Summer Rosé for Fall & Winter Pairings


Have you been drowning in rosé? For most of us it’s a summertime guarantee. Gratefully, the majority of rosé have something unique to share. Endless combinations of grapes, production methods, climate and terroir make variety possible. The funny thing is that once fall hits rosé is soon forgotten. It’s a curious circumstance to me; both fall and winter are filled with rosé-friendly situations. But which summer rosé wines will you carry past Labor Day and into turkey pairing season? Here’s a geographical breakdown of the best of my favorite summer rosé for fall and winter.

Roussillon, France

Many people associate Roussillon with Vins Doux Naturels, a sweet wine created by including fortifying spirits in the fermentation process. The process dates back to the early thirteenth century. But the region’s expertise in rosé winemaking should not be overlooked.

A premier example is the 2016 Domaine Lafage Grand Cuvee rosé from AOC Cotes du Roussillon, my favorite bottle of the summer. Jean-Marc and Eliane Lafage farm 160 hectares of vines located just south of the capital of French Catalonia, Perpignan. That’s a stone’s throw from the Spanish border. Their organically farmed vineyards span from the foothills of the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean Sea.

The wine is made from a combination of Grenache, Grenache Gris, and Mourvedre grapes, hand-harvested from sixty-five to eighty year-old vines. Gentle direct press prevents bitterness. Even the taille (a type of juice produced during the pressing process that contains more tannin than sugar or acidity) is discarded. What we have here is bottle that achieves the apotheosis of balance. Wine Advocate gave the 2014 vintage 92 points, while the 2013 received 94 points. You can pick it up for about $25, a true steal in light of its quality.

Languedoc, France

Mont Gravet is consistently one of my favorite value priced rosé for a crowd. The 2016 is less than ten dollars per bottle. This is a Cinsault-based rosé, a classic approach giving way to a refreshing result. Cherry, strawberry and raspberry aromas are distinctly present but quite light. It’s a bit more generous on the palate with a candied quality, medium to full body and strawberry fruit; the epitome of “easy-drinking”.

Russian River Valley, California

Rodney Strong is an icon of the Russian River Valley, and California on the whole. This year marked the introduction of the 2016 vintage rosé of Pinot Noir. It’s a stellar example of rosé winemaking in the New World. Pleasant watermelon and cherry aromas are juicy and inviting. This has a fresh, tingling acidity and a zesty spice on the palate. It’s playful and clean with excellent fruit notes of cranberry, cherry and strawberry leading up to a bit of an earthy finish. I’m calling 90 points on this one, and looking forward to the second vintage of what I hope will be many.
Yet another jewel of the Russian River Valley, J Vineyards, delivers a fantastic non-vintage brut rosé to prime your palate for sparkling season. It brings pleasantly rustic, smoky strawberry and sour cherry aromas with a creamy vanilla note and light toast. The palate is full bodied, zesty and decadent with cherry, strawberry and ripe watermelon flavors, a buoyant acidity and lively texture with a bit of grapefruit zest and vanilla frosting on the finish adding some depth. I call 92 points here.

Pfalz, Germany
German rosé grew from 6% to 11% of total production between 2003 and 2016. Pfalz, the driest of Germany’s wine regions and a direct neighbor to Alsace, is the perfect place to find it. The 2016 Villa Wolf displays the best facets of well-ripened Pinot Noir in rosé form.  Its light watermelon and raspberry aromas are restrained and pleasant. There’s a touch of effervescence on the palate, with bold cranberry and cherry fruit and a sharp finish of mineral-rich depth.
Need some pairings? Try our recipe database and pairing guides.

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