12 Best Rosés to Drink This Summer
Yes Way, Rosé
The emergence of the rosé phenomenon has been mind-boggling. As little as 10 years ago, drinking rosé was more a guarded secret—a badge of honor among a small cadre of pink enlightened. Now a hyper-seasonal novelty has become a year-round way of life. Americans guzzle more than 500 million bottles of year. The French are consuming more rosé than white wine. And I couldn’t be happier.
Rosés reflect some of the best aspects of wine culture. They’re eminently food-friendly—crisp and casual, yet surprisingly nuanced. And like an azure swimming pool in the middle of a balmy afternoon, rosés have an uncanny knack for bringing people together. The following are just some of my favorites, which you’ll want to share as long as the sun is overhead. Welcome to the converted.
Banshee Rosé (Mendocino, California), $19
Buy it: Banshee Rosé
Their story is now the stuff of foodie lore: Three friends in the wine business purchase 20 barrels of pinot noir gathering dust in a Sonoma winery and turn it into one of California’s hottest brands. All without a scrap of land. Or a tasting room. Now co-founders Baron Ziegler, Steve Graf, and Noah Dorrance are producing over 50,000 cases a year and still can’t keep up with demand. But try any of their bottles—like this lip-smacking blend of pinot noir, Barbera, Grenache, and syrah—and you’ll get all the well-deserved hype.
Liquid Farm Mourvèdre Rosé (Santa Barbara, California), $25
Buy it: Liquid Farm Mourvèdre Rosé
Owners Jim and Nikki Nelson admit that they drink rosé “like water all year-round.” Especially when it comes to mineral-driven European examples that are lower in alcohol. Hence their inspiration for this Southern French-influenced example made from Mourvèdre (the star of Bandol), which they’ve colorfully dubbed “pink crack.” And yes, with notes of raspberry, pomegranate, and salted watermelon, you’ll be hooked too.
Matthiasson Rosé (Napa Valley, California), $24
Buy it: Matthiasson Rosé
Before he became one of California’s top vineyard consultants, Steve Matthiasson was a Bay Area bike messenger with a love of punk music. That contrarian aspect of his personality is still on display today at his own eponymous winery where chickens, gravel roads, and a weathered barn stand in stark contrast to Napa’s typical trappings (i.e. flashy tasting rooms and high-dollar tours). His experimentation with Italian whites, such as Ribolla Gialla, has been refreshingly audacious. His way with chardonnay is nothing short of a revelation. And his taut and graceful rosé (Grenache, syrah, Mourvèdre, sauvignon blanc, and Counoise) is consistently one of the country’s finest.
Broc Cellars Love Rosé (Mendocino + Sonoma County, California), $20
Buy it: Broc Cellars Love Rosé
Once rosé developed into a kind of cultural meme, it became trendy to belittle its American beginnings. Even zinfandel producers were loath to acknowledge its sugary start, wiping the world “white” from their vernacular (and labels). But that never deterred Chris Brockway who was first drawn to the industry by his admiration for the grape. A doyen of the urban winery movement, the Berkeley-based icon even made the term “white zinfandel” (albeit far less saccharine than its predecessors) fashionable again. Brockway’s next vintage of white zin won’t be released until 2018, but his Love rosé contains a small percentage of his beloved grape (it’s mostly Valdiguie), and has the same ruby color and lush watermelon overtones.
Smith-Story Rosé of Pinot Noir, (California by way of Germany) $20
Buy it: Smith-Story Rosé of Pinot Noir
Provence might monopolize the pink wine limelight, but Germany has quietly emerged as its stiffest competition for rosé dominance. So how does that concern a tiny, up-and-coming California operation that just unveiled its first tasting room in Anderson Valley? Prior to embarking on their own venture, husband-and-wife team, Eric Story and Alison Smith Story, spent over 30 combined years in the wine biz where they built up wide-reaching connections with family-run grape growers, both domestic and abroad. Their superb pinot noir rosé—lean, floral, and utterly mouthwatering—is one such beneficiary, as it utilizes high-elevation grapes procured from the Rheingau region of Germany.
Baileyana Pinot Noir Rosé, (Edna Valley, California) $28
Buy it: Baileyana Pinot Noir Rosé
Jack Niven pioneered modern grape growing in Edna Valley when he planted the 550-acre Paragon Vineyards in 1973. But his wife Catherine was an equally ambitious trailblazer in her own right, launching the more boutique Baileyana brand right in front of their Tiffany Ranch Road home. Today, her sons carry on that tradition of excellence with sustainable examples like this bright pink bottling bursting with notes of ripe strawberry and peach.
Bieler Pere et Fils Sabine Rosé (Provence, France), $12
Buy it: Bieler Pere et Fils Sabine Rosé
At this point, it’s not hyperbole to call Charles Bieler a vino visionary: His Bandit brand (the label he launched with Joel Gott and Roger Scommegna) was at the forefront of the current box wine revolution; his Gotham Project’s all-keg lineup ushered in the cool-kid era of wines on tap; and his enthusiasm for pink wine (come rosé season, Bieler can often be spotted wearing a pink suit and driving a pink Cadillac) has been infectious, particularly in this country. Sampling his family’s “Sabine” rosé almost a decade ago spawned my own infatuation with the category. And at $12 a bottle, his intoxicating Provençal rosé (juicy red fruit and just a hint of wild herbs) continues to be one of the best values on the market—that’s white, red, or any shade of pink.
5 More Rosés to Try
La Spinetta Il Rosé di Casanova (Tuscany, Italy), $17—A pale chiffon pink wine made from two Sangiovese clones (50% Prugnolo Gentile). Expect flavors of melon and dried apricot.
Heitz Cellar Grignolino Rosé (Napa Valley, California), $25—One of the few domestic producers dabbling in this esoteric northern Italian varietal. Its fuchsia complexion attests to its intensity—think plum and Bing cherry buried beneath a slight tannic grip.
Dom. De Trinquevedel Tavel (Rhône, France), $17—A historic rosé region in the Southern Rhône (white and reds are prohibited), Tavel wines are known for their unrestrained color and concentrated flavor. Trinquevedel is one of the more affordable examples from the area, with enticing aromas of strawberry and rhubarb.
5 More Rosés to Try
Mulderbosch Rosé (Stellenbosch, South Africa), $12—One of the first serious producers of rosés in South Africa. Their 2016 is far lighter than previous vintages, with more mineral complexity and subtle notes of grapefruit and rose water.
Domaine de Fontsainte “Gris de Gris” Rosé, $14—Bruno Laboucarie’s family has been making wine in the Corbieres appellation of France since the seventeenth century, but that hasn’t mired them in old world traditions. In fact, the one constant in the Laboucarie clan is a dedication to innovation—something that shows in this habit-forming blend of Grenaches (gris and noir).