Rosé Round-Up: Top Ten Summer-Time Sips

"A Rosé by any other name still smells as sweet;" it also makes for the ultimate summer time choice for many vino-sapiens baking in this summers epic heat wave. But let’s face it, these wines have suffered from a bit of an identity-crisis, even though they are making a serious comeback. They've sadly been mistaken for the sugary-sweet blush-style of wines many folks can find lining the bottom row of shelves in the local neighborhood drug-store, known as white-zin or white-merlot.

These blush-wines resemble more of an adult Kool-Aid; where the only thing missing is the straw. But I know, I know some folks reading this just love those "sweet-wines" looking lovingly at that style through rose-colored glasses [ha]. If that is your favorite style, that's great I have a couple choices for you in this line-up. But stick with me a moment; as I invite you to give into your need for exploration, which may be lying dormant from the sugar over-load.

So what can you expect to find in what I call a true rosé? They are often made in a “dry” style, displaying vibrant fresh red-fruit flavors, like strawberry, raspberry, ripe summer peach, ripe red-pear or even watermelon side of the fruit spectrum, peppered with subtle spicy floral. A true rosé is a nice dry, tangy and crisp wine, nothing like the blush wines, which tend to be heavy and syrupy-sweet. In fact their only true similarity is in the semi-pink to fluorescent-red color. In my mind a properly made rosé will always have great depth of flavor, crispness, lightly layered red-fruit, floral spices; characteristics all of which makes a great summer sipping style of wine.

Food Pairing Champ: Trying to beat the summer heat this year and you still want to drink wine, you’ll find rosé wines are very versatile food pairing champions. They lend themselves easily to pairing with many different food types and styles. Rosé wines also tend to be low in alcohol [but not always], making it the perfect wine for taking on an afternoon picnic. Some recommendations; hot or cold [perfect left over] chicken, pasta, pork, Sunday morning Tortilla-Espana, omelets or even a quiche, and other lighter picnic-foods like charcuterie and fresh cheeses, mix in some fresh fruit and you are on the way to food and wine pairing nirvana.

1. Chivite's Gran Feudo Rosado [Navarra, Spain]: A garnacha based rosés which typically sports zippy acidity. Ripe watermelon punctuates the color, a red-fruited distinctive fragrance, ripe summer plums, raspberries and a fresh basket of strawberries on the finish. On the palate, slim and friendly, with a lasting structure and a firm finish. I discovered this wine while in the Kingdom of Navarra last year, I scored this wine 90 points, it sells for a crazy-good price $9 here, providing tremendous QPR.

2. Envie d'été 2010 Château Garrineau Rosé [France]: A very tasty rosé composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. On the nose you'll find elegant aromas and flavors of cherries and strawberries, wrapped in floral overtones. It’s the kind of wine that feels like summertime in the South of France. I scored this wine 88 points and it sells for about $15 USD, though I couldn't find a place that sells this wine here in the US.

Pine Ridge 2011 Encantado Rosé [Stags Leap]: This rosé was crafted using the saigneé, [to bleed off] a technique where juice is extracted from the must. A true-rosé composed of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, a fantastic rosé brimming with the fresh red-fruits flavors of - strawberry, raspberry and a hint of citrus. I discovered this wine on one of my recent trips to the Napa Valley, where Mrs. Cuvee and I could be found slurping this wine down, while reclining under a umbrella covered picnic-table on the wonderful grounds of Pine Ridge. I scored this wine 89 points. It sells for a SRP of $22.

4. V. Sattui's 2011 Gamay Rouge [Napa Valley]: This rosé is great wine for folks who like it sweet. This wine would be perfect with spicy Thai food or even barbecued ribs, it does have a bit of RS, just enough acidity to carry the fruit and not be cloying. Produced by extended grape skin contact, in the glass an summer time strawberry color. The flavor profile provides the palate with ripe strawberry, a touch of cherry and some gentle baking spices. This wine is only available at the winery and sells in the neighborhood of $18, I scored this wine 87 points.

5. Vivanco Tempranillo Grenacha Rosé 2009 [Rioja]: This is a vibrant Rosé with dominating flavors of rose petals, raspberries and toasty-strawberries; there is a kick of spice on the finish. This wine was made in the traditional “Sangrado” style, where skin contact was 12-24 hours for the color. This wine sells for $15 a bottle and I scored it 92 points. It goes great with a spinach quiche.

6. Penman Springs 2010 Estate "Two Roses" [Paso Robles]: This rosé cut from the Syrah grape and I recall this wine had the most "funky" nose. Some incoherent barn-yard aromas, was my first impression. After a few more swirls some toasty cranberry and strawberry aromas, which carried through to some wonderful dried red fruit flavors, just a bit of white pepper and refreshing crisp finish. I initially thought this was Grenache, but later learned it was Syrah. I scored this wine 89 points and it sells for $15 through the website or in the tasting room.

7. Balletto 2011 Rosè of Pinot Noir [Sonoma County]: The color of this wine resembled a water-colored San Diego sunset, kind-of a light salmon and cotton candy mix. This lively wine comes from a careful touch of skin contact from Pinot Noir; small quantities of free run juice really [no press in sight]. On the nose, plenty of vibrant rose petals, dried strawberry and a kiss of meaty summer peach. The palate bites at ripe strawberries, kisses your mouth with tangy-citrus, wet-stone and lemongrass. I found this wine well balanced, piped with bright acidity. If you’re looking for pairing suggestions, this rich enough to pair up with salmon or even duck, yet light enough to handle a plate of fresh mussels. I scored this wine 92 points; it sells through the wineries website for $18, great QPR.

8. Banfi 2010 Rosa Regale Brachetto [Italy]: Another wine for those who like it sweet and bubbly. In the glass it has the appearance of drinking a dark ruby soda pop, a frothy little number full of raspberry colored foam, giving a very festive feel in the glass. You'll find hints of rose petals, where raspberry and strawberry nuances abound. Rosa Regale is produced by Vigne Regali in Strevi, Piedmont. I scored this wine 87 points. You can now purchase this wine at your local Costco for $14.99 each. It has an amazingly low ABV of just 7% and a perfect pairing partner with spicy foods.

9. Rol Valentin Rosé 2010, St-Emilion [France]: Another nose full of bright fresh baskets of strawberry, water-melon and ripe raspberry fruit that carries through to the palate, some dried spice notes and a boat-load of crisp acidity to balance the big, up-in-your-face fruit. This beauty sells for $10 most places and I gave it 90 points. A stunner of great value [QPR], overflowing with flavor, from one of the new breed of garagiste wines that have emerged in St-Emilion.

10. Royal Cuvée Vintage 2004 [Sonoma]: In the flute you'll find this Pinot Noir led cuvee blend casts a slight rosé color leaning toward the orange/pink salmon side of the equation. On the nose dried cherries, over a fresh baked brioche. In the first slurp, fat ample bubbles and creamy mousse composed of strawberries, smeared on fresh baked buttermilk biscuits, leading to a long sumptuous finish. I've had this wine several times and I've never been disappointed. It sells for in the $14 to $32 price range most places. I scored this wine 90 points and highly recommend it.

An okay folk that’s the list, I hope one of these wines will be filling your glass soon. Summer is in fine form, heating up the landscape, sending folks scurrying for a way to be the heat. You may want get busy stocking up on a few of these gems, as you definitely don't want to be on the outside looking in, when it comes to securing some of these wonderful rosés for your upcoming warm weather activities. Until next time sip long and prosper.


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