By Barbara Hay ~
Spring, is considered the official Rosé season, when everyone starts thinking it’s Rosé o’clock somewhere!
As we enter pink wine season, we find ourselves in a category run amok. Ten years ago, I was begging my customers to try the dry, refreshing Rosés of France, Spain and elsewhere, and to stop thinking all pink wine was white Zinfandel. Even with in-store tastings , it felt like I couldn’t give the stuff away. Fast forward to today and they are practically flying themselves out the door.
Where do Rosés come from? Well, there are the regional pink Rosés from such traditional locales: Provence, Rioja, Tavel, the Côtes du Rhône—and there are more pink wines from these classic places than ever before, and that means we need to pay attention to quality. Not only that, lesser-known regions are taking advantage of demand, many with no Rosé tradition at all and yet, some of them are astonishingly good. The “newer” Rosés include grapes like Blauburgunders from Germany, Blaufränkisches from Austria, Agiorgitikos from Greece (surprisingly refreshing and delicious), Blaufränkisches from Austria and Cab Francs from the Loire (yum!). So you can basically find a Rosé from anywhere, even New Jersey.
A good Rosé, by definition, should be bright, crisp, dry and mouth-watering with moderate alcohol. In the mouth, they should offer great acidity, a pithy tannin and a hint of minerality. Unfortunately, most domestic bottlings are sweet, with quite a bit of residual sugar and a “thicker” texture. This is because many rosés are made using the saignée method, juice bled off a fermenting tank to concentrate what remains, not so much a product as a byproduct. Often these are high in alcohol (more than 13.5%) rendering them too ripe and too fleshy to be refreshing.
Rosé should not be an afterthought or a by-product, but something that had to be grown and made in the vineyard, harvested early to ensure good acidity and low alcohol, and made judiciously to preserve aroma and freshness. Settling for anything less is selling yourself short.
Prices for Rosé can range all over the map from $6 to more than $25 a bottle. Since Rosé is usually cheap to make, spends almost no time in the cellar, and is released early: the cost of production is among the lowest of all categories of wine. It’s worth remembering that a pink wine’s main function is refreshment, and that can be done on the cheap. There are some Rosés, however, that have the pedigree, consistency and excellence that are absolutely worth the higher price: Bandol, older Riojas and certain Txakoli Rosés. Normally, if you’re paying more than $25 a bottle, you’re almost certainly paying too much; more than $30, you’re being gouged, plain and simple. It’s a good idea to ask your retailer for wines that are every bit as good for less money.
Here are a dozen serious Rosés that from around the globe all range in price from $8.99 to $18.99 with one exception that is over $20.00 and 11 – 13% ABV.
Pedroncelli Dry Rose of Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2017
The Pedroncelli family has been producing zinfandel-based Rosé since 1954 and they’re one of my favorite California wineries. The focus here is on crisp acidity and true varietal character allowing the fruit flavors to shine—and shine it does with bright aromas of strawberry, orange, rose petals, and spice. It offers full flavors of candied raspberry and cherry with a hint of white pepper spice. Even though it is made in a dry style, the wine retains a hint of sweetness because of the fruitiness of the zinfandel grape. This pink is refreshing, clean and crisp with a delicate berryspice finish. Can be found at most retailers.
La Belle Collette, Côtes de Provence, Provence, France
We found this classic French Provençal Rosé at Tinali Wines in Brick. A blend from the sunny hills of the Château de Saint-Martin – one of the 18 Grands Crus Classés in Provence. La Belle Colette takes its name in memory of Colette, the Provençal writer. The wine’s bright fruity style is produced from six different grape varieties: Syrah (57%), Carignan (25%), Cinsault (9%), Grenache (7%), and Tibouren(2%). The floral and gourmet nose is delicate offering intoxicating fragrances of raspberry and strawberry with a hint of lavender. The palate is round and fresh, tasting of summer’s red fruits—strawberry, raspberry, hints of apple, pepper and caramel flavors. At once it’s thirst quenching and the velvety structure combines the fragrant flavors Provence in the fresh and delicate finish.
