Tickled pink  

All about rosé

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THINKING PINK

Ca' del Solo Freisa (Frizzante) 1999 (Monterey County), $16. This fizzy ― but not quite sparkling ― wine made from the Italian grape Freisa is crisp and sassy. Low in alcohol (5.8 percent ― standard wines are around 13 percent), it's great as an aperitif. Or just hop in the hammock with a good novel and a bottle of this.

Mumm Cuvée Napa Blanc de Noirs nonvintage (Napa Valley), $18. The palest pink, this sparkler has a rush of citrus and strawberries, in perfect balance.

Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé 1999 (Provence, France), $23. Boldly fruity, this rosé, based on Mourvèdre and Grenache grapes, has aromas and flavors right out of a Vincent van Gogh painting: warm earth, haystacks, citrus trees, and dried wild herbs.

McDowell Grenache Rosé Reserve 1999 (Mendocino), $9. Fresh and spicy, with subtle strawberry and watermelon notes.

Trefethen SIN (Summer In Napa) 1999 (Napa Valley), $12. Terrific ― bold and sassy, with just a touch of raspberry and vanilla. The back label says it all: "Kick off your shoes."

Zaca Mesa Z Gris 2000 (Santa Barbara County), $9. A basketful of fruit (strawberries figure prominently) and a hint of sweetness conjure up images of carnivals; a long, spicy finish makes you take this Rhöne blend more seriously.

SUNSET'S STEALS OF THE MONTH

La Vieille Ferme Rosé 1999 (Côtes du Ventoux, France), $8. La Vieille Ferme ("the old farm") makes a typical south-of-France-cafe dry rosé. A blend of Grenache and Cinsault, it's light and fresh, with a hint of spice.

Sutter Home White Zinfandel 1999 (California), $5. Not a rosé, admittedly, but this white Zin (the original) is worth knowing.

Sunset's Wine Club

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