Just as we’re starting to think we may never wear shorts again, the most impossible thing happens. In those piles of hardened gray-brown dirtrock that line the sidewalks, tiny buds pop up one sunny day in April, so delicate it’s hard to imagine they’ve been hiding under the sludge for months.
And just as those first tulips are a beacon of the multitudes to come, so it is with the first bottles of rosé to get placed on our shelves. Right now we have two in stock, but just as the Commons will be decked out in watermelon pinks & greens before April’s end, you can expect a rainbow of peach, fuchsia, cranberry, and coral to overtake our displays in the coming weeks.
We know wine talk can be dry (sincerest apologies for that pun), but the bevy of bottles described here have something to offer everyone—from the aficionado with a basement cellar to the equally enthusiastic wino who just wants to party like a grown-up when they get home from work. That’s why we’ve brought in bottles that range from seriously sophisticated to let-the-good-times-roll, all with flavor profiles to impress even the most refined palates. But before we get to listing & tasting some of our rosé-colored glasses, just a few quick notes about this pink wine.
—Rosé got a bad rap a few decades ago when Sutter Home’s saccharine-sweet bottles became the siren song of a generation—but it’s actually one of the oldest known types of wine. People were drinking rosé well before the Middle Ages, because it was easy to make and because folks weren’t as into the intense and tannic profile of red wine yet.
—There are three methods used to make rosé. When rosé is the primary product being made, the skin contact method is used, which involves crushing red wine grapes and leaving the skins in to macerate for a few days before fermentation (in red wine production, the skins are left in throughout fermentation). Another method is saignée, or bleeding, used when a winemaker wants to intensify the flavor of a red wine so they do a first press and bleed off some of the pink juice to create a richer, more concentrated red for fermenting. The initial liquid extracted can then be fermented to make rosé. The third method is blending, literally mixing red and white wines. It is discouraged in most parts of the world, and actually outlawed in most of France.
—You can make rosé from just about any grape, anywhere in the world. Several rosés are blends, and some of the more common varietals used are Grenache, Syrah, Sangiovese, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvedre, and Pinot Noir.
—Don’t be alarmed if most of the rosés you’re seeing have a vintage in the past year or two. These wines actually do not benefit much from age and, like a fresh hop IPA, are better young.
Domaine le Clos des Lumières Côtes de Rhone 2013: This wine pours a beautiful pale salmon color. With lots of pear and stone fruit on the nose, it is surprisingly dry with plenty of minerality and flavors of clean, wet rock and grapefruit. A very sophisticated refresher for a hot day, this wine would pair great with a strawberry salad and light cheeses like Lake’s Edge or double-crème brie. The acidity of this Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, & Mourvedre blend would also make it a great base for sangria.
Ostatu Rioja Alavesa Rosé 2013: A garden party in your glass, this wine is all rose petals and floral notes. Slightly more vibrant in color than the French rosé and juicier in flavor, this wine has hints of vivid magenta and a raspberry tartness to liven up its profile of delicate flowers. A Spanish blend that features mostly Tempranillo and Garnacha, with just a little Viura grape, all grown in the highest parts of the Ostatu vineyards in Spain’s Samaniego district. Great with a dessert cheese course, or perhaps delicate tea party pastries like macarons or fruit tarts.
Alexander Valley Vineyards Rosé 2013: This dry 100% Sangiovese rosé has been produced at Alexander Valley in Sonoma, CA every year for the past several years, and remains one of the most acclaimed and consistent American rosés. This vintage was harvested earlier than normal due to a hot summer, resulting in explosive aromas of wild strawberry, watermelon, raspberry and mint. Flavors of peach and berry with just a hint of minerality keep it refreshing, a surefire hit on your roof deck this summer.
Masseria Li Veli Salento Rosata IGT: Made in southern Italy in the Puglia region using Negroamaro grapes known for their earthy flavors of dark berry and brown spices like clove and cinnamon. Negroamaro produces a rosé with a bright blush, a fresh fruity bouquet and a voluminous, lingering aftertaste. Known as the “one-night” wine, not because it’s crushable but because its skin-contact lasts only overnight (though don’t let that stop you).
Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Costières de Nîmes Rosé: Made by young, innovative winemaker Diane de Puymorin, who focuses on organic farming methods, limited yields, and careful pruning to enable optimal maturity of her grapes before harvesting. This is another blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, though it is distinguishable from the Côtes du Rhone we tasted earlier by how far south the grapes or grown. A more Mediterannean swath of the Rhone valley, Costières de Nîmes wines get their flavor from the calm, warmer climate and the exceptional pebbly soil deposited by the Rhone river centuries ago. de Puymorin’s rosé exhibits deep flavors as a result, with lots of fresh, bright strawberry and sweet herbs coming through.
Soter Mineral Springs Brut Rosé: This sparkling Pinot Noir rosé from the Willamette Valley takes flavor cues from another Oregon staple crop, fresh Rainier cherries. The crimson fruit is evident in the depth of flavor and color in this bubbly, which also has a note of citrus peel and pastry spice, all rounded out by a smooth, silky backbone reminiscent of strawberries & cream.
Domaine Pélaquié Tavel: Known as the first rosé of France and certainly of the Côtes du Rhone, Tavel wines date back to the 10th century, where they appeared on the Pope’s table. From a biodynamic family vineyard that’s been making wine since the 16th century, this Tavel is smooth, generous and fruity, with a topaz hue that brings to mind flavors and smells of the southern French hills it hails from.
Côteaux D’Ancenis Cour de Rohan: From 12 acres that span both banks of the Loire, this rosé is made using 100% Gamay and the saignée method of rosé production. Produced in stainless steel vats and bottled early to catch the fresh fruit flavors, this light ruby pour is fruity and pairs well with salads or cold cuts.
Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare: A true Vin Gris, made with grapes (mostly Grenache, with some Mourvedre, Roussanne, Carignane, Grenache Blanc and Cinsault) that were grown specifically for rosé production and harvested at the ripeness appropriate to this style exclusively. Less is more here, with no sign of overwhelming fruit on the palate. Instead, discreet aromas of wild mountain strawberry and refreshingly savory, herbal tones come though. Faint bell pepper, bergamot, and chalky green tea elements are present in this wine’s creamy, sleek flavor profile.
All of these rosés will be available at AP over the next few weeks—if you don’t see one you read about here, don’t be shy! We can clue you in on when to expect it and even set aside bottles for you.