Tag Archives: rose wine

Enough already: Who cares who started the rose boom?

rose boomBecause no one did, and it’s an insult to those of us who drink pink to claim we needed someone to point the way

This fall, three different PR flacks emailed me to make sure the world knew that their clients started the rose boom. And this doesn’t include the woman who wrote that social media was responsible – praise Instagram for all those hipsters and Millennials posing with their pink wine.

Enough already.

Why do we need “a founder” to explain the popularity of quality cheap wine? Why is everyone so surprised that wine drinkers discovered something inexpensive and enjoyable on their own?

Because, of course, wine drinkers aren’t supposed to be smart enough to figure it out for themselves. We need someone to tell us what to do. Isn’t that how the wine business works?

Know this, and know it now: Rose’s increased popularity was only surprising to everyone who wasn’t paying attention. Europeans have been drinking it for years, without any help from marketing types or social media gurus. The wine business and its allies in the Winestream Media were so busy telling us that we would be drinking whatever wine that they thought was cool that they didn’t notice what we were drinking.

Rose.

And why not? It’s readily available. It’s almost always well made, even when it costs as little as $5 a bottle, and it’s rarely necessary to spend more than $10 a bottle to get a quality wine. Plus, it’s crisp, refreshing, and fruity. What more can anyone ask for in a cheap wine to enjoy on a Tuesday night in the middle of summer?

So why was rose such a surprise? Three reasons:

• U.S. wine drinkers weren’t supposed to be sophisticated enough to drink rose, because it was so European. After all, didn’t we – shudder – drink white zinfandel?

• Rose, because it doesn’t cost much, didn’t fit in with premiumization, the idea that we’re buying more expensive wine. So it wasn’t pricey enough to become a trend.

• It is a wonderfully exhilarating exception to what the wine business teaches consumers about wine: That we have to buy wine to pair with a meal or for a specific occasion. That rose exists regardless of what you eat with it or why you drink it is a revolutionary concept in the top-down, do what you’re told world of wine. This is, after all, where those of us who tell people to drink what they want are seen as the enemy.

So, no, no one invented rose. We drank it because we liked it. In the end, that may be the best part about the rose boom.

More about the rose boom:
They’re trying to ruin our beloved rose
The Wine Curmudgeon as hipster: Dude, he likes rose
Has the rose craze peaked?

Wine of the week: Layer Cake Rose 2016

layer cake roseThe Layer Cake rose is California pink wine with style and a fair price

In the early days of the blog, I wrote about Layer Cake wines quite a bit, if for no other reason than the producer sent me samples. Then I wrote this, got a comment from the producer, and the samples stopped.

So when I bought the Layer Cake rose ($12, purchased, 13.2%), I did so with an ulterior motive. If I liked the wine and wrote a positive review, would the samples return?

Because the Layer Cake rose is quality pink wine from California’s Central Coast – much better than I thought it would be, showing both varietal correctness and even a little terroir. In this, it reminded me of the Toad Hollow rose that Todd Williams made before he died.

That means cherry pinot noir fruit, fine rose-style acidity, and even some flintiness in the back — not flabby or soft at all. The latter is an especial problem with many grocery store wines, which prize focus group smoothness above all other qualities.

This is a rose to enjoy whether it’s a record-setting 96 in Dallas in October or if you just like rose. And it’s also a wine to keep in mind as the holidays approach.

And not to worry, Layer Cake. You don’t have to start sending me samples again. I’m OK with our relationship the way it is.

Labor Day wine 2017

labor day wine 2017Four refreshing wines to enjoy for Labor Day wine 2017

Labor Day means the end of summer, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of hot summer weather. So look for wine that takes the edge of the heat, suitable for porch sitting, picnics, and barbecues. In other words, light wines in warmer weather.

These four bottles should get you started when it comes to Labor Day wine 2017:

Le Pillon Gascogne 2016 ($9, purchased, 11.5%): This white wine from the French region of Gascony is a private label from Whole Foods, and tastes almost exactly like the legendary Domaine du Tariquet – some white grapiness and citrus. Highly recommended, assuming you can find it.

