Charles Bieler, right, and his father Philippe. They’re a long way from the pink Cadillac.
Charles Bieler is one of the best rose maker in the world; more importantly, he is one of the reasons the rose boom exists. For which we are all most grateful.
Charles Bieler was between jobs in the late 1990s when his father suggested Charles help sell the family rose in the U.S. Charles took up the challenge, painted a Cadillac pink, and traveled the country to convince retailers and restaurants to sell dry pink wine. As Charles says, that was at a time when everyone thought rose was sweet, and he truly wondered if dry rose had a future in the U.S.
Which, of course, it did. We talk about the rose boom, the pink Cadillac trip, and the challenges facing rose today — with advice on how to find the best cheap pink.
• Sacha Lichine Single Blend Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, %): Quality $10 pink from the Languedoc, so it’s not quite as subtle as something from Provence. But the wine uses first-class grenache, so it’s not too jellyish. Hence a crisp, fresh, and enjoyable wine. Look for strawberry fruit and a stony kind of finish. Imported by Shaw-Ross International
• Château La Gravière Blanc 2017 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This white French Bordeaux is almost certainly the best cheap wine I tasted in 2018. It did everything cheap wine should do — offer value, be varietally correct, and taste delicious. Some lemon fruit with an almost grassiness, and old-fashioned white Bordeaux minerality. The difference may be more semillion in the blend than sauvignon blanc, so the wine isn’t a New Zealand knockoff. Highly recommended. Imported by Luneau USA
• Rotari Trento Brut 2013 ($18, sample, 12.5%): Impeccably made Prosecco. the Italian sparkling wine. Look for berry fruit, plus more body and depth than in cheaper Proseccos, as well as deliciously tight bubbles. If there’s a catch, it’s the price. Imported by Prestige Wine Imports
The rose boom isn’t about Instagram and memes; it’s about quality wine at a fair price
Listen to the wine wise guys, and the rose boom is about “rose all day” and Instagram posts. Of course, these are the same people who didn’t catch on to pink wine until it was already a hit. Given that, why should we believe anything they say?
So here are are four things to know about the rose boom that don’t have anything to do with Instagram or memes – but show that wine drinkers know value when they see one. Which explains rose’s continuing popularity more than all the hype and the glitter in the Hampton’s.
• There’s so much demand for rose that some retailers and distributors are trying to sell old, worn out junk, figuring we’re not smart enough to know the difference. I’m seeing more and more of this, with pink wines as old as 2013 and 2014 finding their way to store shelves. Remember, if a rose is more than 18 months old, it’s probably not worth drinking.
• We’re buying $10 rose, no matter that our betters are telling us we’re supposed to spend more. In the 52 weeks between April 2017 and April 2018, we bought five times as much $10 rose as we did $20 rose. In fact, rose costing $10 or less accounted for almost 60 percent of sales over that period. Suck on that, premiumization.
• Overall, reports the same study, U.S. wine sales remain flat. But rose sales increased 53 percent from 2017 to 2018. So consumers, given the choice between buying quality $10 rose or overpriced $18 wine, are buying quality $10 rose. Why isn’t anyone noticing this?
• Millennials don’t drink the most rose; it’s still the province of older wine drinkers, according to the Wine Market Council. This makes perfect sense if you look at overall wine consumption, where Millennials are generally at the bottom of the list. But wine industry hype rarely makes perfect sense or any sense at all.
Four value and quality-oriented bottles to enjoy for Labor Day wine 2018
What’s a Labor Day wine? Wine that takes the edge of the heat (it will be mid-90s in Dallas, fairly normal), suitable for porch sitting, picnics, and barbecues. In other words, light wines for warm weather.
These four bottles are fine start as part of Labor Day wine 2018:
• La Fiera Pinot Grigio 2017 ($10, purchased, 12%): This Italian white wine is almost always worth drinking, a step up from grocery store pinot grigio (a little lemon fruit to go with the tonic water). This vintage is certainly that, and almost Hall of Fame quality. Imported by Winesellers Ltd.
• Matua Pinot Noir Rose 2017 ($12, sample, 13%): Big Wine at its best — Fresh and tart berry fruit, plus a crispness I didn’t expect from a company that is one of the largest in the world. If not a little choppy in the back, it’s a candidate for the Hall of Fame. Imported by TWE Imports
• Moulin de Canhaut 2014 ($10, purchased, 13%): This French red Bordeaux is everything cheap French wine should be — simple but not stupid, earthy, and just enough tart black fruit. It’s also an example of how screwed up the wine business is, that someone would send me a sample of a wine that may not be available in the U.S.
• Naveran Brut Rosado 2016 ($15, sample, 12%): This Spanish bubbly is one of the world’s great sparkling wines, a cava that compares favorablly to wines costing two and three times as much. Clean and bright, with more citrus than berry flavors. Highly recommended.
Reviews 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.
• French Bar Petite Sirah 2015 ($19, sample, 13.9%): This California red tastes of stewed plums and is big and rich — about what you would expect from a $19 petite sirah where the heavy bottle and fancy foil seal probably cost more than the wine.
• Domaine du Seuil 2016 ($18, purchased, 12%): Nicely done white Bordeaux with not too tart lemon fruit; clean, minerally, and enjoyable. However, there’s nothing especially exciting about it, and especially at this price. Imported by Scott Levy Selections
• Chateau Pajzos Furmint 2016 ($12, purchased, 12%): Would that a Hungarian white like this, made with the less known furmint grape, would be the next big thing. Look for a little spice, some stone fruit, and a touch of sweetness. But it’s also fresh and lively. Highly recommended, but may be difficult to find. Imported by Wines with Conviction
• Bertani Bertarose Rose 2017 ($15, sample, 12%): Pleasant, if overpriced, Italian rose that is fresh and clean, with a bit of tart berry fruit. Find this at $10 or $12 and you’ve got a fine value. Imported by Palm Bay International
This 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?
This week’s wine news: Rose growth continues, plus Coke is launching alcopop in Japan and on-line grocery store wine sales
• Bring on the pink: Rose shows no signs of slowing down, despite what some curmudgeonly wine writers might think. This post in a trade publication calls it a “category killer,” which means its sales are growing much, much faster than other wines. According to Nielsen, rose is outpacing overall U.S. wine growth and still growing at double digits – “a rate unheard of in other categories.” I’m convinced (and ignoring the hip factor, which has played a role) that’s because rose represents one of the last values in wine – a quality product at a fair price that tastes like it should.
• One more time: Coke, whose failure in the wine business 30 years ago was almost as big a debacle as New Coke, is launching an alcoholic beverage in Japan – call it alcopop. The BBC reports that Coke wants to take advantage of “the country’s growing taste for Chu-Hi — canned sparkling flavored drinks given a kick with a local spirit called shochu.” The products, sweet and fizzy, have about as much alcohol as beer, three to eight percent. Chu-Hi is especially popular with younger women.
• Directly to your door: A European consultancy says U.S. supermarkets will boost wine sales via on-line and home delivery – shocking news for those of us who have watched the three-tier system have the opposite effect. But a Rabobank report says its “relative irrelevance will not last long. We firmly believe it will develop into the most important driver of on-line alcohol sales.” The reason, says the report, is that alcohol delivery will benefit from projected growth in increased grocery store delivery, piggybacking on its increase. It also cites a huge boost in Google searches for “alcohol delivery.” Which is all well and good, but there’s a long way from a Google search to actual on-line delivery.