Set The Rosé Free

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In the past 10 years we have witnessed an exponential growth in Rosé offerings and sales. Together, France and the U.S. consume nearly half of the annual global production of Rosé available on the market.

There are many factors that have helped with the rise of rosés:

  • Affordability
  • Ability to pair well with food
  • Diversity of style

I believe that Provence, France teaches us a great lesson when it comes to rosés. This incredible region enjoys hot and sunny summers and mild winters. Rainfall is not common and it falls mostly during the autumn months. The Mistral wind that generates in the Alps and runs down the Rhone Valley into the Mediterranean Sea is the only real variable here. The ideal planting sites in the region are south facing with the hill providing protection from the Mistral. Vines need to be securely trained and protected. The wind is not just ‘cursing’ the region since it can be helpful to cool down the grapes during summer and dry the grapes after the rain.

We can also learn a lot about rosé wines and food pairings from the people of Provence. Drinking rosé with flavorful and rich dishes, like the local bouillabaisse, tapenade, ratatouille, daube (beef stew), aioli, etc is not uncommon here. The dry, crisp and savory herbal ‘garrigue-like’ flavor of the wine can stand up to these dishes while cleansing your palate and leaving you with a pleasant salty like finish. There’s good reason that Alice Waters came to Provence to study under the guidance of Lulu Peyraud from Domaine Tempier.

There are many rosés out there and the quality is increasing vintage after vintage.

Here are some highlights:

Barone di Villagrande – Etna Rosato: This rosé comes from the oldest winery on Sicily’s Mount Etna. The land has been in the family since 1727. It is a blend of 80% Nerello Mascalese, 10% Carricante, 10% Nerello Cappuccio. The color is a soft rose, onion skin like. On the nose, this wine screams volcanic rocks and rose petal with a pleasant nuance of blood orange, typical of Etna. It is awesome by itself as an aperitif, or perfect with a tomato-based first course or traditional caponata.

the color of earth on Etna, it smelled “alive”

from Augusto’s trip to Etna in April

Liquid Farm Rose 2016 – This rosé comes out of the Vogelzang vineyard located in the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara. The varietal is Mourvedre with just 11.8% alcohol. This wine is slowly creating a following of happy rosé drinkers. It showcases a beautiful coppery pink color with aromas of pomegranate, raspberry and red flowers. This wine is savory on the palate with blood orange and fresh peach leaving you with a pleasant salt like minerality. It is reminiscent of a Provence rosé.

Domaine Tempier Bandol 2016 – The Domaine has been owned by the Tempier family since 1834 and it is one of the few family run estates that have stayed true to its past. This iconic and highly allocated Bandol rosé is a blend of 50% Mourvedre, 28% Grenache, 20% Cinsault and 2% Carignan. The grapes are organically farmed and handpicked. The color is textbook Provence: crystal clear and salmon pink! Its finish brings a pleasant sea-salt like mouth feel; this is an earthy and complex rosé with smoky and herbaceous tones that would age graciously for the next decade.

Chateau Vannieres La Patience – This limited production rosé is another great Bandol blend of 95% Mourvedre and 5%Grenache. No SO2 added here and a long time spent on the fine lees to add texture and weight to the mid palate. It features white flowers and a hint of toasty-ness on the nose. The attack is slightly sweet and opulent with a great long lasting finish. This wine deserves some richer seafood preparation or some white meat marinated in herbs.

Matthiasson Rosé – Steve Matthiasson is a true farmer. In 1999 he co-authored the California manual on sustainable vineyard practices. His wines are pure expression of ‘terroir,’ meaning the land from which it comes. The blend here is 46% Grenache, 27% Syra,h 14% Morvedre, 7% Sauvignon Blanc and 6% Caunoise. Grapes are whole cluster pressed and the wine does not go through malolactic fermentation to preserve the crispiness. On the nose, it’s clean, floral and citrusy with hints of spices. It’s a perfect companion for seasonal veggies and great to enjoy by itself during the hot summer.