Tenuta Sant’Antonio Scaia Rosato 2015 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Italian pink wine from one of that country’s most intriguing producers – the wines are cheap and tasty, and use a glass stopper for the bottle. Look for almost floral aromas and crisp raspberry fruit. Also highly recommended, and also may be hard to find.

Coastal Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ($7, purchased, 12%): This Aldi private label is about as well made as $7 New Zealand sauvignon blanc gets. It’s clean and fresh with sweet lemon fruit, plus a pleasing tropical note in the middle to balance the lemon.

Cantina Vignaioli Barbera d’Alba 2014 ($15, purchased, 14%): This Italian red is earthy and almost funky, showing exactly what varietal means for the barbera grape in Piedmont. Look for dark berry fruit (blackberry, black cherry?) and spice as well as just enough Italian-style acidity to make the whole thing work. Highly recommended.

For more on Labor Day wine:
Labor Day wine 2016
Labor Day wine 2015
Labor Day wine 2014

Bota Box rose and the pink wine revolution

bota box roseWhy does the maker of the $5 Bota Box understand rose while so many others don’t?

The Bota Box rose, which costs the equivalent of $5 a bottle, is as good a cheap rose as there is on the market. How is this possible, given all the evidence that no one wants to buy $5 wine any more, as well as the fact that so much $5 wine is so terrible? And that so much rose, whether from Big Wine or “artisan” producers and targeted at the rose boom, is overpriced, not well made, or not especially rose-like?

Somehow, Delicato, the Big Wine house behind the Bota box rose ($18 for a 3-liter box, sample, 11.5%) has created a cheap dry rose that is exactly that. It’s light, crisp, and refreshing, with watermelon and strawberry fruit. Yes, it’s a little thin in the back and there’s an almost bitter tannic thing lurking in the finish, but neither of those should stop anyone from drinking it. Buy it, chill it in the refrigerator, and enjoy it.

In this, the Bota Box rose is so much better than I thought it would that I’m embarrassed to admit it. I didn’t expect it to be dry, and it was, as dry as any high-end Provencal pink. I didn’t expect it to taste like rose, and it did – even more than those pricey California roses made to taste like red wine, with tannins and 14.5 percent alcohol. I didn’t expect to like it, and I really did – so much that the more I drank, the more I started thinking about it as a Hall of Fame wine.

So what does Delicato understand that so many others don’t?

• There is still a market for quality cheap wine, and that premiumization is a much more sophisticated concept than most producers are willing to admit – or even understand. I’m convinced premiumization may not be as much about price as it is about quality, where consumers want better wine and not just more expensive wine.

• Big Wine is putting more effort into boxed wine, where it sees an opportunity to use its trademark cheap grapes even more efficiently. The Bota Box rose is made with zinfandel, petite sirah, and what Delicato calls floral varietals, so white grapes. That’s hardly a classic combination, and I don’t think I want to know the winemaking that went on to make it taste like rose. But it works.

• Someone at Delicato, at least for this vintage, cares about rose. The company could have made a less sweet white zinfandel knockoff, and who would have have noticed? Hopefully, that approach will continue next vintage.

Wine of the week: Muga Rosada 2016

muga roseThe Muga rose is top-notch again this vintage, but its price and its spotty availability present serious problems

The good news about the Spanish Muga rose, annually one of the best pink wines in the world, is that it’s well made again this vintage. The bad news? Availability will be a problem unless you live on the East Coast and there has been another price increase, bringing the Muga to $14 a bottle. That’s 40 percent more than when I started writing about it around the time of the recession.

The good news first. This vintage of the Muga rose ($14, purchased, 13.5%) is even more crisp this year, and the red fruit (wild strawberries?) is tart and refreshing. This is almost surprising, since the wine is made with garnacha, a grape that lends itself to fruitier wines. In this, it probably needs a little time in the bottle for the fruit to come through, another indication of Muga quality. The opposite – more time in the bottle equals less fruit – is true for almost every other rose.

