Alcohol: 11. 5%
Suggested Retail: $13.99
“Toad Hollow Vineyards describes this wine as ‘A true French-style Rosé, bone dry and elegant.’ A rosé with a little sweetness left in it can be very acceptable, but your reviewer prefers something in the style of today’s Wine Pick.
“The words ‘French-style rosé’ trigger memories. Some of these are related to visits to Provence, that part of France that’s probably most associated with rosés. Truth is, rosé wines are popular in other parts of that country, too. Years ago I sat in a backyard in the southwest of France enjoying such a French-style rosé. I had just arrived from California and was going to stay with an old Rugby teammate and his girlfriend who lived about 45-minutes southeast of Bordeaux. I could catch the train into the city each morning to attend Vinexpo, the week-long wine industry trade fair, and learn about my pal’s new life in France in the evenings.
“Bruce poured us each a glass of pink wine that evening in late May, then realized that his guest might want something else. Would I prefer a beer or perhaps a red wine, he asked, explaining that he had some ‘serious’ wines in the cellar. ‘Oh no,’ I responded. If he drank a glass or two of this kind of wine before dinner, that’s what I wanted to do, too. Besides, I actually liked rosé wine and reckoned I could adapt to the local custom. Being close to Bordeaux, the Côte du Marmandais grows grapes similar to those of that region—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and a few obscure varieties, but no Pinot Noir, like in this week’s Wine Pick. The flavor of the wine we drank that night was a bit different, but like the Toad Hollow Dry Rosé, the French wine was sprightly and refreshing—and relatively low in alcohol. It seemed perfect for the circumstances. In those days, rosés weren’t nearly as popular in the U.S. as they are now. Drinking pink wine might mark you as an unsophisticated consumer and maybe a bit effeminate, too. I chuckled to myself as I thought how far Bruce and I were from that stereotype.
“Fortunately, California wine has evolved since then and there are quite a few quality options in the rosé category now. The 2019 vintage of Toad Hollow’s Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir isn’t really pink. We’d say it qualifies as some shade of rose color. There’s intriguing aroma. Whether that can be likened to a full red version of Pinot Noir is ‘iffy,’ but you can pick out fresh fruit essences reminiscent of strawberries and raspberries. Those fruit aspects are reprised in the taste, along with just a whisper of what’s now called ‘brown spice’ (perhaps nutmeg or clove). For all its crispness resulting from picking those Pinot Noir grapes at high acidity levels, there’s still a nice round feel in the mouth.”
Food Affinity: “A dry rosé can be one of the most versatile food-pairers. The Toad Hollow Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir might be great with a shrimp omelet for your Sunday brunch or accompanying poached salmon at dinner. It wasn’t overpowered when we tasted it with mesquite-grilled ribs basted with red sauce featuring smoked chiles.”