Over the last few years, rosé has really, finally found acceptance with the American consumer. Wine industry publications report double-digit growth in the category and even triple-digit growth in some price ranges.
This popularity is focused on dry wines modeled after European styles, not the sweet “blush” wines that have been popular for years. A variety of red grapes are used and the best wines are easy drinking, refreshing, yet flavorful. Expect a flavor profile similar to their red siblings, while they drink more like white wines.
Because of their vibrant freshness and lively fruit, pink wines are almost always best drunk young, so look for the most recent vintages available. Note, all wines here are 2018 vintage, unless otherwise stated.
Among rosé devotees, France is the prime source and southern France even more so. Rosé from Côtes de Provence (made mostly from grenache) is especially popular. My recommended wines generally exhibited delicate, fresh red berries, crisp citrus fruits, juicy freshness, and a suggestion of creaminess: from Château Minuty, the intensity and floral, spice notes of the “Rosé et Or” ($40) and its tart but smooth sibling “M de Minuty” ($21); from Domaine Cala, the richness of its oak aged “Prestige” ($25) and the pleasantly savory “Classic” ($16); and the soft, appealing Fleur de Mer ($17).
Other recommendations: the tart, spicy Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône ($12); and two from the Pyrénées-Orientales, a department within Côtes du Roussillon bordering Spain — the fresh, lively Les Vignes de Bila-Haut ($15) and the firm, round, spicy, Department 66 “Fragile” (2017, $18).
Italians also love rosé, though it is often labeled rosato. From Tenuta Sant’Antonio in the Veneto, the Scaia ($13), from the native rondinella grape, is fresh and focused. Regaleali “Le Rose” ($15), from indigenous nerello mascalese, balances crispness with a suggestion of sweetness.
These days, it seems nearly every California winery produces a rosé. Most seem to focus either on Rhône varieties or the Burgundian grape, pinot noir, but you also can find other varieties and blends.
For Rhône fans, I recommend these from my tastings:
• Beckmen Grenache “Purisma Mountain Vineyard” ($25), vibrant, sleek.
• Halter Ranch Grenache ($28) zesty, tangy, spicy.
• Sosie Syrah “Vivio Vineyard” ($25) fresh, full, round.
• Cline “Ancient Vines” Mourvedre ($18) tangy, juicy.
• Oak Farm Grenache “Silvaspoons Vineyards” ($24), intense, round.
• Edna Valley Vineyard ($12) tart, spicy blend.
These will satisfy pinot noir fans: the tangy, tart Cuvaison ($30) from Carneros; the full, juicy Riverbench ($25) from Santa Maria Valley; and from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the racy, creamy Left Coast ($24); the intense, high-toned Stoller ($25); and juicy, tangy Chehalem ($25)
For variety, try my longtime favorite the earthy, spicy Pedroncelli Zinfandel Signature Selection ($17) and the Bordeaux-style Gamble ($22) a juicy, tangy delight.
No review of rosé would be complete without pink bubbly: from Italy’s Emilia- Romagna, Cleto Chiarli Brut di Noir Rosé Spumante ($16), a delightful Lambrusco with hints of spice and sweetness; from Oregon, Left Coast “Queen Bee Bubbly” ($24), a pinot noir with added complexity from its bottle fermentation fed with honey; J Vineyards Brut Rosé ($35), a long time favorite for its intense fruit and creamy balance; and the rich, luscious, 2015 Cuvaison Brut Rosé ($50).