Lilly Pulitzer Dress? Check. Nantucket red pants? Check. Great friends, music and food? Check.
What’s missing from this idyllic Summer soirée? A bottle of crisp, refreshing rosé wine of course! If your Summer celebration is minus the most important accessory of the season, The Glamorous Gourmet is here to help. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy these wines which are refreshing, flavorful and extremely food friendly. Here are four wines that will definitely have you thinking pink this Summer.
But first, a word about rosé. While rosé is considered de rigueur in the tony Summer destinations such as The Hamptons and Saint-Tropez, many wine lovers in the US are reluctant to embrace “pink wines” and are missing out on some of the season’s most stylish vinous offerings! Here’s the skinny on how to tell the good pink stuff from the uh…not so good. Provence has long been considered the birthplace of rosé and is largely the benchmark by which rosé is measured. Provençal rosés are classically light pink in color and dry in style with a refreshing, food friendly acidity. These wines differ dramatically from White Zinfandel and “blush” wines which are mass produced and loaded with sugar, resembling fruit punch more than any wine I can think of. In order to avoid contact with the latter when purchasing or ordering wine in a restaurant specify you’d like a “dry, Provençal-style rosé” which are available at a variety of price points. With so many great values out there – why settle for less?
One of my favorite producers of rosés is Chateau D’Esclans, whose wines hail from the Cotes de Provence AOC in France. This estate produces four different types of rosé which are each very different in character; for more detail on all of Chateau d’Esclans’s four offerings, please click here. One of my favorites of the four to enjoy during the Summer (it’s very hard to chose just one!) is the 2011 Chateau D’Esclans Côtes de Provence Rosé,$30, which most closely represents a classic rosé from this region. This wine is a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Rolle from 30-80 year old vines that is partly vinified in stainless steel as well as demi muids which gives the wine its complexity and structure. This rosé is a beautiful, light pink color with aromas of red berries and spice while on the palate, the delightfully creamy mouthfeel is accompanied by flavors of strawberry, cherry and white pepper. Ah, Summer in a glass!
Due north of Provence, high up in the hills near Gigondas in France’s Rhône Valley, is a relatively new wine producer called Chêne Bleu. Named for the estate’s giant blue oak tree, the estate was purchased in 1992 by Xavier Rolet who, together with his wife Nicole, sister Benedicte Gallucci and bother-in-law Jean Louis Gallucci spent the last 10 years renovating a medieval property and restructuring 400 year old vineyards, located at 1,700 feet elevation, to create a state of the art, boutique winery that is definitely a family affair. After 15 years of renovations, 2006 marked the first vintage from the estate, with only a few wines produced from the classic Rhone grape varieties – lucky for us, rosé was one of them! The 2012 Chêne Bleu Rosé, $25, is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault with aromas of strawberry, rhubarb and a hint of lavender. On the palate, fresh red berries and a hit of citrus accompany a refreshing acidity and mild tannins.
Now, how about a delicious rosé from the USA? The 2012 Copain Tous Ensemble Rosé, $22, is made from 100% Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley in Medocino County, California. The Anderson Valley is becoming more widely recognized for producing quality wines crafted from the Pinot Noir grape and why should rosé be any exception? Copain’s winemaker, Wells Guthrie, has long been enamored of French wines, particularly those from the Rhone Valley. After living there for a time and learning from some of the best he now creates a beautiful portfolio of wines firmly rooted in California yet with a distinct European influence. The Copain Tous Ensemble Rosé has a beautiful salmon pink color and enticing aromas of red berries, spice and a touch of minerality. On the palate, notes of strawberry, cherry and citrus zest are accompanied by a lovely, refreshing acidity and dry finish.
Hailing from California’s Central Coast is the delightful 2012 Cline Cellars Mourvèdre Rosé, $12. Mourvèdre is a relatively rare grape in California and Cline makes four different styles of wine from it, including this lovely rosé. The grapes come from Cline’s historic Oakley ranch in Contra Costa County where the century-old vines grow in the deep sandy soil and the cool winds blow off the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers allowing the grapes to retain their bright acidity. This wine is made as a Blanc de Noir or “white of a red grape,” in the style of a white wine. The skins are removed by pressing before fermentation begins and the wine extracts a small amount of color, and a little of the tannin, from the red grape skins. On the nose, aromas of pomegranate and cherry are balanced by a delicate hint of sweet anise while on the palate, flavors of raspberry, cherry and vanilla notes are very appealing.
While rosé is perfect for sipping on its own on a hot Summer day, these wines are also incredibly food friendly. They pair well with a variety of cuisine especially grilled or smoked salmon, charcuterie or even dishes such as roasted chicken. A classic French dish that pairs particularly well with rosé is Pan Bagna, a sandwich that consists of tuna, Kalamata olives, fresh tomatoes and hard boiled eggs to name just a few ingredients. It’s much like a Salade Niçoise just served as a sandwich, please click here for the delicious recipe.
I hope you have a chance to enjoy these wines during your Summer adventures. To purchase any of the above rosés, please visit The Wine Atelier by clicking here.