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The sun is starting to peek out and we're finally opening the windows to let the breeze in. Let's find a little joy in the beginning of Spring, and of course, rosé season! Though we strongly believe that this style can, and should, be enjoyed year round, there is also something incredibly satisfying about popping open a perfectly-chilled bottle of pink wine on a warm, sunny day in the middle of May. Though the spiritual home of rosé is undoubtably the south of France, we have tasted some fabulous and distinct examples from around the world. Today's offering brings you our favorite rosés from unique terroirs throughout the rest of Europe and the United States.
Based on reports of the 2019 vintage from across the country, we are in for a delicious season of US rosés. Right now Gamay is having a heyday over on the West Coast, where winemakers have discovered how well this grape does on volcanic soils. Steve Edmunds tells us that Northern California saw a very cold winter and a cool, wet spring which threatened to put the whole season behind, but by the end of August things were back on track. That means this year's Bone-Jolly and Broc Cellars 'Love Rosé' are crisp and bright, but still full of flavor. Further north Analemma in Columbia Gorge saw even cooler temperatures at such a high altitude which produced delicately ripe wines with brilliant acid.
Across the Atlantic in Spain, rosé goes by rosado, rosat, or, rarely, clarete. It has a long history throughout the country, from Catalonia to Rioja to the Canary Islands, and ranges in color from pale salmon to deep ruby. All of the wines from Spain in today's offer were made with indigenous yeasts and with minimal sulfur additions. Today, we have a pale, Mediterranean rosat from Marcel Sabaté of Castellroig in Penedès, made with Ull de Llebre (better known as Tempranillo). The Roselles is a great option for people looking to branch out from Provençal rosés, but who are fond of lighter, fresher styles. There's also the Zorzal rosado, from Navarra, which is a more robust and dense rosado of Garnacha. It's great with food and is something you can drink at any point during the year. Nearby, in the Basque Country, Camino Roca's refreshing and slightly spritzy Txakoli rosé is a outstanding expression of this newer style, with salty and crisp berry fruits: perfect for the beach or for pretending that you're at the beach (you know, whatever is necessary right now!). From the inspiring Dolores Cabrera in the Canary Islands, we have an outstanding spicy and mineral rosado grown on the volcanic soils of Tenerife. This one is for the more adventurous, perhaps, but an outstanding, hedonistic, and elegant wine to enjoy with all sorts of foods in the sunshine. And finally, something very strange: Lloritu, from Oriol Artigas in Alella, near Barcelona. The wine is transparent and brilliant pink in the glass with just the slightest tickle of tannin on the palate, somewhere between rosé and red. It comes from Jaqué, a hybrid grape planted in Catalonia and throughout Europe in the years directly after Phylloxera but now almost entirely pulled up. Definitely a bit out there, but a fascinating glimpse at an almost forgotten chapter of the history of Spanish wine.
All across Italy, producers are using native grapes to create fantastic rosato wines. Like their red and white counterparts, they boast complex flavors, structure, and aromatics. They are equally as gastronomically cunning. From the red slopes of Mount Etna, Nerello Mascalese is being planted and trained in the ancient Alberello style, producing a zingy, fresh rosato that only these volcanic soils could conjure. Tuscan examples that use the region's celebrated Sangiovese grape are delicious, showing layers of earth, herbs and bright red fruits, but so are the pink wines derived from lesser known varietals like Canaiolo and Ciliegiolo. Though the exploration of Italian rosato is important to understanding the winemaking traditions and innovations of the country, don't let that bog you down. Most of these bottles are perfect for popping, sipping, and smiling.
Looking to the east we have two additions courtesy of our friends Tara Hammond and Stetson Robbins of Black Lamb Wines. Black Lamb was founded a few years ago with a focus on " ancient style wine made with pre industrial technology " and to promote the beautiful regional wines of Georgia and often stigmatized Eastern European countries. These wines hail from opposite ends of Georgia, and are quite contrasting in style: the Bibineishvili Chkhaveri is from Adjara, on the shores of the Black Sea, and (in total opposition to the regional style) is a deep, spice-laden and brooding rose, while the Nikalas Marani Budeshuri is a deep, yet fruit-forward and easy-drinking rose from Kakheti, the most easterly region in Georgia and home to the majority of the country's wine production. We've been enjoying discovering some beautiful gems from Eastern Europe with our friends from Black Lamb, and excited to continue expanding our selection with interesting and engaging wines.
There is a bit of a stereotype with rosés that they merely showcase candied fruit flavors or else offer us very little as "summer water" (as they are sometimes described), but sometimes they can surprise you with their complexity. We believe the rosés on offer today overdeliver on those expectations and we can't wait for you try them!
