I didn’t think I would need to start this post with a defense of rosé, but after conducting a little poll on Facebook, I’ve discovered that there are still a handful of you who cringe whenever someone suggests: “drink pink.” Which means our job—rescuing rosé from the cloying clutches of White Zinfandel—is not done. We will not rest until “no way rosé” is a thing of the past.
Rosé is not a supervillain; it’s merely misunderstood, like the nerdy kid in class who turns out to be the next Quentin Tarantino. Contrary to what its detractors might think, most good rosé is not sweet. It’s not red wine for wimps or grannies, and it’s not to be confused with those Jolly Rancher-flavored wine coolers you got drunk on in high school. But if all of these things are what good rosé isn’t, what is rosé?
Simply put, most rosés are generally dry, crisp and acid-driven wines made from red grapes. But whereas red wines get their color and some of their tannins through prolonged contact with the grapes’ skins, rosés spend as little as a few hours and usually not longer than a couple of days on them. The resulting wines range in color—from pale salmon or coral to something reminiscent of Manic Panic’s “New Rose” hair dye—depending on how long they macerate. The juice is then fermented and aged, sometimes in stainless, sometime in oak, sometimes in a combination of the two. (And occasionally rosés are made by adding small amounts of red wine to white, as is done when making rosé Champagne.)
Just like J.K. Rowling does a good impersonation of Greek mythology meets Tolkien, rosé can combine the best aromatic and flavor elements of its source red grape(s) with the refreshing quality of a white wine. And few other wines, however simple or complex, can so quickly transport you. One sip of a good rosé and you’re in the final scenes of Mostly Martha. Another and you are wrapped in the sultry lavender and sea foam scents of Provence. This, I think, is what makes rosé so appealing. And rosés are incredibly versatile, equally at home with sausages from the grill, summer salads and flying solo. (Which is why I’d venture to bet that almost everyone at K&L has at least one rosé on their list of desert island wines.) Even the critics have come around.
Of course, there are good rosés and bad rosés, just like there are good versions of Syrah or Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. The legacy of the aforementioned White Zinfandel, vinous Fun Dip as it were, is a case in point. So here are some of our favorites this season. If you’re still skeptical (or if, like me, you’ll take every opportunity you can get to enjoy rosé), come to one of our rosé tastings this Saturday, July 24th, at K&L San Francisco (noon-3:00 p.m.) or Hollywood (3-6 p.m.).
1998 Lopez de Heredia “Viña Tondonia” Gran Reserva Rosado Rioja ($24.99) This rosé, made from Garnacha, Tempranillo and Viura, isn’t even pink, but the color of summer wheat. It has a nose of butterscotch, almond, honey and lamb that gives way to a palate lush with acidity, cherry pit flavors, sour cherries and apricot.
2009 Saint André de Figuière “Cuvée Magali” Côtes de Provence Rosé ($14.99) A staff favorite in Los Angeles - see Jacques' and Jeremy's reviews - with classic, fuller Provençal character. Strawberry, melon and fresh herb notes with just a hint of minerality.
2009 Domaine du Gros Noré Bandol Rosé ($25.99) Bandol rosés, made entirely from Mourvèdre, are in a class by themselves. And with the famed Domaine Tempier version priced at nearly $40 a bottle, this is a relative steal for its class. Sultry lavender, Mirabelle and Damson plum, cherry and wet stone aromas and flavors makes this rich rosé the perfect accompaniment to garlicky lamb with fresh mint and rosemary from the garden.
2009 Couly Dutheil Chinon Rosé ($14.99) Cab Franc rosé! Don't let this wine's dark pink color scare you, it's completely balanced. Fig and green pepper, flowers and savory herbs, this has great mid-palate richness and excellent texture. Enjoy this with food.
2009 Domaine de la Petite Mairie Bourgueil Rosé ($15.99) Another Cab Franc Loire Valley rosé. Paler than the Dutheil, Petite Mairie is more mineral and floral, with an undercurrent of earth and fresh herbs to complement its citrusy fruit.
2009 Domaine de la Fouquette "Rosée d'Aurore" Côtes de Provence Rosé ($13.99) Musk melon, citrus, nectarine and grapefruit notes complement the Provençal wafts of lavender in this rosé. Slightly saline on the finish. This is quintessential rosé for a song.
2009 Chateau de Peyrassol "Commanderie" Côtes de Provence Rosé ($22.99) Watermelon, honeydew, mineral and red apple notes dominate this classic Provençal rosé. Great acidity; great finish. Try with a tomato and olive salad.
2009 Gurrutxaga Bizkaiko Txakolina Rosé ($19.99) If you liked last week's post on Txakolina then you have to try this Txakolina Rosé. Jalepeño, lime and strawberry aromas are reminiscent of a hot day in Baja. Add a slight fizz and cleansing salinity on the palate and you'll think you're drinking strawberry margaritas on the beach.
We've got more rosés—from Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the U.S.—at KLWines.com.