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Thinking Pink: My Top 2 Dozen Rosés for 2010 Summer Drinking

July 11, 2010


Out of nearly four dozen rosés tasted so far this year, here are my top 24 candidates for your summer salads, picnics, barbecues and light dining. These are the ones I’ve rated from 92 (my highest rosé rating so far this year) to 89 points.

What I look for most in rosé is balance, meaning good acidity that matches up to a lot of summer foods, with enough complexity to satisfy the mind, but mainly a good thirst-quenching, refreshing drink. After a long hike, a day of traveling by train or air, a bout of weeding in the garden, a major shopping expedition or even just a few hours by a warm pool, nothing quite hits the spot in these warm months as well as a tasty rosé with balance and poise.

As usual, my favorite rosés this year come from Southern France, especially Bandol and Tavel, where they have perfected the art of making rosé, somehow achieving the perfect combination of acidity and minerality that make these such ideal food wines. You almost can’t go wrong picking a rosé from these regions, where the pink stuff tends to be made from a blend of Grenache, Cinsaut and sometimes Syrah or Mourvedre. The Tempier is always a good choice, although a bit pricier than other rosés from the region. The harder-to-find Château d’Aqueria is probably the most memorable rosé I’ve had this year–possibly in part because it was the wine that welcomed me, after a long trip from Portugal, to the Languedoc in late May. The Chateau Viranel, pictured below, from Saint Chinian in the Languedoc, is a good buy for about $13.

Spain and Portugal are another good source of rosé with style and verve. In Spain, rosé comes under two different names: light pink rosés are called “rosado,” while the darker pink to light red wines are known as “clarete.” The Muga Rosado, which sells for about $12, is quite refreshing, and then there’s the always unusual, long-aged, intentionally oxidative but very balanced Lopez de Heredia–in this case the ’98, which is a current release. I was also very impressed with the Noval Quinta da Romaneira Rosé from my recent trip to Portugal.

The U.S. makes some increasingly interesting rosés–gone are the days when “white Zin” dominated the category. One of the most unusual ones I’ve had so far this year was the ’09 Metaphora Grace Hope and Joy, which I sampled at a rosé tasting at the Wine Club in San Francisco last month, and which is remarkably complex for a rosé without losing balance. It’s also fairly pricey, though, at $27. The Bonneau “Los Carneros” is a much better value at $12. I also tasted a number of other Pinot rosés at the recent Pinot Days in San Francisco, so the best of those are listed below as well.

An important thing to remember in buying rosé is that these are wines made to be drunk within a year or so of release, so it doesn’t pay to buy more than you are likely to consume over the course of the summer. Of course, if you do end up with more rosé than you need, the excess is always good for cooking and can be turned into great looking and tasting salad vinegar.

Here’s your bouquet of two dozen current rosés:

2008 Château d’Aqueria Tavel Rosé – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Tavel (5/24/2010)
From 375 ml – bright medium dark pink color; light strawberry foam nose; focused, tasty, tart strawberry, pink grapefruit, mineral palate, very refreshing; medium finish (92 pts.)

2009 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé – France, Provence, Bandol (6/7/2010)
Light orange pink color; tart pink grapefruit, blood orange nose; tart strawberry, tart cherry, mineral, tart cantaloupe palate; medium finish (92 pts.)

2008 Andre Andrieux & Fils Tavel Cuvée Victoria – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Tavel (6/12/2010)
Medium orange pink color; earthy, vaguely savory, tart orange nose; light-medium bodied, tart orange, mineral, cantaloupe palate; medium finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)

2009 Domaine du Gros’ Noré Bandol Rosé – France, Provence, Bandol (6/19/2010)
Light pink-tinged yellow color; intriguing mineral, tart citrus, lemon, grapefruit nose; tart citrus, lemon, grapefruit, tart oange, mineral palate with depth, juice and medium acidity; medium finish 91+ pts. (blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre) (91 pts.)

2009 Domaine de la Fouquette Côtes de Provence Cuvée Aurore – France, Provence, Côtes de Provence (7/4/2010)
Light salmon pink color; light tart red fruit, white pepper nose; nice tart red fruit, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)

2009 Bjornstad Pinot Noir Rosé – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast (6/27/2010)
Light pink grapefruit, tart strawberry nose; light, crisp, tart strawberry, pink grapefruit palate; medium finish 91+ pts. (91 pts.)

1998 R. López de Heredia Rioja Rosado Viña Tondonia – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (6/25/2010)
Light medium orange color; rancio, almond, green almond nose; green almond, marconi almond, rancio palate with medium acidity; medium finish (91 pts.)

2009 Quinta da Romaneira Douro – Portugal, Douro (5/18/2010)
Pink color; tasty, tart citrus, red grapefruit palate; medium finish (91 pts.)

