Croft Pink Rosé Port NV ($19.99)
For the first day of spring, let’s turn our winter-weary thoughts to warm days, the beach, and BBQ. Croft Pink Rosé Port NV makes it easy to dream. Launched in 2008 and spearheaded by Adrian Bridge, the charismatic CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, Croft Pink was the first in the new rosé port category, which is essentially a ruby port with shorter skin contact. While port is immersed in tradition, Croft broke the mold. Port purists may doubt it, but Croft is banking on building a new audience with an easy-drinking, playful style of port. Founded in 1588, Croft is one of the oldest original port houses. It owns Quinta da Roêda, one of the most prestigious properties in the Douro Valley. In 2001, the firm was acquired by the Fladgate Partnership, which renovated the winery. With reputation, skill, and resources, the house was in a position to innovate.
The grapes are a typical port blend of touriga nacional, tinta barroca, tinta roriz, tinta cão, touriga franca, and tinta amarela. In characteristic rosé style, juice is given light skin contact (12 hours, according to Bridge), followed by seven days of cold fermentation to retain fresh berry flavors. This is a lighter style of port, though the abv is typical of port at 19.5 percent. Remarkably, Croft uses the same neutral grape spirit for fortification that they use in all of their other ports. The rosé port style currently accounts for about 1.5 percent of total port sales. Key markets for this particular wine include Holland, Brazil, and now the U.S., where Bridge explained that in Texas, for instance, a restaurant bar was using significant quantities of the wine for sweet, grown-up style slushies. Indeed, because this style isn’t bound by expectation, there are fewer rules for producer and consumer.
This port is very good on it’s own, and it’s a flexible component in cocktails. It’s medium-sweet, fresh, ripe, creamy, balanced, and concentrated. With summer thankfully approaching, it’s easily a go-to bottle. Serve as an aperitif, or with picnic and bbq, and light desserts. Serve chilled or over ice, with a sparkler, or with a splash of soda or another non-alcoholic component like Jasmine iced tea to cut the alcohol to around 10 percent. Or, roll like Texas and make some festive slushies.