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Exploring Rosés

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Many years ago we wrote about rosé as if it was from a distant constellation. People were drinking white zinfandel then and thought, surely, it’s was the sweet blush wine to which we were referring. Ugh. Alas, we were really trying to distance the dry French rosé from sweet wines that sported the same color. No one really noticed or cared, so our rosé was left in the dust.

Today, however, rosés are more than just discovered – they are exploited.  Just about every winemaker from every country we know is making a rosé to stay up with consumer demands for this fun summer drink.

Unfortunately, not everyone is making good rosé. A consumer who could once depend on a Provence rosé made from grenache, syrah, cinsault and mourvedre has to wade through rosés from California, Italy and South America made from pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, malbec, barbera, merlot and more.

Different grapes, different hues, different regions and even a different winemaking process has meant that just about anything goes when it comes to making rosé.  And it’s that simplicity that have given producers an oversized palette to craft their rosés.

Alas, prices of rosé have risen as their popularity has grown. A rosé from France generally cost less than $15, but on the West Coast we’re seeing rosés for more than $20 a bottle.  These expensive versions offer a lot more complexity – but is complexity what you’re looking for in a light summer quaffer?

The color of rosé is as varied as the grapes. The color is determined by the length of time the grape skins are I contact with the juice.

There’s nothing like rosé on a warm summer day on the patio or boat. If you have friends around, you better have several bottles. Besides being a good sipping wine, it goes well with fish, fowl and other summer fare. Here are 20 great rosés to get you started.

  • Domaine de Cala Rosé

    Domaine de Cala Rosé ($15). From the Brignoles region of southern France, this estate blends grenache, cinsault, syrah, rolle, grenache blanc, carignan and cabernet sauvignon. It is a layered rosé with red fruit flavors and a dash of spice. Cala also makes a premium rosé ($25) that is aged for three months in oak.

  • Domaines Ott By.Ott Cotes de Provence Rosé 2018 ($25). A venerable pioneer in rosé, Domaine Ott is known for its luxurious crus classe Chateau de Selle. But now it has a less expensive version that uses the same technique to produce the best the region has to offer. Expressive aromas of grapefruit and stone fruit are followed by red fruit flavors and mineral.
  • Olema Rosé Cotes de Provence 2018 ($16). Made by an American producer but produced in Provence, this stunning blend of grenache, syrah, cinsault, carignan and mourverdre shows off assertive aromas of strawberries and raspberries followed by cherry and watermelon flavors. Broad in style and with balanced acidity, it’s a winner.
  • Gamble Family Vineyards Rosé 2018

    Gamble Family Vineyards Rosé 2018 ($20). You get a lot of complexity for the price in this unique Napa Valley rosé made from cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and petite verdot. Strawberry and orange blossom aromas mingle with red fruit and grapefruit flavors. Crisp and long in the finish.

  • Eberle Cotes-du-Robles Rosé 2018 ($24). A take-off of Cotes du Rhone, this spirited rosé from Paso Robles uses the Rhone grapes of grenache, syrah and viognier. A cool fermentation keeps the wine fresh and the acidity bright. Pink in color and packed with tropical fruit and strawberry notes.
  • Inman Family Endless Crush Rosé of Pinot OGV Vineyard 2018 ($38). We’re not surprised that even at this price Kathleen Inman’s rosé flies off the shelf at its tasting room in the Russian River Valley. Big and bold, whole clusters of grapes are destemmed and pressed within a few hours. Strawberry and watermelon flavors dominate this crisp rosé.
  • Copain Wines Tous Ensemble Rosé of Pinot Noir 2018 ($25). Made entirely of pinot noir grapes fermented in stainless steel tanks, this fresh and lively rosé from Mendocino County sports cherry and melon flavors with a dash of mint. Pale salmon color.
  • Beckmen Vineyards Purisima Mountain Vineyard Grenache Rosé 2018 ($25). We like the Rhone-style wines from this Ballard Canyon winery. This grenache is blended with some syrah and has classic strawberry and watermelon flavor.
  • Gran Moraine Yamill-Carlton Rosé of Pinot Noir 2018

    Gran Moraine Yamill-Carlton Rosé of Pinot Noir 2018 ($28). From a primo area of the Willamette Valley, Gran Moraine produces a consistently remarkable rosé year after year. The 2018 is classically dry with balanced acidity and bright, fresh watermelon and cherry flavors.

  • Beronia Rioja Rosé 2018 ($13). This rosado is a blend of garnacha and tempranillo. Strawberry and peach notes with a creamy texture.
  • Cune Rioja Rosado 2018 ($13). Made entirely from tempranillo grapes, this value rosé has forward strawberry notes with hints of licorice. Delicious.
  • Ferraton Pere & Fils Cotes-du Rhone Samorens Rosé 2018 ($14). One of our favorite rosés in our tasting flight, the Ferraton has bright acidity balanced with abundant fruit. Made up of 50 percent grenache 30 percent syrah, and 20 percent cinsault, this very nice summer sipper displays notes of strawberry and cherry.
  • Costaripa Mattiavezzola “Rosamara” Valtenesi Chiaretto DOC 2018 ($23). We don’t experience a whole lot of wines, much less rosé from Lombardy but maybe we should. Made from a blend of indigenous grapes: groppello (60 percent) marzemino as well as a touch of sangiovese and barbera, this is a mouth-filling rosé with predominant cherry notes and ample acidity.
  • Peyrassol Cuvee de la Commanderie rosé AOP Cotes de Provence 2018 ($20). A blend of mostly cinsault, grenache, and syrah, this rosé from the extremely popular Provence region is rich and lively with strawberry and raspberry notes and a hint of citrus. A dependable producer.
  • Pasqua 11 Minutes Rosé della Venezie IGT 2018 ($17-23). Crafted from indigenous grapes, corvina and trebbiano di lugana along with a dash of syrah and carmenere. The name refers to the length of time the grape skins remain in contact with the grape must after pressing. Berry fruits and citrus notes dominate this delicious rosé.
  • Zoe Rosé Peloponnese Greece 2018

    Zoe Rosé Peloponnese Greece 2018 ($12). A great value at this price. Made from the Greek tongue-twisting grapes agiorgitiko (70 percent) and moscofilero this excellent summer sipper displays zippy acidity and cherry notes.

  • Arrumaco Garnacha Rosé Vino De Espana 2018 ($10). Fat and rich on the palate with tame acidity. Ripe cherry and strawberry notes along with this fabulous price make this wine a real winner.
  • Masciarelli Colline Teatine Rosato 2018 ($14). From the Abruzzo region of Italy, this rosé has citrus and red berry notes.
  • Etude North Canyon Vineyard Rosé 2018 ($22). You get a lot of complexity for the price from this Santa Barbara County rosé. Classic salmon color with strawberry and peach aromas mingling with watermelon and cherry flavors and a dash of minerality.
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Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr have been writing a wine column since 1985. They have traveled extensively to vineyards in France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the United States. Tom currently resides in Naples with his wife, Sue, where he conducts wine tastings. His web site is MoreAboutWine.com. Patrick is in the wine retail business in Annapolis, MD.