The Rosé Rumble: My Top Ten Rosé Wines

Time to hop back in the wine-wagon and head back for another wine-soaked adventure, this time our trip will take us to the lair of the San DiegoWine Mafia. A wild-eyed group of wine blog writers, with varying degrees of preferences, who like myself love to explore strange new wines and take our palates where no wino has been before. I'll just say this about the group, you would be wise not to come between us and our vino, or you just may end with a lovely pair of cement-slippers while taking a dip in the fermentation vat. Just saying.

Our group has explored many different varietals to date and this time we decided upon giving Rosé wines a spin, even though when it was first brought up, it was scoffed at a bit. We sampled just over twelve wines and three of them were bubblies. Since there  was NOT enough wines in this grouping to come up with a complete top-ten list, I've decided to add a few other selections from other tastings, where I've run across some very tasty Rosé wines, that will help round out this fun, fresh top ten list.

A Rosé by any other Name: I know a lot of folks sneer at Rosé wines and some just flat out dismiss them out of hand, because it has suffered from a bit of an identity-crisis. It has sadly been mistaken for the sickly sweet blush style of wines many folks find on drug-store shelves, called white-zin or white-merlot. Thus causing some folks to not even give them a swirl, possibly it's because true rosé wines in the US have been erroneously tied to blush wines and thus have been marginalized to near the point of extinction [they do appear to be on the come-back track]. I think it's good to remember that although every blush is a wine, not every rose colored wine is a true Rosé.

Adult Beverages: What is the first thing you think of when you here the name rosé wine? I know many folks think of White Merlot or White Zin, which is the sweet, blush styles of wine.  Blush-wines are not regarded by many as a true rosé wine, many folks believe "blush" wines like white-zin resemble more of an adult koolaid, than a real wine. I know, I know some folks just luv "sweet-wines" and still look at these wines lovingly through rose-colored glasses [ha]. If that is the kind of wine you want to drink okay please feel free to quaff away, but you just may want to take the leap to the real-deal and dial it up a notch.

True Rosé Wine: In my opinion a true rosé is often off-dry to dry in nature and will often display vibrant fresh fruit flavors, which tend to lean toward the strawberry and raspberry or even watermelon side of the fruit spectrum. What you can expect in a true rosé is a nice dry, tangy and crisp wine which is not the same as a blush, those wines tend to be sweeter, their only true similarity is in the color. One thing for certain is that a properly made rosé will always have depth of flavor and fruit characteristics, even if it has a touch [not a heaping spoonful] of RS [residual sugar].

Food Pairing Champ: They also tend be very versatile food pairing champions, lending themselves to pair easily with many different food types. Rosé wines also tend to be low in alcohol, making it the perfect wine for taking on an afternoon picnic. Some recommendation; hot or cold [perfect leftover] chicken, pasta, pork, cold soups, omelets or even a quiche, and other lighter picnic-foods like charcuterie and fresh cheeses.

As for me I love a good rosé in the right circumstance and when paired with the right foods this wine can be down right sublime. It is a great summer time wine, to sip on around the pool or as an appetizer type wine while BBQ'g on the deck or out on the patio. So without any further ado, I now bring you my top ten list of favorite rosé wines, enjoy.

1.Valdo Prosecco NV Brut Rosé [Italy]: Salmon colored, fruity, distinctive fragrance, reminiscent of the flowers, apricots and a fresh basket of strawberries. On the palate, slim and friendly, with a lasting structure and a slightly sweet aftertaste, produced from the Nerello Mascalese grape. I scored this wine 90 points and it sells for about $17 at Wine Chateau.

2. Envie d'été 2009 Château Garrineau Rosé [France]: A very tasty rosé composed of Cabernet sauvignon 50 %, Merlot 50 %. On the nose you'll find elegant aromas and flavors of cherries and strawberries, wrapped in floral overtones. A wonderful wine that says it's summertime in Bordeaux. 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 2009 Encantado Rosé [Stags Leap]: This rosé was crafted using the saigneé, [to bleed off] a technique where juice is extracted from the must. This true-rosé is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with small amounts of Tannat, Merlot and Malbec and like the name Encantado, this wine made for an enchanting afternoon of slurping and swirling. This wine was just brimming with the fresh red-fruits flavors of - strawberry, raspberry and a hint of citrus. Too bad this wine did not make the tasting, my recent trip to Napa Valley found this bottle sitting under a umbrella covered picnic table on the wonderful grounds of Pine Ridge, while the wife and I enjoyed this wonderful example of what I would call a true-rosé.  I scored this wine 92 points on the CCWB point scale. It sells for about $20 most places and you can buy through the PR page here. 

