Summer’s finally here.

This week marks the official start of summer and while it may not feel like summer in some parts of the country, I can’t help but think about what to drink while kicking back and relaxing on the patio with some light summery fare.

Cold grilled chicken, pasta salad, grilled veggies and fresh tomatoes all figure prominently in my summer plans. Plus one other thing: rosé wine. Like many people, I tend to forget about rosé for about nine months of the year, which is quite sad. Why I don’t remember to enjoy these delicious wines more frequently I just don’t know, but I plan to make up for it with a vengeance this summer.

There is a style of rosé for just about every palate, and every dish, so check out some of my favorites below. Keep in mind that these wines tend to be more food friendly and flexible than we assume, it is just our minds that look at these pretty, pale colors and fool us into believing that depth of color is directly related to depth of flavor. But we all know better than that, don’t we?

Take the Lucien Crochet Sancerre Rosé or the Apaltagua Rosé of Carmenere for example, two rather light colored wines that pack in tons of flavor and would be fabulous paired with grilled tuna or herb roasted pork loin. On the other hand, the Ehlers, Blackbird and Cline all are large scaled and pretty powerful, perfect for spicy food or grilled steaks. Pairing them with hamburgers might make you a backyard genius this summer!

So take some time this summer to explore rosé wines. They have never been better and we’ve never been blessed with a larger selection!

Photo courtesy of Blazey via Flickr/cc
2011 Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rosé 13%

Fragrant and floral on the nose with a hint of coriander under gentle cherry and strawberry fruit. Big and intense on entry with lovely acidity and a nice dusting of mineral tannin that helps to add great definition to this on the palate. The acidity is vibrant and really supports the red berry fruit, which shows a suggestion of bitter orange extending on the finish with lovely sapidity and a return of the floral elements of the nose. Great persistence to the fruit. 91pts

2011 Blackbird Vineyards Arriviste Napa Valley 13.5%

Smells fruity in a black cherry way, with some charcoal and earth nuances and a top note of mint. A little sweet on entry but also very high in acidity, so the suggestion of sweetness adds nice balance. This is a large scaled rosé, deep with rich black cherry and blackberry fruit that really penetrate the palate. The finish is nicely bright with a sour cherry refrain and a little spice on the finale, almost a touch peppery. Big but very well done. Not what I expect from a rosé, but there’s no arguing the appeal. 91pts

2011 Ehlers Sylviane St. Helena Napa Valley 12.9%

Pretty fruity on the nose with hints of black currant, dried herb, fennel seed and smoke lending this a bit of a sophisticated edge. Much more crisp on the palate than the nose might lead you to believe, with a soft richness grounded by good acidity and some fine tannins. There’s plenty of rose petal-tinged blackberry fruit on the palate and a bright, juicy finish that has a little Jolly Rancher wild grape going on before the citrussy acids cleanse the palate. Nice if in a slightly rich style. 90pts

2011 Apaltagua Rosé of Carmenere Central Valley Chile 13.5%

Herbal and mineral on the nose with lemony base notes and retrained red currant and cranberry fruit. Bright and crisp on entry with spicy herbal and big mineral notes that reverberate on the fairly fruity but tight palate. Nice crushed raspberry fruit with a hint of lingonberry on the back end. This settles into a long, decisive, mineral- and acid-driven finish. Man, this is fresh and vivid, with an almost salty minerality to it. Super fun stuff. 90pts

2011 Cline Mourvedre Rosé Contra Costa Co 13.5%

This smells meaty and slightly funky, all leathered up and ready to ride. Burning rubber, oil and grease, exhaust fumes and spicy black fruit; I name thee Evil Rider. Bright on entry, this does show a little sweetness to the blueberry, black plum and cherry flavors. Round and fairly lush in style, it maintains a firm base of acidity that draws the wine across a rather long finish. Decidedly plummy in nature and looking good for BBQ duty. 89pts

2011 Abacela Grenache Rosé Umpqua Valley Oregon 13%

This shows nice mineral, herb and cherry skin aromas on the nose, over a base of dry earth and dried grass. This is fairly rich in the mouth with good acidity and plenty of lightly brambly berry fruit. There’s a nice pop of strawberry on the palate with feathery tannins that drive the mineral, lemon pith and quartz-toned finish. Big and juicy, this has lovely, fresh berry fruit that is quite aromatic in the mouth. 89pts

2011 Chateau Routas Coteaux Varois en Provence 13%

Lemon, chalk and wild raspberry aromas greet the nose along with a sweet tarry edge. An unusually textured wine, rather soft and supple but at the same time firm and tight. There’s nice fruit here, a bit too much sugar adding richness for this to be dry, but the flavors of cherry and raspberry flecked with spicy mineral notes are attractive. The finish is bursting with grapefruit pith, peach and raspberry fruit, all dusted with a suggestion of white pepper. This is really quite lovely. 88pts

2011 Acrobat Rosé of Pinot Gris Oregon 13%

This smells of tangerines, apricots and honeysuckle, very Gewürztraminer-like in many ways and really attractive. Fresh and summery to be sure, this shows more red fruit in the mouth but retains some of the lovely aromatics as well. Bright and juicy, there is enough sugar here to add softness but not sweetness to the palate, which develops that perfumed apricot quality on the back end. This is a lot of fun. 87pts

