While the dog days of summer are behind us, the last thing most drinkers are now thinking of is rosé. Rosé, frosé, and pretty much anything in a shade of millennial pink are all associated with the months between April and August. Why drink it any other time of year? Even though we had our #WineStudio session in June, I held off until September for this reason. Rosé is good for just about any day. I’m making my case here. Read about these wines and tell me if you still think they can only be enjoyed when the weather is above eighty. Then, join me for the September #WineStudio Twitter sessions on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. my time so we can learn together and question our preconceived notions about all kinds of wine.
The first wine I tried in June was from Domaines Paul Mas, which is located in the Languedoc and covers over 600 hectares of this well-known wine area. We’ve spoken to a number of small wineries and family run businesses since I started following along with #WineStudio, but this one was the opposite. However, I quickly learned that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s like other big brands making cookie cutter wines that are more boring than my high school AP Economics class. I brought the 2016 Rosé Aurore to book club and it was gone before all of the members even showed up! So clearly others agreed. Very light and fruity, this was a subtle bottle meant to be enjoyed, not examined. These are the kinds of wines I love to bring to gatherings where I know the majority of people like wine, but don’t necessarily stay up reading articles about wine regions like myself. They’re not too fussy, they don’t fight back against finger foods, and this one, at 750 mL, is big enough to share. With a SRP of $11, this isn’t a price point that would piss anyone off, so maybe try bringing it to your next book club session and see how it goes over.
After the bottle that won my book club girls’ over, I opened up a wine with a critter on the bottle. From the same company, the 2016 Arrogant Frog Rosé was another easy drinking wine. Even though it is a critter, the Arogant Frog sports a beret and cane, which makes it just about the fanciest critter I’ve ever seen slapped onto a wine label. He’s a critter for all those people who judge them, myself included. This wine was incredibly fragrant, and had aromas of barely ripe strawberries. Pale pink, with a dash of acid, this is the wine for those of you out there addicted to the promises made on the nose. It had a youthful feel, and with a price point of $10, it’s a bottle for the youth. Don’t let the critter scare you away in the wine aisle. This is one that will make many happy and won’t set you back an arm and a leg. It hits that sweet spot that is so difficult to find for wines, which is something anyone can appreciate.
The next rosé we tried was from a winery I will highlight more heavily in the weeks to come; it was the 2016 Hacienda de Arinzano Rosé. Made up of 100% Tempranillo and with a SRP of $19.99, it’s the type of pink wine I would keep in the fridge all year round. A deep rosy pink color beckoned me to open this one ASAP, and the flavors did not disappoint. It was peppery and had complex fruit from red berries to more bitter ones; the flavors I found weren’t for the faint of heart. Arinzano made a point to highlight that the grapes in this bottle come from a dedicated rosé vineyard, and while I have no idea if the wine would have tasted similar if the Tempranillo didn’t come from this specific vineyard, I will say Arinzano knocked it out of the park when they bottled this one. This was a strong rosé, and its best days lie ahead. Undoubtedly the most exciting pink juice I’ve ever had in my glass, all I can say is go out and buy it. Now.
To break things up a bit, I opened the Côté Mas Brut Rosé. We discussed this one early on like the other Paul Mas wines of this session, but this was also around the time my boss left the company for which I work and my days got pretty hectic. I was admittedly behind, and I saved the bubbles for a couple of weeks while my schedule lightened up. When I finally popped the cork and poured out the wine the color of a poppy flower, I had a tough time sharing it. Light bubbles, slightly dry, and flavors of ripened strawberry, this wine is made up of 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, and 10% Pinot Noir. I enjoyed this one with a cheese plate, and that’s how I suggest you let this one shine. Pick out three or four of your favorite cheeses, throw some fruit on the plate, and open up a sleeve of water crackers. It’s easy, and when bubbles and rosé are involved, I want easy. I have yet to find something the French do that I don’t dig, and this is no exception. At around $16, it’s a steal for those who may think bubbles are out of there budget or expect to give up quality when shopping for affordability.
Unlike most #WineStudio sessions where most of the wines come from the same winery, vineyard, or general location, this Rosé session mixed it up, and this one came to us from California. Bonterra’s inaugural 2016 Rosé from growers in Mendocino County is a Grenache-based wine, but it is foremost an organic wine. Our discussion throughout the night focused on their commitment to increasing biodiversity, the wine’s label highlights the usage of organic grapes, and a quick look at the website firmly establishes the organic roots behind the brand. As I almost always say, I am all for organic wine, but I need it to taste good first. This was dry with bright acid, and the pale peachy color was filled with aromas of strawberry and rose, with melon and apple flavors dominating the palate. It was simple and enjoyable, and at around $16 a pop, it’s a hipster’s dream. With this price point, the flavors I experienced, and the ease of pairing this one with any light fare, I can’t think of one twentysomething friend to whom I wouldn’t gift this bottle.
Also from the West Coast, the last wine I opened during this session was the Conn Creek 2016 Rosé of Malbec from Napa Valley. The palest of wines, with an almost silver edge to it, this reminded me of early spring. Whereas with Bonterra we focused on organic grapes and their meaning, with Conn Creek, it was all about their commitment to experimentation with wine and having fun. Oftentimes, people think of wine as some serious endeavor, but at the end of the day, it’s there to enjoy. With this bottle, there was a bitter quality to it, it was crisp like mornings in March, and the fruity flavors weren’t of ripe red fruits, but more so plums and kumquats. This one is slightly pricier than some of the others with an SRP of $24. For me, $20 to $25 is my sweet spot for spending on a bottle for the week, but if you’re more in the $10 to $15 range, I still say buy a bottle or two of this one and open it up in the winter when you’re sick of reds and want to prove to yourself that rosé is not just a wine for the summer.
Around this time of year, I almost always talk about rosé. I will admit that it’s not a wine I gravitate towards because more often than not I’m underwhelmed. However, by trying new bottles, I have discovered that there are rosé out there for everyone. If you like a wine that is so light it’s more refreshing than water on a ninety degree day, you can get it. If you’re like me and like a juicy wine with a lot of color and flavor to blend in with all the brightness of summer, I’m starting to find that those are around too. So even though it’s now September, go out and buy a couple of bottles; it’s not just for summer any more.