Mini-reviews 109: Even more rose reviews 2018

rose reviews 2018Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month. This month, four rose reviews 2018 in honor of the blog’s 11th annual rose fest.

Château De Paraza Cuvée Spéciale Rose 2017 ($12, sample, 13.5%): This French rose would have been $8 in the old days, when only cranky wine writers drank rose, and it would have made the $10 Hall of Fame. Look for a flowery aroma, pretty watermelon fruit (not overdone at all), refreshing crispness, and a pleasing finish. Imported by Wines with Conviction

Hecht & Bannier Rose 2017 ( $16, sample, 13%): Rose for white zinfandel drinkers. It’s a little soft, which I assume is to simulate sweetness (cherry compote?). Plus, it’s short and not especially crisp. That this bottle costs as much as it does – from a very ordinary part of France – speaks to what’s going on with rose. Not to be confused with Hecht & Bannier’s Provencal rose, about $4 or $5 more and a step up in quality. Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons

M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut Rose 2017 ($15, sample, 12.5%): More pink wine from France’s Languedoc at a “rose is trendy” price. This vintage is a little fruiter the previous and less Provencal in style, with almost peach fruit. It’s well-made and professional, and well worth buying if you can find it at $12. Imported by Sera Wine Imports.

Bonny Doon La Bulle-Moose de Cigare 2017 ($8/375 ml can, sample, 13%): This is Randall Grahm’s always top-notch California rose — dry, tart, and fresh — in a can with added carbonation. Call it fizzy pink with a pulltop. Enjoyable and much better than I expected, which speaks to the quality of the wine.

Rose week giveaway 2018: Three free wine books

Today, to celebrate the blog’s 11th rose extravaganza, we’re giving away three free wine books:

And the winner is: Karen Rosenheimer, who selected 898; the winning number was 849 (screen shot to the left). Thanks to everyone who participated.


• The controversial Napa at Last Light, James Conway’s look at “America’s Eden on the Edge of Calamity.”

Rex Pickett’s Vertical, the sequel to Sideways.

An autographed copy of the cheap wine book.

Complete contest rules are here. Pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comment section of this post. You can’t pick a number someone else has picked, and you need to leave your guess in the comments section of this post — no email entries or entries on other posts. Unless the number is in the comments section of this post, the entry won’t count.

If you get the blog via email or RSS, you need to go to this exact post on the website to enter (click the link to get there). At about 5 p.m. central today, I’ll go to random.org and generate the winning number. The person whose entry is closest to that number gets the picnic set.

Memorial Day and rose 2018

Memorial day and roseCheck out these six roses — still cheap and delicious — for the blog’s 11th annual Memorial Day and rose celebration

Talk about the best kind of  tasting fatigue — I sampled close 100 roses this year for the 11th annual Memorial Day and rose post, and I’m not tired of pink wine yet.

Rose, as noted, has been resilient enough to withstand the onslaught of high alcohol, lifestyle-designed bottles, and sweet rose passed off as dry. And why not? Many of the producers who make rose the right way do it as a labor of love. As one told me this spring: “Yes, I could charge more for it. But then fewer people would drink it, and I love rose enough that I want as many people as possible to drink it.”

So enjoy this year’s rose extravaganza. My six pinks are after the jump. But you should also check out the rose category link, which lists 11 years of rose reviews. And don’t overlook the blog’s rose primer, which discusses styles, why rose is dry, how it gets its pink color, and why vintage matters. Wines older than two years — 2016, in this case — are more likely to be off, tired, or worn out. Continue reading

Wine of the week: La Vielle Ferme Rose 2017

La Vielle Ferme roseThe usually indifferent La Vielle Ferme rose is one of the great cheap pink finds for this summer

How surprising – and welcome – is the quality of the 2017 La Vielle Ferme rose? I bought a second bottle for this review, because I didn’t believe that the first bottle was so well done.

But it is, excellent and delcious. The La Vielle Ferme rose ($8, purchased, 13%) reminds us that rose doesn’t have to cost $25, doesn’t have to come in a fancy bottle, and doesn’t require a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. It can be an $8 bottle of screwcap grocery store wine — just what we’re looking for to mark the blog’s 11th annual rose extravaganza.

La Vielle Ferme is a decades-old cheap French wine (there’s red and a white besides the rose) that is best known for the rooster on the label and its indifferent quality. I taste the wines every year or so, and they usually taste like they always do – thin and a little bitter, the kind of wine made to sell cheaply in big bottles in a grocery store.

But the 2017 rose is much improved over previous vintages — missing the cheap wine raggedyness that it often shows. Look for a little red fruit (tart strawberry?), some minerality, and a freshness that the wine has never really had. The producer, the French giant Famille Perrin, apparently made a concerted effort to do something better than it has done.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame. Buy many bottles, chill them, and then spend the summer enjoying their cheap goodness. What more can we ask of rose?