The bad news, though, may offset the good. That I live in one of the top 10 wine markets in the U.S. and had to wait five months to buy the Muga rose speaks volumes about how troublesome availability has become. This has become a popular pink wine during the height of the rose craze, and much of it never gets past the East Coast to the rest of the country.

And, frankly, I’m not sure it’s worth $14. It’s not any better this year than the Charles & Charles, Boony Doon, or the Bieler. And there are a variety of Spanish and Italian roses that cost as little as $8 that are almost as good. Buy it if you can find it, but don’t be surprised if you’re disappointed.

Imported by Glazer’s Wholesale

Wine to drink when the air conditioner is replaced

air conditionerSix $10 wines to keep the chill on when the AC can’t

Aug. 25 update: Many tips of the Wine Curmudgeon’s fedora to Johnny Perez and his colleagues at JP Heating & Air in Dallas, who completed the installation in less than a day at a terrific price and spared me many, many kinds of unpleasantness. Plus, he drinks wine.

I drank two roses — the Jolie Folle  ($10 for 1 liter, purchased, 12.5%, imported by Verity Wine Partners)  and the Chateau Cornut ($10, purchased, 13.5%, imported by Misa Imports). The former was OK, if not as polished as previous vintages and a little thin in the back. Still, you can’t beat the price. The Cornut shows just how much great cheap rose there is in the world. A decade ago, I’d have written raves about it — a touch of red fruit, very crisp, and minerality in the back. These days, though, it’s just another solid, well-made, fine value pink wine. Which is not a bad thing.

Regular visitors to the blog know that the Wine Curmudgeon’s air conditioner shows up in posts more often than one would think. Or more often than it seems like it should. But I live in Texas in the second decade of the 21st century, so when the air conditioner isn’t working, it’s news.

And, as regular visitors also know, it has gone out more than it should – which leads us to this post. What wine does one drink when the air conditioning is replaced? Because, as I write this on a typically sweltering August morning, a new air conditioning system is being installed. Because the old AC went out again last week, with the promise of total collapse in the near future.

Fortunately, the electricity is still working (never a guarantee around here – right, Oncor?) So I had a chance to chill a variety of bottles to sip this afternoon when it gets too hot to type and the installation isn’t quite finished. I will choose from the six below and will update the post when the AC returns:

• Two old favorites, the Gascon Tariquet white and the 2016 Bieler Provencal Sabine rose. The Tariquet is last year’s vintage, because the three-tier system is doing its damnedest to keep the 2016 out of Dallas. But the wine is still tart, white grapey and enjoyable. The $10 Bieler may be the best rose I’ve had this season, better than the Muga and the Angels & Cowboys. It’s certainly better than the more expensive Provencal roses I’ve tasted.

• The 1-liter Jolie Folle rose, about $10. Previous vintages of this French pink have been mostly drinkable, but the attraction here is the price – 1 1/3 bottles for the price of one bottle.

• Chateau Cornut rose, also about $10. This French label is a new to me, and I’m leaning toward drinking it first.

• Chateau Haut Baumard, about $10 and the same wine I wrote about this spring.

Pink wine sold as rose isn’t a new concept

No, we didn’t invent rose in Brooklyn a couple of years ago, as this six-decade old TV commercial demonstrates

A reminder that what is trendy isn’t necessarily new — witness this TV commercial for a rose from E&J Gallo from the mid-1950s. The only thing missing are the hipsters, who still insist on taking credit for the rose boom.

A version of this wine still exists, and it’s sold in Europe as Gallo white grenache rose, “A luscious, fruity wine with flavours of strawberry and citrus.” It costs about €5, or US$6. I’m also told that Gallo did a dry rose, made with grenache, in the early 1980s, “a lovely wine.”

My favorite part of the commercial (besides the epic 1950s hairdos)? “A pink wine… try chilled or over ice.” I could have written the copy for that, no?

(Courtesy of Jeff Quitney via YouTube.)