**Please note that we are working with a limited staff and orders will likely be delivered next week **
I love wine from the Canary Islands, and I've had some beautiful rosados made from Listan Negro. This is definitely my favorite, and the fullest and clearest expression that I've encountered of what a rosé made from that grape in volcanic soils can be. Totally alive and completely refreshing from the moment it leaves the bottle, this pours a translucent ruby that is simultaneously bright and fully of depth. The nose is macerated raspberries, a hint of violet, smoke and the faintest hint of sea salt, while the medium-bodied palate offers ripe raspberry, smoke, toasted black pepper and hints of black cardamom that lead towards a exceptionally long finish characterized by raspberry liqeuer, clay-y minerality, and delicate black pepper notes. Thank you, Dolores Cabrera, for this transportive rosado of terroir that sings of sun, sea, and volcanic soil! Ben Fletcher
Cédric Le Bloas is making delicious ciders in Lannion, Brittany, France (check a map, it's WAY up there). His grandfather was a cidermaker, and although this didn't continue through his father's generation, Cedric found himself drawn back to Brittany after years spent away. Upon returning, Cedric and his wife Kate came upon four hectares of orchard for sale, with trees ranging in age from 25 to 40 years old. They've converted the orchards to certified organic farming and work with a mix of heirloom and local varieties. Apples are harvested by hand and the juice goes through a 'keeving process' (removal of pectin) to ensure a clarity and natural delicate sweetness to the finished product. Fermentation is spontaneous and the cider undergoes its second fermentation in bottle, no sulfur is added. 'Granit' rosé is in reference to the predominant soil type in the orchard (granite), and the medium salmon-rose color comes from a small addition of black currants. These fruits also come forth on the nose, alongside notes of black tea and cherry candy, the palate is pleasantly off-dry, with a surge of McIntosh and tart green apple, currant juice and just a slight hint of tannins on the finish. Cari Bernard
Oreads, named for the nymphs of the mountains, is the rosé wine of the nymph-named trio from Papras Bio Wines, made from Black Muscat of Tyrnavos, which has been planted in Tyrnavos (near Mt. Olympus) for more than one hundred years. Like the Pleiades and Naiads, the organically farmed grapes are fermented with indigenous yeasts, macerated on their skins for ten days, then bottled without fining or filtering and with only a small addition of sulfur (10mg). This year's Oreads is slightly darker in color than last year's, and shows beautiful pink flower, dried rose, and orange blossom aromatics. The palate is dry, crisp, and salty with lots of floral and citrus character: pansies, lilacs, the juice of blood oranges, salted pink grapefruit, and lemon zest. A great expression of this unique aromatic grape, and an instant reminder of spring time. Ben Fletcher
A perennial favorite that we always wish there as more of, is this 100% Gamay from Edmunds St. John. The rosé is sourced from the Witter's Vineyard which lies on volcanic clay-loam, and the Barsotti Ranch which is on sandy, decomposed granite. The Witter's fruit brings a more aromatic perfume and lushness to the blend, while the Barsotti fruit brings its signature minerality and structure with a hint of iron on the nose. The grapes were destemmed and pressed into stainless steel where it stayed on the lees for a couple of months before bottling. Consistently delicious year after year! Michelle DeWyngaert
Let's be honest, who doesn't love rosé? There is a lot to love about this plush, summery rosé from Broc Cellars. Chris Brockaway makes a wide range of California wine but the common denominators are that they must be made without additives (other than a small amount of SO2 as necessary), always fermented with indigenous yeasts, using grapes from vineyards that do not use synthetic chemicals (many of them certified organic), and of course they must be delicious. The blend comes from the Ricetti, Rosewood, and Wirth Ranch vineyards in Mendocino and Solano Country Green Valley and is 80% Valdigue, 14% Zinfandel, and 6% Trousseau. This year's rosé is a deep salmon color, bursting with notes of ripe, juicy strawberry and watermelon with a salty, savory finish and plenty of acidity that keeps this sunny Mendocino wine from becoming too fruity. Michelle DeWyngaert
This is stunning, delicate rosé from the North-West Coast that showcases what the mountainous terroir of Columbia Gorge has to offer. This bottle comes from the certified organic Oak Ridge Vineyard in Washington and is made with 100% Pinot Noir. The south-facing slopes at Oak Ridge sit at 1400ft elevation on prehistoric volcanic soils, which give this rosé its uniquely stony, mineral quality. The grapes are gently pressed whole-cluster and then fermented and aged in neutral barrels. A beautiful rose-gold color with aromas of fresh, beginning of summer cherries, strawberry patch, and crunchy rhubarb. On the palate this rosé has a medium to light weight with tart and fresh strawberry, pink grapefruit, wet stone, and salty rhubarb for days! Michelle DeWyngaert