Winebits 542: Rose reviews 2018 from around the Internet

rose reviews 2018This week’s wine news: Rose reviews 2018, gathered from around the cyber-ether, in honor of the blog’s 11th annual rose celebration

Vinepair: The almost always sensible website offers 25 roses, and “all of the bottles on our list are less than $37, and many come in under $20.” Hence the almost always sensible caveat. The other not so good news is availability – maybe half of these wines will be difficult to find in most of the country. This is not a criticism, but a fact of life in the wine reviewing business. Still, there are fine values, including the Falesco Vitano, a long-time favorite; plus the Bonny Doon and the J. Vidal-Fleury pinks.

Decanter: The English wine magazine recommends 10 roses, almost none of which are available in this country. So why do I mention it? Because two of the wines are private labels from Aldi and Lidl, and if they can sell the wines in Britain, why can’t the two discount grocers offer them in the U.S.? Frankly, I’m tired of seeing Winking Owl white zinfandel at Aldi when they could be selling the rose listed here. It’s just £6, or about US$8.

Forbes: As befitting its readers, two of the wines cost more than $100, and most of the other recommendations aren’t much more in the spirit of rose. One of the wines is so gross that you need an antidote for it, which is why I’m not going to name it. Who wants to be sued?

Rose trends 2018: Try as it might, the wine business won’t ruin pink wine

rose trends 2018Let’s celebrate the start of Rose Week — the blog’s 11th  annual celebration — with the rose trends and non-trends that are dominating pink wine

Tim McNally, the New Orleans wine writer, judge, critic, and radio host, talking about rose trends 2018: “Given the unfortunate development path of pinot noir in America, I guess we should have foreseen what they were going to try to do to rose.”

And that, as well as anything I can write, sums up rose trends 2018. Important parts of the wine business, both here and in France, have decided to change rose into something else, in the same way they changed pinot noir into a fruiter, darker, more cabernet sauvignon-like wine.

More than one-third of the 100 or so roses I’ve tasted this year were made to appeal to some sort of idealized red wine drinker – heavier and less fresh, more alcoholic, and tasting of the tannins and bitterness associated with red wine. That almost all of them cost more than $20 added insult to injury.

In other words, everything that rose isn’t. To which the Wine Curmudgeon says, “Nuts.”

Because, despite these most unwelcome developments, rose is healthier than ever. Yes, there are some truly aggravating pink wines out there, and yes, prices have soared in many cases. But there are still dozens and hundreds of roses that taste like rose and cost less than $12. We’ll feature those wines on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, along with a three-book giveaway on Thursday.

These changes have happened for four reasons:

• Higher prices, of course, are part of premiumization. In addition, more high-end wineries are making rose, so they’re not going to sell $10 wine for $10 (even if they could afford to, which most can’t).

• Many of these high-end producers, especially in California, are known for making red wine. They’re only making rose because it’s trendy (I actually got a news release that sort of said that). So they’re terrified that if they made a fresh and crisp pink wine, their loyal customers wouldn’t know what to do with it.

• Because $25 wine can’t be made the same way as $10 wine. Otherwise, it would be $10 wine. Hence the need to “improve” it – oaking it, for example, or making it riper and more alcoholic, even if that turns it into another kind of wine.

• More expensive packaging and marketing. One of the world’s leading rose makers told me that grape costs for his $10 French rose and for a world-famous celebrity rose were about the same. But, he said, the latter charges twice as much because it spends the difference for a “nicer” bottle and to market the product to the Winestream Media.

Yes, some roses are worth $25 or $30 or $40. But it’s almost impossible to buy a bad bottle of rose for $10. If you spend more than $15, expect it to be spectacular. First and foremost, ignore the hype and buy what you want. Because if we do that, no amount of $25 rose that tastes like cabernet will matter.

More about rose trends:
Seven reasons why we love rose
Pink wine is everywhere, and it’s only April
Who cares who started the rose boom?

Rose celebration 2018 begins on Monday

rose celebration 2018

Yes, I’ve tasted almost all of these in my search for the greatest cheap roses.

Win three wine books during the blog’s rose celebration 2018

The blog’s 11th annual rose extravaganza begins on Monday — rose celebration 2018. This is the second consecutive year we will devote an entire week to celebrate all that is wonderful about rose. Because, despite all the foolishness that has taken place over the past couple of years, rose remains one of the world’s great cheap wines.

Plus, of course, giveaways — three wine books on Thursday when I list the the best roses available this season. There will be rose news and reviews all week as part of our rose-fest, as well as state of rose in 2018 on Monday.

Until then, enjoy this commercial from the mid-1970s for Carlo Rossi Vin Rose — long before there was a Winestream Media, when the wine snobs thought rose was a flower, and the hipsters’ parents were still in high school.