Premium Rosé: Now a Year-Round Favorite
Recommendations from Provence and the USA
Dry rosé wines are produced all around the world in many wine regions using countless varieties of red grapes. Historically, a summer patio or outdoor café in Provence were the places to find rosé drinkers. Now, they are a year-round favorite.
Rosé wines have been the fastest growing category of wine consumption in the last few years with the number of rosé wine brands multiplying. What is not to like? Savoring the flavors and aromas of red grapes in a chilled glass at any time of the year is my idea of a great happy hour. Moreover, a rose’ wine is also a nice Thanksgiving choice when paired with the typical Thanksgiving meal dishes.
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The Benchmark for Rosé: Provence, France
The most well-known rosé wine brands come from Provence in the South of France. Provence rosé history goes back to the Romans invading Gaul (France) in the first century BCE. Some of the early rosé wines were called “claret” for having such a clear red/pink color.
In the 19th century, tourists started to flock to the Cote d’Azur to go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, relaxing on the beautiful beaches with a chilled glass of rosé. These local wines became a symbol of glamour, leisure, and summer, now enjoyed around the year.
A wine like Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel is an example against which many people measure other rosé wine brands. Whispering Angel is the #1 selling imported wine from France with a production of 3.2M bottles. It is probably the greatest wine brand to come out of France in 20 years. The pale color comes from just a touch of red grape skin contact. Find this wine:
Whispering Angel is made from the grapes of Rolle (Vermentino) along with Grenache and Cinsault, all well-known grapes in the South of France. Since Rolle or Vermentino are white grapes, this rosé can also be classified as being a blend of red and white grapes. The Rolle give Whispering Angel a nice touch of floral pizazz. Whispering Angel has an even more expensive, prestigious sister: Garrus. This wine is made of Grenache grapes that are aged 12 months in French oak barrels. It is an ultra-premium wine selling for $125 to $130 and may be one of the most expensive non-sparkling dry rosé wines in the world. Find: 2019 Chateau d’Esclans Garrus Rose.
2022 Rosé – Found Everywhere
Today’s rosé pairs well with so many foods ranging from light cheeses and seafood to grilled meats and hamburgers. Rosé hails from most every winemaking region of the globe including Italy, France, South America, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Germany, and the US.
The USA and Rosé
The USA now makes world-class rosés wines. USA winemaking is distinctive in the fact that each of the wine regions has the freedom to make the rosé wine it wants to make. They also can select the combination of any grapes they want to use. “Old World” winemaking regions in Europe do not always have this choice, as laws regulating the best wine regions are explicit in the style and blend required. Let’s take a look at some favorite USA rose wines.
You may remember Kyle MacLachlan as the dentist next door in the television show “Desperate Housewives” or Special Agent Dale Cooper in “Twin Peaks” -- two of his many acting highlights. He also owns the winery, Pursued by Bear, located in the Columbia Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) of Washington State.
This wine is similar to a Provence-style rose. It has the same pale pink color as Whispering Angel, yet the grapes are grown in Columbia Valley, Washington. The wine is made with the “Direct Press” method. The grape blend consists of 50% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache, 20% Cinsault. Nectarine and pink grapefruit come through distinctly in both aroma and flavor. 2021 Blushing Bear, pursued by bear, Walla Walla Valley, is a really well-made wine that retails for $28, and was recently highly rated at 90 points by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
When traveling to Washington State near Seattle, try to visit the town of Woodinville that features 130 tasting rooms and wine bars. This town is located a convenient 26 miles from Seattle and offers an opportunity to sample many Washington wines made in far-flung areas of the state without extensive travel required.
American Viticultural Area’s, or AVA’s, are scattered throughout the State of Texas. Note that 85% of the grapes grown in Texas are grown in the High Plains AVA near Lubbock, Texas, an optimal area for wine grape growing. The Llano Estacado plateau’s altitude ranges from 3300 to 3700 feet covering about 8 million acres. Sunlight prevails during the day at this elevation, promoting very efficient photosynthesis. This elevation allows the grapes to rest and cool off better at night than in other areas of Texas. See “Live from Texas High Plains: Where the Grapes are Grown.”
Bending Branch and its founder, Dr. Bob Young, MD, have been frequent subjects of my newsletters for both the high quality of their wines, numerous awards (2021 San Antonio Express-News Readers Choice Best Winery), and the healthy aspect of the antioxidants in their wine. See newsletter: Have a Healthy wine: Bending Branch Winery, Comfort, Texas: An Interview with Dr. Bob Young, MD. Dr. Bob and his team crafted a sparkling rosé, 2021 Branch Tannat Frizzante Rosé, which is fruiting and softly effervescent. At $25 this is a great rosé for celebrations. The wine is made of the Texas version of a Mediterranean grape, Tannat.
