What an incredibly strange year that we’ve been having here in the Northeast. Typically I would be thinking non-stop about Rosé throughout the entire month of May. However, here we are halfway through June and I have only just started to scratch the surface of the 2016’s that we have in the shop. Who could blame me for my tardiness, as the weather here has been more like late October than early June. Fear not, with the middle of last week came the sudden rise in temperatures which evokes the desire for pink. Granted, I’m a huge believer that Rosé should be enjoyed throughout the entire year, but you can’t deny that when the thermometer reads ninety, that nothing really puts you in the right state of mind better than a glass of Rosé.
With this in mind, I figured it was not only time to share some of my favorites, but to also provide some of my insights on the category, because if you haven’t realized it yet, the popularity of Rosé has gone through the roof.
With each passing year we have seen this sudden surge, but the 2016 vintage seems to have confirmed just how popular Rosé has become. From within the industry, this can be seen by how early Rosé is being offered by distributors, and often without the opportunity to taste before buying. The kneejerk reaction would be to wait until the wines arrive. However, we can’t do that, because Rosé has now become an allocated item, and if you wait, then you’ll miss it. This change in the way retailers can buy Rosé places much more importance on the quality and track record of producers.
From the consumer standpoint, it means buying deeper at the beginning of the season, because that Rosé that you love in June will be gone by July. You might think that we’re talking about a highly allocated Grand Cru Burgundy here, not a bottle of pink–but that’s exactly what’s happened. Production of Rosé is through the roof, and nearly every region around the world is producing it. Not only that, nearly every producer around the world is considering making it, which is a pretty exciting concept.
This huge increase in production may have you wondering what will happen with all of that leftover Rosé at the end of season, because it can’t all be consumed…. Right? This bring me to another big change in the way Rosé is perceived, and that is how Rosé can age in bottle. You heard me right, as it’s no longer a crime to forget a case from one season to open next year, because many (but not all) of the wines hitting the market may actually improve in a proper cellar. There was a time when only a few regions, such as the Bandol, could claim to produce Rosé with the ability to improve over time, but now we are seeing it all over the world. Granted, there is still plenty of fresh and fruity Rosé being produced that really should be drank upon release, but if you find your favorite Rosé to be complex and a bit more thought provoking that a poolside sipper, then i urge you to lose a bottle in your cellar and see what happens. The fact is that you might find more enjoyment from a selection of 2015’s, than from moving on to the current vintage.
Then there’s Provence, which is largely responsible for the dramatic increase in Rosé production. The fact is that the American public has completely fell head-over-heels in love with Provencal Rosé. We can’t seem to get enough of it, and many of us won’t even look beyond the region for their annual stock of Pink. The pale salmon color of Provence Rosé has also started to form certain biases with consumers who have gotten it into their heads that this is the correct color for Rosé, and that all others are in some way inferior. I’ve even had customers turn down recommendations based on deeper reds and more vibrant hues.
If I communicate nothing else to you in the blog post, please have your one take away be that Rosé does not need to pale pink to be good. In fact, much of the world’s best Rosé outside of Provence would have to be altered in order to resemble the same color. One wine that comes to mind is also one of my top Rosé wines of the year, the Tiberio Cerasuolo, which has a color so deep that it could be mistaken for red wine in a dark setting. In the case of the Cerasuolo, it’s the naturally deep pigmentation of the Montepulciano grape that imparts its color during a very brief (one hour long) maceration. If you are passing up on wines such as these, then you are missing out on some of the world’s greatest Rosés. And for those of you looking to experiment with aging one or more of these wines for future seasons, the Tiberio Cerasuolo is a perfect candidate.
I’d like to be clear that I have no issue with Provence and truly love the wines being produced in this region today, but one problem that has arisen with the drastic increase of production, is also the drastic increase in substandard wine being produced. As I said before, stay with the producers you know, or go by the glowing recommendations of your trusted retailer. But if you are like me, and want to experiment, then the world is open to you. All throughout Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain, Sancerre, Bandol, California and even the Finger lakes, you will find an amazing assortment of Rose–and I recommend trying as many as possible.
Below, I’ve included some of my personal favorites from the last few weeks.