A summer favorite, this Rosé is perfect as an aperitif on bright sunny days accompanied by Provençal style dishes, appetizers, summer barbecues and garden parties.
Rose par Paris, Côtes de Provence, France
Another Tinali Wines find, Rosé par Paris is a bright rosy pink versatile Provençal blend of 30% Grenache and 70% Cinsault. Produced by Domain de l’Allamande, a 74-acre family vineyard in the heart of the Pierrefeu area, with specific characteristics: limestone soils, a continental climate with a maritime influence, which give this wine a high minerality.
The nose is fresh and fuity with delicious aromas of citrus and berries. The flavors are refreshing with notes of rose-water, cherry and strawberry backed by good zip. The finish offers a fresh burst of citrusy ruby-red grapefruit and a zingy minerality. Delicious chilled on its own, or with salads, meat, or a Provençal meal.
Rhone to the Bone, Côtes du Rhône, France
Clear light pink Rosé comprised of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. We found this one at Wegmans for under $10. The label was bold and demanded our attention. Once opened, the nose offered notes of red currant, cherry, citrusy grapefruit and a hint of mint. Sharp, viscous mouthfeel backed by a pleasant freshness on the palate, balanced by a touch of minerality. Wow!
Rivarose Brut Salon de Provence, IGP Méditerranée, France
This was an accidental purchase at Wegmans. Made with 100% Syrah, this sparkling Rosé has gentle effervescent bubbles that offer a bouquet of berries and grapefruit. Apparently, Rivarose has made sparkling rosé in this region since 1909, and it is the only Brut Rosé from the heart of Provence. On the nose, strawberry and raspberry aromas dominate, while in the mouth the strawberry flavors and notes of exotic fruit combine with a fine and elegant mousse creating a bright sparkler with notes of citrus fruits and spice. Enjoy on its own or as an aperitif pairing with cured meats, crudités, Provençal dishes or chocolate-based desserts. With its rose-petal hue and yummy crispness, you may just find that any occasion is special enough to pop the cork and celebrate!
Fleur de Mer Côtes de Provence Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France
Fleur de Mer is crafted by winemaker Florian Lacroux of the 50-year-old cooperative, Les Maîtres Vignerons de Saint-Tropez. A brilliant coral pink blend of 46% Grenache, 21% Cinsault, 14% Syrah, 19% Other (Carignan, Mourvèdre, Cabernet), Fleur de Mer evokes aromas of fresh watermelon, cherry, subtle citrus, peach, lavender and Mediterranean herbs. The flavor profile is a mineral-infused strawberry and mild grapefruit blend with notes of lime and tangerine. On the palate, this wine is light to medium-bodied with nice controlled acidity that leads to a mouth-watering feel. This balanced, medium-bodied wine is fresh and elegant with a soft texture, a minerally finish and refreshing acidity. This is a versatile wine that will pair with lots of foods, perfect for sitting ocean side or poolside on a hot summer day.
Honoro Vera Rosé 2017, Jumilla, Spain
This one is a Spanish Tempranillo/Syrah blend, and another inexpensive Wegmans find. This beautiful, salmon-colored Rosé shows hints of watermelon rind on the nose. On the palate is primarily red fruit and cherry with a touch of strawberries and watermelon. The palate is bright and crisp with primarily red fruit and berry notes including strawberry, cherry and watermelon. The finish is very smooth and bright with watermelon and strawberries. This medium-bodied Rosé is dry with a nice crisp acidity, that is both refreshing and approachable. Lively with great acidity, perfect with food or just a hot day. Served chilled, this wine is a very refreshing and surprisingly versatile. It may be drunk as an apéritif or it can go with an array of foods: salads, seafood, side dishes, pork or chicken. A refreshing Rosé for any occasion including outdoor dining, picnics or backyard barbecues.