4. V. Sattui's 2009 Gamay Rouge [Napa]: This rosé is one of my all time favorites. I purchased this wine by the case more than once and their tried and true recipe never fails to impress. This wine would be perfect with spicy Thai food or even BBQ'd ribs, it is does have a bit of RS,  just enough acidity to carry the fruit. This wine see extended contact with the grape skins, which produces a ruby colored core. The flavor profile provides the palate with stunning strawberry, a touch of cherry and some gentle spices. This wine sells in the neighborhood of $18 and can be purchased at the winery. I scored this wine 89 points. [Not a true rosé]

5. Charity Case Rosé 2008: This is a vibrant Rosé with dominating flavors of raspberries and toasty-strawberries, there is a kick of spice on the finish. I suspect but cannot confirm that most likely three grape varietals were blended to make this Rosé, Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. This donated wine is handmade by a group of dedicated winemakers to ensure a sustainable future for charities serving children and families in and around Napa County. This wine sells for $13 a bottle and I scored it 92 points. It goes great with a spinach quiche.

6. Penman Springs 2008 Estate "Two Roses"[Paso Robles]: This is a rosé cut from the Syrah grape. I remember this wine had the most "funky" nose. Some incoherant barn-yard aromas, was my first impression. After a few more swirls some toasty cranberry and strawberrie aromas, which carried through to some wonderful dried red fruit flavors, just a bit of white pepper and refreshing crisp finish. I initally thought this was Grenache, but later learned it was Syrah. I scored this wine 91 points and it sell for $15 through the website.

7. Mushal 2009 Merlot Rosè Dry Creek Valley [Sonoma Country]: The color of this wine resembled a water-colored San Diego sunset, kind-of a light salmon and cotton candy mix. The nose got some of the cotton-candy on it and had that faux smell. I thought for a minute I was at the Del Mar fair, choking down a cone filled with the fluffy iconic pink stuff. This wine is definitly quiche ready, incase you were wondering. On the palate, this wine has a lot of strawberry and water-melon flavors, further reminders of the fair, the finish is crisp and refreshing, a real crowd pleaser. I scored this wine 91 points and it sell through the wineries website for $20 and 15% of that price from each bottle goes to The Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation or Breast Cancer.

8. Banfi 2009 Rosa Regale Brachetto [Italy]: In the glass it has the appearance of drinking a 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 raspberry and strawberry nuances abound. Baskets of wild strawberry fruit gushing forth floating on a cloud of effervescent goodness which is not totally dissimilar to Moscato in sweetness. Rosa Regale is produced by Vigne Regali in Strevi, Piedmont. I scored this wine 90 points. You can now purchase this wine at your local Costco for $14.99 each. It has an amazingly low ABV of just 7%. A great wine for romantic occasions, and a perfect pairing partner with spicy foods. [Not a true rosé]

9.Rol Valentin Rosé 2009, St-Emilion [France]: Another nose full of bright fresh baskets of strawberry, water-melon 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 $8 most places and I gave it 91 points. A stunner of great value [QPR], overflowing with flavor, hold for the summer BBQ season that will be upon us before you know it, you won't be dissappointed.

10. Royal Cuvée Vintage 2002: Okay so it's not a true rosé but close enough. In the flute you that this cuvee's Pinot Noir led blend casts a slight rosé color leaning toward the orange/pink salmon side of the equation. On the nose dried cherries, over a fresh baked brioche. After taking my first sip, fat ample bubbles and creamy mousse composed of strawberries, smeared on fresh 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 $24 price range most places. I scored this wine 93 points and highly recommend it. It's a QPR champ!

Okay folks that's the list, I hope one of these wines will be filling your glass soon. Summer will be here before we know it and you will definitely not want to be on the outside looking in, when it comes to securing some of these wonderful rosés for your upcoming warm weather activities. Until next time sip long and prosper.

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