Yes-Way Rosé: Ten Delicious Rosé's

"We want to drink pink wine the same way we want to be beautiful, effortlessly thin, and maybe French. We want the idea of rosé." ~ E. Saladino

More than a few years ago (2014) now the rosé category for wine, was flat, dull and rather uninteresting. It was known by a few different names, and mostly unflattering. Fast forward a few years and the bandwagon of fans and advocates are overflowing its recommended weight capacity. But there's still time to get with it and jump on the bandwagon, check out these great anytime sips below. 

This refreshing 'dry' pale-colored style of wine makes for the ultimate summertime choice, but it's not just for summer any longer, it's a great foodie driven wine which has a variety of pairing partners. Many vino-sapiens (another word I made up to describe wine enthusiasts) baking in the summer heat can appreciate this wine for its refreshingly light style, but for those who proclaim winter is coming it's also boon for you, as it's the perfect aperitif wine to highlight pre-dinner activities.

In the not too distant past, these styles of wine suffered from a bit of an identity crisis, being confused with insipid blush wines; typically those found lining the bottom row of shelves in the local neighborhood drug store, quickie marts, and known as the dreaded white-zin or white-merlot. These blush-wines resemble more of an adult version of a sippy juice box; where the only thing missing is the straw. 

So what can you expect to find in what I call a true rosé? They are often made in a “dry” style, displaying vibrant, fresh red-fruit flavors, like strawberry, raspberry, ripe summer peach, ripe red-pear or even watermelon side of the fruit spectrum, peppered with subtle spicy floral. A true rosé is an excellent dry, tangy and crisp wine, and nothing like the blush wines, which tend to be heavy and syrupy-sweet.

In fact, their only real similarity is in the semi-pink to fluorescent-red color. In my opinion, a properly made rosé will always have a great depth of flavor, crispness, lightly layered red-fruit, floral spices; characteristics all of which make a great summer sipping style of wine. It's also important to note, that while many of the rosé wines clamored for today are a lightly color salmon, there's 'clairet' which is typically a ripe watermelon to strawberry color, commonly coming from producers in Bordeaux and Tavel. 

I originally wrote this article back in 2012, long before the days when I worked as a wine steward for Vons in La Jolla, and long before "It's Rose Season" became a thing, like it is today. I was a big fan of dry rose then as I am today. My advocacy for dry rose really came into fruition, when I was hired by Vons to be their Wine Steward. The interview process was short and sweet, a good friend from France put in a good word for me, and I was hired on the spot. 

Fast forward to 2015, spring was in the air, and I said to the store director at the time, "It's Rose Season," he looked at me puzzled, "err, what?" That's when I launched into my idea for a full display to be put in what chain stores (grocery stores etc.) call the A spot, not to be confused with that other spot that starts with the letter G. 

In an off-premise store, i.e., grocery stores, this spot is the prime location of entry where everyone coming into the store will see it. Because he trusted my judgment, he said go for it. I went to work with the distributors and suppliers to build an impactful Rose display. As the sales of Rose blew up in the store, people took notice, Vice Presidents of Operations, suppliers and the different distribution companies I worked with on an almost daily basis, I could see this idea was a phenomenal success. 

It wasn't before long, that this idea "It's Rose Season" became a company-wide campaign, it was on like Donkey Kong, other stores were told to emulate the display and then it was an entirely new category area was cut into the companies schematic. Now did I get any of the credit? No, not even one bit. But it's worth noting here on this blog, my little corner of the internet that I was in some small way ahead of the Rosé wave I knew was coming and how to get out ahead of it. Too bad I squandered that trend spotting skill by not launching something of my own. Like all those folks who watched Forest Gump in the theatre, thinking "ah-man" it's probably too late to buy Apple stock."

Food Pairing Champ: Trying to beat the summer heat this year and you still want to drink wine, you’ll find rosé wines are very versatile food pairing champions. They lend themselves easily to pairing with many different food types and styles. Rosé wines also tend to be low in alcohol [but not always], making it the perfect wine for taking on an afternoon picnic. Some recommendations; hot or cold (perfect leftover) chicken, pasta, pork, Sunday morning Tortilla-Espana omelets or even a New York deli-style quiche, and other lighter picnic-foods like charcuterie and fresh cheeses, mix in some fresh fruit, and you are on the way to food and wine pairing nirvana.

1. Chivite's Gran Feudo Rosado [Navarra, Spain]: A Garnacha based rosés which typically sports zippy acidity. Ripe watermelon punctuates the color, a red-fruited distinctive fragrance, ripe summer plums, raspberries and a fresh basket of strawberries on the finish. On the palate, slim and friendly, with a lasting structure and a firm finish. I discovered this wine while in the Kingdom of Navarra last year, I scored this wine 90 points, it sells for a crazy-good price $9 here, providing tremendous QPR.

2. Envie d'été 2010 Château Garrineau Rosé [France]: A very tasty rosé composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. On the nose, you'll find elegant aromas and flavors of cherries and strawberries, wrapped in floral overtones. It’s the kind of wine that feels like summertime in the South of France. I scored this wine 88 points and it sells for about $15 USD, though I couldn't find a place that sells this wine here in the US.

