The fact that the popularity of rose’ is rising is not a new trend, it has occurred for over a decade. The emergence of rose’ is still being discussed by sommeliers in 2016, but the real story is about its evolution. Today, it has become a priority, not an afterthought for winemakers. Good, specifically designed rose’ has fueled the market which, in turn, has channeled more energy to create the next best release.
Another trend is that consumers are less discerned with color and are breaking with traditional values toward what types of foods pair with red or white wine. Rose’ has
stepped up as a wine that belongs at the dinner table, as well as the patio on a summer afternoon. Many restaurants now include rose’ on their wine lists year-round, not just the summer months. Blended from Rhone varietals including syrah, mourvedre and grenache, Spanish tempranillo, Italian sangiovese and California pinot noir, modern rose’ can compliment food from raw oysters and sushi to roasted chicken and pork. Yesterday’s rose’ wines were sweet and simple. Today, they are versatile, friendly but complex and readily recommended in tapas bars and most trendy restaurants.
All wine grape juice is clear, generating its color from various degrees of contact with red grape skins. With rose’, the juice is separated or “bled” away from the skins very early in a process known as the “Saignée method.” The normal deep ruby color of the fine reds
turn to what are known as “pink wines.” Rose’ is also mostly produced in stainless steel with little or no oak, resulting in higher acidity with crisp, invigorating texture.
Due to its diversity, fine rose’ is now produced in all the world’s wine regions. At the top is Provence, located south of France’s great appellations and north of the classic Spanish blends from Rioja, whose winemakers have focused their production almost exclusively on rose’. The current rose’ inventory in most fine wine outlets is generally between fifty and seventy percent from Provence. The selections are so vast that a decision could be overwhelming, so, let me recommend a few good ones that are readily available.
With multiple ratings in the nineties, the 2015 Chateau Miraval Cote de Provence Rose’ ($20) first earned recognition when the 2012 vintage was named to Wine
Spectator magazine’s Top 100 wines and became the world’s best rose’ of that year. Produced through a partnership between Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and the Perrin Family of Chateau du Beaucastel in Chateaunef-du-Pape, the current vintage expresses wonderful floral and fruit aromas, soft berry flavors and a nice minerality on the finish. A high quality for the price, the Miraval is available at wine outlets and on-line. Another rose’ from a large
producer in the Rhone Valley, the 2014 Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose’ is a blend of grenache, syrah and cinsault that make it dry, but fruity. This vintage has an acidic finish that compliments spicy foods.
Fine rose’ wines are produced in all California wine regions, from the Santa Ynez Valley in north Santa Barbara County to the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. Diversity in varietals and terroir make for a broad palate of selections and new rose’ production is vital across the state. For example, grapes from the Stolpman Vineyard in Santa Ynez have been sourced to other wineries for decades. They have an impeccable reputation and have begun producing wines under their own label like the 2015 Stolpman Santa Ynez Valley Rose’ ($17), a soft, fruity pink wine from 100% grenache grapes, a portion undergoing the carbonic maceration process that introduces them to a carbon dioxide rich environment prior to crushing. The whole grape begins to ferment while in the skins. This rose’ can be a nice summer sipper as well as a food wine.
Tablas Creek Winery, a patriarch among the California Rhone Rangers in Paso Robles,
produce what many believe is the best rose’ in California, the 2014 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rose’ ($20). A Rhone blend of grenache, mourvedre and counoise, this wine is fresh, floral and balanced, expressing cherries and watermelon throughout a long finish. To the north, in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation comes the 2015 Luli Central Coast Rose’ ($14), produced through a partnership between Master Sommelier Sarah Floyd and the Pisoni Family who have contributed to and created many great wines from the region. A distinct blend of pinot noir and grenache, it has balanced flavors that will compliment food very well. Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm, another patriarch among California Rhone Rangers, has always been willing to push the envelope in finding obscure vineyards to produce rare wines like 2015 Bonny Doon Il Ciliegiolo Rosato ($24) from the Mt. Oso Vineyard in the hills above Tracy, CA in San Joaquin County. Ciliegiolo is actually a little known Tuscan varietal related to sangiovese. Randall spoke of the grape, “While it can be brilliant as a
powerful red, one might argue that it is uniquely well suited to haunt the palate as a fragrant, delicate pink.” It is actually a light red, as opposed to a pink wine and I find it to be the boldest rose’ that I’ve have tasted, one that I would not hesitate to pair with roasted pork.
St. Supery Vineyards and Winery in Napa Valley produces mostly estate grown and sustainably-farmed Bordeaux varietals from vineyards on the valley floor. With a darker color, the 2015 St. Supery Estate Rose’ Wine Napa Valley ($18) is all about fresh berry aromas and flavors. It is a merlot-dominant Bordeaux blend that also includes cabernet sauvignon, malbec, cabernet franc and petit
verdot, blended after fermentation. It exudes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and watermelon throughout and, at under twenty dollars, is an exceptional value. Another winery using cool-climate pinot noir from Sonoma Coast vineyards and a significant percentage from a biodynamically-farmed vineyard outside of Sebastopol, CA, the 2013 Red Car Rose’ of Pinot Noir 2014($22) is fermented without any contact with the skins, creating what the winemaker calls, “A pale melon pink wine.” It is bone dry, zesty, very aromatic with herbal and berry flavors. Referring to the finish,
Antonio Galloni of Vinous says this wine, “Smoothly plays power off finesse and finishes with resonating florality.” It is a suitable pair with sushi or grilled salmon.
Carol Shelton has made her own wines since 2000, mostly zinfandel sourced from some of the finest Sonoma County vineyards. She also creates limited amounts of pinot noir, petit sirah, cabernet sauvignon and carignane, a varietal that dominates the Carol Shelton 2015 Wild Thing Rendezvous
Rose’ ($15), a crisp, dry wine from Mendocino County expressing strawberry-watermelon aromas and flavors with mineral hints on the finish. Half of the pink juice is bled off after brief contact with the carignane skins, resulting in the color of a light pinot noir. Consistently rated in the 90s, the “Rendezvous” has the complexity necessary to accompany any food, from sushi to BBQ ribs.
Very good rose’ wines can be found throughout Oregon and Washington State as well as South Africa, South America, Australia and New Zealand where the 2015 Elephant Hill Tempranillo Rose’ Hawkes Bay ($29) originates. As with many red varietals, the warm climate of wine regions below the equator accentuates the flavors of tempranillo. This dry, zesty small-production wine, consisting of 92% tempranillo and eight percent syrah is citric, fruit-forward and spicy with a very clear
minerality on the finish
The end of summer no longer breeds disappointment among rose’ fans. Today, it is a year-round alternative when serving appetizers, a three-course dinner or enjoying a glass with friends. Rose’ has emerged and will continue to evolve as it renews the spirit of winemakers everywhere to commit to exploring the potential of pink wines. Maybe there is a rose’ wine on this list for you.