Roll out the rosés, and we'll have a barrel of fun
More and more rosés are being made (and labeled) dry, and these are the wines you want to sip, chilled, from simple tumblers or even paper cups, says Wine Adviser Paul Gregutt
Special to the Seattle Times
AMONG THE surest signs of spring: the Mariners drop below .500, the rhododendrons are in full bloom, and wine-sellers roll out the rosés.
These young wines offer much to admire — especially some from our own backyard. Just as the Beaujolais Nouveau heralds the newest vintage each November, these springtime mushniks (Google it!) showcase the same light and fruity — though definitely dry — flavors.
More and more rosés are being made (and labeled) dry, and these are the wines you want to sip, chilled, from simple tumblers or even paper cups. Avoid the sweet styles; the dry rosés work amazingly well with a wide variety of foods. These are deck wines, boat wines, outdoor wines, picnic wines — easy and accessible.
That doesn't mean they're dull. Quite the contrary. With each new vintage, the sophistication, complexity and elegance of the best rosés are clearly on the upswing. A lot has to do with the types of grapes being used, and the fact that winemakers set out to make rosé specifically rather than just bleeding off surplus juice from the fermenting vats.
I am most fond of single-grape or blended rosés from Mediterranean (Italian or Spanish) and southern Rhône grapes. Barbera, Dolcetto, sangiovese, grenache, mourvèdre and their more obscure companions all seem to be well-suited to this style of wine. Their rosés are often better than the more "serious" reds made from exactly the same grapes.
Both the 2010 and 2011 vintages were cool and somewhat wet here in the Northwest, but that can actually work in favor of rosé. It wouldn't surprise me if grapes otherwise destined for pricier, full-bodied reds had ended up as rosés in recent vintages, simply because they lacked the ripeness to be anything else. That is not necessarily a detriment in the hands of a good winemaker.
If you are planning a party and need more than one bottle, by all means buy as many different wines as possible. A rosé display is a multicolored rainbow of pink and rose and copper and salmon shades, no two alike. And with wines so young, very little can go wrong — especially if they are bottled, as many are, under screwcap.
Here are some of the early releases that tickled my tongue a few weeks ago. Your favorite wine seller can show you what else is interesting today. These wines often go quickly, so now is the time to stock up:
Barnard Griffin 2011 Rose of Sangiovese; $12. A perennial award-winner, rocking with pretty cherry and raspberry fruit.
Dusted Valley 2011 Ramblin' Rosé; $24. Sourced from a single Walla Walla vineyard, this is a grenache-based blend, lively and fresh, with a hint of chocolate in the finish.
Syncline 2011 Rosé; $18. A five-grape blend, bone dry, a lovely pale salmon shade, with excellent complexity.
Tranche 2011 Pink Pape; $16. Classy and lively, this lightly spritzy blend has sophisticated scents of melon, citrus and blood orange.
Wind Rose 2011 Rosado; $12. This Sequim winery blends barbera, primitivo and Dolcetto grapes to make this fruity, quaffable, well-balanced summer sipper.
About Wine Adviser
My column is all about sharing the joy of exploring all the world of wine. I want to guide people to make inspired choices, and encourage them to try as many different styles of wine as they can. I will always seek out the best wines at the best prices. Wine Adviser runs on Sunday in Pacific Northwest Magazine.