I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but here in Orlando, it’s well into rosé season.
Of course, I don’t really believe in rosé season. I’m a huge rosé fan – some might even say an evangelist – and I’m happy drinking the sunset-colored liquid any time of year. But there’s no denying that it pairs particularly well with a porch, deck, or pool on a warm Florida spring day like today.
I’m partial to Provencal rosés – like a lot of rosé lovers, I consider them the gold standard – but I was intrigued a few weeks ago when Tim’s Wine Market Orlando featured the 2014 Massaya rosé from Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley. It’s made mostly from Rhone varietals – 40% cinsault, 30% syrah – plus 30% cabernet sauvignon.
I bought a bottle ($17) and pulled it out last weekend, when Steve and I grilled pork chops on our deck.
They say we eat with our eyes first – I feel the same way about wine, which may be one of the reasons I love rosés. Somehow, just looking at them is relaxing and cooling. The Massaya does not disappoint on that score, with a beautiful pale pink color like a classic Provencal rosé.
It has a lovely nose of unripe watermelon, strawberries, flowers, and green apple. I also detected something metallic, though I couldn’t put my finger on it.
The palate is beautiful too. It’s riper than the nose, and it reminded me of strawberry flowers. I don’t even know if strawberry plants have flowers, but if they do, that’s what this wine tastes like. Despite all its ripe fruit, the wine is still lean enough to be elegant, thanks to some nice acidity.
The Massaya was great to sip on its own, but I was particularly pleased at how versatile it was with food. It was a perfect match for grilled pork chops and a tomato-corn salad with herb vinaigrette (yes, it worked with the vinaigrette!). And even though I’m not a big fan of the wine-and-chocolate trend, it was very tasty with the dark chocolate we pulled out for dessert.
If you’re skeptical about Lebanese wines, don’t be. Lebanon is actually one of the oldest wine-producing areas in the world – we’re talking BC here! I can’t substantiate this, but according to Snooth.com, “Noah is said to have planted the first vineyard” in what is now Lebanon.
Lebanon produces some good reds too. Massaya’s 2011 Silver Label red (40% grenache, 30% cinsault, 15% cabernet sauvignon, 15% mourvedre) is very nice. I also enjoyed Chateau Musar‘s 2007 red – a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cinsault, and carignan – when I tried it last summer.
If you feel like expanding your horizons, I definitely recommend trying the wines from this fascinating country. And if you haven’t discovered the wonders of rosé, pick up a bottle today. Just don’t buy white zinfandel!
Last week, I was invited to a private tasting with winemaker Carolina Garcia Viadero of Bodegas Valduero, a family-owned winery in Spain’s Ribera del Duero region. We tasted some outstanding wines, made with passion and extraordinary care. I’ll have more on those in my next post, so stay tuned!