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The best new rosé wines aren’t from France

The best new rosé wines aren’t from France

Elin McCoy | Bloomberg News (TNS)

Chilled pink wine on a hot summer night is still the Instagram symbol of summer — and winemakers in every region on the planet are launching new ones to fill your glass.

Yes, France’s Provence — and its yacht-and-beach luxury lifestyle — have long been at the center of rosé’s glamorous image, championed this spring in “The Book of Rosé: The Provencal Vineyard that Revolutionized Rosé” (Rizzoli; $75).

Not so fast. Only 126 of the 437 rosés listed by giant online retailer Wine.com hail from Provence.

The rest come from other parts of France and from countries around the globe. In Chile and New Zealand and Eastern Europe, for example, pink winemaking has grown more than 50% over the past decade or so. That’s according to the 2023 Rosé Wines Tracking Report, a collaboration between the Provence Wine Council and France AgriMer that covers 45 countries.

I’ve recently tasted more than 150 pink wines — even a rosé sake. Among them were fascinating new bottlings from New Mexico and Japan, Barolo country in Italy, Lebanon, islands in Greece, and tiny wineries in Oregon and California. (Wine.com’s 56 Golden State examples don’t include the many rosés made in minuscule quantities by top Napa producers and now offered in winery tasting rooms and available for direct purchase.)

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Today’s wide range of hues, grape varieties and winemaking techniques mean bigger choices in style than ever.

The new pricing sweet spot roughly hovers from $20 to $35, which shows that most pink wines aim to be more than vin piscine, those swimming pool quaffers served in large glasses with lots of ice. There’s a surge in pink sparkling wines, $50-and-up luxury Napa rosés and serious oak-aged examples—which are not always so appealing.

By the way, don’t shun the premium rosés showing up in dark glass bottles instead of clear glass that shows off the lusciously pink color. The reason is “light strike.” Rosé is particularly susceptible to damage from exposure to sunlight; it can cause the wine to end up smelling like wet dog or old cabbage.

I know that general wine consumption has been shrinking, particularly for red wines. The fate of rosé doesn’t need rose colored glasses: Production is growing and more than one in every 10 bottles consumed globally now is pink, with the popularity of premium, high-quality bottles unabating, especially members of Gen X and Gen Z. CGA’s 2023 Wine Insights Reports revealed that 21% of British consumers were drinking rosé more often than a year earlier. In May, the Santa Margherita wine brand unveiled a survey of 2,000 Americans nationwide, undertaken by Talker Research, that found rosé the favorite wine for celebrations.

Still, a caution: A lot of new, boring rosés are out there. My 14 picks below are not.

Summer 2024 Rosé Wine Buying Guide

2021 Textura Pretexto Rosé ($19): Founded in the Dão region of Portugal in 2018, this family wine project enlisted famed winemaker Luis Seabra to oversee its range of reds and whites. Now, it’s added this fresh, juicy rosé made from red jaen grapes (called mencia in Spain). It’s elegant, mineral and complex.

2023 Vara New Mexican Rosé ($19): At this pioneering winery, the first rosé from New Mexico-grown grapes blends 70% cabernet sauvignon with 30% refosco. It shows that a juicy, savory pink wine can emerge even from a harsh desert climate.

2021 Fiol Prosecco Rosé Extra Dry ($18): I sampled this just-launched, sophisticated, light coral-pink wine recently. It’s smoother and more subtle than most rosé proseccos, with berry and floral aromas and a soft, salty-fruit taste. Perfect pool drinking at only 11% alcohol.

2021 Mallea Vineyards Rosé of Grenache ($20): Check out the label on this lively rosé with cherry-ish flavors from a new, small Santa Barbara, California, collaboration between viticulturalist Erik Mallea and winemaker Justin Willet; they aim to produce Rhône varietals from organic grapes. The label art echoes the messages Basque shepherds in the American West carved into tree bark in the 19th and 20th centuries.

NV Missing Thorn by Aaron Pott Sparkling Rosé Alcohol-Removed Wine ($24): Super pleasurable to sniff and sip! A new line of nonalcoholic wines created by veteran Napa winemaker Aaron Pott has debuted. The sparkling rosé boasts rose petal, citrus and brioche aromas that remind me of older vintages of Champagne. The taste is succulent and citrusy, with a long finish.

2022 Ousyra Fokiano Rosé Cyclades ($24): This charming, organic Greek rosé is made at a boutique winery on Syros, one of the Aegean Islands. The name of the winery means happiness. Richly fruity, it’s made from rare indigenous fokiano grapes grown on the island of Naxos.

2023 The Language of Yes Les Fruits Rouge Pink Wine of the Central Coast ($28): Ever inventive California winemaker Randall Grahm began a partnership with Gallo with the 2020 vintage, but this 2023 is only the second vintage of his pale pink, easy to drink cinsaut- and grenache-based rosé. Think of it as a spicy California version of Provence pinks, with aroma notes of dried herbs.

2022 Maugeri Contrada Volpare Etna Rosato ($30): Sicily’s trendy Mount Etna region is noted for reds, but this new, exciting winery project focuses on rosé and whites. The striking, coppery colored rosato from a single vineyard is light and vivid and also shows wonderfully complex flavors of salty minerals, fresh herbs and ethereal fruit. Pair with grilled salmon.

2023 Ridge Lytton Estate Rosé ($35): This isn’t new. But until very recently, practically no one (including me) knew that this winery, famous for its stunning Monte Bello cabernet, made a rosé. The blend of grenache, zinfandel, Mataro, cinsaut and counoise from Ridge’s estate in Sonoma is rose petal-scented, subtle and crisp, with deep flavors of mint and strawberries.

2021 Grape Republic Rosa Frizzante ($40): A pét-nat for adventurous drinkers who are also tracking the newest new thing: Grape Republic, founded in 2017, has become a big name in Japan’s natural wine scene. This is the second vintage of its ripe, round, lightly sparkling blend of hybrid red and white grapes, and it’s just arrived in the US.

2022 J.H. Wheeler Rosé ($48): Delicate, yet layered describes the third vintage of this fruity-chalky pink wine made from 40-year-old Napa Valley cabernet franc vines. The label, reborn several years ago, makes mostly expensive ($225 and up per bottle) single-vineyard cabernets. It has added a rosé that now sells out first. Only 167 cases made.

2023 Realm Precious Twin Rosé ($63): I raved about this Napa cult winery’s first rosé, La Fe, created in the 2020 vintage when wildfires and smoke ensured they couldn’t make any pricey cabernet. This new savory orangey-pink cuvée is a different blend—merlot with 10% charbono—and it’s rich, complex and succulent.

2022 Gut Oggau Cecilia Rosé ($72): This is the second vintage of a new, idiosyncratic, no-sulfur rosé from a cult biodynamic Austrian producer. It’s a delicious field blend of red and white grapes from a single plot, with two-thirds pressed directly and one-third macerated for a short time to pick up color from the skins.

2019 Château Gassier Elevae ($125): I can’t resist including this single French pick, a new, impressive, bold, oak-aged rosé from Provence’s Saint-Victoire area. The blend of five grapes, all organically grown, shows floral and pomegranate aromas and spicy oak flavors. Think of this as a rosé for red wine drinkers. The winery says it’s perfect with wagyu beef chop aged in Himalayan salt. Sounds good to me.

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