It's here. Rosé season. AKA Summer. Hallelujah!
If you think you don't like rosé, I encourage you to re-assess your opinion. For so long, all rosé was sweet, sugary nonsense. Stay away from Beringer, Sutter Home, etc., unless that's what you like! Anything labeled "White Zinfandel" is not to be trusted. But for me, rosé deserves to be revered amongst the ranks of the greatest whites and reds. If I could be just a rosé sommelier, I would. That photo of me is from Winston and my wedding, where I chose our "wedding wine" to be a rosé- one of my favorites, and one that I wanted to have this memory with (I'll tell you which one it was later on).
There's a huge range of styles and types: some that are great just for sipping, some that are meant for food pairing only. I'm going to attempt to give you some recommendations, both of my favorite rosés to look out for, and some things to keep in mind generally when picking out your summer sipper. Let's start with the basics.
1. It's "Rosé," not "Rose."
I've even encountered folks in the wine industry who say the word like the flower, but if you care about me at all, put that accent on the E. It's just a pet peeve, and it makes my skin crawl when I hear it otherwise. :-*
2. Pink Wine Isn't Just Red and White Mixed Together
Well, sometimes it is. For the most part, you don't want to drink those. Most rosés worth their salt are made from red grapes that only see a small amount of skin contact (called the maceration method), and that's what gives them their pink hue. There are exceptions, as there always are, but this is the general rule. The other common method of making rosé is called the saignée method, in which during the process of making a red wine, a small amount of the juice is "bled off" early. Often these rosés have a darker hue and more intense flavor. One's not necessarily better than the other!
3. Vintage Matters
This is *generally* always true for wine, but it's especially true for rosé. This is because, generally speaking, rosé is meant to be drunk young. There are exceptions, but when buying your rosé, you want something from the current or previous vintage. If a rosé is more than 2 years old, it's probably lost its spark. So that means that when you go to buy your rosé this summer, you want it to say 2018 on it. Most 2017s are probably okay, and soon we'll be getting 2019 rosés from the Southern Hemisphere. Just be careful if you see a big sale on rosé at your local wine store- they may be trying to unload some old rosé that isn't great anymore. I once had a very fancy, expensive German rosé that was like 5 years old, and it was terrible. Again, there are a few rosés out there that can stand to age, but they are few and far between.
4. My Favorite Rosé Wine Regions: Not Just Provence!
Provence in Southern France is one of the few wine regions in the world that is primarily known for its rosé, and it's really the region that put dry rosé on the map and changed the way we think of pink wine. I do love Provençal rosés, but at this point I don't find them particularly exciting. I have a few that I love, recommended below, but in general right now I'm a bigger fan of rosés from the Loire Valley in France, Italy, and Spain. But here's a little rundown of the major rosé wine regions to look out for:
Bandol: This is a sub-region within Provence, and arguably the most prestigious rosé region in the world. These are generally a little pricier, but they are delicious. The most famous producer in this region is called Domaine Tempier. It's very hard to get a Tempier rosé, but if you can find it, go for it! These are the most refined examples of the Provençal style: light, crisp, floral, and dry.
Tavel: Tavel is in the Rhône Valley, just north of Provence, but its style of rosé couldn't be different: these are deep pink, full-bodied wines rather high in alcohol. To me, I wouldn't drink a Tavel without food, but some people love that style.
Chinon and Bourgeuil: these are two subregions within the Loire Valley whose rosés are often made from Cabernet Franc. I find that there's often a correlation between the rosés I like and the reds made from the same grape. Cab Franc is one of my absolute favorite grapes, and these rosés have a little bit more fruit to them than the Provence ones, but still have that racy, biting acidity. They're awesome on their own, or great for food pairing!
Italy: Okay, it seems vague to just say "Italy", but if I didn't I'd just have to put every little Italian wine region on here. Like I said, there's a correlation between the red wines and the rosés made from the same grapes, so these are often some of my favorites. What I love is that they have really powerful fruit components balanced by that amazing acidity. Anything made from Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Aglianico, Nerello Mascalese... I'm there!
Corsica: It seems random, but I've had a bunch of Corsican rosés that I absolutely love, especially those made from the grape Niellucciu (spoilers, Niellucciu is basically Corsica's Sangiovese.)
