A Rosado for Every Porch
Originally published in The Heart of Hillsborough, August 2017.
Living in Hillsborough, we are accustomed to hot, muggy evenings of late summer. Although us locals tend to spend more time inside to seek relief from the heat, we still appreciate the opportunity to have a glass of wine on the porch. For me, the quintessential summer evening is celebrated with rosé, and I am proud to say that the wine enjoys a prominent place in my porch’s cooler.
While there are many praise-worthy locales where this style is produced, some of the most exciting of the 2016 rosés are from the Spanish region of La Rioja where they are known as rosados. Already well-regarded as a region for noble red wines and seen by many as Spain’s equivalent of France’s Burgundy, La Rioja’s wineries are also beginning to earn a reputation for their masterful blends of local red and white grape varieties, resulting in extraordinary rosados. Furthermore, La Rioja’s terroir of limestone and clay soils mix well with the arid, Mediterranean-influenced weather attributed to a “hilly” geographic location that ultimately adds a unique stylistic imprint to its wines.
Thus, on a recent trip to Weaver Street Market, I was excited to see a rosado from La Rioja and decided to explore it. Muga Winery’s 2016 Rosado (priced well at $13.99) is immediately eye-catching because of the deep salmon hue — a shade darker than other styles. Initially, I was reluctant to try it because a darker color often indicates a wine’s concentration and richness of fruit, and I sought a rosé to simply enjoy sipping without having to really think about complementing it with food. After all, on a summer evening when the porch is calling, the simple pleasure brought on with each cool sip is enough to fully satisfy.
The tasting was pleasantly unexpected. I assumed I would encounter rich flavors because of its darker color, but what I experienced was a wine of balance and fresh fruit that was more nuanced. Initially, there was pronounced acidity, but it quickly dissipated, revealing the pleasant, delicate fruits of apricot, white peach and plum. Citrus notes including blood orange emerged, balancing the stone fruit well, and the finish was crisp and refreshing. What surprised me the most was how the acidity did not overwhelm the fruit, but rather served to further open up the complex array of flavors while still keeping them balanced and subtle. It left me wondering if this might be a special characteristic of La Rioja as I had never experienced such when tasting rosé styles from other regions. This is worth further exploration.
Muga Winery’s 2016 Rosado was a wonderful addition to the evening. It stood alone well while its vibrancy hinted that it would be quite versatile, pairing with just about anything off the late summer grill. Although summer is coming to a close, after this experience, I am already looking forward to next year’s rosados!