by The Wine Guys, Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr
Long gone are the days we saved our rosés for summer. Today, we drink them year-round because we’ve discovered that these pink elixirs are among the most versatile food wines -- and even on a cold day, they make us think of summer. But here we are with summer upon us and the outdoors beckoning. Let’s break out the rosé!
Sales of rosé are increasing about 3 percent a year now that consumers have put distance between the sappy blush wines popularized in the 1990s and the fruity dry rosés made famous in southern France.
While we like Provence rosés best, we are constantly finding delicious copies from California, Oregon and other regions. Grenache, syrah, mourvedre and cinsault are the dominant grapes used in France. But more recently we are seeing pinot noir and even cabernet sauvignon used for rosé. You pick.
True rosé gets it color from the skins. Winemakers leave the skins in contact with the juice just for a couple of hours, thus making them fainter in color than, say, a cabernet sauvignon that has much longer skin contact. Less common is the saignee method when some of the juice from a red wine is bled off and made into rosé. The final method is to blend a little red wine into a white wine.
Alas, we’ve noticed an uptick in prices for domestic rosé. French rosés are strangely better priced in spite of tariffs and shipping costs.
Here are several we recently tried:
Gerard Bertrand Source of Joy Rosé Languedoc 2019 ($20). Very precise, focused rosé made from a blend of grenache, syrah, cinsault. Strawberry and cherry notes and lively acidity.
Domaine Montrose Rosé 2019 ($15). Grenache, cabernet sauvignon and syrah go into this delightful, light-colored rosé from the Languedoc area. Peach, cherry notes.
Argyle Rosé of Pinot Noir 2020 ($20). We loved this beautifully textured and vibrant rosé from the Eola-Amity Hills appellation of the Willamette Valley. Most of it was fermented in stainless steel to preserve the aromas but the 10 percent neutral oak adds a silky texture. Strawberry and red cherry flavors with a dash of spice.
Alma de Cattleya Rosé of Pinot Noir 2020 ($22). Light in color but crisp on the palate, this pinot noir rosé tastes of strawberries and orange peel. Bright acidity and easy to drink.
Domaine de CALA Coteaux Varois en Provence 2020 ($18). We looked forward every year to a new vintage of this robust blend of grenache, cinsault, rolle and syrah. Faint color, lively acidity, citrus and white peach notes and a nice mineral thread.
By.Ott Cotes de Provence 2020 ($25). From one of the best rosé producers in Provence, this introduction to Domaine Ott is pale in color with orange aromas and red berry flavors.
Los Vascos Rosé 2020 ($14). Using cabernet sauvignon, syrah and mourvedre grapes, this Chilean wine has fresh raspberry aromas with citrus and pink grapefruit flavors.
Angels & Cowboys Sonoma County Rosé 2020 ($16). Simple but delicious wine with strawberry flavors.
Ram’s Gate Sonoma Coast Rosé 2020 ($38). This interesting blend of grenache, pinot noir and syrah has a nice richness to balance the fresh acidity. Red fruit notes with a dose of spice.
Bonterra Organic Vineyards Rosé 2020 ($16). Grenache forms the foundation for this organic rosé. Grapefruit, citrus and red fruit character.
Cote Mas Aurore Rosé 2020 ($13). Grenache, syrah and cinsault make up this simple yet delicious wine from southern France. Ripe cherry, strawberry and spice notes.
Wente Nicki’s Pinot Noir Rosé Arroyo Secco Monterey 2020 ($35). This is a delightful refreshing new crop rosé that is worth considering for your spring and summer drinking. Very pale pink in color with bright balanced acidity and lovely peach and strawberry notes.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Limited Release Le Rose 2020 ($25). Made entirely from cabernet sauvignon, this Washington state rose has bold red fruit flavors.
Erath Oregon Pinot Noir Rose 2019 ($14). Mango and strawberry notes with good acidity and surprising complexity. We loved it.
Raeburn Russian River Valley Rose 2020 ($17). This intriguing blend of pinot noir, zinfandel and grenache speaks of fresh raspberries and strawberries.
Lone Madrone Chenin Blanc Petillant Naturel Paso Robles 2019 ($35). Sparkling chenin blanc is certainly not unique since the winemakers in the Vouvray region of the Loire Valley have been doing it credibly for years. However, this version from the Paso Robles region of California is worth considering. Just a hint of cloudiness shows off the minimal intervention in this natural wine that brightly offers peach, pear and citrus in a wonderful sparkling package. The effervescence isn’t overdone making this slightly bubby wine easy to quaff.
Upshot Red Wine Blend Sonoma County 2018 ($20). California red blends have gained popularity in the last several years and this release from the Rodney Strong family of wines is a good example of why Americans are seeking them. A polyglot blend of mostly zinfandel, merlot and malbec creates a balanced, fruity berry /cherry driven red wine that finishes with a spicy cinnamon note. Great for summer barbecues and can take a slight chill for warm weather drinking.
Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir 10 Barrels North Canterbury 2015 ($45). This is an amazingly good pinot noir exhibiting intense black cherry notes, a touch of cinnamon, and a slight herbal tang. With only a few hundred cases made this wine may be a bit difficult to find but should appeal to lovers of high-quality California pinot noir.
Paraduxx Proprietary Napa Valley Red Wine 2018 ($50). Duckhorn has four exotic blends in its Paraduxx series, this one being the most reasonably priced. A blend of seven varieties – cabernet sauvignon dominates --- it is luscious with black berry flavors, soft tannins, and hints of anise, vanilla and black pepper.
The Paring Syrah 2018 ($25). We loved this intense and structured syrah from Santa Barbara County. Big aromas and layered sweet red and black fruit flavors with a hint of spice. Good value for what you get in return.