Rosé for the Fourth, and all summer long

The rosé craze shows no signs of abating. The wine is everywhere, particularly in the summer months, when people can’t seem to get enough of it. Sales have been on the rise, too: Nielsen reports that sales of still rosé were up 34 percent in the 52 weeks ending May 18, compared with the previous year.

Rosé is a versatile companion for food year-round, but I confess that I’m one of those people who craves a crisp rosé mostly when the weather is hot. I know that there are critics who think rosé needs to aspire to something more than refreshment and deliciousness, but I am not among them. Just give me a pink wine that’s crisp, well-balanced, flavorful and not cloyingly sweet, and I’m happy.

And please make it affordable. I understand that making rosé requires just as much care as making any other wine. Getting just the right color complicates things further. And I understand that if wineries were to put those grapes into a red wine, they probably could charge a lot more for that bottle, so the rosé has to at least somewhat reflect the value of the grapes. But it’s hard for most consumers to justify, say, $40 for a bottle of pink wine.

I generally recommend a selection of rosés every summer, and I used to have a price cut-off of $20. While it’s still possible to find good rosé for less than that, or even for less than $15, it’s becoming increasingly difficult. So I’m raising my limit to $25, which still excludes a lot of wines, including some that are rather pedestrian.

In honor of the Fourth of July, the Women’s World Cup of soccer (being held in France; the U.S. will play for the championship on Sunday), the Tour de France (which starts Saturday), and Bastille Day (July 14), I’m sticking to selections from the States and France this year.

Most of my favorite domestic rosés this year have been made from pinot noir. The 2018 Sonoma-Cutrer Rosé of Pinot Noir ($23) from Russian River Valley is so racy it’s almost tart, with strawberry, cranberry and lemon flavors. Extremely refreshing. From the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey County, there’s the 2018 McIntyre Rosé of Pinot Noir ($24), with very fresh cherry fruit and a hint of cranberry. Oregon is the home to some excellent pinot noir rosés, including the 2018 Chehalem Rosé of Pinot Noir ($25), which is quite pale and offers mouth-watering raspberry and cranberry and a hint of watermelon.

The 2018 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rosé ($25) is a blend from Paso Robles that’s a nod to the south of France: mostly grenache, with some mourvèdre and a splash of counoise. It’s very fresh, with pretty red berry, some fleshiness, a persistent finish and more weight than some rosés.

Speaking of France, rosé is practically a way of life in the southern region of Provence. So it’s no surprise that the region’s vintners produce some good ones. I tasted the 2018 Fleur de Mer Côtes de Provence Rosé ($20) at the Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition, where it was named best rosé. The wine is fragrant, floral and refreshing, with cranberry and lemon flavors and a lingering finish. “Summer is here!” I wrote in my notes.

Famed chef Joachim Splichal of the Patina Restaurant Group founded a wine estate in Provence, Domaine de Cala, in 2015. The 2018 Domaine de Cala Coteaux Varois de Provence Rosé ($16) is a blend of mostly grenache and cinsaut, with some syrah and small amounts of several other grapes, including some white ones. The wine is very pale, almost white, with delicate red berry fruit and a touch of lemon.

Miraval is the well-known Provençal wine that’s produced under a partnership of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel fame. A recent addition to the lineup is Studio by Miraval, made from grapes grown along the Mediterranean coast, including cinsaut, grenache, rolle (a white grape) and tibouren. The 2018 Studio by Miraval Rosé ($19) is fairly structured for rosé, with zingy cherry and cranberry and nice energy.



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