Annual Rose Roundup

The days of rose wines being treated like the seersucker suit of wine are clearly behind us.  No longer are these wines utilized strictly from Memorial Day until Labor Day and then forgotten until the same time the next year.  Even though the vast majority of pink wines are indeed sold and likely consumed by the time the weather cools off, the fact is that roses now see year-round duty at many restaurants and on many retailers' shelves.

A major factor behind the ongoing surge of demand for roses, according to the sommeliers, merchants, importers and producers with whom I talk, is the wines' virtually unparalleled flexibility with food.  While that's an old cliche, like many cliches it's true.  Also playing a role in the current popularity of pink wines is the change in many Americans' eating preferences, which over the last couple of decades have shifter to lighter, spicier food preparations as well as to an increased emphasis on vegetables, pastas and seafood, all of which usually call for lighter, livelier wines.

Keep in mind that there are, roughly speaking, two schools of rose, and they're almost always identifiable by their color.  The lighter, even downright pale, pinker versions are usually made from free-run juice, which is juice pressed quickly off the skins of red grapes, thus only picking up a bit of color.  The darker renditions are almost always made via the saignee method, which means, literally, bleeding off some juice when some color has been extracted from the skins of the grapes but rarely so much as to render the wines a full red color.  These darker versions are often good stand-ins for red wines when the food being served might be overwhelmed by a full-on red but my experience is that they're seldom the best bet for drinking by themselves because of their weight and power.

While the overwhelming majority of outstanding pink wines that I tried this year came, as usual, from France, I was impressed by how many excellent examples are being made elsewhere, especially from U.S. wineries.  In most cases these are wines made from red grapes that generally yield lighter red wines, such as pinot noir, meaning that they're more elegant takes on rose than those made via saignee.  In many cases these wines are made in relatively small quantities and, according to most of the wineries I visit and speak with over the course of the year, the wines often enjoy rabid demand.  So your best bet is to get in touch with the wineries directly to see what you can shake out of them.

Please note that the majority of Spanish rosados will be included in the IWC's upcoming annual report on that country's wines.

Also recommended:  2012 Vina Acquitania Rose Maipo Valley (87), 2012 Amapola Creek Rose Cuvee Sonoma Valley (87), 2012 Fattoria Ambra Vin Ruspo Rosato de Carmignano (85), 2012 Bertani Bertarose Rosato Veneto (87), 2012 Boedecker Cellars Reflection Pinot Noir Rose Willamette Valley (87), 2012 Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap Rose Western Cape (86), 2012 Chateau Bonnet Bordeaux Rose (86), 2012 Eric Bouletin Pichot Roucas Rose Vin de Pays de Mediterranee (87), Vinedos Calcu Rose Colchagua Valley (85), 2012 Castello Monaci Kreos Rosato Salento (87), 2012 Chateau La Canorgue Luberon Rose (86), 2012 Carabella Vineyard Magente Pinot Noir Rose Chehalem Mountains (87), 2012 Castillo de Jumilla Monastrell Rosado Jumilla (86), 2012 Le Cengle Cotes de Provence Rose Vieilles Vignes (87), 2012 Bodegas Cepa 21 Hito Rosado Ribera del Duero (87), 2012 M. Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone Rose (86), 2012 Cline Cellars Mourvedre Rose Contra Costa County (85), 2012 Corte Gardoni Chiaretto Bardolino (87), 2012 Chateau du Donjon Minervois Rose (87), 2012 Estandon Vignerons Cotes de Provence Rose (87), 2012 Finca Museum Vinea Tempranillo Rosado Cigales (86), 2012 Gassier en Provence Mirandou Cotes de Provence Rose (86), 2012 Domaine Grand Rose Floral Cotes du Jura (87), 2012 Chateau du Grand Arc La Tour Fabienne Corbieres Rose (86), 2012 Hecht & Bannier Languedoc Rose (87), 2012 Heitz Cellars Grignolino Rose Napa Valley (87), 2012 Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone Rose (86), 2012 Alain Jaume & Fils Reserve Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone Rose (87), 2012 Vignobles Jeanjean Le Pive Gris IGP Sable de Camargue (87), 2012 Chateau Laulerie Rose Bergerac (86), 2012 Liquid Geography Monastrell Rosado Bulles (87), 2012 Bodega Luigi Bosca Finca La Linda Malbec Rose Lujan de Cuyo (85), 2012 Domaine de Malavieille Charmille Rose IGP Pays d'Oc (86), 2012 Maquis Rose Colchagua Valley (86), 2012 Marchesi Mazzei Rose Belguardo (87), 2012 Les Marennes Sancerre Rose (87), 2012 Azienda Agricola Monchiero Vignola Rosato Langhe (86), 2012 Marques de Caceres Rioja Rosado (85), 2012 Niner Wine Estates Grenache Rose Paso Robles (86), 2012 Penya Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes (85), 2012 Planeta Rose Sicilia (86), 2012 Quivira Vineyards Rose Dry Creek Valley (86), 2012 Recanti Winery Rose Galilee (86), 2012 River Road Vineyard Rose of Pinot Noir Russian River Valley (86), 2012 Domaine de Saint Ser Cuvee Prestige Cotes de Provence Sainte Victoire Rose (86), 2012 Famille Saurel Les Terrasses d'Eole Cotes du Ventoux Rose (86), 2012 Senorio de Sarria Vinedo No. 5 Garnacha Vinas Viejas Navarra (87), 2012 Stella Bella Wines Skuttlebutt Rose Margaret River (86), 2012 Les Vignerons de Tautavel Vingbau Le Cirque Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes (86), 2012 La Vieille Ferme Rose Ventoux (85), 2012 Villa des Anges Old Vines Rose Pays d'Oc (85), 2012 Vina Robles Roseum Huerhuero Paso Robles (87), 2012 VML Wines Rose of Pinot Noir Russian River Valley (87), 2012 Winter's Hill Dry Rose Pinot Noir Dundee Hills (87), 2012 Xavier Flouret Nationale 7 Cotes de Provence Rose (87), 2012 Yalumba Sangiovese Rose South Australia (85), 2012 Zonte's Footstep Scarlet Ladybird Rose Langhorne Creek (87), 2011 Bibi Graetz Casamatta Rose Toscana (87), 2011 Frisk Wines Prickly Grenache Lodi (85), 2011 Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rose Vin de Pays de Mediterranee (86), 2011 Laroche Rose de Chevaliere Pays d'Oc (85), 2011 Vins de Vienne Remeage de Syrah Vin de France (87).  Other wines tasted:  2012 Airfield Estates Vineyard Salute Ruby Rose Yakima Valley, 2012 Coto de Hayas Campo de Borja Garnacha/Cabernet Rosado*, 2012 Las Rocas Rose Calatayud, 2012 Marc Roman Rose Vin de France*, 2012 Monte Clavijo Rosado Rioja*, 2012 Peju Province Syrah Rose Napa Valley*, 2012 Sauvion Rose d'Anjou, 2012 Vermeil Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Rose Luvisi Vineyard Calistoga Napa Valley*.