Rosé Has Jumped the Shark


Hasn’t it? When we started Snooth back in 2007, rosé was not such a hot button topic. Its growth over the past eleven years is astounding. Nielsen reports that sales of still rosé have risen sixty-five percent since last year. Sparkling rosé sales jumped by sixteen percent. The funny thing is, we can assume that prior to direct pressing most all wines looked like a rosé. It was the notoriously sophisticated Romans who brought winemaking to a place where color gradations could be created. If not for their ingenuity, perhaps we’d have been drinking rosé all along.

Regardless, rosé has most always existed in its own class.  Clairet from Bordeaux is an example of rosé wine that dates back centuries. While it was always possible to find quality rosé wine from Europe, most early-to-mid twentieth century Americans considered the wines too simple. It was down-market juice for the unserious drinker. The grapes weren’t grown with rosé wine in mind. It’s just run-off juice used to enhance the color of a red wine (as in the saignée, or bleeding method.) It’s just a red wine and a white wine mixed together. (These days, with the exception of rosé Champagne, mixing is not permitted in the European Union. It is permitted in the New World.)

So how exactly did we become a nation of rosé-philes?
The rise of rosé indicates that the wine cellar guard has changed. A new generation of wine drinkers is democratizing consumption in heretofore unseen ways. That’s great news for everyone here – yes, more people are drinking wine. Many wine writers have worked tirelessly to make wine more accessible and inclusive. And to me, the rise of rosé is proof of their success. The wine industry is booming because there’s more for everybody to enjoy no matter your taste or price point. Inclusivity is one of the main tenets upon Snooth was built, and I couldn’t be more proud.

But now that everyone has jumped on the rosé bandwagon, where are we headed? Many of the great brands have made their first rosés in just the past few years, and most do not disappoint. The majority of them are intentional – the grapes are grown with the rosé wine in mind. But while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we should remain vigilant as we wade through the great twenty-first century rosé glut.

I always taste rosé at room temperature to start. While this is a fairly common wine adjudication practice, I find it particularly important when it comes to rosé. If it doesn’t taste okay to you when it’s slightly warm, there’s probably a better bottle out there.

Here are my top five rosé wines for the 2018 season. For a longer list of good bets, click here.

Field Recordings French Camp Vineyards Valdiguie Rosé Paso Robles 2017

If you’re going to join one new winery club this year, make it Field Recordings. Winemaker Andrew Jones knows how to pick ‘em when it comes to grape vines. His intimate knowledge of the California coast has created some superior selections.

Strawberry with hay and barley aromas, a touch of cherry and some citrus notes on the nose. This is a bit biscuity on the palate with loads of citrus zest and sparkly acidity, cherry, grapefruit and tangerine fruit, some melon rind and a finish of warm spice and a creamy texture.

Field Recordings Creston Ridge Vineyard Sangiovese Rosé Paso Robles 2017

Fresh peach and dried persimmon notes with a hint of something herbal and a bit of fresh melon. Zesty and bright on the palate with orange leaf, creamsicle and strawberry notes with a really pleasant fresh pumpkin note and a floral finish. Truly intriguing and a nice departure from the norm.
91 pts

Clean Slate Pinot Noir Rosé Nahe 2017

Clean Slate is well-known for Riesling from the Mosel, but they also deliver on this easy-drinking delight. Buy twelve or more for your next barbecue and please the entire crowd.

Clean and light notes of strawberry and pink grapefruit on the nose. Very expressive palate of juicy citrus fruit - grapefruit and lemon with some cherry and strawberry notes with a lightly floral halo. Lots of buoyant acidity, fresh melon and a finish with a bit of apple and a touch of creaminess.
90 pts

Domaine Bousquet Malbec Cabernet Rosé Tupungato Valley 2018

This winery, a jewel of the Andes mountains, has become a fast favorite of mine. The potpourri of grapes in this rosé will make your head turn: 55% Malbec, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Sauvignon Blanc, and 5% Pinot Gris. This is a rosé you can confidently serve at your next cloth napkin dinner.

Creamy floral notes of rose petal and watermelon with a spicy pepper note and some soft cherry. Mellow and tart on the palate on entry but developing some zest towards the finish, this is light and easy drinking with strawberry and cherry notes and a chunk of earth alongside the fruit.

Left Coast Cellars Rosé Willamette Valley 2017
I can’t go too long without having a taste of Oregon. The Pinot Noir (54%), Pinot Meunier (40%), Pinot Blanc (6%) grapes were grown specifically for this wine. Don’t pass up the opportunity to visit the five hundred acre estate the next time you pass through the Willamette Valley.

Crisp, mineral slate and steel aromas with light cherry fruit on the nose. Juicy and pleasant palate of cherry, tangerine and berry flavors, soft, plush body and good acidity, finishing with a nice earthy complexity and a touch of green herb.

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