Is it always rosé season in Los Angeles? In other parts of America, they may be starting to wrap up their rosé drinking right about now, but not here. We only sort of have a winter, after all.
In the wine trade, as in any business, there are certain rituals. The annual events surrounding the production and distribution of rosé wines is one. Sometime in spring, winery salespeople will arrive at your favorite restaurant or retail store, equipped with samples of their latest batch of rosé. Estimates will be made, orders will be taken, and there probably will be general enthusiasm for a successful rosé season — a period that is more or less equal to the summer months.
Rosé is red wine made like white wine. The color in red wines comes from the grape skins: If the juice from red wine grapes is extracted quickly, then you get rosé. Entrepreneurs like the economic possibilities of rosé; California has a long tradition of them, white zinfandel being the most pervasive. These types of wines have given rosé a reputation for poor quality, though. What do you do if you have some red grapes but are pressed for time? Make rosé. What if you have more fruit than you need but you don’t want to waste it? Make rosé.
It's true that rosé often has been produced as an offshoot of red wine, maybe even as an afterthought, but there are more areas today making quality rosé wines than ever before. Provence in France has led the way for really interesting and complex rosés that stand up on their own as delicious beverages, but good stuff is emerging from all over, especially in Mediterranean-climate areas including California.
What does rosé pair with? Everything, maybe. Avocado toast, hummus, poké, scallops, tempura and anything involving potatoes come to mind.
Here are a few to try:
2016 Dragonette Rosé, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara
Classic crisp, refreshing rosé from California featuring the typical Rhone varietals: grenache, syrah and mourvedre. Light, dry red berry fruit, tart and zesty, chalky with minerality.
2016 Adega de Monção Vinho Verde Rosé Muralhas de Monção
Vinho Verde is a region in Portugal, not a style of wine, but the wines often do have a “green” freshness to them. This rosé is bright, floral and silky with a little bit of zesty spritz, with sweet and sour peachy berry flavors.
2016 Fontsainte Corbières Gris de Gris Rosé
The first thing you'll think about with this wine from the South of France is minerality. Wine doesn’t contain rocks, people don’t usually eat rocks — how do these two elements converge? But this wine is all rocks up front, with light red berries, herbs and flowers peeking up from underneath.
2016 Della Staffa Brioso Rosato
Pet nat sangiovese from Umbria in Italy that’s also super-minerally. Briny, flinty, raw and a bit herbal; it seems so dry that it is almost dusty.
2015 La Clarine Farm Rosé Alors!
Made from syrah, mourvedre and counoise grown in California’s Sierra Foothills region. A bit more funk is going on here, with ciderlike, slurpy, fermenty-orange-blossom, smokey, spicy and salty watermelon flavors.