Our Wine of the Week, Bucher Vineyard 2013 Russian River Valley Rose of Pinot Noir ($18), is a cool beauty, crisp, delicately floral, lightly fruited and, overall, quite captivating. If this wine were a human, heads would turn whenever he or she walked into a room. Yes, it's a bit androgynous, not so much David Bowie androgyny but more like young Julian Bond androgyny: tall, a tad coy and beautifully chiseled.
On the palate, there are suggestions of strawberries in the morning, before the sun has warmed their sugar, and of red watermelon, the part near the rind just before it turns white. You may also notice orange zest and cranberry flavors and, on the wine's engaging finish, just a touch of rhubarb.
Alcohol is a bit over 14 percent, though it is not hot on the palate.
This is a wine you'll want to have around when salmon season starts up in a few weeks. It's also magical with fish such as petrale sole, flounder, fresh-caught lake trout and sand dabs.
At this time of year, enjoy the wine with roasted asparagus topped with a very light vinaigrette, with fresh favas — they'll appear sometime soon — and with spring garlic. But the best pairing, I think, is with white, golden or Chioggia beets. In this dish, I've added one small red beet to a red wine vinaigrette; in this context it ties the dish together in a lovely way, though I do not recommend using red beets for the salad itself, as their flavor is too intense, too aggressive and will eclipse the wine.
<b>Golden Beet Salad with Feta & Ruby Vinaigrette</b>
Makes 3 to 4 servings
<i>6 to 8 medium golden beets, leaves removed, rinsed
1 small red beet, leaves removed, rinsed
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons best-quality red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper in a mill
3 cups loosely packed, very fresh small salad greens (see Note below)
3 to 4 ounces feta, preferably sheep's milk feta
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves</i>
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Put the beets in a baking dish, drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat them lightly, set in the oven and cook until tender when pierced with a fork or bamboo skewer.
Remove from the oven and let cool until easy to handle.
Set aside the golden beets. Peel the red beet, using your fingers to pull off the skin. Cut it into very small dice and put it into a small bowl. Add the garlic, shallot, red wine vinegar and a very generous pinch or two of salt and stir. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes, and then whisk in the olive oil. Taste, correct for salt, and season very generously with black pepper.
If there is beet juice on your hands, wash them thoroughly.
Peel the golden beets; the skins should come off easily. Cut each into 6 wedges and put into a medium bowl. Add the feta cheese and thyme leaves and toss gently. Add about 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and toss very gently.
Divide the greens among individual plates and top with some of the golden beets and cheese. Drizzle a generous spoonful of dressing over each portion and serve immediately.