The Wilder Side of Rosé: New Types of Pink to Drink This Summer
This year’s “drink pink” season, which starts officially on Memorial Day weekend, is ushering in a host of new trends, making clear we’re nowhere near peak rosé yet. Are you rejoicing–or rolling your eyes?
I’m a fan of some, but not all, of the new developments. Rosé from a can? Well, maybe on a hike up New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington. A 40-ounce bottle of rosé? If I want to go big, I’d rather splurge on a top-end magnum, which holds even more.
The new trend that really perks me up is the rise of rich, exotic rosés from unfamiliar and unexpected grapes and lesser-known corners of France, Italy, Spain, and the New World.
These are the antidotes to pale-tinged, weak-flavored “summer water,” the new nickname for rosé. They’re for people who want pink wine with muscle. They come with a depth and character ideal for barbecue or grilled steaks under a sky of stars. They’re not quaffers to knock back all afternoon at the beach, under a hot sun.
Rosé From All Quarters
The rosé world is vaster than most people realize, with colors and styles that go way beyond the deservedly popular wines from Provence. Their St. Tropez appeal have inspired hundreds of pale copies, and the numbers tell you why: Sales of Provençal rosés grew 55 percent from summer 2015 to summer 2016, and show no sign of slowing down. (These rosés are made from the juice of several red grapes, from grenache to tibouren, and the hue depends on whether—or how long—the pressed juice stays in contact with the dark skins. Winemakers can let the juice and crushed grapes macerate for only a few hours to preserve that super-pale pink color.)
But now people—and restaurants—are developing a thirst for the kind of rosés with darker hues that can anchor a meal. Italy has a long tradition of rosato wines in bigger styles, such as the cerasuolos of Abruzzo and the pink wines of Sicily and Puglia. Ditto Spain’s famous red wine regions, such as Rioja, where rosado is made from tempranillo grapes, and sometimes graciano. The great estate Contino is releasing a very hard-to-find $40 rosé that almost feels like a light red.
In France and California, winemakers are trying out richer styles by looking to a wider variety of red grapes such as Spanish/French carignane and Italian barbera. Even in Provence, Château Pigoudet has added a richer cuvée made with cabernet sauvignon and syrah and aged in new oak barrels to give the wine more structure.
What to watch for next? The expansion of rosés designed to be poured over ice. Last summer welcomed a rosé bubbly-and-ice boom with Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial Rosé and Veuve Clicquot Rich Rosé. Pommery Royal Blue Sky sur Glace followed last fall. All are highly—how to put this—cocktail-able.
This summer, look for the still versions. Mouton Cadet plans to debut its own coral-pink Ice Rosé, whose flavors and succulence are designed to survive iceberg-cold.
But none of these chilled, aperitif-mode rosés will really change your mind about pink wine.
Here are eight exotic examples that just might.
2016 Idlewild ‘The Flower, Flora & Fauna Rose’ Rose ($22)
This super juicy blend of dolcetto, barbera, and nebbiolo from Mendocino gets better every year. The winery, founded in 2012, focuses on Italian varieties, and this complex pink wine would be great with the salumi you find at the owner’s wine bar.
2016 Los Bermejos Lanzarote Rosado of Listan Negro ($22)
This weighty, powerful rosé from the Canary Islands is made from grapes grown in small craters dug into black, volcanic-ash soil. It’s super-intense, blending both deep, intense fruitiness and mineral notes.
2016 Bonavita Terre Siciliane Rosato ($23)
Though Sicily is best known for its reds, native grapes nerello mascalese, nerello cappuccio, and nocera also make terrific rosés, such as this spicy, ruby-colored wine from an up-and-coming producer.
2015 Domaine de la Mordorée Tavel Rosé La Dame Rousse ($31)
The Rhône Valley’s Tavel region is an all-rosé appellation noted for concentrated, intense wines. This domaine makes several cuvées. This example, a mix of six grapes, is layered and richly textured, with all the floral and fruit notes you’d want.
2015 Domaine Yves Leccia Patrimonio Rosé ($32)
More than half the intriguing wines from the rugged island of Corsica are pink, and they’re having a moment on the hottest restaurant lists. This one, made from the local niellucciu grape, with some grenache, is a rich orange-pink with scents of flowers and oranges, along with bitter cherry and raspberry flavors.
2014 Annona Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo ($30)
This rosé comes from the Italian region of Abruzzo, home to the rich red grape, montepulciano. Its overlooked, full-bodied pink wines, labeled Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, are the darkest-hued rosés in the world. This one seduces with wild-strawberry scents and flavors.
2016 Tablas Creek Dianthus Rose ($30)
The Rhône-inspired Paso Robles winery makes two rosés. This deep pink one is modeled on serious meaty Rhône examples. Impressively complex, with ripe raspberry and spice and licorice flavors, it’s ideal with powerfully flavored foods.
2014 Sara i Rene Priorat Partida Pedrer Rosado ($42)
This new pink wine from Priorat, a hot Spanish region just south of Barcelona, is made by the talented Sara Perez and René Barbier Jr. It’s a big, rich, herb-and-spice-flavored wine made from garnacha and monastrell grapes from a single vineyard.