After a cold and aggravating winter, we have made it to my favorite time of year – the transition from spring to summer. Sure, the weather doesn’t know it yet, and nobody seems to want true heat yet, but the air has the right flavor. The flavor, my friends, of smoky barbecue. Time for all that moos or bleats to stampede in retreat – the pits are fired, the charcoal piled hillock-high. And what do the textbooks say to pair with grilled steaks? Zinfandel, of course, or a nice Bordeaux, or a Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, or maybe even a Brunello di Montalcino. But if you aren’t grilling steaks, if your focus is instead on the humble rib, on sauces full of cilantro and tomato paste, Worcestershire and garlic, what wine holds up? None of the above, not consistently.
But rosé does. And a rosé is the focus of today’s post. The 2009 Château d’Oupia Minervois Rosé, from the Minervois AOC in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, was a great find, perfect on its own but definitely possessed of the weight needed to stand up to goods from the grill. It is blended from my favorite Rhone grapes: Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, and shows deep salmon pink in the glass; excellent clarity. On the nose I found an overwhelming abundance of fresh, ripe strawberries, with a buzzing zip to back them up. Good weight, and the wine is bone dry. More bright berry fruits in the mouth, quenched by delicious acidity in a lingering finish hinting at cherries and orange zest. You can find this wine for under $15 a bottle. Try it with grilled tuna, hummus platters, salmon slathered in aioli, or babyback ribs.