A Rosé, is a Rosé, is a Rosé: Or Perhaps Not

A Rosé, is a Rosé, is a Rosé:  Or Perhaps Not

Recently we had a few friends over and decided to do a Rosé wine tasting, selecting several from around the world, including the USA. We wanted to see what the differences were and if anyone liked them, and what they thought about their taste. According to Fox News, Rosé wine lovers have increased in number in recent years. In fact:

“Rosé sales “have been growing steadily for the past 10 years, and Provençal rosé has been the driver,” says Eric Hemer, senior vice president and director of wine education at Southern Wine & Spirits, the largest wine and spirits distributor in the U.S. Provence is considered the birthplace of rosé, and Provençal rosé essentially sets the bar for all the other rosés in the world.”

Rosé should not be confused with White Zinfandel, which was first made and produced by Sutter Home Winery in California, in the late 1970s. In order to make this type of wine, according to the same article, they:

“….would bleed off some juice to concentrate the aromas and flavors of its finished red zinfandel, and rather than discard the excess, it fermented the juice into the pinkish-white, sweet wine that millions of Americans loved in the 1980s. Sugar levels were kept high to please the palate and to mask flaws in the finished wine. This also allowed for looser production standards. White zinfandel has the same pink color as Provençal rosé, but that’s where the similarities end.”

Knowing all of this, I recently, seemingly like everyone else, have discovered that I like some of these pink hued wines. I will admit, I don’t like them as much as my deep, luscious reds but these wines do have a time and place where they are most welcome.   Not to mention several of the Rosé wines we tasted were also delicious served in a particular sangria. We here at the our house like to stir up, on occasion, this concoction which uses roughly ½ a bottle of wine, one half cup of St. Germain liqueur, pictured below, and the better part of a can of diet Sprite, poured over ice, and fresh summer fruit:

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You can also find a cheaper version of this fancy, Elderflower stuff at the liquor store, which I think is just as good, if not better.

Back to our delicious Rosé wines, they are quite good and satisfying served with lighter foods and appetizers. They are a great summer, patio wine, served well chilled.

You may wonder why Rosé wines have that lovely pink color. To make a red wine, winemakers use some of the grape, including the skin and stems, which gives the wine the darker color. As for white wines, they are made by pressing the grapes, fermenting the juice, which leaves the color of the wine light and clear. When making the Rosé wines, the French typically use a combination of grapes including grenache, syrah, rolle, cinsault, and mourvèdre. The pink comes from a short period of time during which the grape juice and grape skins are in contact (usually just a few hours will produce the rose color of the fermented juice). The French typically produce food-friendly, dry Rosé wines. These wines seem to have recently gained popularity, probably due to US visitors to the south of France who have, in recent years, discovered it there. The trend toward drinking them here in the US seems to have begun in the hoity Hamptons and the nightclubs of Miami. It is likely US visitors discovered the ever so popular Whispering Angel Rosé, produced in France, and brought their desire for it back here to the USA. Here is a fascinating little background on this wine according to Fox News:

“Whispering Angel is a rosé from Chateau d’Esclans, a Provençal estate owned by Sacha Lichine, son of the Bordeaux legend Alexis Lichine. When his father died, Sacha sold his family’s holdings in Bordeaux and executed an ingenious, if somewhat surprising, plan to make his mark with rosé. Much as Andy Warhol elevated the Campbell’s soup can into fine art, Lichine’s chateau elevated rosé, a simple, uncomplicated, everyday wine, to cult status. He enlisted world-renowned winemaker Patrick Léon, the man behind such wines as Opus One and Almaviva, to create the chateau’s four wines.  Whispering Angel is the introductory wine of the portfolio, which culminates in Garrus, an artfully vinified, oak-aged rosé made from the fruit of 80-year-old vines. It is made in very small quantities and comes with a price tag to match: around $100 a bottle … if you can find it.”

That quote may be true for some bottles but I found several bottles at Costco for just over $16, just saying. I have not tasted it so I am not sure it is worth the cost when there are so many other types of Rosé available worldwide.

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So the “discovery” of this trendy Rosé by US vistors to France resulted in a growing appetite for such wines Stateside. In the past several years, vintners are cashing in on the new trend and producing their own versions of this juicy, pink wine.

