2018 Smoking Loon Steelbird Rosé, California, USA
Wine of the Week with Annette Tomei
As young wine lovers develop into a serious market, the wine industry is discovering that it’s a good thing to have a sense of humor. They are also, however, learning that levity does not give license to relax standards in practices or, especially, in matters of taste. Enter Smoking Loon Rosé.
The Sebastiani Family has been making wine in Sonoma County since 1904. As the fourth generation of Sebatianis entered the family business, a fresh approach was underway. Under the Smoking Loon label, Don Sebastiani & Sons are in the role of negociant. Their focus is on buying the best juice they can find and creating something new and delicious. Quality and value remain paramount. The winemakers at Smoking Loon Rosé aim to create “good wine that doesn’t take itself too seriously. “
The blend of the 2018 vintage of Smoking Loon rosé includes 60% Barbera, 27% Syrah, and 13% Grenache. The focus is on the Barbera, an Italian varietal from Northeastern Italy that also thrives in parts of California. By relying on a non-typical (and less expensive) grape for the heart of the blend, the winemakers can create a unique flavor profile and a good value wine.
About this wine
Smoking Loon Rosé is the color of rich pink satin. Aromas are of ripe strawberries as they bubble their way into jam, with a hint of pleasant smokiness. Flavors are of freshly baked red fruit tarts – ripe strawberries, juicy plums with a hint of toasted butter. It has a silky mouthfeel (maybe a touch of residual sugar), and a balance of tartness with jammy fruit.
Persian-inspired dishes with aromatic warm spices and cool creamy yogurt were a great pairing for this rosé. The wine has the body and balance to work well with warm spices, richer flavors, and grilled meats and vegetables (especially eggplant with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and fresh mint).
Smoking Loon Rosé surprised me. I tried it as a step outside my usual preferences. Admittedly, I was put off by the name and the labeling gimmick (wait for it…) that are meant to attract new attention. I’m happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this wine and would buy it again without hesitation. Especially because it goes with the type of food I like to eat, and because it is only 12% ABV and under $10/bottle.
Now about that labeling gimmick… when at room temperature, the attractive label of Smoking Loon Steelbird Rosé has more of a gold hue to it. When chilled to the appropriate temperature for service (according to the producer) of 50 degrees (F), the delicate feathers on the label turns a lovely shade of rose pink. I tried two bottles and it works.
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