Friday, April 1, 2011

Massaya: A Tasty Rosé for Spring

There may be a mix of rain and snow outside my window right now, but it's spring, which means soon it will be rosé season. Now is a good time to drink rosés in America. Back in the 60's pink wine meant Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill. In the 70's it meant Mateus or Lancers. Things got worse in the 80's. As if hair metal, trickle down economics and androgyny weren't enough we also got cloyingly sweet white zinfandel, which still accounts for 10% of the wine sold in the United States. (WTF?!) Fortunately things have gotten a little better in the 21st Century. Dry rosés have increased in popularity as the stigma against pink wine slowly recedes. This is a good thing, but it's driven up the prices of good examples from Provence (which is where many of the best are made). If you doubt this just ask one of your posh friends what they're paying for a case of Domaines Ott this summer.

So what are the rest of us to do on a hot afternoon when nothing would be better than a cold glass of pink wine? I found a number of good choices at a recent rosé tasting hosted by New York distributors Winebow. Aside from a couple stunning sparklers, the star of that tasting was Massaya Rosé, from Lebanon. That's right: Lebanon. You'd never guess. The bottle looks like one from Provence. On the nose and in the mouth you'd swear it was from Provence. It's crisp, refreshingly acidic without being overbearing, dry and even lingers a bit. It does make sense: the Lebanese climate is hot and dry, and they did learn wine making from the French. (Unsurprisingly there are a couple French heavy hitters involved with Massaya). The story is pretty good, too. The winery is located in the Bekaa valley, so Israel shelling nearby targets or blowing up the road to the vineyard can have an effect on some vintages. We're not just talking good wine, we're talking triumph in the face of real adversity. I'll support that.

Best of all, Massaya Rosé will retail for about $12 a bot when the 2010 vintage hits the shelves in a couple weeks. So let everyone in the Hamptons tear through all the $40 bottles of D.O. they want to this summer. I know what I'll be drinking, and it won't be from Provence. Lebanon's got my attention this year.


Anonymous said...

yes, massaya rose is indeed a tasty bevie! those boys are doing a good job w/ their wines. now if we could only propel ourselves to byblos for summer sipping on the med...i know a great spot you would love called, Maggies!

xo vic

JP Bowersock said...


Would that it could be so this year! Doesn't mean it will never happen...