The Rosé Invasion
by James Russo
So I’m sure by now if you’ve had the opportunity to visit your local wine store you’ve noticed the absolute sea of Rosé wines that have permeated the shelves. How far we’ve come since the Sutter Home and Beringer White Zinfandel days!
These lovely warm weather sippers are coming from all corners of the globe. The largest predominance comes from France and California. However Italy, Spain, New Zealand and Washington State are producing their fair share as well.
Rose wines get their beautiful color from a shortened grape skin (Red Grapes) contact with the juice during the fermentation process. Basically Rosé is made exactly like red wine, but the juice from the grapes doesn’t sit in contact with the skins for as long. The skins give the red wine its dark color; that’s where the pigment is. After crushing the grapes, the liquids and the solids are in contact with each other (process is called Maceration). The longer Maceration occurs, the darker the color. For a Rosé wine that’s only a matter of hours. Also, Rosés Macerate at lower temperatures to preserve the delicate fruit flavors.
The multitude of grapes used these days will determine the flavor profile of the wine. I’ve outlined a few regions to let you know what to look for:
- Cotes de Provence – These amazing Rosé wines can be produced with a broad range of grapes including: Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault to name a few. They tend to be a bit dryer and have wonderful floral notes.
- California – These Rosé wines are mostly made from Cabernet, Pinot Noir or Merlot blends. Tend to be a bit fuller bodied and sweeter than French Roses. More fruit forward as well.
- Washington State/Oregon – Amazing Pinot Noir Roses are being produced here. Again good forward fruit, medium bodied and a bit Sweeter.
I recently attended a wine show called “La Nuit de Rosé ”. This show was held on the Hornblower yacht NYC in May. It was very well attended too. The nature of the show allowed me to sample Rosé wines from all over the world. Dozens of producers were in attendance. A very broad range of Rosés where displayed. One of particular note that proved to be interesting was a new brand called “ Rosé Piscine”. It is made from the Negrette grape and had a wonderful aroma/flavor of Lychee and white flowers. According to the brand manager, it is the first Rose specifically designed to be served on the rocks. I was hesitant to try it as I don’t usually like my wine with ice. However, it proved to be a very refreshing way to drink this Rose. I highly recommended giving it a try.
Brands that I sampled and recommend include:
- French – Domaines Ott, Mirval (Both on the pricier side), Minuty, Chateau de Roquefort, Mirabeau and Rosé Piscine (For something unique, try it over ice).
- American – Sofia Coppola, Belharra, Heitz (Grignolino Rose).
- Italian – Maculan Costadolio Rosato, Dal Cero, ” Alie” from Frescobaldi.
One last point. Rosé wine is meant to be consumed young. It is not aged and doesn’t benefit from cellaring. This is part of the reason that Rosé is light and refreshing. As the weather is now warmer, may I suggest visiting your local wine shop and sampling what the 2016 Vintage has to offer.
James Russo is a 20+ year accomplished veteran of the Wine industry. He has worked for and represented such amazing wine companies as: Francis Ford Coppola Winery/Rubicon Estate, Robert Mondavi Winery, Frescobaldi, Ornellaia, Sonoma Cutrer and Banfi Estates. To name just a very few. James goes by the title “Wine Escoffier”. Combining his love of wine and food to bring out the best in in all components. He has guest lectured and trained countless service staff on his wineries. He welcomes your input and questions regarding wine.