In Spring, The Bloom Is On The Rosé


A review of Domaine Lafond-Roc Epine Tavel Rosé 2010 and Single Cask Nation, Glen Elgin 18 year old, Bourbon Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky.


By Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon


Washington Jewish Week   April 17, 2014


Tavel Rose LaFondRosés are ideal warm weather wines. Combining the refreshing qualities of a white wine with some of the fruit flavors customarily found in red wine, they are remarkably food friendly, typically pairing well with summer fare. Most rosés are light and easy drinking, best served while young and very chilled. But when we are in the mood for a more complex and richer rosé we, often reach for one from Tavel.

Located in France’s southern Rhone valley, Tavel is the only appellation that produces exclusively rosé wines. A favorite of kings, Popes and Ernest Hemmingway, among other famed writers, the rosés from Tavel are blends of mostly Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Mouvedre with a few other grapes often being added for additional support.

Rosés are usually made by minimizing the grape skin contact with the juice, since all the pigmentation comes from the skin. Saignee, the French word for “bleeding,” is another technique whereby some of the lighter juice is poured off to make a rosé allowing the remaining juice to become more concentrated. Blending white and red wine to create rosé is proscribed in France.

Tavel rosés derive their intensity by keeping some of the juice in contact with skins longer and then blending that with lighter juice. In contrast to other rosés, their flavors are more intense and complex, their alcohol content is higher and they do not have to be drunk while young but can be aged for several years.

One of Rhone’s finest wine producers is Domaine Lafond-Roc Epine, an organic winery whose portfolio includes a kosher Tavel Rosé. Their kosher Tavel Rosé 2010 ($25) has currant and raspberry aromas with deep red fruit flavors and noticeable minerality on a medium frame with terrific balance, complexity and length. Not a rosé for the meek nor to sip solo, rather this beauty should be paired with grilled foods.

Spirits-wise, even though it is already Passover, we thought we’d tease those still pining for liquid chametz by thinking back to “Rabbi Antine’s Fourth Annual Guys Night Out & Seder Summit,” held April 6 at Beth Sholom Congregation and Talmud Torah in Potomac.

The event featured a tasting of 50 different whiskies (most of which we’ve favorably reviewed in this space before, and the rest of which we’ll review sometime after Pesach), and some awesome barbecue beef ribs and fried chicken.

Due to space limitations, and so as not to needlessly tease any who did not make it to the event this year, we’ll not list all of the whiskies here – but a special shout out to the whisky companies for their generosity and appreciation seems most appropriate (in alphabetical order of the parent companies that donated all this fine hooch).

To: Karl from Anchor Distilling, Christina and Simon from Beam, Robin and Zak from Campari America, Eddie of Castle Brands Inc., Scott from the Catoctin Creek Distilling, Ed and Jared from ImpexBev, Ryan and Jason from IBC, Jason from the Jewish Whisky Company, Philip and Nikolai from Morrison Bowmore Distillers, and last, but certainly not least, Raj from PVI Global. Thank you all very, very much for helping to make this sell-out event terrific fun! Thanks as well to David from Glenmorangie for donating two bottles of Signet to the raffle, even though he couldn’t make it to the event.

Although all the whiskies were solid, one of the real standouts for the night was the 18 year old Glen Elgin bottled under the excellent Single Cask Nation label by the always reliable Jewish Whisky Company (who, by the way, sold their chametz for Passover as they do every year!). To buy their excellent booze, one must first join their Single Cask Nation private members society—we are both founding members and encourage EVERYONE to join as well (check out their website for details at Membership includes one full-size “welcome bottle,” and then, of course, membership entitles you to buy more. So join, and, before it is sold out, buy the following:

Single Cask Nation, Glen Elgin 18 year old, Bourbon Cask (54.9 percent abv; price tbd as of this writing but likely around $150; just 277 bottles): sweet, malty, cereal nose with lovely floral accents, and hints of citrus, peach and honey; with time (and a few drops of water) these open wide and deep, with peach gaining strength, giving way to some intriguing tropical notes (like ripe to overripe pineapple), with oddly complementary pine tree creeping in. Warm and creamy, yet somehow light and fresh, on the palate, with more of that lovely malty and cereal sweetness, a touch of ginger and white pepper, and some light yet discernible tannic oak notes that give way to both vanilla and an intriguing nuttiness. The short yet mouth watering finish leads inexorably to another dose. Overall, this is a complex, absorbing, rewarding and extremely satisfying whisky. L’Chaim!

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