The Grapevine

Rosé wines earning new respect

June 9, 2014 

  • PICK OF THE WEEK

    Burbank Ranch 2013 “Picnic Meadow” Grenache Rosé ($24) If you’re looking for a local rosé, consider this one. It’s a little pricier, but the wine is racy and refreshing, with juicy strawberry and a great core of acidity.

One of my favorite things at this time of year is a glass of cold, dry rosé. The wines have really caught on in the past few years, so I have more choices than ever. I’ve even managed to win over my friends, who in the past looked at pink wines with suspicion, believing that the wines would be sweet or cloying. It seems that pink wines have finally gained respect.

Most dry or just off-dry rosé is fruity and made for quaffing, although there are some serious efforts out there, too, with price tags to match. But you can get delicious rosés for $20 or less.

Most high-quality rosé wines are made from primarily red grapes. (A notable exception is rosé sparkling wine, which often entails blending a little red wine into the base wine for color.) Some juice is drained off from a tank of red grapes after the liquid has had only limited contact with the grape skins, which is where the color is. The resulting juice is light to deep pink, depending on the length of skin contact.

Sometimes the grapes that remain in the tank are made into red wine. But a lot of rosés now are made from grapes picked expressly for pink wine, when sugars are lower and acidity is higher. That avoids the problem of an overly alcoholic, flabby rosé.

Dry rosé can be made from any red grapes, but in California, Rhone varieties are particularly popular. Bonny Doon Vineyard has been making its rosé, a blend of Rhone grapes called Vin Gris de Cigare, since the mid-1980s. The 2013 Vin Gris de Cigare ($18), which contains a portion of white grapes, is bright and fruity, with raspberry, cranberry and a slight tannic edge. Tablas Creek produces the 2013 Patelin de Tablas Rosé ($20), which is lean and racy, with cranberry and lemon notes. (Tablas Creek also makes a more expensive rosé called Dianthus.) The 2013 Adobe Pink ($14) from Clayhouse is ablend that’s bright and fruity, with strawberry and cranberry fruit and a lemony note.

Sangiovese is the key ingredient in one of my favorite rosés, the 2013 Bernard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese ($12) from Washington, which displays fresh, lively cherry and raspberry with a nice roundness. Pinot noir also produces some good rosé.

Spain is a treasure trove of affordable rosé, called rosado in Spain. In Rioja, tempranillo is the main grape, and it can produce some wonderfully quaffable pink wines, like the 2013 Cune Rioja Rosado ($14), which has aromas of strawberries and licorice, zippy flavors of cherry and strawberry and a slightly drying finish.

Rosé has long been a summer wine of choice in France, particularly southern France. Two good ones from the Cotes du Rhone appellation are the 2013 Paul Jaboulet Aine “Parallele 45” ($15), with its racy berry and apple flavors, and the 2013 M. Chapoutier “Belleruche” ($15), which displays pretty cherry and cranberry flavors and a tannic edge.

Laurie Daniel’s column is special to The Tribune.

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