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Wine of the Week for week ending 21 January 2007
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Vavasour Marlborough Rose 2006
Marlborough, New Zealand

The line up of pink wines looked so pretty. But what would they taste like? So often pinks can be disappointing. That's because pink wines are not always planned to be pink wines from the outset. Sometimes they are made because red grapes haven't fully ripened, sometimes they are made as an afterthought.

A couple of years ago there were more pink wines on the market than ever before. It seemed to be the new thing to have a pink in the portfolio. Unfortunately, in New Zealand, the buying public wasn't following the trend that seemed to be so popular in the UK and when summer finished, the pinks were still languishing on the wine shop shelves.

There donít seem to be so many pinks around this summer, perhaps because 2006 was a much better vintage and in many cases the grapes were made into what they were destined for in the first place - red wine - rather than having a portion 'bled' off to make pink wine.

But after the tasting I decided that what's around is not too bad. There are some pretty darn drinkable pinks this year.

My favourite by a country mile was the Vavasour Marlborough Rose 2006, a pretty watermelon pink coloured wine made from Awatere Valley cabernet franc grapes that were grown specifically for this Rosť. Why else would one want to grow cabernet franc in Marlborough, otherwise?

When I found out, after the tasting, that cabernet franc was the grape variety, I understood why the aroma was so expressive. That cabernet franc could produce a seductive scent was something I had learnt in wine class years ago. It is the grape that gives a distinctive aroma to many Bordeaux reds.

Vavasour Marlborough Rose 2006 smelt inviting and appealing with fresh strawberry and cream scents - and the crisp strawberry and juicy stonefruit flavours filled the expectation that the nose promised. It tasted clean, soft and juicy, just off dry with its 7.3 grams of residual sugar, but well balanced from the underpinning of sweet citrus. It was tasty and fresh, as well as refreshing, and delivered everything that I expect Rosť to.

That was a couple of weeks ago, but earlier this week, when I was filling up the recycle bin, I found the remains of the pink wines. I tasted them all again . Some were tipped out while others, like the very commercial Bensen Block Gisborne Rose 2005 and the Monkey Bay East Coast Rose 2006, wines that my sisters liked when we did the tasting, were blended together and given to them.

The Vavasour was still perfect, so I put it aside to drink the contents later, which we did on Friday night. It hadnít deteriorated from its couple of weeks, in fact I think it may have even been a little better.

Beautifully quenching, it's a wine of texture with just enough tannin to give it structure and a yeasty richness. Now it tasted of watermelon and pomegranate and strawberry and juicy, sweet, tangelo with a herbal undercurrent like you get in sauvignon blanc, but nowhere near as aggressive. Sensational rose for a summery day.

The remaining wine was matched to pan-fried chicken tenderloins (the fillet pieces) that had been coated in a mixture of flour, ground cumin and ground coriander before cooking. They were topped with salad greens and a fresh pomegranate juice, tangelo and watermelon dressing. Simply yum!

Vavasour Marlborough Rose 2006 is packaged in a clear bottle to show off the beautiful colour that was achieved by the crushed grapes having 12 hours contact with the skins. It was one of the earliest harvests on record and the grapes were harvested in the cool of the evening. The wine has no oak and it is ready to drink now, but should be served straight from the fridge to make the most of the mouthwatering flavours. It has 13% alcohol by volume, is sealed with a screwcap, and costs $24 a bottle.

© Sue Courtney
14 Jan 2007

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