Marcel of Castellroig makes this still rosat from Ull de Llebre, or Tempranillo, with the same diligent and thoughtful work that he puts into his Cavas. The grapes are grown organically, hand harvested and given a very short maceration on their skins before fermenting in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. This year the Roselles is a pale salmon pink, with a beautiful and delicate nose of sea salt and fine red fruits. The palate is totally dry, with a core of chalky minerality and notes of strawberry and raspberry. A very joyful, very Mediterranean rosat! Ben Fletcher
Viña Zorzal offers some seriously delicious wines from old vines for very little money (as fans of their delightful red Graciano can attest). This one honors the traditional wine of the Navarra region - rosado of Garnacha. Fragrant red currant, raspberry, and pink peppercorn aromas lead to crunchy cranberry and strawberry fruit flavors, with zesty pink grapefruit and tropical and herbal undertones on the finish. The label features a popcorn kernel pattern because Xabi Sanz of Zorzal recommends it as an accompaniment to popcorn and a movie. This year's wine is a tiny bit lighter than last year's - but this is a fuller bodied, refreshing wine to drink all spring and summer!
Camino Roca is an organic winery in the Basque country of Spain, producing traditional Txakolina with native yeasts and no additives other than a modest amount of SO2. Rose Txakoli is a newer trend in the Basque country, but in my opinion a welcome one! This is a classic example: slightly spritzy, with notes of pomegranate and grapefruit, it's the perfect spring wine for porch-sipping, beach-drinking or before-dinner-swigging.
Lloritu is a new wine from Oriol Artigas, named for a commonly eaten fish in the Mediterranean. The grapes for this wine come from an old vineyard located about 50 meters from the Mediterranean which was planted to Jaque, a fascinating hybrid grape also known as Black Spanish in the United States. According to Jancis Robinson, this variety can most likely trace its history back to French Huguenot colonies around the Savannah river, and an accidental crossing between the native American Vitis Aestivalis and the imported European Vitis vinifera. Once widespread in Europe (especially the south of France, where it still forms a part of the Cuvée des Vignes d'Antan) and the United States, it is now common only in Brazil. For Lloritu, Oriol harvests his Jaque grapes then macerates them for a single night on their skins before fermentation with natural yeasts and resting in stainless steel tank. The resulting wine has a beautiful bright pink translucent hue, and a nose of tart cherry, anise and fennel. The palate is light, fresh, and salty, with cherry and pomegranate notes around a mineral core. Ben Fletcher
A refreshing rose sparkler from Aphros winery, this is a blend of Alvarelhao and Vinhao, made in Pet-Nat (or Ancestral) style. Tasty, fresh, and very pale in the glass, with bright acidity and subtle fruit mingling with hibiscus and rosewater notes. -EL
A ridiculous value, and a delicious, dry expression of Baga, in sparkling rosé form. Fresh, and zippy, with subtle strawberry fruit and a soft and clean finish. Great on its own or with anything salty or grilled. -Eben
The label says white wine, it pours into the glass like a red, yet is technically a rose! This wine is made from the free-run juice of Budeshuri, a clone of Saperavi (Georgia's most famous thick-skinned red grape) and when Zurab put it in qvevri, he didn't have enough to fill all the way, so he topped off with a small percentage of red wine. Zurab Mgvdliashvili, owner and winemaker of Nikalas Marani, is also the president of Georgia's Natural Wine Association, and has been farming a few hectares of vines in the Kakheti Valley without any chemicals, making his wine the in the traditional qvevri (large clay amphora dug into the earth) without the use of sulfur. This 2018 is quite wild, with deep red berry notes, wild tart cherry, ripe strawberry, strawberry seeds, ripe watermelon, red plum, as well as a slightly salty aspect, something akin to umeboshi (pickled Japanese plums). Very light tannins and high acidity, there is also a wild herbal edge, with some barnyardy and savory character. A fascinating wine, and very fun to drink. Oskar Kostecki
Chkhaveri is an incredibly rare indigenous Georgian grape with a violet-pink hew, grown in the subtropical region of Adjara. The name of the bottling translates to "This is it!" which could either be an exclamation that this is just how this ancient variety should be made, or how I feel drinking this fascinating rosé. The juice spends four months on the skins in a gentle extraction which gives the wine powdery soft tannins on the palate. The nose is a rustic but pleasant mix of red apple skins, dried roses and herbs; it seems to speak to the forest-covered mountains from which is came. Michelle DeWyngaert