Napa Valley, California
The Napa Valley is the USA’s most famous wine region. The billboard in front of the Robert Mondavi vineyards declares: “Welcome to this world-famous wine growing region - Napa Valley.” “And the wine is bottled poetry,” quotes Robert Lewis Stevenson, who spent his honeymoon in the Napa Valley. 3.85 million annual tourists watch for this sign as they travel north on Napa Valley’s busy Highway 29 seeking their next wine tasting location, including numerous rosé wines.
Winemaker Laura Diaz Munoz is well known for crafting the Ehlers rosé wine. The beautiful Ehlers estate is located on Highway 29, just east of St. Helena and the Culinary Institute of America. Visit this historic site, a food and wine-lovers paradise, and a fine place to explore a kitchen store to find cookbooks, kitchen utensils, and handcrafted chocolates. It is one of my alma maters.
Ehlers Estate has been crafting dry rosé for longer than most wineries in the Napa Valley. This rosé is a blend of Napa Valley red grape varietals including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc; it is a bold and flavorful rosé. The wine retails for $38, a bargain for the quality of this wine. 2021 “Sylviane” Rosé is scented with aromas of strawberry jam and vanilla. Ehlers Estate remains one of my favorite rosé wine brands over the last decade.
Winemaker Elizabeth Vianna sent me this bottle of rose’ because she knows that I’m a big fan of her winemaking style. Chimney Rock Winery is located in Napa Valley on the Silverado Trail in the Stags Leap AVA, one of the most prestigious AVA’s in Napa Valley. Her 2020 Elevage Rosé is a red grape blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc grape varietals. This wine retails for $42, but it is an outstanding rosé worth every penny in my book. Strawberries, cherries, and white peach with floral notes make this wine exceptional.
Stop by Chimney Rock and also try its “Elevage White,” another unique blend of white grape varietal grapes, and of course sample the fabulous Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignons and Red Blends as well. This may rank as one of my favorite wineries to visit for a thorough tasting of the best that Napa Valley has to offer.
New York State
The Finger Lakes country in upstate New York near Ithaca is one of the oldest American wine regions. This area is well known for its Riesling white wine, and now is enjoying success with rosé wine brands and even red wine blends. Even though this region is in a far North latitude of the USA, the lakes temper the climate, and the warmth allows serious wine grapes to grow.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery is one of the most awarded wineries in New York State and the world. In 1957 the founder, Dr. Konstantin Frank, was credited with planting the first vinifera (European wine grape) vines in the Eastern United States, changing the course of winemaking in New York. Fred Frank and Meaghan Frank represent the new generations who lead winemaking and production there. Wine & Spirits Magazine named the winery one of the world’s “top 100 Winery of 2019.” See my interview, The First Lady of New York Wineries – Meaghan Frank. The Konstantin Frank 2021 Dry Rosé is $17 and made from a delicious blend of Merlot and Cabernets, producing a wine that can stand up to hearty dishes.
A wine made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes comes from the beautiful Willamette Valley, an AVA in Oregon just south of Portland. See my previous Wine Wanderings newsletters: Touring Willamette Valley Wine Country and Thanksgiving Perfection: A Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. The Stoller Family Estate rosé wine brand has been a cornerstone of the Stoller production for more than a decade. Melissa Burr, Vice President of Winemaking, was an early rosé winemaker in the Willamette Valley. She makes her 2021 Stoller Pinot Noir Rosé from 100% Pinot Noir grapes that feature the tastes and aromas of the local Rainier cherries and strawberries. The Stoller Family Estate rosé would pair well with a blue cheese, walnut, or strawberry salad. At $28 retail this is a beautiful, high-quality wine.
USA Premium rosé wine blends offer the quality France’s Provence wines. USA rosé wines offer a choice of style and intensity thanks to the innumerable grape varietals used to make rosé in the USA. I recommend that you select your favorite rosé wine drink it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and around the year. Better yet, travel to one of these picturesque wineries, savor the scenery, and toast a well-made rosé wine. Cheers to the Pink!
2021 Whispering Angel Rosé, Provence, France, $25
James Suckling, 92 Points
Wine Enthusiast, 93 Points
2021 Blushing Bear, pursued by bear, Walla Walla Valley, Washington, $28
Wine Enthusiast, 90 Points
2021 Bending Branch Tannat Frizzante Rosé, Texas Hill Country, Texas $25
San Antonio Express-News, Readers’ Choice, Best winery 2021
2021 Ehlers Estate, Sylviane Rosé, St. Helena AVA, Napa Valley, California, $38
Silver Award, Sommeliers Choice Awards
2020 Chimney Rock Elevage Rosé, Stags Leap, Napa Valley, California, $42
Vivino, 4.4 of 5 rating
2021 Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Rosé, Finger Lakes, New York, $17
KWG score, 90 Points
2021 Stoller Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, Oregon $28
2020 was rated by James Suckling, 90 Points
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