"I'd like to get in to see you with my Roses before you pick your set for the year" More than one, in fact more like 7 of my sales reps and importers looking to make an appointment with me to taste the brand spanking new 2013 roses...in February. What the hell people?!
Seems each year the push to get in and taste me on Roses starts earlier. At one time we were the only real game in town when it came to French Roses, only a tiny smattering of restaurants and a couple other retailers bringing in a.....a, Rose here and there compared to our huge wall of hundreds of cases, but now? Everyone has caught on and the mad rush to import dry Roses has been rather insane to watch. Distributors finally catching on to what my boss was saying 18 years ago, that Rose is the perfect summer wine, weighty enough for charred foods retrieved from smoldering backyard grills, the crisp produce and layered salads we tend to eat when everything else seems just too heavy...and it's just fun as hell to fill a glass with icy cold, pale pink wine and drink it under the pounding sun, and what the in-the-know importers were doing all along. The phone and my email box get blasted each year as the Wine Country Rose buyer and this year, sooner than ever before.
Each year my experience gets taxed a bit more while being seated across the table from a sweaty bottle of pink wine, often with the vintage changed via magic marker. I smell these samples, swirl and try and shake off the baby fat, try and imagine where this wine is going to be, you know, when it's ready to be consumed, and do my best to make notes on the stuff underneath the gangly bits that tend to be the most aggressive when wines are sampled weeks or months before they are going to be bottled. I know there are critics out there that write notes on wines still in barrel and as someone that has done this for 17 years I cannot begin to image just which dark crevice of their asses they think this information is good for or who it's going to benefit....
"Dude, what they hell?!" my frustrated garble after swishing the thirtieth backward 2013 Rose around my palate, feeling the daggers of pissed-off-and-not-ready digging deeply on my tongue. I pushed the glass away from me and looked demanding into the big, sympathetic brown eyes of one of my beloved French importers. "I know, I know Sam-mon-ta, but what am I supposed to do?" his thick accent full of as much annoyance as my stinging palate. He went on to tell me that the retailers and restaurant folks here in California were demanding that they get sampled on the new vintage Roses by February and early March, at the latest, so they could make their buying decisions for the year. "But, but these wines aren't ready" my scrunchie faced protest. He nodded and shook his head, I could feel his confusion and trepidation as he said, "Yes, but to have my wines considered I have to show them now. I'm sorry and I know you guys get it but...well think of all the people here that buy strawberries in November, not everyone does. They don't taste right, or even good but they are here and that's appears to be what matters." Argh!
Hard enough to evaluate wines that aren't even bottled yet. Even harder to do so when they are being rushed to market...lets toss in a vintage that had record rainfall, grapes picked a month later in many regions, (ahem, like Provence) and saw production numbers down 30% and more, well lets just say my notes are a bit like pin the tail on the donkey. Why the hell are we once again forcing wine to do what it isn't ready or able to do? Just to have your Roses lined up that are not going to taste a fucking thing like the wines you took notes on, months before?! Helpful that. How the hell does this make sense and what is it doing to our credibility...or is that something we, as wine professionals, have just tossed in the air and said "Fuck it." about? I have wines lined up, notes nervously taken, and a shitton of Rose tasting appointments still left to go. You want to know what to think about the 2013 vintage Roses? Well here, there's this..
The wines while young do show plenty of promise. All the pieces are there and given just a smidgen of time I know they will come together...just wish we weren't rushing them! Let them settle and kick off their awkward teenage gangle. Can't help but think we'd cultivate a lot more, long lasting Rose fans if we let the wines finish before we shake them from their evolutionary slumber and dump them on the public while they are still stumbling around on baby legs trying to settle into their own flesh...
Ready for ready Rose... Your palate fatigued Wine Slinger