This is one of my favorite Rosatos which I look forward to every year. It's from Faro in Sicily - north of Etna, in fact almost at the very north-east tip of Sicily, in a spectacular vineyard above the sea. Because it's the same grapes as Etna (Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, + the local Noccera) you get some of the same sensations, but Faro has much sandier soils, and the wine is more fruit-forward, strong on cranberry and raspberry. Fairly dark in color, this is incredibly adaptable with food - no shy, watery Provencal wannabe, but with real depth, even at 11.5% alcohol, so easy drinking, with gravitas. Jamie Wolff
This Rosato from Sangiovese is a happy find for us at the start of Rosato (Rose!) season. Like the Vernaccia, I thought this was even better on the next day, when the aromas of earthy clay and bright cranberry and cherry fruit are more dramatic. The palate is very bright, but beautifully balanced by the wine’s lush texture. This certainly has the acidity to go well with a lot of different foods, and I’m already dreaming about it with something from the grill, once this extended cold rain we’re having ends… Jamie Wolff
Dry Lambrusco rosato still seems to be a bit of a rarity, which is baffling when excellent examples like Corte Paglieri’s rosato are available. Corte Pagliari Rosato is a very traditional style of Lambrusco; made from organically farmed Lambrusco Sobrara grapes, it is re-fermented in bottle rather than tank and is made without the addition of sulfites. A deep bronze-hued ruby, the aromas of the wine practically jump out of the glass showing rhubarb, ripe cherries, and citrus zest with a deep violet floral tone. The palate is crisp and balanced with a very delicate bubble and very low tannin, notes of peaches, juicy strawberries, and a slight minty tone. While not suited pairing with the richest foods, this would be a perfect match for soft cheese, bitter veggies like fiddlehead ferns, fatty fish, roast chicken, or pork chops with rhubarb compote. Andy Paynter
The delicious "Il Meticcio" is a blend of Canaiolo, Malvasia and Ciliegiolo - a blend dedicated to their mixed breed dog "Tiberio." The wine shows a deep pink color in the glass, with hints of salmon. The 2018 is a hearty and structured rose, with notes of dry tart cherry, ripe strawberry, red currants, and an interesting herbal character. Quite firm on the palate, with a bit of structured tannins yet quite bright acidity, and an undercurrent of earth and mineral notes. The finish is long and lingering. Quite delicious now, but I wouldn't hesitate holding this for a year or two to see where it goes. Oskar Kostecki
Monterosso is named for the reddish Etna soils of sand and pumice in which their vines are grown. The Volcano Rosato is produced using 100% Nerello Mascalese, sourced from vineyards that Monterosso either manages or knows are being farmed with organic practices. In the glass, it shows an elegant shade of rose gold. The nose is redolent of cherry, wild raspberry, white and red flower aromas, with a lean accent of green herbs. The palate is more assertive, with cherry, cranberry fruit, and laced with iron minerality. David Hatzopoulos
Saignée from Trollinger, Portugeiser, Spätburgunder and Zweigelt. The 2019 Beurer Württemberg Rosé has a deep pink robe. The nose offers a mélange of dark red fruits, hibiscus blossom, with a whiff of iodine. The mid-weight and savory palate balances ripe red fruit flavors, sour cherry, crushed strawberries, and watermelon with a distinctively umami character, adding a layer of depth and interest to the typical Summer thirst quencher. And while this doesn’t exactly display weight, it does offer plenty of vigor. This would make a fine pairing with Korean vegetable pancakes with plenty of scallions, a delight with heirloom tomato salad (once in season, of course), or zucchini crudo with excellent olive oil. John McIlwain
Though we have not yet had a chance to try this vintage of the Belle Naturelle rosé, considering how much we all loved the previous year, our expectations are very high! The Jurtschich family is one of the leaders of the natural wine movement in Austria and all of their vineyards are certified organic, fermented spontaneously, and made without additives. This bottling is a blend of Pinot Noir, Zweigelt, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are fermented whole and then stored on the lees for a few months in neutral oak. If last year was any indication, this is a plush, textural rosé that will be gone before you know it!
Biodynamic Pinot Noir rosé bubbles! A bit more fruity than the 2018, with red cherries, strawberries, and a slight herbaceous quality buoyed by a creamy mousse. This would be lovely to start an evening, or could most definitely be enjoyed at the end with a cheese plate. Maybe also pop a bottle while cooking! Cari Bernard