On to the tasting notes
2016 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Rosé – The nose showed a subtle, yet wonderful refreshing mix of sweet cream, strawberry, spring flowers, watermelon and a hint of ginger and spice. On the palate, I found medium-bodied textures, weighty than you might think yet perfectly balanced, with ripe green melon, granny smith apple, and a pop of zesty citrus-driven acidity. The finish was long with a zing of acid, high-toned minerality, hints of ginger and green apple. (92+ points)
2016 Tiberio Montepulciano Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo – The ’16 Tiberio Cerasuolo provided unexpected depth and minerality on the nose, showing strawberry, raspberry, wild flowers, chalk dust and crushed stone. On the palate, I found lifted textures, yet with contrasting cherry fruit that saturated the senses and provided grip, while brisk acidity with hints of blood orange maintained an amazingly fresh experience. It finished with a twang of tart red berry and hints of herbs, yet remarkably fresh. Wow! (92 points)
2016 Rosa del Golfo Rosato Salento IGT – Don’t let the color fool you, this is about as serious as Rosé gets, and don’t feel bad about forgetting a few bottles In the cellar for next season either, because there’s a lot going on here under the hood. The bouquet was wonderfully fresh with dried strawberry and raspberry tones, savory herbs and lifting crushed stone minerality. On the palate I found dense, concentrated and center-focused strawberry and candied cherry with zesty acids adding flesh and form as hints of salinity and herbs developed. It finished long with a pop of dried raspberry and sour cherry. So unique and wonderfully unexpected. (92 points)
2016 Gérard Boulay Sancerre Rosé – The nose was remarkably fresh and vibrant with strawberry, a spritz of lemon citrus, crisp green apple, rosy florals and minerals. On the palate, I found a zesty, savory blend of young peach, citrus rind, and brisk acidity. It finish with a tart twang of saturating citrus, apple and minerals. This is literally cheek puckering and begs you to take another with each tip of the glass. (91 points)
2016 Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rosé – The nose showed citrus-tinged rosy floral tones with crisp green apple, hints of fresh herbs and ginger. On the palate, I found a balanced and soft expression, displaying medium-bodied textures with notes of young cherry, strawberry and ripe apple which were carried on a core of brisk acidity. It finished clean and harmonious with inner floral tones and a lasting sensation of cheek puckering green apple. (91 points)
2016 Bonny Doon Vineyards Vin Gris de Cigare – What an impressive showing from the ‘16 Vin Gris de Cigare. Produced from Grenache, Carignane, and Mourvedre along with a portion of white Rhone varieties. The nose was gorgeous and with ripe strawberry, plum, and roses. On the palate, I found a soft and inviting display of sweet cream offset by citrus rind and zesty acids, ripe strawberry and red inner floral tones. It finish long with a saturating mix of fruit, citrus and a zing of brisk acidity. Yum! (90 points)
2016 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Rosé de Pinot-Noir – The nose was pleasantly sweet and fresh with notes of ripe green melon, strawberries in cream, spring flowers, and a spritz of lime. On the palate, I found zesty, soft textures as the combination of tart red berry, young strawberry and citrusy acidity mixed to create a vibrant display. It finished long with minerals and green citrus tones saturating the senses and creating a mouth-watering finale. (89 points)
2016 Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Rosé – The nose showed fresh cherry, young peach, and a hint of mango. On the palate, I found soft textures with a pop of bright acidity as notes of ripe cherry and slight herbal tones filled the senses. It finished on bright cherry and ripe green melon tones. It goes down very easy. I wouldn’t try to overthink this, simply enjoy it! (89 points)
Beyond Your Usual Rosé
I spoke earlier about a Rosé that you can put in the cellar, and here it is. Chateau Simone is renowned for their white wine and Rosé, both of which mature beautifully. At this young stage the current release 2015 is almost impossible to resist, yet experience tells us to lose a few in the cellar and reap the benefits down the road. The Simone is a Provencal Rosé made from a mix of varieties, but mainly Grenache and Mourvedre. If you’re looking to expand your palate and excite your senses, then this is a wine that you must try.
Chateau Simone Palette Rosé 2015 – The nose showed an incredibly fresh display of ripe strawberries, cherries, sweet florals, hints of undergrowth and crushed stone minerality. On the palate I found soft, silky textures with ripe cherry, strawberry, and sweet inner florals. Red berry fruit concentration wrapped around the senses with a core of acidity that saturated the palate. It finished long and fresh with resonating acids and fresh berry tones. As good as this is now, I can also imagine it will age remarkably well. (93 points)
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, check out the 2015 Radikon Pinot Grigio. “That’s can’t be Rosé?” you say. But you’d be hard pressed to call this anything when the glass is in front of you. It also happens to be one of the most unique and interesting wines I’ve tasted this year.
2015 Radikon Pinot Grigio – Going into the ’15 Radikon Pinot Grigio with past experience, I wasn’t surprised by it’s Rose like color, but what did surprise me was the exotic bouquet of spiced orange, ripe green melon, Chinese five spice, crushed strawberry and grapefruit. On the palate, I found unbelievably weighty textures–I’m thinking nectar–with a twang of citrus rind that brought it all into sharp focus, followed by notes of green apple, melon and nectarine. The finish was long with a sweet and sour sensation presented by it’s mix of both ripe tropical and tart citrus fruits. This is crazy juice. (92+ points)
Where to find and who to thank
The Rosé selection at Morrell Wine & Spirits
Read Eric’s focus piece on Tiberio
Read more about Gerard Boulay
Read more about Chateau Simone
Visit the Lucien Chrochet website
Visit the Hermann J. Wiemer website
Visit the Radikon website