I've been giving a lot of thought and time to Rose lately. You know, the slightly pink or light salmon red colored wine that fills your glass during summer, and serves as a great accompaniment to charcuterie and cheese as well as salad and grilled dishes too. Rose has really become en vogue as the perfect poolside sipper during hot days all over the world. It also happens to be a great way to “break the ice” with new friends who are just getting more serious about wine, as well as being something you can drink all by itself.
Rose has long been a favorite glass filler along the Côte d’Azur, with many Provence producers making gobs of it for the summertime crowds between Nice and Marseille, as well as those sweltering in Parisian hot days of summer. And, over the past decade, Rose has become a standard refreshment for many people, not just wine drinkers, as it’s light colored, and fruit forward flavors, quenches thirst and hits so many fun loving notes .
But just as wine is very regional, with different areas allowing certain grapes to be in the bottle, Rose has many different blends and in turn, many different styles, tastes and textures. Over the past few months, many bottles of Rose from France and California have come to be opened, and as a Rose lover for the past 20 years, I’ve found the 2019 vintage to actually be one of superior quality, and showcased far more regional differentiation than in the past few years.
When it comes to French Rose, I tend to divide up my passion places as Corsica, Bandol, Cotes de Provence, Tavel, Rhone Valley, Languedoc and the Roussillon. Sure great Rose wine comes from Sancerre and the Loire but those are made from either Pinot Noir, Gamay or Cab Franc, while the true southern French Rose wines all have Rhone varietals and Mediterranean indigenous grapes at the core including Grenache.
So what has impressed me this year?
Cassis---From one of France’s smaller appellations, Cassis’ Clos St. Magdelaine - long a favorite for their white made from Ugni Blanc, has ever since a birthday lunch in 2015 held nearby the winery was when I first tasted their Cassis Rose. Since then I have been hunting this wine as it has never let me down, and in turn their lighter, more fun and frivolous, but no less tastyy Rose from the Cotes de Provence is for me one of the best buys around.
Bandol---Chateau Vannieres and Chateau Pradeaux-It doesn’t get any better in Bandol than wines from these two producers year after year. Their Rose wines are very, very different from one another, where the Vannieres is far lighter in color, more aromatic and more delicate, but packing incredible fruit layers that never seem to end. The Pradeaux is darker, richer in body, with a more subdued bouquet offering up more subtropical fruit complexity. The Vannieres is a super wine to have with appetizers or wood fired pizza, cheese or just by itself, while the Pradeaux is easily a wine to have with salads, fresh grilled fish or roasted meats.
Cotes de Provence-There are so many wines from Provence, but many are just simple, one dimensional toss back wines. But one that really stands out is the Château de Roquefort Corail, a blend of 7 grapes. While there ar e many other Rose’s from the region that made it so popular, the Roquefort wine stands out as something really special
Rhone Valley and the Ventoux-It’s hard not to love Domaine de Mourchon’s Loubie and Chene Bleu’s Rose wines. Situated by all of ten kilometers or so apart, the two are examples of dedication to the Grenache grape, careful vineyard management and incredible devotion to the finished product. The Mourchon Loubie is a delightfully refreshing blend of Grenache and Syrah which punches well above its high teens price point, while the current release from Chene Bleu adds in Cinsault, Mourvèdre, and Rolle to the Grenache and Syrah blend is in the category of a super Rhone and one that while can be deemed as very enjoyable now, it is also one that you can lay down, and is easily in the class of Tempier, Pradeaux or La Mordoree when it comes to age worthy Rose wines.
Tavel- I’ve long been a fan of just about anything that comes out of Domaine de La Mordoree red, white or Rose, and this year has not been any less when it comes to how I feel about one of the standard bearers of Rose from the west banks of the Rhone where Rose is King. Each of their 19s -- from the Le Remise which is not officially Tavel to the top of the line La Rein des Bois are both hair raising, stunners, just as they have been for the past few years. The consistency in which La Mordoree turns out Rose wines year after year is just mind boggling. Right up their is my all time go to, the Chateau de Trinquevedel. Made in a bit more rustic style vs. La Mordoree which tends to be made with a more worldwide audience approach, the Trinquevedel is about as bone dry, and crisp as Rose needs to be, while still having a bit more color than those from Provence. A perennial favorite, to this day I have not found a better French Rose to go with BBQ.
Corsica--I so want to include Domaine Leccia in this roundup but I’m yet to taste their 19s. Normally I would have been in Marseille for a few days during the summer and been hitting a few wine bars, and Corsician inspired eateries, where many wines from the island would have been enjoyed. But Corsica is not without representation on this list of favorites as the Domaine de Marquiliani and their two lightly colored, almost translucent Rose wines always hit the mark. Of the two, the can’t miss, must have, need to open more of Pinkster is the Marquiliani Vin de Corse Rosé “Le Rosé de Pauline.” The color is so light pink that in bright light it appears to be a white wine. But one taste and you know you’re drinking a dynamite wine, color aside.
Now, this review only scratches the surface, as other producers like the Commanderie de Peyressol near Dragunian or Chateau Léoube are also making multiple cuvees of Rose in various parts of Provence. Over in Bandol Tempier, Gros Nore, La Tour De Bon produce delightful pink wines as do some coming from the Languedoc and Roussillion, but until those wine cross the finish line, meaning my lips, it would be unfair just to say more than that.
Find a Rose. Open it up, and enjoy.