Rosé Wines

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.  European rosé has been in the news of late as the European Union passed, and than dropped legislation to allow for white wines blended with a little red to be called rosé. 

There are three basic ways that rosé is made.  The finest Rosé 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 know as Saignée.  In this method, the winemaker “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, as mentioned earlier, 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.  With few exceptions, rosé should be drunk as young as possible.  They are prized for their fresh fruit aromas and flavors.  The 2008’s are now on the market and will offer delightful drinking over the next year or two.  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 Thirteenth 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.

Below are my current favorite rosés

1) Bargemone Provence Rosé 2012  $17.99: Tart and dry grapefruit, white peach, and strawberry, with white flowers on the nose.

2) Lancyre Rosé 2012 $19.99: Bright berry and melon flavors with accents of pepper; Dried mango and pineapple on the finish.

3) Bastide Blanche Two B Provence Rosé 2012 $14.99: Tart, bright and fruity with strawberry and lychee notes, and hints of sea salt on the finish.

4) Chapelle Gordonne Cotes du Provence Rosé 2012 $29.99: Tart dry strawberry, peach, and grapefruit with floral notes and pepper on the finish.

5) Melipal Malbec Rosé 2012 $13.99: Bright plum fruit with some tart blueberry notes and pepper on the finish. 

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