It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Some people say it’s the winter holidays, but if you ask me, the most wonderful time is the mid- to late spring, when a whole parade of new release rosé wine makes its way onto the retail shelves. Rosé is made from regions all over the world, many from vineyards managed specifically for this particular style of wine. But it is often the byproduct of run-off juice from red wine production, and sometimes from a blend of both red and white wine. In either case, it’s a wine that seamlessly takes on the best characteristics of both red and white wine.
What makes rosé so great? If you ask me, it's diverse range of flavors from crisp and refreshing and to ripe and juicy. And though some may mistake it as being sweet, the best examples of rosé are usually fruity on the nose but dry on the palate. Combining notes of citrus, melon, berries, herbs and much more--rosé can across both boundaries and can pair with anything from sushi to roast chicken to a juicy burger.
Which is what makes it the ultimate secret weapon for any sommelier looking to pair a wine with a wide array of foods. It's a style of wine that fills all the boxes. Intriguing and visually appealing? Check. Offers a broad range of flavors that plays just as well with sautéed mushroom as it does with spring pea risotto? Check. Crisp and refreshing for white wine drinkers, yet complex and structured enough for red wine drinkers? Check. Oh, and easy in the pocketbook? Check check.
You really shouldn't have to spend more than $20 for a great bottle of wine. Look to classic regions like the south of France. But keep your eyes peeled for great selections from Spain, Italy, Chile, Oregon, California, New Zealand, and even Texas. Below are a few of my favorite finds:
2016 Astelia Rosé $16
From the clay and limestone soils of this Mediterranean climate, this wine is made from a typical Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. The wine is aged for 40 days with lees stirring in concrete vats. In the glass, this wine is a pretty pastel pink with notes of rich red fruit including cherry, strawberry and the faintest hint of tropical fruit. On the palate, the wine is light and elegant, smooth and wonderfully fresh. A beautiful patio wine for grilled fish and crudités.
2016 Figuière Magali Rosé, $18
A bright salmon pink in the bottle, this wine is made in an area between Marseille and Nice in vineyards that are just a few hundred meters from the Mediterranean Sea. The freshness in this wine is evident from the first swirl of the glass. A blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is utterly Provençal in style with bright flavors of strawberry, orange peel, and summary white flowers that lead in to a medium-bodied rosé alive with refreshing acidity and a slight salinity from the nearby sea. Enjoy this with crudo of yellowtail with pickled blackberry, lemon and basil.
Tournon Mathilda Rosé, $16
Though grown deep in Australian soils in the Victoria wine region, this wine comes by way of French producer Michel Chapoutier. Made in a classic Provençal style, this wine is true to its Australian roots with broader palate and a distinct weightiness from its warmer climate. Pale in color, this beautiful wine offers aromas of fresh strawberry and pomegranate, raspberry and watermelon hard candy. An ideal match for smoked salmon or grilled fish tacos.
2016 Costadolio Rosato Breganze $15
A very unique wine from the Veneto region of Italy this rose is made from 100% Merlot directly pressed without de-stemming or crushing. Kept at a very low temperature for 24 hours before fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, this wine remains on the lees for three months before being racked and bottled. Light pink, with hints of sunset orange in color this wine is bright and elegant offering floral aromas mingling with notes of summer peach ripe plum and strawberries dusted with confectioner's sugar. Dry and crisp, this wine is medium-bodied with a lifted finish and would pair well with light summer pasta or grilled chicken fajitas.
2016 Leyda Pinot Noir Rosé, $16
Leyda Valley, Chile
Made from 100% Pinot Noir grown just miles from the ocean in the Leyda Valley of Chile, this wine is a beautiful summer companion. Brimming with red fruit aromas of cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and citrus peel, this wine offers a hint of herbaceousness leading to a smooth and slightly creamy palate from seven months on lees and stainless steel tanks. The finish is lengthy and enticing. A perfect wine for charcuterie and cheese.
Pedroncelli Dry Rosé of Zinfandel, $10
From the well-drained rocky soils of the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma, this wine is as bold and fruity as you may expect from a Zinfandel. Beautiful floral aromas rise to meet a parade of supple cherries backed by a hint of spiced orange zest. On the palate, this wine is bigger than some other rosé's, but offers a nimble tartness and fruitiness that lends itself well to enjoying grilled skirt steak and roasted rosemary potatoes.
Jean-Baptiste Adam Brut Rosé, $22
An elegant example of Crémant from the Alsatian region of France, this wine is elegant with notes of rose petal, lemon rind, and raspberry fields. Tart, yet fruity, this wine is bone dry and crisp offering a fruity mid-palate that is lifted by the tickle of fine bubbles. An excellent aperitif wine, or perfect for summer risotto.
2016 Kim Crawford Rosé, $15
Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
From Hawke’s Bay where Bordeaux varietals are more common in New Zealand, this rosé is made from Merlot that is soaked with the skins for three hours at cool temperatures. A lovely shade of rich pink this wine offers aromas of summer forest berries, roses and violets, and a touch of concentrated watermelon. Luscious and inviting on the palate, this is a lovely wine for sipping on the patio, but would also go well as a pairing for grilled shish kebabs
2016 McPherson Cellars Les Copains Dry Rosé, $12
High Plains, Texas
Relying on Southern Rhône grapes, Kim McPherson produced this wine with a blend of Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Grenache. A fare shade of pink, aromas of raspberry cream and lemonade are balanced with a crisp, clean palate that finishes with the faintest hint of sweetness. An excellent pairing for grilled fish or that aforementioned juicy burger.