At the beginning of February, I tweeted a feeler asking if any wineries who followed me were interested in sending samples for a rosé tasting the San Diego Wine Mafia was going to be doing. Happily for me, Sonia Sandu-Torre, the Director of Marketing at Mushal Winery & Vineyards responded offering to send some samples of their 2009 Mushal Merlot Rosé from the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma.
The story behind the founding and evolution of Mushal is one that should be told. Their website does a far better job telling it than I ever could, so click here to learn more about the founder, Avtar Singh Sandhu and his vision. We're quite fortunate to have many small wineries and vineyards in California, and supporting them is the right thing to do, period. These self-proclaimed "little guys" are making wine not for a balance sheet or a business, but because wine enhances the human experience.
Sonia was generous enough to send me two bottles of Mushal's rosé, one of which was opened at the Rosé Rumble and tasted by the San Diego Wine Mafia. The other was opened about two weeks later and tasted by me alone. No blind or double-blind tasting here, but I had forgotten the suggested retail price as I made my tasting notes.
I noticed the color right away, a beautiful pink with hints of orange mixed in, veering a bit towards the lighter end of the rosé color spectrum. One day I want to try a very dark rosé and compare it to the lightest example I can find. I don't think one or the other will be sweeter based on color, but I want to see what flavors present themselves in each wine. Pardon my thoughts wandering away for a moment.
The nose reveals strawberries and raspberries with a hint of rhubarb. Some exotic florals feel like they are coming out as well. Mushal's rosé smells sweet too, not tart like some other examples I've had of late. One area of concern is a slight prickle of alcohol and when I checked the bottle, I was a bit saddened to find it's 14.4%. In my opinion that is about 2% too high and actually can defeat one of the purposes of a rosé. The French example I recently tasted came in around 12.5%, much more accessible on a hot summer (or spring) day. Alcohol can weigh down the feeling of a wine and I suspect it might do so with the Mushal.
Tasted at a temperature a few degrees below room temperature, as I do with nearly all my wines regardless of color. Sweet tasting right on the front palate, with acidity that came through quickly enough to keep me from cringing. Very good! Still, a touch rough around the edges and I think that comes from the high-ish alcohol. I tasted raspberry, melon, and fresh cut hay in this merlot rosé. There's a silky core of flavor that I find immensely appealing, it feels like each sip glides across your tongue. Unfortunately the pesky alcohol gremlin rears up on the finish, delivering too much heat for a rosé, for me at least.
Mushal's 2009 Merlot Rosé does remain light on the palate and is very refreshing. It won a gold medal at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, high praise from some very practiced palates. If you chill this more, perhaps an hour in your refrigerator, the acidity will shine through without the encumbrance of the alcohol. I'd like to see Mushal's next rosé come in at a much lower alcohol level while still retaining this set of scents and flavors. As it stands, the 2009 Mushal Merlot Rosé gets a B and a BUY recommendation.
The sheer variety of foods you could pair with a merlot rosé makes the Mushal a wine you should keep in your collection. Plus, like I said before, I am a strong advocate of supporting the little guys, the boutique producers. Mushal is definitely one of those and out of every $20 bottle of rosé sold, 15% of that goes to The Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation. Just like Charity Case and Cleavage Creek, Mushal is giving back. For that, we need to support them. I look forward to bringing you their red Merlot bottling soon.
This was received as a media sample.