Monday, April 25, 2016

Rosé Season is in Full Spring

It’s that time of year again! The trees have blossomed, my email inbox is filling up with “Rosé sale!” offers, and all my favorite wine shops have scooted the pink stuff toward the front of the store.

I drink the pink all year round, but with longer days, more sunshine and warmer weather here in the mid-Atlantic, I crave rosé more than ever. And during spring and summer, I love exploring the new releases from all over the world, made from all kinds of grape varieties and blends. Add in the generally modest price tags, and I arrive at the conclusion: we should all open some rosé right now.

Odds are you, like me, have your go-to favorites. I dig pinks from Bandol, Marsannay, and a bunch of California Rhone-style interpretations. But good rosé increasingly comes from pretty much everywhere people make good wine. If a lot of winemakers and working in a region, odds are someone is producing a kick-ass dry rosé. This has been one of the most encouraging developments in the worldwide wine trade since I began seriously exploring wine about 12 years ago. And I hope the pink parade continues for years to come, because these wines deserve a spot on any table or wine list.

Here are a few examples of some crisp new rosé.
These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2015 Hentley Farm Rosé Barossa Valley - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
SRP: $20
Gorgeous strawberry/watermelon color. Bright and fresh but tons of fruit (strawberry, watermelon, red apple peel) along with a lovely spiced tea and rose hip essence. Medium+ bodied, this is ripe and velvety but the acidity stays tart and fresh. More watermelon and tart strawberry, with some candied apple peel. I also get some white peppery spice, crushed shells and floral perfume. A fuller style but still so bright and refreshing. Grenache and Syrah. (88 points)

2015 M. Chapoutier Vin de Pays d’Oc Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rosé - France, Languedoc Roussillon, Vin de Pays d’Oc
SRP: $15
Juicy peach/light salmon color. Such freshness on the nose, I get dandelion and clean laundry on white cherries and wild strawberries. Smooth and moderately creamy on the palate, but the vibrant acidity carries the wine forward and keeps the lips smacking. White cherries and tart strawberry fruit, some richer peach elements in there, too, backed up by notes of nettle, floral perfume, lemon zinger tea. Bright and crisp, simply pleasant but not simple. A blend 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah. (87 points)

2015 Dark Horse Wines Limited Release Rose - California
SRP: $10
Light salmon color. Smells of red apples, wild strawberries, some nettle, and a fresh but sweet herbal/vegetal note that reminds me of cucumber water. On the palate, this wine shows zesty acid, a crisp and dry style, but some fresh fruit (red apple, white cherry). I get some strawberry greens, nettle, white pepper. Not super complex, but this is awesome stuff for the price. I’d pay $10 for this any day of the week – an infinitely better gateway drug for any leftover white Zin drinkers. A blend of 40% Grenache, 20% Barbera, 20% Pinot Gris and 20% Tempranillo. (85 points)

2015 Chronic Cellars Pink Pedals - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
SRP: $15
Vibrant watermelon color. A lighter aromatic profile, with white cherries, red apple peel and some rose hips. Light and crisp structure but there’s a chalky texture to the wine, and the fruit is juicy and ripe, strawberries and watermelon, with some crunchy white cherries, rose hips, white pepper and dandelions. Tasty, refreshing, a bit short but I like the flavor profile. Grenache with 11% Syrah. (85 points)

2015 Cenyth Cabernet Franc Rosé - California, Sonoma County
SRP: $25
A gorgeous pale salmon color. Bright and boisterous on the nose with red apple peel, wild strawberry and white cherries, along with roses, baby’s breath and hints of white pepper. The palate shows vivacity and tang from start to finish, the acidity is so refreshing but there’s plenty of texture and bright fruit (white cherry, strawberry, tart red apple peel). So much floral and spice elements, roses, dandelions, white tea, sea salt, grapefruit. Gorgeous stuff. Bring on summer. (90 points)

2015 Matchbook Rosé of Tempranillo - California, Central Valley, Dunnigan Hills
SRP: $12
Pale salmon color. Smells of grapefruit, red apple peel, strawberry greens and white pepper. Crisp acidity on the palate with some moderate creaminess. I get tart strawberries, white cherries and red apple peels, along with some fresh basil and white pepper, which adds a lovely spicy kick to the wine. Some chalk and potpourri elements linger on the finish. For $12, this is a whole lot of rosé! This estate wine includes 14% Syrah, 7% Tannat and 2% Graciano. (87 points)

2015 Early Mountain Vineyards Rosé - Virginia, Central Virginia, Madison County
SRP: $19
Medium copper color. Smells of red apple, strawberries, roses, baby’s breath, cucumber slices, some white pepper and a hint of chalk, which is quite a cool combination of scents. Creamy body, bright crispness throughout. Red apple peel, some tart strawberries, I like the mix of floral, white pepper, some crunchy, chalky aspects. Rich mouthfeel but stays lively and crisp. 77% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 8% Syrah and 3% Malbec. One of my favorite Virginia roses. (88 points)

2015 Dolan & Weiss Pinot Grigio Julia’s Dazzle Rosé Benches Vineyard - Washington, Columbia Valley, Horse Heaven Hills
SRP: $17
Pale copper color. Smells like a giant bowl of peaches, all kinds, topped with honey and nettles. On the palate, I love the mouthfeel, which combines mouth-tingling acidity with creamy, honeyed presence. Flavors of white peaches, tart white cherries and nectarines, along with a nice mix of white pepper, nettle and clover. Some chalky, crusty sea salt elements as well. Lots going on here. A unique rose made from a single vineyard of Pinot Gris. (87 points)

<85 points
2015 Mouton Cadet le Rosé de Mouton Cadet - France, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Rosé
SRP: $11
Light salmon color. Smells of tart strawberries, white cherries, blossoms and white pepper. Light and tart with crunchy red apple and strawberry greens. Spicy, tart, a bit lean and off-balance but decent. Mostly Merlot with some Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

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