Taste of Vail events teach that rose wine is more complex than expected

Kim Fuller
Special to the Daily
Kim Fuller | Special to the Daily
Kim Fuller | Special to the Daily |

The pairings

These are the featured pairings from the “Wake Up and Smell the Rose” breakfast seminar with Chateau D’ Esclans Roses.

1. Whispering Angel Rose 2015, paired with summer berries — Chateau D’ Esclans’ Whispering Angel is the winery’s most popular rose. It’s has floral and berry aromas, but its taste and finish are dry. The wine is aged in stainless steel, and very Provence-style, as it’s light, refreshing, crisp and easy to drink.

2. Rock Angel Rose 2014, paired with sharp cheddar and caramelized onion quiche — Chateau D’ Esclans launched Rock Angel last year. As the winery puts it: “It started with a whisper, and now it’s time to rock.” This blend has more minerality and spice than the Whispering Angel; Rock Angel is fermented half in stainless steel tanks and half in oak barrels, which gives it more of a silky and structured texture.

3. Les Clans Rose 2013, paired with smoked salmon with lemon cream cheese profiterole — Sydney Hunter-Edwards, assistant portfolio director for Shaw-Ross Fine Wine Division, said this wine is “getting into a very serious rose.” It’s 100 percent oak fermented, with grenache grapes that come from 60-year-old vines. Only about 1,500 cases of the Les Clans are produced for the United States each year. The rose is light in color, reminiscent of a white burgundy in its look and taste. The wine stands up well to a lot of different foods.

4. Garrus Rose 2013, paired with pork belly scone — The Garrus comes from Chateau D’ Esclans’ oldest plot of land, from the top of the vineyard. There are a limited amount of 80-year-old grenache grapes to work with to get a small amount of free-run juice for this wine. Each year, only about 25 barrels are produced for the world, with about 1,000 six-bottle cases for the United States. New French oak barrels are used to age this rose, giving it a velvety texture with notes of vanilla.

If you go …

What: The Remedy Brunch, the final event of 2016 Taste of Vail.

When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, April 3.

Where: The Remedy Bar, Four Seasons Resort Vail, 1 Vail Road, Vail.

Cost: $52.

More information: Visit or call 970-401-3320.

Editor’s note: Associated Press style has us leave out the accent mark on rose, the wine. So while it seems to read like the well-known flower, read it here as it is pronounced in French, like “rose-a.” Visit this story at to read more about the wines featured at the “Wake Up and Smell the Rose” breakfast pairing event with Chateau D’ Esclans Roses.

Speaking of being lost in translation, rose wine is just recently recovering from its negative association with white zinfandel — a generally sweet and inexpensive pink wine made popular in America in the ’70s and ’80s.

Sydney Hunter-Edwards is the assistant portfolio director for Shaw-Ross Fine Wine Division and led the “Wake Up and Smell the Rose” seminar for Taste of Vail on Saturday morning at Sweet Basil, featuring the four roses of the Chateau D’ Esclans winery in Provence, France.

“Once they taste it, it’s a different story, but convincing them that it’s not going to be sweet and that it’s going to be a nice, dry, easy-to-drink rose is pretty much the entire battle,” said Hunter-Edwards of introducing rose to wine drinkers who assume a pink drink only means sweet and cheap.

Chateau D’ Esclans has been setting the bar for rose production and consumption since becoming a rose-only winery in 2006. In its 20th anniversary this year, the winery sells the most expensive bottle of rose in the world — the Chateau D’ Esclans Garrus Rose (80 percent grenache and 20 percent rolle), at $100 a bottle.

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“There have been so many producers that have started making great roses,” Hunter-Edwards said. “And it’s only helping us because the word gets out about rose in general.”

The word has been heard in Vail, certainly, as a big crowd packed the Grand Ballroom at the Arrabelle at Vail Square in Lionshead on Wednesday afternoon for the Taste of Vail’s third year of the Debut of Rose tasting.

“This event is all about celebrating the roses that come from all over the world,” said Cary Hogan, buyer at Avon Liquor and Taste of Vail veteran. “I love roses — they have the complexities of a red wine grape with the crispness of a white.”

Hogan said roses are versatile with food and can be enjoyed every season of the year — not just spring and summer.

“At Avon Liquor, I have been putting out rose for at least 10 years, and it was a struggle for a while, and now people are getting it,” she said.

Ranges of rose

Rose’s pink color ranges from almost white to light red. The varying blushed shades are created by the skin of red grapes, put in contact with the grape juice for only a short amount of time before the fermentation and barreling process.

Unlike the sweet additions in some white zin, sugar isn’t added to rose. The wine is often kept in steel casks, and sometimes aged in oak, more like a white burgundy style.

Some roses are meant to be more “fun,” according to Federico Nino, regional manager of international business for Casa Bianchi, a winery in Argentina. At the rose debut event, Nino poured the New Age rosado from Casa Bianchi. The sweeter, slightly bubbly, frizzante-style wine is only 9 percent alcohol by volume and is a blend of Malbec and merlot.

“It’s a wine that’s really low in alcohol, so it’s something you can keep on drinking,” Nino said with a smile. “Since it has the bubbles and the residual sugar, it allows you to play with it and have fun with it.”

For a rose rendition, cocktail style, he had Debut attendees try a New Age Negroni. The recipe is simple: New Age rosado, Campari, ice and a slice of orange or grapefruit.

“There are wines that allow you to have more fun,” he said. “And there are some that are more serious.”

Saturday’s seminar was more specific than the large tasting event on Wednesday, focusing on one winery and the tiered structure of its terroir and the roses that come from it. The Sweet Basil kitchen’s breakfast pairings deliciously complemented each of Chateau D’ Esclans’ pours.

The winery’s two oak-aged roses pair especially well with food — even rich textures and flavors.

“You shouldn’t be afraid to take rose and pair it with bigger dishes,” said Hunter-Edwards — specifically referring to Saturday’s final pairing of the 2013 Garrus, paired with a decadent and savory pork belly scone. “It will hold up, as long as you are using the right rose.”

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