Hot Weather and the Hot Wine- Rose

Wine Guys

Historians generally agree that wine has been produced for almost 8000 years and as long as there has been wine, there has been rosé. Rosé is made in one of three ways. The finest rosés are produced from red grapes with limited skin contact with the juice. Red grapes are crushed and the skins removed after two or three days leaving a pink hue to the juice as fermentation continues. The skins contain the red pigment, tannins and a lot of the flavor of red wine. Rosés produced in this fashion yield a wine with the bright fruit flavors of red wine but not the color or body.

Rosé is also produced by a technique known as Saignée. In this method, the winemakers “bleeds” off some pink juice from the fermenting red wine to impart more color and flavor into the remaining juice. The Saignée is than fermented separately.

The third method is the blending of a little red wine into white. It is frowned upon by finer wine producers but is an accepted practice in Champagne. The best Champagne producers, however, use one of the other methods.

Rosé has historically been a dry wine but that changed in the 60’s and 70’s with the popularity of the Portuguese rosés Lancers and Mateus and the beginnings of the White Zinfandel craze here in the States. These wines were produced to help sell the juice of slower moving red wine and generally had a residual sugar level around two and a half percent. This “blush” phenomenon made it difficult to sell the finer dry rosé wines from France because consumers thought all rosé was sweet.

A resurgence of dry rosé began about a decade ago and now the beginning of summer coincides with the release time of the new vintage of rosé. A young rosé is perfect for a picnic in the park or a glass in your backyard. The red fruit flavors allow it to be served chilled and stand up well to chicken, salmon and tuna.

Good rosé can be produced almost anywhere in the world, but the finest seem to come from warmer climates and from heat loving grape varieties like Grenache and Syrah. These regions include the Rhone Valley and Provence in France, much of Spain and warmer regions in California like Paso Robles.

Perhaps the most famous rosé wine region is Tavel. Philip IV of France supposedly travelled through Tavel on one of his tours of the kingdom in the 13th century. He was reportedly offered a glass, which he emptied without getting off his horse and afterwards proclaimed Tavel the only good wine in the world. Located in the southern Rhone Valley of France, Tavel produces only rosé wines from Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvedre. The wines are delicate salmon in color with excellent body and structure for rosé.

Equally famous is the large region of Provence located in the south of France along the Mediterranean Sea. It is in this large AOC that three regions stand out for their very high quality rosé production. They are Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Bandol. In these regions Carignane and Mourvedre are used along with Grenache and Syrah to produce the distinctive, full flavored rosé wines.

My favorite rosés

Below are my current favorite rosés. These will all offer excellent drinking for this summer and beyond.

Best value

Malavieille Charmille Rosé 2012 ($10)
An excellent value offering aromas of ripe melon, strawberry, and citrus that continues generously onto the palate leading to a crisp and dry finish. A good companion to lighter fare, seafood and charcuterie.
La Bastide Blanche Cotes de Provence Cuvee TwoB Rosé 2012 ($20)
Pale pink with purple highlights; intense, fruity, and floral with a rose aroma; fresh, aromatic and round with strawberry and lychee notes. The bright, crisp flavors are long and lingering.
Chateau La Moutete Grande Reserve Provence Rosé 2012 ($20)
Aromas of peach, melon, and citrus. Notes of dry strawberry, tart grapefruit, crisp lychee, with white pepper and racy minerals on the balanced silky finish.
Vicchiomaggio San Jacopo Rosato 2012 ($10)
A 100% Sangiovese Rose with bright strawberry and red berry aromas, well balanced acidity and a lasting, bright, fresh finish. Drinking this delight will make you feel you are on a hilltop in Tuscany looking down on the ripening vineyards.
Domaine Vaquer L'Ephémère Rose 2012 ($23)
Aromas of Wild strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, and fuji apple are mixed with notes of fresh herbs and hint of rose petal. Light, refreshing, and dry on the palate with a good burst of red fruit. Simply delicious! 30% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 30% Carignane.
Lancyre Rose 2012 ($20)
A vibrant style, with concentrated dried berry and melon flavors accented by dashes of pepper. Dried mango and pineapple notes emerge on the rich finish.
Upcoming Wine Events
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, 5:30 - 9:00 p.m.
You are invited to join us for an intimate evening tasting at The Long View Gallery for the opportunity to taste from more than 80 wines from top Rhone Rangers winery members. VIP TICKETS, 5:30-9 PM, includes a selection of appetizers and 3 1/2 hours of tasting, $90 Advance (no day of ticket sales).
GENERAL ADMISSION TICKETS, 7-9 PM, includes 2 hours of tasting, $55 Advance, $65 At the Door (if available).  Go to for tickets.
Friday June 27th, 7:00 p.m. at Bistro Cacao
Join owner/winemaker Rick Davis of Calstar Cellars for a seated five course meal at this exceptional Hill Restaurant. Rick’s Chardonnays and pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley are truly exceptional wines. Call Schneider’s of Capitol Hill for menu and price (202-543-9300).

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