2009 Lucia Pinot Noir Lucy Rosé Santa Lucia Highlands – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands (6/27/2010)
Nice light cherry, red fruit nose; tart pink grapefruit, tart red fruit palate with good acidity; medium finish (91 pts.)

2009 Metaphora Wines Grace Hope and Joy – USA, California, Napa Valley (6/19/2010)
Medium orange pink color; hibiscus, rosehips, dried lemon, clementine nose; tart Pinot, tart cherry, red fruit, mineral, hibiscus, high pitched lemon palate; medium-plus finish (reportedly on list at French Laundry; would be lovely pairing with a lot of salads) (91 pts.)

2008 Domaine Alain Chabanon Coteaux du Languedoc Rosé Trémier – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Coteaux du Languedoc (5/26/2010)
Light orange pink color; tart orange nose; tasty, tart orange, tart cantaloupe palate; short-medium finish 90+ pts. (45% Mourvedre, 32% Carignan, 23% Grenache; 6 mos. in stainless steel vats) (90 pts.)

2009 Bodegas Muga Rioja Rosado – Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (6/12/2010)
Light yellow pink color; light strawberry, pink grapefruit nose; tart grapefruit, tart strawberry, mineral palate; medium finish 90+ pts. (blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo and Viura)(90 pts.)

2009 Château Viranel Saint-Chinian Tradition – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Saint-Chinian (6/19/2010)
Light yellow pink color; nice tart pink grapefruit, mineral nose; tasty, solid rose, light strawberry, light red fruit, mineral palate with character, depth and good acidity; medium finish 90+ pts. (40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 20% Cinsault; a K&L exclusive) (90 pts.)

2009 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Pinot Noir Vin Gris – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros (3/27/2010)
Very light pink color with yellow lights; nice Bandol-like rose, very tart strawberry nose; tasty, tart rose, mineral, tart orange palate; medium finish 90+ pts. (90 pts.)

2009 Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Rubentis – Spain, País Vasco, Getariako Txakolina (6/19/2010)
Light yellow pink color; mineral, grapefruit rind, lemon rind nose; very tart, citrus, lemon, grapefruit, rind, mineral palate with medium-plus acidity; medium finish (blend of Hondurrabi Zuri and Hondurrabi Beltsa) (90 pts.)

2009 Bonneau – USA, California, Sonoma County, Carneros (6/19/2010)
Light medium pink color; tart strawberry, mineral, citrus nose; tart strawberry, light red fruit, ripe cranberry palate; medium finish (90 pts.)

2008 La Jasse Castel Coteaux du Languedoc Tutti Frutti – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Coteaux du Languedoc (5/24/2010)
Medium dark pink orange color; tart strawberry, pink grapefruit nose; tasty pink grapefruit palate with good acidity and balance; medium finish (90 pts.)

2009 Domaine de la Mordorée Côtes du Rhône Rosé La Dame Rousse – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône (6/12/2010)
Medium dark salmon pink color; focused, tart red fruit, blood orange nose; tasty, focused, tart blood orange, mineral palate; medium finish (90 pts.)

2009 Commanderie de Peyrassol Côtes de Provence Rosé – France, Provence, Côtes de Provence (6/19/2010)
Light yellow-tinged pink color; big, light red fruit, berry, orange nose; orange cream, tart orange, mineral palate with some depth; medium finish 89+ pts. (blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah) (89 pts.)

2007 A to Z Wineworks Rosé Oregon – USA, Oregon (1/1/2010)
Light medium pink color with clear meniscus; bright tart red fruit, mineral nose; tart red fruit, cranberry, mineral palate with good acidity; short finish (good value) (89 pts.)

2008 Le Cengle Côtes de Provence Vieilles Vignes – France, Provence, Côtes de Provence (6/12/2010)
Light orange pink color; light pink grapefruit, mineral nose; tasty, light bodied, tart cantaloupe, tart strawberry, mineral palate; medium finish (89 pts.)

2009 Calera Pinot Noir Vin Gris – USA, California, Central Coast (6/27/2010)
Light red fruit nose; tart red fruit palate with medium acidity; medium finish (89 pts.)

2007 Domaine Alain Chabanon Coteaux du Languedoc Rosé Trémier – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Languedoc, Coteaux du Languedoc (5/28/2010)
Medium orange pink color; tart orange, tangerine, baked cherry nose; tart plum, tart berry, herbal, black fruit palate, big and complex for a rose; medium-plus finish (70% Mourvedre, 30% Carignan) (89 pts.)

2009 Point Concepción Pinot Grigio Celestina – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (6/25/2010)
Light orange pink color; nice apple, peach nose; tart apple, tart peach palate with good acidity; medium finish (1/2 in used oak, 1/2 in stainless steel) (89 pts.)

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