3. Pine Ridge 2011 Encantado Rosé [Stags Leap]: This rosé was crafted using the saigneé, [to bleed off] a technique where the juice is extracted from the must. A true-rosé composed of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, a fantastic rosé brimming with the fresh red-fruits flavors of - strawberry, raspberry and a hint of citrus. I discovered this wine on one of my recent trips to the Napa Valley, where Mrs. Cuvee and I could be found slurping this wine down while reclining under an umbrella-covered picnic-table on the wonderful grounds of Pine Ridge. I scored this wine 89 points. It sells for an SRP of $22.

4. V. Sattui's 2011 Gamay Rouge (Napa Valley): This rosé is a great wine for folks who like it saa-weet, but may want to dial it up a notch or two. This wine would be perfect with spicy Thai food or even barbecued ribs, sports generous RS, with just enough acidity to carry the fruit and not be cloying. Produced by extended grape skin contact, in the glass a summertime strawberry color. The flavor profile provides the palate with ripe strawberry, a touch of cherry and some gentle baking spices. This wine is only available at the winery and sells in the neighborhood of $18, I scored this wine 87 points.

5. Vivanco Tempranillo Garnacha Rosé 2009 (Rioja): This is a vibrant Rosé with dominating flavors of rose petals, raspberries, and toasty-strawberries; there is a kick of spice on the finish. This wine was made in the traditional “Sangrado” style, where skin contact was 12-24 hours for the color. This wine sells for $15 a bottle, and I scored it 92 points. It goes great with spinach quiche.

6. Penman Springs 2010 Estate "Two Roses" (Paso Robles): This rosé is no simple cut-out from the Syrah grape, but as I recall this wine had the most "funky" nose. Some incoherent barnyard aromas were the first impressions to greet my nose. After a few more swirls some toasty cranberry and strawberry aromas, which carried through to some wonderful dried red fruit flavors, just a bit of white pepper and refreshingly crisp finish. I initially thought this was Grenache, but later learned it was Syrah. I scored this wine 89 points, and it sells for $15 through the website or in the tasting room.

7. Sokol Blosser Estate Cuvée Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2016 (Dundee Hills): The color of this wine resembled a water-colored Caribbean sunset, kind-of a light salmon and cotton candy mix. This lively wine comes from a careful touch of skin contact from Pinot Noir; small quantities of free-run juice really [no press in sight]. On the nose, plenty of vibrant rose petals dried strawberry and a kiss of a meaty summer peach. The palate bites with ripe strawberries 'kisses' on your mouth oh-my, along with tangy-citrus, wet-stone, and lemongrass. I found this wine well balanced, piped with bright acidity. If you’re looking for pairing suggestions, this rich enough to pair up with salmon or even duck, yet light enough to handle a plate of fresh mussels. I scored this wine 92 points; it sells through the wineries website for $18, great QPR.

8. Banfi 2010 Rosa Regale Brachetto (Italy): Another wine for those who like it sweet and bubbly. In the glass it has the appearance of drinking dark ruby soda pop, a frothy little number full of raspberry-colored foam, giving a very festive feel in the glass. You'll find hints of rose petals, where sweet raspberry and strawberry nuances abound. Rosa Regale is produced by Vigne Regali in Strevi, Piedmont. I scored this wine 87 points. I've seen it available to purchase this at a few local Costco locations for $14.99 each. It has an amazingly low ABV of just 7%, sweet, a perfect pairing partner with spicy foods.

9. Rol Valentin Rosé 2010, St-Emilion (France): Another nose full of bright, fresh baskets of strawberry, watermelon and ripe raspberry fruit that carries through to the palate, some dried spice notes and a boat-load of crisp acidity to balance the big, up-in-your-face fruit. This beauty sells for $10 in most places, and I gave it 90 points. A stunner of great value [QPR], overflowing with flavor, from one of the new a·vant-garde of garagiste wines that have emerged in St-Emilion.

10. Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvée (Sonoma): Who says a rose wine can't be bubbly? Hmm? No one. In the flute, you'll find this Pinot Noir led 'Cuvee' blend casts a slight rosé color leaning toward the orange/pink salmon side of the equation. On the nose dried cherries, over a freshly baked brioche. In the first slurp, ample fat bubbles and creamy mousse composed of strawberries, smeared on freshly baked buttermilk biscuits, leading to a long, sumptuous finish. I've had this wine several times, and I've never been disappointed. It sells for in the $14 to $32 price range in most places. I scored this wine 90 points and highly recommend it.

Bonus: 2012 Chateau De Marsan (Bordeaux): Wow, this rosé (clairet) wine just says drink now and drink often. Say hello to Bordeaux with this blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot which provides the swagger of fruity/floral aromas with a slap of blackcurrants, pinned against a solid structure, made in a dry style. If that was not enough summertime ripe strawberries, enchant you, while finely toned elegance plays its part on the palate, providing a vivid canvas for summer-time sipping. Bold, fresh and just waiting to please, the price is easy on the eyes as well at an SPR of $11-$13.

An okay folk that’s the list, I hope one of these wines will be filling your glass soon. Summer is in fine form, heating up the landscape, sending folks scurrying for a way to be the heat. You may want to get busy stocking up on a few of these gems, as you definitely don't want to be on the outside looking in when it comes to securing some of these beautiful rosés for your upcoming weekend festivities. Until next time sip long and prosper.


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