Rosé has become quite popular with Americans in recent years. I’m not talking about still popular sweet blush wines like white zinfandel. These days, it is the dry wines modeled after European styles, especially the French, that enjoy attention.
A variety of grapes are used, and the best wines are easy drinking, refreshing, yet flavorful. Exhibiting bright fruit from strawberry, cherry, raspberry, and cranberry to rhubarb, pomegranate and watermelon, expect a flavor profile similar to their red siblings, while they drink more like white wines.
Enjoy the following wines (all 2019 vintage unless otherwise noted) as an apéritif or with the full range of light summertime fare. European tosés and American counterparts are presented below. Buy a couple of each and compare.
Good rosé is made all over France, but the most accessible is from Provence and the Rhône Valley, where the wines are mostly grenache (often with cinsault and syrah). Provence in particular, the area along the Côte d’Azur, has a long history with rosé as a prominent drink.
From Château Minuty, an 18th-century estate using sustainable methods, there is the crisp but smooth M de Minuty ($23) and the brisk, creamy, estate-grown Prestige ($30). Domaine Cala, owned by Los Angeles celebrity Chef Joachim Splichal, offers the savory, estate-grown Classic ($18). Founded in the 13th century, Commanderie de Peyrassol offers the tight, juicy Cuvée de la Commanderie ($20).
And here are some fine Côtes du Rhône values: Cellier des Dauphins Reserve ($11) with intriguing herbal and textural elements; and the lively, herbal Domaine La Manarine ($14) and brisk, juicy Château Mourgues du Grès Fleur d’ Eglantine ($14), both featuring organic viticulture.
Rhône/Provençal-style wines also are popular in among many California wineries. Try another flavorful organic, grenache-based wine from Mendocino’s Bonterra ($16). I also found two good values from Paso Robles: the tangy Miller Family Vineyards Smashberry ($13) and the all grenache Chronic Cellars Pink Pedals ($15).
Rosé is produced in Burgundy but in a minor amount. Yet, many California wineries have latched on to it as the grape of choice. And these were some of the favorites of my tasting: juicy, flavorful Rodney Strong Russian River Valley ($25); lively, ripe MacRostie Russian River Valley ($28); delicate, round Jackson Estate Panorama Vineyard ($30); and the fuller textured Pisoni Vineyards Santa Lucia Highlands Lucy ($19).
Similarly, Bordeaux produces a small amount of rosé. And the Ehlers Estate Sylviane ($32), the only Bordeaux-style in my tastings (cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc), turned out to be my favorite.
From Italy’s Veneto region, the intense Pasqua 11 Minutes ($20) is mostly corvina from vineyards lining Lake Garda. California’s Oak Ridge OZV Primitivo (2018, $15) is intriguing to this longtime zinfandel fan, as primitivo is zinfandel’s Italian sibling.
In Spain, tempranillo is the major red grape and the Cune Rosado ($14) stands out for its darker color and full flavor, a result of longer skin contact.
For a California version, Rose Against the Machine ($24) by Napa Valley’s Anarchist Winery adds mourvedre to produce a wine with razor-sharp acidity.
Finally, for those of you who still prefer sweet, quaffable rosé, Ron’s Chillable Pink ($13) from River Road Vineyards fits the bill with soft fine/foamy bubbles, and it’s only 7.1% alcohol.