2011 Ghost Hill The Spirit of Pinot Noir Rosé Bayliss-Bower Vineyard 13.5%

A bit meaty on the nose with notes of burnished cherry, pomegranate and perfumed apricot fruit, along with a sharp chalky tone. A bit large scaled but nicely dry, this is surprisingly rich with bright acidity and a suggestion of tannin helping to fill the mouth. There’s lovely, leafy-edged red berry fruit here, touched with a hint of blood orange that turns a bit compact on the moderately long finish. The finish is almost a touch bitter with some herb stem and slightly soapy cilantro elements. A bit aggressive. 87pts

2011 Troon Vineyard Jeanie in the Bottle Applegate Valley 11.5%

Crushed raspberries, white pepper and violets greet the nose along with a big watermelon undertone and some pollen fennel notes. A touch sweet in the mouth and rather light-bodied, this shows off some decidedly plummy tones in the mouth with spicy red berry top notes and a lightly jammy, strawberry back end. The finish is a touch short and shows the acid struggling to cleanse the palate. Fun but a bit sweet for me. 86pts

2011 Chateau de la Roulerie Rosé d’Anjou Valle de la Loire 11.5%

This is smoky and spicy on the nose with a nice tobacco edge to the dark berry fruit.  Noticeably sweet, but at the same time with a supportive spice of acidity. This is plump and juicy with cranberry and strawberry fruit. The herbal element here adds some nice complexity and the fruit turns all sweet and watermelon-like on the moderately long, somewhat sticky finish. This needs spicy Asian-influenced food to show its best. 86pts

2010 Wine by Joe Jose’s Rosé Oregon 13.5%

This is jammy and funky on the nose with floral and porcini accent notes. Still quite lively in the mouth, with rich fruit that shows some dried peach character along with a nice edge of strawberry. Actually quite a bit fresher in the mouth than on the nose with some nice fruit, until the finish which drops off an acid cliff. Still, this is fruity and refreshing. The fruit grows in length, and on you, as you drink it, taking on a pineapple character that is uniquely attractive. 86pts

2011 Tower 15 Sunset Paso Robles 13.2%

93% Grenache, 7% Pinot Noir

Toasty on the nose with subtle dried, roasted fruit aromas and a chalky, astringent vegetal accent note. Smooth and broad on entry with an attractively light mouth feel that shows off some strawberry and peach flavors. Very easy going and on the crisp if uncomplicated side of things. The finish is juicy with cranberry and lightly orange citrus fruit. Well balanced and easy to like. 86pts

2011 Gustave Lorentz Le Rosé of Pinot Noir 12%

Lightly aromatic and mostly woodsy on the nose with light suggestions of raspberries. This shows more fruit in the mouth, with bright acids lending nice cut. It’s an elegant style of wine that features nice interplay between silky and bright textural elements. A bit of watermelon and raspberry on the palate get some nice lift on the moderately long finish. 86pts

2011 Calcu Rosé Colchagua Valley Chile 12%

55% Malbec, 35% Syrah, 10% Petit Verdot

This is herbal and leathery on the nose with tarragon and carob notes. A ton of trapped CO2 lends this a noticeable if light fizz. There’s nice, citrus-accented red cherry fruit on the palate, with a hint of blueberry and spice on the back end. Fruity, sweet/tart red-fruited finish has a certain green apple quality to it. Easy to like but not really attention grabbing. 85pts

2011 Valley of the Moon Rosato of Sangiovese Sonoma Valley 13.5%

Rose petals and suggestions of bitter almond grace the nose over lightly candied strawberry fruit. A little sweet on entry, this is round and lush, voluptuous almost, in an easy to drink style that shows nice strawberry fruit accented with a suggestion of herb. This finishes fairly dry with a little tannic bite adding some detail. 85pts

NV Del Rio Vineyards Rosé Jolee Rogue Valley Oregon 10%

Floral and fruity on the nose with grapefruit, floral and tropical fruit aromas. This is lightly fizzy with noticeable sweetness balanced by good acidity, but once the gas dissipates this is a bit loose and soft. There’s plenty of fruit, sort of like adult fruit punch, with cherry, pomegranate and tropical fruit tones. The finish is sweet and fairly short. I love the aromatics here but the wine is a touch too sweet, though many people will love this. 84pts

2011 Valdemoreda Garnacha Rosado Spain 12.5%

Fruit bomb warning! This assaults the nose with grapey, wild cherry and raspberry jam aromas. A little soft but also surprisingly small scaled in the mouth. This is a playful little rosé, fruity but not in your face, just in your nose. The acid slowly rises on the palate and lends adequate brightness to bubblegum flavors that drift away on a nice, lean and modestly refreshing finish. Fluid, innocuous and lightly fruity, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. 82pts

2010 Inurrieta Mediodia Garnacha Rosado Navarra 14%

This is herbal and sandy on the nose with strawberry and red currant fruit. Another wine with lots of dissolved CO2 lending a bit of liveliness. In this case, it’s needed. This is a bit soft in the mouth. Though it does deliver a nice mouthful of classic strawberry and herb fruit, it lacks a bit of lift and vitality, and as the gas dissipates, it becomes a bit flabby and loose. 80pts