These six roses are an all-star team for the blog’s 10th annual celebration of rose
The dramatic increase in rose’s popularity over the past couple of years means we have more great pink wine than ever. The difference in the number of roses worth drinking this year and when I did my first rose post 10 years ago is almost unbelievable – rose not just from Europe and California, but almost everywhere in the world. It’s something I never expected to see.
The downside? The wine business, and especially Big Wine, is trying to make rose over into a commodity like it has done with red blends, fake oak chardonnay, and pinot noir that doesn’t taste like pinot noir. That means their wines are slightly sweet and not especially crisp, as they aim at the “smooth” flavor their focus groups claim to like. There is also the trend toward red wine-like roses, much favored by the hipsters and their Hampton and Napa brethren.
There’s nothing wrong with these wines, of course, if that’s what you like. But almost all of the Big Wine efforts are labeled as dry rose, so those of us who expect crisp and fresh will be disappointed when the wine is soft and leaves that cotton candy feeling in the back of our mouth. And there is almost no way to tell which is which from anything written on the bottle.
Even so, enjoy this year’s rose bounty. My recommendations are after the jump, and you should also check out the rose category link, which lists 10 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.
Vintage, in fact, is especially important. Do not buy a rose older than two years, so 2015 is the limit this year. Otherwise, the wine will be tired, old, not crisp or fresh, and not worth drinking. If you have a choice between 2016 and 2015, always take the 2016.
These wines are some of the best of the 50 or 60 I‘ve tasted this year – call it the rose all-star team for Rose Week’s 10th anniversary; each is highly recommended:
• Bieler Pere et Fils Rose Sabine 2016 ($10, sample, 13%): This is one of the world’s great cheap wines of any color – real French wine from Provence, home of rose, and consistently excellent. This vintage is less fresh and crisp than the 2015, with watermelon fruit instead of the tarter berries it usually has. This apparently is because of a poor 2016 vintage in Provence, which has also affected the quality of the $20 and $30 Provence roses that the hipsters like. But the Bieler is still worth drinking and a tremendous value.
• Charles & Charles Rose 2016 ($10, purchased, 12.4%): This is the Washington state cousin to the Bieler (one of the Charles is the same), and it’s almost more Provence-like than the Bieler this year. Look for lemon raspberry fruit, some minerality, and a style so spot on you’ll want to drink another bottle. In this, it’s so Provence-like that it may disappoint someone looking for the watermelon fruit of past vintages.
• Caposaldo Rose 2016: ($10, sample, 12%): How one can turn a grape like corvina into this well-made of a rose is something that is hard to fathom. But this Italian pink is light, fresh, crisp, and slightly fruity (strawberries, raspberries). When I think of all the junk Big Wine passes off in the name of rose, I want to send them a sample of this.
• Louis Jadot Beaujolais Rose 2016 ($13, sample, 12%): Louis Jadot, about as big as Big Wine gets in France, made a pink wine to be proud of. Who knew? This is made with gamay, yet is fresh, crisp, light, and fruity (cherry?), without any of gamay’s banana or bubblegum side effects.
• Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare 2016 ($15, sample, 13.5%): One of Randall Grahm’s best efforts in several years, which is saying something given how well made they usually are. It has Provencal freshness and crispness, and even a stony sort of finish, but New World fruit (strawberry) and an almost rich mouth feel.
• Angels and Cowboys Rose 2016: ($16, sample, 12.8%): No discounting on the price this year, thanks to its success in 2016. But that’s what you’d expect, since this may be the best rose made in California. Look for tart red fruit (raspberry?), a wonderful minerality, and a long, crisp finish. Just as delightful as last year’s, but different – and isn’t that one of the great joys of wine?
Finally, regular visitors will notice that I didn’t include any Spanish roses in this post, odd because they’re usually the best value pinks in the world. In fact, the Muga and El Coto are among my favorites, but I haven’t seen the 2016s in stores yet this year. But not to worry — they will show up as wines of the week sometime over the next three of four months.
More about Memorial Day and rose:
• Memorial Day and rose 2016
• Memorial Day and rose 2015
• Memorial Day and rose 2014
• Wine of the week: Marqués de Riscal Rose 2016
• Wine of the week: Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum Rose 2015