The first US Rosé to be femented, according to VF Style, was Wölffer Estate’s. Produced in Long Island in 1992 (also apparently known as “Hamptons Gatorade”), in a batch of just 82 cases, it was not nearly enough to supply the area’s “Gatsby-type” parties. Now they produce up to 22,000 cases annually. Clearly this pink party wine is a hit! And its popularity continues to grow.

Being in some awe and developing a personal curiosity about this type of wine, I decided to host a tasting to include a wide range of Rosé wines, produced around the world; within which were a few homegrown, US Rosés. I had a small group of tasters over to see what other people could discern and discover about this new, trendy type of wine.

Below is a list of the wines we selected and tasted. They range in price from $8.99 to $16.00, which I think is fairly reasonable.

Here is the line up, which includes multiple, personal comments from our friendly tasters (types of grapes included where possible):

2015 Wessex Hundred Rosé, USA (Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc, Traminette blend), Williamsburg VA, $16.00: Fruity, great color; light and summer wine; tart, harsh at the end, smells great!

Fontanyl Rosé de Provence Blush wine (Rhone Blend), $14.99: Smells of apple; subtle flavor, little color; refreshing, don’t love it; crisp; fizzy, crisp and light; not sweet, good summer wine.

Dom Loubejac Rosé Oregon Willamette Valley USA (Rosé Blend), $14.99: dry strawberry flavor; strong; dry and crisp; pure strawberry, dry, upbeat and lively; dry.

Nostrada Rosé Tarragona, Taragona 2012, Spain (Tempranill0), $8.99: Smooth and good; smells like gas (hmmmmm, gross); funky but good; dark pink; flabby and funky; unpleasant smell (it did not help that the review we read aloud prior to the taste said that it tasted like kissing a Spaniard in a bar who had been smoking and said to pair it with cured pork products…reading reviews prior to the sampling can taint the tasters’ thoughts and opinions, not to mention emotions).

Spier Rosé, Western Cape, South Africa 2010 (Pilotage), $9.99: Too sharp; no comment; a bit bitter and do not like smell or pale color; very flavorful; yum; delicious and light; crisp and good; refreshing!

Gazela Rosé, Portugal (Red blend), $8.99: Fruity and fizzy; very fizzy with not much flavor; fizzy, sweet with good strawberry flavors; fruity and fizzy; good taste; fizzy and slightly sweet; fruity, sparkling and very good.

Terre Di Talamo Piano, Tuscany, Italy, 2013,(Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon) $14.99: Terrible; smells bad; okay and not that sweet; frowny face; NO; sour; fizzy and dry; assaulting smell but delicate taste (that was rough, eh?)

Maipe Malbec Rosé, 2015 (100% Malbec), $12.99: Don’t like; much more body than the others and a bit sweeter; good color, bouquet, good taste; bits of flavor; my favorite so far; no; everything I love about Rosé; more like a red; dislike; don’t like.

Jaqueline Leonne Sparkling Rosé, New Mexico, USA, (100% Pinot Noir), $14.99: Light and fizzy; too many bubbles; great bottle label and quite like a Prosecco or Spumante; super fizzy; no; best taste of all; extremely fizzy; lovely color and almost too fizzy; bubbly; liked it and it was fizzy.

Well, as you can clearly see, tasting Rosé is much like picking paint colors for your walls; it’s largely that the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Each person had a different response to each of the wines, for the most part. The versatility and difference of each Rosé, whereever it was produced and from whichever grape or grapes it has been produced, is vast. Seems to me that Rosés are the Wild West of wines, at this point in time. Anything goes and any grape goes into them! So my suggestion is get out there and try them all. Honestly, I love Sofia Rosé which, though not included in the above tasting, can be purchased from Costco for about $13.00, produced by Francis Coppola. It is crisp, not too sweet, a gorgeous magenta color, and yummy. It also makes a mean sangria.

So thank you to all my fellow tasters and your great grape comments….we will do it again perhaps perusing a different grape or wine blend!  Cheers!

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2 thoughts on “A Rosé, is a Rosé, is a Rosé: Or Perhaps Not

  1. Kim Perkins

    Nice information and great article.

    1. Laurie

      Thanks so much, Kim!

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