What is it about rosé that makes it the quintessential summer wine?
“There is a freshness to rosé that signifies everything new that happens in the vineyard,” says Christine Tobin, co-owner with her husband, Mark, of Mattebella Vineyards in Southold.
Those new to viticulture should understand that rosé is not a specific grape or region—it’s a genre. It is made by incorporating some of the color from grape skins, but not enough to produce it a red wine. Rosés can be made in three ways: through skin contact, saignée (a method of bleeding off the juice after limited contact with the skin) or blending. Winemakers produce still, semi-sparkling or sparkling rosés ranging in levels of sweetness.
“To make rosé, the grapes are picked early at low sugar level,” Tobin says. “It creates a lively, refreshing, crisp wine that you could not make with more mature sugar-filled grapes… The rosés released now are from the 2014 harvest. [It] was a wonderful year… not too much rain and a dry summer.”
At tables across from the new bocce courts and adjacent to the organic garden, Mattebella wine club members gathered to taste the new vintage and enjoy a meal prepared by Tobin. She paired the wine with an appetizer of goat cheese lightly marinated in olive oil and fresh herbs from the garden. An entrée of barbecue salmon on field greens with spicy ginger dressing and lightly grilled vegetables followed.
“The fattiness of the salmon and the barbecue ginger flavor, which is just a little bit tangy, complements the lightness and acidity of rosé, and goat cheese and fresh herbs is a classic rosé pairing,” says Tobin, who is known for her generous hospitality and big hugs.
“Christine has always wanted this to be a destination,” patron Ralph Gose of Huntington and Southold adds.
Jason Nadler of Wading River seconds that emotion. “This is like the family backyard barbecue that you want to go to. Chris and Mark are like your best friends at the winery. The fact that they make good quality wine to put in the bottle is a bonus.”
And what good family meal doesn’t end with a delicious dessert? Tobin made chocolate-dipped strawberries and home-baked chocolate chip cookies.
They are the perfect pairing for one last glass. “I can clearly smell the pink grapefruit and light strawberry in this rosé,” she says. “Aromas you can definitely pick up. We make our rosé from 90 percent merlot and a little bit of cab franc, about 5 percent, and 5 percent chardonnay—which imparts the pink grapefruit. The spiciness is from the cab franc.”
Longtime Mattebella wine club member Doug Zapart of Wantagh says the rosé has a sweetness and crispness to it. “It’s not overpowering… It goes well with summer fruits and
His wife Donna agrees. “Rosé is nice if you are not a sweet wine drinker. It’s a good combination. It’s got a fruitiness without being overpowering.”
Caci North Fork’s chef, Marco Pellegrini, who is also a sommelier, says he likes a rosé this time of year. Coming from Umbria, where “people love their red wine, it is very heavy for hot summer days. Rosé is fresh in the summer.”
The trio of Dan’s Taste of Summer Events wraps up with Dan’s Harvest East End, the food-and-wine classic, on August 22. Hosted by celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian, the event will showcase more than 40 East End winemakers, the dishes of 30-plus top regional chefs and purveyors including Mattebella and Caci North. Tickets start at $125 for general admission and $275 for VIP admission. The event will be held at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit DansTasteofSummer.com.
Mattebella Vineyards, is located at 46005 Route 25 in Southold. Call 631-655-9554 or visit mattebellavineyards.com.