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What Should You Drink this Summer? Rosé, or Rose B?

by Jacob Brower, Wine & Spirits Professional


I’m glad Americans have caught on to rosé. When I first started selling wine, it was just starting to become popular, and trying to get someone to try a bottle that I thought was truly incredible was often a little like pulling teeth.


Hearkening back to the depressing years before American wine culture started to take off in the mainstream, people still thought pink wine was going to taste like sweet, cloying, cheaply made White Zinfandel. So-called ‘serious’ wine drinkers wouldn’t go near a dry, crisp Côtes de Provence because they were sure it was going to be sweet. “I only drink red wines,” the customer would say. (“It’s 101° out and you really want to drink a Napa Cab?” I would wonder silently, somewhat incredulous.)


As most of us now know, these assumptions were all based on misinformation—in most regions where rosé wine is produced, it is a dry wine made from red-skinned varieties in a refreshing, food-friendly style that is delicious during both warmer and cooler times of year. Generally speaking, if you’re in a good wine store looking at a wall of conventional rosés, you don’t have to ask for one that isn’t sweet—none will be! Now, of course, you can’t go anywhere during the summer without seeing people enjoying rosé. Bottles are poured at every event, everyone’s ordering them like crazy at wine bars, people are even walking around in goofy t-shirts decked out in rosé-themed slogans.


But popularity has its drawbacks. With the demand for rosé growing stateside, and wine knowledge and education lagging behind, it seems like every b-list celebrity and get-rich-quick entrepreneur has started a new wine brand. Bottle after bottle of rosé gets branded with tacky, pandering names and goofy-looking packaging. Whether the wine comes from movie stars, Instagram joke plagiarists, Hamptons elite wannabes, or just a Côtes de Provence producer with dollar signs in his or her eyes, there’s a proliferation of bad rose on the market again, and these days it’s often anything but cheap!


Whether, like me, you’re just burnt out on even good examples of the most well-known rosé regions and styles, or you’re hunting for something truly farmed and handmade by an actual estate, here are three unusual and very delicious rosés that will convert even the harshest skeptic.


’18 Forlorn Hope ‘Queen of the Sierra’ Barbera blend, Sierra Foothills, California
Matthew Rorick makes some of California’s most interesting natural wines! Striving to work with organically and biodynamically-farmed fruit, often with varieties rarely seen in the United States, his wines are vibrant, lively, fresh, and always different from whatever you expect. This year’s rosé might be our favorite yet—unfiltered and unfined, this hazy, beautifully pink wine offers fresh, juicy red fruit alongside refreshing acidity and a cool mineral backbone. Really, really delicious!

’18 Franchere ‘For Heaven’s Sake, Don’t Move Here’ Pinot Gris blend, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Another ‘natural’ wine—noticing a theme here?—this funky rosé from Oregon’s Willamette Valley is produced in tiny quantities and made from a slightly bizarre blend of Pinot Gris and Grüner Veltliner. Co-fermented with extended skin contact, the wine offers hints of Italian plum, honeysuckle, and savory undertones. Very interesting!

’15 Clos Saron ‘Tickled Pink’ Syrah blend, Sierra Foothills, California
Chris Sevrens—husband to our fearless leader Sharon—just walked into the store while I was writing this post, pointed at the ‘Tickled Pink,’ and said, “That is my favorite rose I’ve ever had.” The perfect combination of refreshing rose and savory, complex light red, it holds its own all summer long with great bottles of Burgundy, and is unusual enough in style to age further and pair with difficult cuisines, such as Thai. Is it any wonder? Gideon Beinstock, formerly of Renaissance Vineyards and now of Clos Saron, makes some of the United States' most fascinating, most complex, and most age-worthy wines—and this stunning bottle is no different. Only 1,608 bottles produced.


If you think you know what a rosé ‘has to’ taste like, you owe it to yourself to taste some of these esoteric, funky, and incredibly interesting bottles—they will change the way you look at this wide-ranging and interesting category of wine!

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