The Rosé Renaissance

Rosé. I like to say it aloud. It has a good cadence. Rosé. When I speak the word, I think of the spelling, the accent over the "e", making it sound European and classy. The pink drink has a sordid history stateside, at one time giving it a reputation that was anything but classy. But we in the New World, have grown-up. Rosé, real rosé, inspired by the crisp mineral styles of the Old World (Europe), be it direct press or saignée, are dominating in the spring and summer. They said it was a trend. The market prediction: shifty American consumers would move on to the next wine fad du jour. Instead we keep finding ways to reinvent rosé: put in a can, then a 40oz bottle, hashtag it infinitely, make it into gummy-bears. Year after year, rosé only seems to gain more momentum in the U.S. Yes, folks, I believe that we are having ourselves, a very pink and plump, Rosé Renaissance. 


Winter sunset in Pacific Grove, CA.

Winter sunset in Pacific Grove, CA.

I'll have the Rosé.

Now, I for one, am all in on this American awakening. Rosé has been one of my true loves for years.  It comes out in Spring and is meant to be consumed within the year. You can age some, but needn't. So I shan't. Rosé, to me is the best of both worlds of wine, chilled as we would a white but from red grapes. It is neither and both at the same time. Inclusive. It pairs with many dishes or just conversation and akin to bubbles, it always brightens the mood. Speaking of fizz, a sparkling rosé can provoke spontaneous declarations of joy, "I LOVE PINK BUBBLES", in the gravest of moments. It is celebration, defined. Delight. Tickling the senses: sound, smell, taste and of course sight! That color! So let's be real, looking at the different gradients of color in all wine is pretty fun. But rosé is really something to behold: some hue of pink, ranging from the iconic bubblegum pink associated with "girly" toys, to a cumulus sunset in winter on The Monterey Bay. And all the shades in-between. 


The bottle my pal shared with me. 2016 Scribe Nouveau Pinot Noir from Carneros, Sonoma County, California. All gone. 

The bottle my pal shared with me. 2016 Scribe Nouveau Pinot Noir from Carneros, Sonoma County, California. All gone. 

Not all rosé is created equally. 

Nor is it monolithic. I maintain that is a good thing. It gives us options on price-points and styles. I have a friend in L.A. who manages a bar and therefore the wine-list. He likes rosé that tastes how it looks: pink juicy fruits. He turned me on to some natural wine from Scribe in Sonoma. They have a gorgeous "nouveau" rosé, in the style of Beaujolais Nouveau, which sees little aging and a fresh fruity style. The Scribe Nouveau offers fragrant raspberries and enough minerality to remind you that you are drinking wine and not sampling at the Farmer's Market. This wine is festive and fun. The brothers who make this wine take great care and concern for their quality, with minimal intervention and a pronounced harmony with nature. Not only is this the approach to aspire to, for winemaking, but when done well, as in this case, the superiority is reflected in the wine. You can taste the difference. The bulk production rosé, or any wine with additives and too much manipulation, results in flabby or bitter, poor tasting wine that can have negative physical results ranging from a headache, to congestion to one of the worst states of being ever I have ever experienced: not finding pleasure in one's glass of wine. Best to avoid.

The Pét-Nat at Cima Collina in The Carmel Valley, Monterey County, California.  

The Pét-Nat at Cima Collina in The Carmel Valley, Monterey County, California.  

Rosé Pét-Nat?

You betcha. In congruence with the natural wine craze, we have many offerings of pétillant naturel, or pét-nat, which is sparkling wine made in the méthode ancestrale or ancestral method. Considered high-risk, as it can take a detour, this method of producing sparkling wine, is where the primary fermentation is stopped before completing, and a secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle. There is no dosage, or sugar addition, to kick-start the secondary fermentation, and the wine may not be disgorged to remove any sediment or lees remaining afterward. So it can be cloudy. The wine pictured on the left is from Cima Collina Winery here in Monterey County. The 2016 is their very first rendition of pét-nat, using pinot noir grapes. The nose is red berry and roses, all the way with a yogurt like finish. I dig it. Not everyone is into the kombucha-like flavors evoked by this style of wine. Again, I am all about it. I like to savor the flavors of fermentation. I am also into sauerkraut and kimchi. But if you are not down, never fear. Rosé is like a rainbow, there is a shade and a flavor for everyone. 

May I interest you in some vin gris?

The 2016 Calera Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Central Coast, San Benito, County, California. 

The 2016 Calera Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Central Coast, San Benito, County, California. 

The translation of this French term for rosé is bleak: grey wine. What the what?! It makes sense though. Given that rosé is made from red grapes, sometimes referred to as black grapes, the lightness of the wine to gray is really denoting pink. A sort of lavender to purple analogy. It works. The pale pink wine might be made in the saignée (to bleed) method. This means negligible maceration time. The goal is to get the skins off the juice just in time to tint it, and create a delicate and crisp wine. Like so, the wine pictured on the right is from Calera in Hollister, California, of Pinot Noir and The Mt. Harlan AVA fame. Their scrumptious vin gris is made of pinot noir grapes from two different vineyards, both in San Benito County. I could sniff it all day. It is ripe strawberry and raspberry with a zest of lemon. It reveals berries layered in crème fraîche on the palate which reminds me of this berry pudding that Bay Wolf, a restaurant that was an institution, in Oakland, CA used to serve in the spring. Fond memories to go with my new favorite wine.  The rosé renaissance has been good to me thus far. Cheers!


What is your favorite rosé?

Please share!

Viva Rosé!