“Few wines are both as beloved and belittled as rosé. Since its return to fashion in the last five years or so, the public has embraced it as a wine of summer.”
Eric Asimov: “Rosés, with all due respect” June 7, 2010 The New York Times
Because pink wine is my favorite wine of summer, I’ve selected three favorites (2 bottles of each) to go into my summer 6-pack which will be sold at the Bulldega. To reserve yours call them at 919-680-4682 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There was a time when I was very pessimistic about the future of the great rosés of Europe. Even though rosé was the hip wine to drink in the summertime in Europe, and all of the best outdoor cafes in France and Italy served it, it was frowned on as hopelessly out of touch and cringe worthy in America. This was caused by the period of time where the California winemakers made what were called ‘blush’ wines – White Zinfandel being the most common of the blush wines. Essentially they were pink, tasted like bubblegum, and were altogether to be avoided. The wine cognoscenti made fun of these blush wines and eventually they became shunned by even the casual wine drinkers in America. In those days it was considered a horrible social gaffe to take a bottle of pink wine to a dinner party.
But I come to you this year with renewed optimism that authentic rosé is not only better understood but has been embraced in America like never before.
Here’s the reason for my optimism: People are not only buying rosé, ordering bottles in restaurants to sit in plain view on their table without hesitation, but also proudly serving it in their homes. They don’t have the sheepish, slightly embarrassed look that folks once did when serving a bottle of pink wine.
Also, a lot of my favorite rosés are on allocation – meaning there’s a greater demand than there is supply so you can’t buy everything you want. But, due to the educated wine press, and a lot of retailers who took up the cause of authentic, dry rosé, its back – big time.
Things to know about still rosé (sparkling is a different story):
1. Just a note on how rosé wines are made. Red grapes are crushed and only brief contact is allowed between the skins (which contain the colored pigments and tannins) and the juice (which comes from the colorless flesh of the grape).I should also add here that there are some rare red grapes which have pigmented flesh, called teinturier varieties, but this is the exception. These cannot by definition be used to make rosé. It is the degree of the contact between the skins and the juice that determines the final color of the wine. Thus, rosé wines lack both the deep color and the tannic structure of red wines made from the same grape varieties, and in this sense are more like white wines, and are best served cold. It is also rare to find rosé wines subjected to oak treatment.
2. They should be served at the temperature you would serve white wine.
3. Don’t plan a picnic or a porch gathering without chilling a bottle.
4. Even though they’re at their best as a summertime wine that’s fresh, cool, and crisp – I find a bottle of rosé the perfect first wine at a Thanksgiving gathering.
5. Some people would have you believe that once you’ve had a rosé for a few months past summer, it’s no good anymore – and nothing could be further from the truth.
6. In my opinion, some red grapes like Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, and Zweigelt make better rosés than other. That said, I also am partial to a blend of grapes – particularly from Provence and the Rhone, in France.
Whereas France is probably the most famous country for producing excellent dry pink wines, in this 6-pack you have one French rosé and two from Italy. Of all the many, many rosés I tasted, the Italians beat out the French. The French rosé is the lightest, and the Sangiovese is the most substantial – the fullest bodied rosé. Elisabetta’s Montenidoli is my favorite – rich, complex, and altogether charming.
Chateau d’Oupia Rosé – Minervois, Languedoc.
Grapes: Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault
Chateau d’Oupia is in the large region of the Languedoc, but is amongst the best communes – Minervois – where the land is ideal for growing grapes to produce wine – good slopes and rocky soil. André Iché was a star, and known for producing a whole lot of quality wine for a good price. He inherited his estate in the eighties, and quickly gained the reputation for being an excellent and committed farmer. Initially he sold off his wine to the negociants, but a visiting French winemaker from Burgundy in the late nineties was so enthused about his wine that he convinced Andre to bottle and market his own production. The composition is Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault.
The wine is delightfully light and easy to drink, with low alcohol – it’s ideal for the hot days of summer. Serve chilled as an apertif or with your summer meal.
Montenidoli Tosana Rosato Canaiuolo – Tuscany, Italy
Grapes: 100% Canaiolo
This rosé is unique and famous. It’s made from the Canaiolo red grape – one of the grapes (other than Sangiovese) that makes up a Chianti blend.
Elisabetta Fagiuoli is my favorite winemaker that I’ve met in my career. She is a tour-de-force in the tower town of San Gimignano in the region of Tuscany. Elisabetta is energetic, outgoing, and an eloquent spokeswoman for the philosophy and practice of natural winemaking.
Many years, her rosé is my favorite of all the ones I taste – and this would be one of those years. I recently had a glass of her rosé at Pizzeria Toro before dinner. I found the wine totally enchanting and everything I would want in a rosé – light, bright, and full of complexity. I remember thinking to myself – wine just can’t get any better than this, for me.
She organically farms her vineyards on a hillside surrounded by woodlands, and her wines are made with free-run must that ferments slowly and is bottled as soon as the sugars have fermented to maintain freshness. This method of making wine yields great flavor and doesn’t maximize output – if you actually press the grapes you get more juice out but you don’t make better wine. It takes someone who really cares about what they end up with in the bottle to use this method.
Caparsa Sangiovese – Tuscany, Italy, Grapes: 100% Sangiovese
Caparsa is in Tuscany, on the road between Radda and Volpaia in southern Chianti. Why did I pick this rosé? There are many reasons, but here are a few:
1. I’m extremely fond of the wines that Paolo makes – they represent terrific wine values.
2. There are some wines that you just fall in love with the flavor. This wine is 100% Sangiovese, certified organic, and sees more skin contact with the juice than most rosés, which makes it a richer, more cherry-like flavor than a lot of rosés. I’m not an advocate of telling you what it tastes like; everybody has their own taste and it would be like telling you what is wrapped inside your gift at the holidays.
3. Because it’s a certified organic wine, there is no stabilization – it was bottled at the end of January.