El Coto Rosado, Rioja, Spain
This Rosado is a delicious Rosé made from 90% Tempranillo and 10% Garnacha. A lively, pale pink, almost strawberry Rosé that at first offers up a sweet nose of fresh strawberries and raspberries with a hint of caramel. Silky and delicate, the wine follows with tangy, red cherry aromas with piquant herbal notes leading to ripe, juicy flavors on the palate. Dry and easy drinking, the palate is fresh as well as sweet, displaying a wide range of red and dark fruits, strawberries, cherries, that are at once sweet, sharp and crispy. The cleansing acidity helps balance the fruit and helps the long, clean finish. This is one that is both easy to drink and to enjoy. It is versatile, ideal as an aperitif, great with salads, Mediterranean and Oriental cuisines.
Frog’s Leap, La Grenouille Rougante Pink, Napa Valley, California
There’s something fun about this wine, even though it’s kind of spare. The word “Rouganté” on the label seems to mean “blushing frog.” Made from 87% Carignane 8% Valdiguié (Napa gamay) 2% Mondeuse 1.5% Charbono and a half-percent of Mourvedre/Riesling, it’s bone dry, and acidic, with modest strawberry flavors. This Californian is directly comparable to a Provençal Rosé. Very aromatic, with aromas of apple skin, white flowers, a lot of strawberries and red fruits, gooseberry and raspberries that introduce this medium to full-bodied wine with vibrant acids and crisp fruit flavors. Delicate floral aromas and fresh fruit flavors come together in this classic Provençal-style Rosé. Lifted by bright, natural acidity and low alcohol, this wine is the perfect companion to a warm, sunny day. Nice and easy to drink, the light tannic structure makes this wine food-friendly, with a clean and lingering finish.
Sidebar, Russian River Valley, Rosé, Russian River, California, USA, 2016
Made entirely from 100% Syrah, Sidebar Rosé hails from old Syrah vines in the Russian River Valley. This dry, succulent wine is a light pink-orange in color and begins with a robust flavor bursting with watermelon, cranberry and bristling acidity. There are classic notes of strawberry and watermelon, hazelnut and savory lemon peel that introduce a crisp, energetic and chalky palate which over-delivers flavor. Dry and crisp, it remains lighthearted in the glass, finishing with a tease of grapefruit. This is one generously flavored wine, and is admirably dry and refreshing, with zesty red fruit, citrus and spice notes. Seamless, it’s medium bodied and has plenty of texture to offer around a crisp, meaty finish.
Heitz Cellar, Napa Valley, Grignolino Rosé, 2016
Every year, Heitz produces a limited amount of their unusual and rare Grignolino Rosé and since 1961.Ruby grapefruit-red, it’s sultry with strawberry, watermelon, orange zest and salty spice flavor, highlighted with a vibrant and seductive nose of sweet red cherry, wild berries and floral aromas. This wine is built around great acidity, with just the subtlest hint of savory phenolics on the back-end that cry out for al fresco dining. this one is a splurge Rosé.
Lest we forget New Jersey, here is my favorite New Jersey Rosé.
Four JGs Monmouth Blush, Colts Neck, NJ
4 JG’s combines the crisp fruity flavors of Vidal Blanc with the French vinifera Cabernet Franc to create a delightful blush wine. With a medium salmon pink hue and the profile of a classic French Loire Valley dry rosé, this wine presents a beautiful balance of fruit flavors, refreshing acidity, and a clean, crisp finish. On the palate you get bright red fruits of cherry, watermelon, lime, and raspberry which continue to a crisp, dry finish of minerals, white flowers and savory herbs. This vintage of Monmouth Blush has a label featuring Molly Pitcher…a local Monmouth County heroine. This wine is thirst quenching!
There you have it a bouquet of a dozen Rosés!