Eugene Weekly : Wine : 8.4.11


Refreshing Rosies
Summer wines to complement our passions
By Lance Sparks

I was driving south on Coburg and I was a dangerous man. I was seething, borderline furious at far-right Republicans and Tea Baggers and their political posturing about the “balanced” budget, grandstanding that put the entire nation at risk for their electoral agenda. Adjectives to describe their perilous charades all began with dis-: dishonest, dishonorable, disloyal, dissembling …

I was stopped at a red light, window down for one of our warmish days. I drew a few deep breaths, trying to still my pulse and lower my BP. Then, a surprise: the breath I drew turned sweet, and time turned elastic, stretching out as colors became brighter and my mind filled with an ineffable peace and a feeling that I can only think of as being in love. 

For no good reason, I felt a blameless love and pride for our town, our state, our nation, all humanity. The air tasted fresh with the added scent of trees, flowers, grasses; even the reek of unburned gas and diesel smelled like perfume. All my anger fell away, replaced by something close to bliss. I let it happen, cherished every moment, deeply grateful just to be alive.

This was not my first such experience, though they’ve been rare. (And they cannot be chemically induced — no alcohol or other drugs were involved.) True, I had the late/great Eva Cassidy on the CD player and yes, she did sound like the lead of a choir of angels (if there are angels and they do sing as a choir; at that moment, there were and they did). No, this was just one of those instants when we know that mere existence is as much pleasure — and all the wealth — as any of us deserve.

Those few moments seemed as if they might be infinite, but of course it couldn’t last. The light changed, colors dimmed, traffic flowed — but Cassidy’s voice rose into the highest register, “How can I keep from singing?”

Back to the world, the effects of that epiphanic moment have lingered for more than a week. I’ve even managed to endure without outrage several instances of Libertarians blathering Ayn Rand’s comic-book economics to attack any governmental spending to support the poor and infirm. I know we’ll weather this new storm of dopiness, as we have before.

So: Annually we’ve devoted August to raising the praises of pink wines — rosés — for the sweltering days of high-summer. Well, there hasn’t been much sweltering, but rosés, particularly dry rosés as these are, can be yummy any ol’ time, especially with BBQ:

Buying local? Territorial 2009 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($11.50) is always tasty. High Pass 2010 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($10) is a pretty shade of pink and delivers pleasing cherry/strawberry flavors accented with a distinct citrus zing.

For a little spice in your pink, try Crios 2010 Rosé of Malbec ($11) from Argentina. It’s lively, richly colored, nicely balanced, adaptable to an array of late-summer foods.

The dark pink color of Charles & Charles 2010 Rosé ($10) derives from its origins in the deeply purpled syrah grapes that are the passion of Charles Smith’s Washington wines. This is richly flavored with echoes of strawberry, red currants and pomegranate. Ready for meats, cheeses, whatayagot?

The French do it best, especially in Provence: our friend Amy Hand, formerly of Rabbit and an avid student of French wines, steered us toward Mas Sainte Berthe 2010 Rosé. The price ($18) takes us into the upper range for rosies, and the very pale color might cast doubts, but the delivery is extraordinary: a panoply of red-berry flavors, a delicate dance on the palate, just superb.

May bliss find you, strong and ready. Savor.