Wine Time: Kim Crawford Rosé 2016, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

The Kim Crawford Rosé 2016, Hawke’s Bay, stands out for several reasons: price, quality and grape varietal. DENNIS SODOMKA/SPECIAL

Cost: $17-$19

 

What: I could try a new rosé every day from now until Labor Day and not run out of good wines. There are so many great rosés being produced now it’s difficult to know which ones are worth trying.

The Kim Crawford Rosé 2016, Hawke’s Bay, stands out for several reasons: price, quality and grape varietal. You won’t find any more flavor in a rosé than this one, and at this price it is a steal. This is a wine you could drink all summer and never grow tired of it.

The wine is a nice summer sipper, but it also would be right at home with the Thanksgiving turkey.

To me, the Kim Crawford offers everything I look for in a rosé: lively fruit aromas, medium body with plenty of fresh, juicy fruit flavors and a pleasant, lingering finish. I enjoy dry rosé, which seems to be the most popular style now.

Kim Crawford starts with a beautiful pink color in the glass and tempting aromas of berries and tropical fruit. The flavors are soft and juicy, dominated by berries and watermelon. Everything is in harmony, with no odd notes. Crisp acidity provides a great balance and makes this a perfect food wine.

The grapes are merlot, from selected vineyards in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. I have seen many rosés made from pinot noir, grenache and cabernet sauvignon, but not many from merlot. New Zealand is not particularly known for its merlot, with pinot noir and sauvignon blanc being the predominant grapes. But everything comes together perfectly in this wine.

After harvest, the grapes are destemmed. The juice then is soaked on skins for only three hours to extract the color before being pressed. The juice was cool fermented with select yeast strains to retain the primary varietal characteristics. The final blend was stabilized, filtered and bottled.

The Kiwis are a fun bunch. The label on the bottle says that around the winery, this wine is “affectionately known as ‘Pansy,’ for its vivacious and vibrant character.” Kim Crawford has been making this wine since 2002.

Winery: Kim Crawford Wines began operating out of a small home in Aukland, New Zealand, in 1996. Their wines became popular quickly, and within two years they began exporting to the United States.

By 2000, they had moved into a state-of-the-art winery in Marlborough and started looking for vineyards to purchase for expansion.

Their popular sauvignon blanc made the Wine Spectator Top 100 list in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008. It consistently is rated at 90 points or above. It is a quintessential New Zealand fruit-forward, in-your-face style of wine that I love. It is the top-selling New Zealand wine in the United States.

Kim Crawford was one of the first New Zealand wineries to put screw caps on their bottles, which is now the industry norm in that country. When heavy, oak-aged chardonnays were all the rage, they made a clean, fruit-driven chardonnay without oak.

New Zealand is an island nation full of spectacular natural beauty. When I visited in 2000 I was struck by how close vineyards are to the moderating influence of the ocean. With 10,000 miles of coastline, everything is close to the water.

The grapes benefit from long days, clean sea breezes and crisp nights. In combination with New Zealand’s long and dry autumn season, the grapes ripen slowly, which allows them to build flavor intensity and develop a sophisticated acidity. New Zealand has five main growing regions: Marlborough, Central Otago, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and Canterbury. Kim Crawford Wines uses grapes from all the regions.

Besides the rosé and sauvignon blanc, Kim Crawford Wines produces pinot gris, chardonnay and pinot noir. They also make small parcel wines, produced from outstanding vineyards in exceptional years. This includes a traditional sparkling wine called Fizz.

Goes With: We had this lovely wine with sauteed chicken breasts with cherry-shiraz sauce, a dish I had never made, but which turned out to be a perfect match for the Kim Crawford Rosé. Powerful flavors from cherry jam and a robust shiraz nicely matched the lively fruit flavors in the wine. This dish was easy and quick, something you could fix after work.

This wine also is great as a sipper by itself, or paired with lighter dishes or salads. Serve it well chilled.

Here’s the recipe:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Morton Nature’s Seasons

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup wine, shiraz or syrah

1 bay leaf

½ cup cherry preserves

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon minced ginger

buttered noodles or rice

While the oven is heating to 350 degrees, season both sides of the chicken breasts. You can use salt and pepper if you don’t have the Nature’s Seasons. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until onion softens and garlic becomes tender, about 3 minutes. Push onion and garlic to outer edges of the skillet. Add chicken and cook until nicely browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and keep warm.

Pour wine into the skillet, stirring to dislodge browned bits. Raise heat to high and cook until wine has reduced, about 5 minutes. Lower heat to simmer, stir in bay leaf, cherry preserves, thyme and ginger, stirring until preserves melt. Return chicken to the skillet, cover with lid or foil and place in the oven. Bake until chicken seems tender, about 20 minutes. Serve over noodles or rice.

wine events

Wine tasting: 5-7 p.m. Friday, June 2, Kroger, 435 Lewiston Road, Grovetown; free; (706) 619-3420

Wine and beer tasting: 5-7 p.m. June 2-3 Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463

Wine tasting: 5-8 p.m. Friday, June 2, Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; $5; (803) 279-9522

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