Spain: I have slightly mixed feelings about Spanish rosés. Rosés from Southern Spain tend to be a little too juicy for me, but I love rosés from Rioja (often made from Tempranillo.) The great thing about Spanish rosés, though, is that they're usually very high quality for the value, so you'll rarely be out too much $$ if you want to give one a try.
Austria: I haven't talked about my favorite grape in a while- Blaufränkisch! I love rosés made from Blaufränkisch, and often Zweigelt, coming from Burgenland in Austria.
There's plenty of other great regions for rosé (California, Oregon, South Africa, New Zealand, Germany, etc.) but these are the ones that I think you should know about/ are my favorites.
Also, note that "rosé," the French word for pink wine, is also what we use in English, but you may see "rosato" on an Italian bottle, or "rosado" on a Spanish/Argentine/Chilean, etc.
Now for my recommendations!
5. Emma's Favorite Rosés
Il Poggione "Brancato" Rosato (Tuscany, Italy)- that one was my wedding wine. Made from Sangiovese. Pure joy in a bottle.
Proprietà Sperino "Rosa del Rosa" Rosato (Piedmont, Italy)- 90% Nebbiolo, 10% Vespolina. I had this one the other day. The 2018 is SO GOOD.
G.D. Vajra "Rosabella" Rosato (Piedmont, Italy)- 100% Nebbiolo (UPDATE: it's mostly Nebbiolo, with a little Barbera and Dolcetto). Anything and everything from Vajra is untouchable (they also made that Dragon Bianco that I talked about in the D&D episode)
Terradora di Paolo Rosato (Irpinia, Italy) - this is a new producer for me, making wine in southern Italy, but I'm so into this rosé made from 100% Aglianico, which I think of as being similar to Sangiovese.
Ostatu Rosado (Rioja, Spain)- A slightly less well-known producer, and somehow harder to find, but this rosé is delicious!
IBY Rosé (Burgenland, Austria)- Made from Blaufränkisch, this was my favorite rosé 2 or 3 years ago but then WE STOPPED GETTING IT! If anyone finds this, let me know! It's so good!
Ingrid Groiss Rosé (Weinviertel, Austria)- You've heard me sing Ingrid's praises before, and I cannot recommend her wines enough. Her rosé is incredible, and also hard to find. It used to be called Sommerwein, but she changed that. Last vintage was made from Pinot Noir and Zweigelt.
Domaine de la Chanteleuserie Rosé (Bourgeuil, France)- 100% Cabernet Franc, 100% delicious. I had it with salmon once and it was perfection.
Domaine du Grand Bouqueteau Rosé (Chinon, France)- Also 100% Cab Franc, also super, super delicious.
AIX Rosé (Provence, France)- this is the classic Provençal rosé, and it is super zippy and light. I haven't tried the 2018 yet, but I may just go out and get some!
Peyrassol Rosé (Provence, France)- also a classic southern French style, and they have a few different "tiers" of rosé: their #Lou is real good, and not that expensive!
Birichino Vin Gris (California)- technically Vin Gris is not quite rosé, but it's pink, and it's delicious, so it counts! This one from California is light and elegant.
Tribute to Grace Rosé (California)- it wouldn't be a day at Pairing if I didn't recommend Angela Osborne's wines! This one is made from 100% Grenache and is elegant and forceful at the same time.
Arca Nova Vinho Verde Rosé (Portugal)- some Vinho Verde rosés are made a little to sweet for me, but I love this one! I discovered it at my first job in New York, and picked up a bottle the other day for the first time in years, and it holds up! A great Portuguese Porch Pounder, as we call them.
Domaine Magellan Le Fruit Défendu Rosé (Pays d'Herault, France)- This is another one of my favorites that is in the Provençal style, but has just a little more oomph to it. Also, it's usually under $15 a bottle, woohoo!
Mont Gravet Rosé (Pays d'oc, France)- I can't tell you how many hundreds of cases we sold of this last year at my job. It's so good, and around $10 a bottle!
Okay, that's it from me for now! Have a rosé that you love? Tell me about it! I'm always looking for more!
Cheers, and remember: "Yes you can- drink rosé and still be a badass." -Charles & Charles (Smith & Bieler)