On this warm August night when I had just enough energy to pick and nibble various snacks for dinner, the 2012 Clos Saron “Tickled Pink” rosé was a welcome delight. This wine was a standout when I attended the Rhone Rangers tasting in San Francisco last March, and I’ve been waiting to open this bottle since. With a soft wax cap and a hand-numbered label (the cap made a fun little popping noise when I pulled the cork through), the bottle bore the likeness of exactly what it contained—a wine lovingly made by hand by Gideon Beinstock in the remote, cool Oregon House Valley in the Sierra Foothills. Made with organic fruit from Lodi (50% Syrah, 50% Tempranillo), this unfiltered wine saw minimal interventions in the winemaking process. Beinstock eschews sulfites and mechanical treatments in favor of old-fashioned winemaking methods such as foot-stomping to crush the grapes, open-top fermentation, and secondary fermentation on the lees—producing some yeasty aromas in this rosé.
The wine is one of the prettiest, softest roses I’ve tasted—and certainly one of the most French-tasting California rosés. With yeasty, floral, herbaceous, and berry notes on the nose, this wine is very dry with bright acid in the front and mid palate. At the same time, the wine is also fresh, soft, and light bodied with strawberry fruit—and only 11.2% alcohol. The finish is light and smooth. As the wine warmed and opened in the glass, it became richer with a more noticeable orange flavor and faint honey notes. The wine was terrific with the rosemary-asiago cheese I pulled from the fridge and it stood up to the fresh cherry tomatoes I ate plain. This is a spectacular summer-food wine.
Clos Saron wines are worth seeking out because of Beinstock’s commitment to cool climate, terroir-driven wines made with very few manipulations. His estate-grown Syrah blends and Pinot Noirs are lovely, but tonight I’m savoring the balanced, soft, complex rosé and wondering when I can take a drive up to Oregon House Valley.