Rosé is a favourite for the summer, it is light and refreshing. What keeps some people from embracing rosé is the ability to accept anything in pink. As with all types of wine, the mediocre is more abundant than the fine, which is okay if what you are looking for is something alcoholic, chilled, and pink.
But if you love wine and care about what you drink, you can raise your rosé game by seeking out wines that are made with integrity and care. They cost more, yes, $20 to $45, with the occasional even more expensive outlier. But what you get are wines that not only dazzle and refresh, but also welcome contemplation, if you’re in the mood. You would not want to serve these in plastic cups at a lawn party, but they would be perfect with an outdoor dinner. Your cookout guests may even do double-takes before asking for another glass.
Excellent rosés are made all over the world. From California, rosés from Matthiasson, Turley Wine Cellars and Sandlands, just to name a few, are terrific. Shinn Estate Vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island makes a delicious rosé. You can find the occasional great rosé from Spain and Italy.
And Provence, the spiritual home of rosé, produces not only easygoing summer quaffers, but also more serious rosés that can age for quite a few summers. Wines like these seven examples may be difficult to find, but they are well worth the search in retail shops and on restaurant wine lists.
DOMAINE DE TERREBRUNE BANDOL ROSÉ 2013
The rosés of Terrebrune are substantial yet graceful, made with about 60 percent mourvèdre, along with grenache and cinsault. Unlike the operators of many Bandol estates, which harvest their rosé grapes on the early side to preserve freshness, Terrebrune’s proprietor, Reynald Delille, wants very ripe mourvèdre for his rosé. You’d think this would result in weightier wines, but the 2013 is taut and fresh with great minerality. (Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif.)
CHÂTEAU STE. ANNE BANDOL ROSÉ 2014
Both in the vineyards and in the cellar, Ste. Anne works as naturally as possible. Most of the best Bandol producers rely on ambient yeast to ferment their reds, but very few do so for their rosés (preferring to inoculate). But Ste. Anne does. It also, unusually, does not add sulfur to block the so-called malolactic fermentation, in which taut malic acid is transformed into softer lactic acid, adding a bit of sulfur only before bottling. Nonetheless, the rosés are gorgeous, fresh and long-aging. The 2014, available in June, is mostly mourvèdre, with a bit of cinsault and grenache, and is lovely, with mineral and licorice flavors that linger. (Zev Rovine Selections, Brooklyn)
DOMAINE TEMPIER BANDOL ROSÉ 2013
For Daniel Ravier, who manages this famous estate, rosé is a balancing act. “You want richness, but not fat,” he said. “You want structure, but not tannins or too much acidity. You want aromas, but not too much color.” Indeed, the thrill of good rosé is in the balance, and Tempier’s rosés walk a fine line. After a year of age, the 2013, 55 percent mourvèdre, with grenache and cinsault, is savory, with the characteristic mourvèdre flavor of licorice and an underlying mineral flavor, yet still fresh and zesty. (Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant)
CHÂTEAU SIMONE PALETTE ROSÉ 2013
Unlike most Provençal rosés, which rival one another to see how pale they can be, Simone’s is a vibrant cherry color. It’s intended for aging; the proprietor, Jean-François Rougier, said that it is best at five or six years old. It is made primarily of grenache and mourvèdre, with smaller percentages of cinsault, syrah and carignan, and aged in large barrels. The ’13 is pure, substantial and deep, with light berry flavors and great finesse. “You should not drink it too cold,” Mr. Rougier said. (Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York)
CHÂTEAU DE PIBARNON BANDOL ROSÉ 2014
The Pibarnon rosé is about 60 to 65 percent mourvèdre, with the remainder cinsault. Unlike most Bandol producers, Eric de Saint-Victor, the proprietor, prefers not to use grenache, which he said would add too much fruit and alcohol to to rosé. Pibarnon’s unusual terroir, a combination of blue marl and limestone, yields a wine that is powerful yet graceful. The 2014 offers chalky licorice and saline flavors with a refreshing bitterness. Mr. de Saint-Victor recommends Mediterranean dishes, particularly rouget or sea urchin. (Skurnik Wines, New York)
CHÂTEAU PRADEAUX BANDOL ROSÉ 2014
I love Pradeaux, which clings determinedly to its old-school ways. As with its monumental Bandol rouge, Pradeaux does not remove its grape stems for rosé, adding structure and complexity. “We produce rosé to be a gastronomic wine, not just an easy wine,” said Étienne Portalis, whose family traces its stewardship of the estate back to 1752. The ’14, 70 percent mourvèdre, is rich with licorice and mineral flavors, long and deep yet fresh and refreshing. A delight. (Rosenthal Wine Merchant)
CLOS STE. MAGDELEINE CASSIS ROSÉ 2013
With terraced hillside vineyards adjoining the Parc National des Calanques, and an Art Deco manor house abutting the Mediterranean, Clos Ste. Magdeleine is one of the most idyllic estates I’ve visited. Its wines are pretty wonderful, too. The rosés are quite different from those of Bandol and Palette. They’re more delicate and won’t age as long, but they are not ephemeral, either. The 2013, made with 40 percent each of grenache and cinsault, with 20 percent mourvèdre, is light, pale and fresh with a surprising salty edge. Look for the 2014; it’s even better. (Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant)
By The New York Times