list of the Whole Foods Market’s Rosé Garden are two local wines—from Ampelos Cellars and Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Vineyards—which are part of the company’s “One Wine” collection that I mentioned before. This collection of wines represents a unique collaborative label, bringing shoppers unique, local varietals at affordable prices, not to mention exposing our local winemakers to customers throughout Southern California. To date, Whole Foods’ One Wine collaborations have delivered 29 handcrafted wines that include a pinot gris, a white wine blend, and a variety of rosés and red wines.
From within this set of exclusive wines, the One Wine Ampelos Cellars Rosé has what Pfeiffer describes as “this really lovely, almost lime flavor electricity to it.” Ampelos Cellars’ home on the rolling Santa Rita Hills has what some describe as “the perfect recipe of sunlight, cool breezes and rich clay soil that yields life to organically grown grapes.” The wine is a blend of Syrah with a hint of lime and dollop of Riesling and Grenache.
One Wine Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Winery Rosé has what Pfeiffer describes as “a little bit more of that traditional watermelon under-ripe strawberry character that is easy to drink and is remarkably versatile for pairing with a variety of foods.” It includes 48% Valdeguie, 46% Grenache and Pinot Noir that is barrel-fermented and aged before bottling.
Both were delicious, and under $20 a bottle to boot!
All of the One Wine labels are exclusive to Whole Foods in the Southern Pacific region—so that’s from Santa Barbara to San Diego—says Whole Foods Market marketing supervisor Rae van Seenus.
“We’ve been bringing these wines down to the LA region and making sure that our winemakers and our business partners are getting exposure throughout Los Angeles, and that’s been a really fun win-win project for us,” Pfeiffer says.
In addition to the One Wine exclusives, the Whole Foods Rosé Garden also has more than a dozen other rosé blends, including wines from local producers Tercero, Beckmen and Dragonette Cellars. (As a side note, I tasted the Dragonette Cellars 2012 Rosé, Happy Canyon at last weekend’s Taste of the Nation and it was lovely, and definitely put a bloom in my cheeks.)
I don’t know about you, but I’m blushing with excitement about all of these pretty pink possibilities.
Click here for more cocktail corner columns.
When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”