Nothing fishy about roses

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 June, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 June, 1999, 12:00am

My culinary adviser for areas east of the Ninepin Islands, Tony White, gurgled down his plastic mug of Marques de Caceres rose. He looked over the stern of the boat to see if a miracle had happened and a fish was on his line. There was not.

The previous day, someone had excitedly proclaimed: 'Big tuna are running south of the Ninepins.' This threw a sizeable percentage of the Sai Kung male population into a frenzy. Boats were hired. Hampers were packed with the essentials of any fishing expedition, cans of cold beer and bottles of wine.

Marques de Caceres is a joyful, happy Spanish rose that kicks up its heels with life, smelling of lively fruit aromas. Served well chilled, it is a perfect pre-lunch drink on a hot summer day. It is also a delight to sip with salads, fish or chicken.

Rose, rosada in Spanish, is vastly under-appreciated. For the hot summers of Spain and the south of France, it is the ideal drink. So why do we so often ignore it? Well, I have vowed to pay more attention to roses as we start off on our lengthy summer.

Marques de Caceres rose ($96) is particularly Spanish, made from tempranillo, the nation's favourite grape, and garnacha. The grapes come from vineyards in the highest reaches of Rioja.

After crushing, the juice is run off into stainless steel tanks. There is no ageing in wood. The aim is to present a wine that is totally of the grapes.

The winery is more famous for its reds, many of which are imported by Kedington Wines (fax: 2898 9183). You find them in many restaurants and clubs, good, solid wines of the type you find in bodegas throughout Spain.

The founding family, the Forners, were winemakers in Valencia, in the south. Like many of their countrymen, they fled when Franco's Nationalists won the civil war. During decades in exile, the Forners worked in the French wine industry.

After the dictator's death, Enrique Forner went home, buying land and planting grapes in Rioja.

Investment in new technology and educating contract growers to produce top quality fruit for top prices were only two of Mr Forner's contributions to the modern Spanish wine industry. He also greatly expanded the production of white wines in Rioja, famously known for its robust and powerful reds.

The roses are another expansion from the traditional vintages.

Here is a type of wine made for today. It has comparatively light alcohol and a lot of flavour.

Getting back from the fruitless fishing expedition - nary a tuna molested - I strolled down the Sai Kung waterfront and bought a small squid.

Back home, I reflected on fishing as a sport. One good thing about it, I pondered, is that you get to spend a day sitting about tasting wines.

I cleaned the squid and cut it into bite-sized squares, dusted it with flour and salt and pepper, and quickly stir fried it in olive oil. It was delicious with another bottle of the rose.