Folks, this is it: The last rosé column for a good while. I’m not saying don’t drink the stuff until next spring. On the contrary, imbibe with abandon, as the warm weather should be here any day now. Like wearing white, there are those who believe rosé-drinking season ends with Labor Day, but I protest on both counts.
Instead of limiting the selection to three, let’s take a pink voyage around the world — part of it anyway — starting with the best deals.
In the $10 or less range, the 2010 Match Book Rosé of Tempranillo ($10) is hard to beat. From the Dunnigan Hills near Sacramento, this is a simple, fresh and balanced wine. For about a buck more, the 2011 Hecht & Bannier’s Languedoc Rosé ($11) will give you a slightly wider spectrum of fruit. Staying in the south of France, the 2011 Château de Campuget Rosé ($13) has more minerality to it than the previous two wines. It is a little pricier, but well worth it.
There is quite a bit to select in the $15 range. Up north in southern Oregon, Quady North’s 2011 Rosé ($14), a blend of 60 percent syrah and 40 percent grenache, is a bright and juicy quaffer. Quady North (owned by Herb Quady and his parents, Andrew and Laurel Quady, the California dessert wine producers) also has a 2011 rosé composed of cabernet franc ($16) that has a bit more edge with violet candy, a hint of roasted red peppers and an array of red fruits.
Taking a trip far, far away to Szekszárd, Hungary, we meet the 2011 Eszterbauer Öröm ($15), a blend of pinot noir, kadarka and kékfrankos, which has an unusual but enticing nose of honey and herbs with vibrant mineral-tinged strawberry fruit on the palate.
In France, Provence’s 2011 Domaine Houchart Tete Cuvee ($15) — a four-way of cabernet sauvignon, cinsault, grenache and syrah — is one of the better buys to come out of a region where $25 rosé is common. It is a little bit sulfuric at first, but after a few minutes of aeration the nose gives way to floral and pink grapefruit aromas with a pithy, grapefruit flavor that leaves a long, tart finish.
Crossing the border into Penèdes, Spain, Pares Balta’s 2011 Ros de Pac ($14), a blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon, has a drop of residual sugar for those who like rosé slightly sweet, but there is plenty of acid to keep it vibrant and spry.
If you are willing to spend a little bit more, there are a few wines that are worth it, as they offer more complexity than is often found in rosé. Tenute Sella Coste della Sesia Rosato 2011 ($18) is a delicious pink version of nebbiolo from northern Piedmont in Italy. Made from 45-year-old vines, it is wonderfully fresh with citrus, watermelon and floral tones.
One of the most interesting rosés you will find is the 2010 Vinya Sanfeliu Rosat Trepat ($20) from Catalonia, Spain. Made using native yeast and bottled without additional sulfur, this wine might be a little polarizing, as it has a little funk, but I think it is a delicious conglomeration of tea, cider, watermelon, strawberries and spice.
You may find these and other rosés going on sale soon to make room for more red wines as fall is almost here. Take advantage, as many of the wines from the 2011 vintage will be good through next year.
Some of these wines can be found through these retailers: Arlequin Wine Merchant, Biondivino, Cheese Plus, The Jug Shop, K&L Wine Merchants, Noe Valley Wine Merchants, Quady North, Whole Foods Noe Valley, Weimax and William Cross Wine Merchants
Pamela S. Busch was the founding partner of Hayes and Vine and CAV Wine Bars, and is a wine educator and writer.