Bloomberg — When the temperature rises and the sun shines at 7 p.m., you know the rosé wine days are on again.
What people call “happy wine” has always been something to sip without taking it, or itself, too seriously. Rosé wine is synonymous with fun, beach, daytime drinking and personal style, which is probably why we all drank it during the nightmare of a pandemic that is not over yet.
Get ready. As more wineries rush to cash in on rosé’s popularity, styles are expanding. This year brings a wave of new versions that are worth tasting; others, unsurprisingly, are more hype than flavor.
For example, the number of prestige rosés aged in French oak barrels is growing rapidly, especially in the $35 to $50 category. The idea is to create the kind of complexity that makes aging worthwhile. Keep in mind that few have that thirst-quenching juiciness that makes rosés great appetizers for the pool. It is better to serve them with food.
New celebrity rosés continue to appear as well, but are rarely distinguished as wines. The most recent is that of Reese Witherspoon, who has promoted his newly launched $19 Editor’s Collection, made by Sonoma’s Simi Winery, as the essential drink while reading one of his book club selections.
After overcoming a legal mess, George Clooney has finally closed on the purchase of Domaine du Canadel, a 425-acre (1,719-square-meter) estate in Provence, 30 minutes from Brad Pitt’s Miraval. Stay tuned for the inevitable launch of rosé. Maybe next year?
France’s new hot spot for cheap rosé is Languedoc, which sells 25% more rosé wine than Provence, although the latter remains the urban region. Demand for favorites is not only driving up prices, but wine tourism in Provence is also booming, with large estates attracting oenophiles with luxurious accommodation and spas.
The 2021s hitting shelves have survived a difficult year in the south of France, with the first April frosts in 50 years and wildfires in August affecting some 70 wineries. Don’t worry, there is plenty of wine, the quality is good and 20% of the vineyards are now organic. The big problems for winegrowers are obtaining the popular clear bottles and all too well-known shipping delays.
The fashion for perfume-style rosé bottles that began in Provence has spread to Italy, New Zealand, California, and Spain. At the other extreme, Julian Fayard’s delicious Californian rosé Just Pink is now available in a 5.2-gallon barrel for $450 (canned examples are everywhere, but that’s for another column).
And in a first, Château Galoupet, the neglected cru classé from Provence acquired by Moët Hennessy in 2019, has just launched its new 2021 Nomade cuvée in an eco-friendly flat plastic rectangular bottle made from recycled materials salvaged from the ocean. It costs 23 pounds ($29) in the UK on the clos19.com website, but it’s not yet available in the US.
The most fascinating rosé experiment I’ve ever tasted is a new California rosé made with a winemaking technique used for Spanish sherry. For my verdict and other new examples, see my ratings below (on a 10-point scale), ordered from least cost to most.
US Rosé Wine Bottle Buying Guide: Top 10 New Bottles
2021 Herdade do Esporao Monte Velho Rosato (US$12)
This dark salmon-pink blend sourced from Alentejo makes its US debut this month. It is fresh, simple, richly fruity and strawberry scented, and uses a lighter bottle. For the price it is more than acceptable. Go ahead and add ice cubes to it. 6.5/10
2021 The Beach by Whispering Angel ($17)
The latest rosé from guru Sacha Lichine (an update to the Palm) was released on May 1. The new blend comes in a lighter glass bottle and with a commitment to the Surfrider Foundation. It’s bright, fresh and fruity, but not quite as good as Whispering Angel, which offers an official limited edition for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee show. 6.5/10
2020 Sotheby’s Rosé Provence Lot 802 ($19)
One of the latest additions to Sotheby’s own brand wine line, this rosé wine is positively drinkable. It’s everything you want in a pale, tangy, savory Rosé de Provence, and at a surprisingly reasonable price. 9/10
2021 Bodegas Ramón Bilbao Lalomba Finca Lalinde Rioja Rosé (US$25)
Hugely enjoyable is one way to describe this spicy rosé, a blend of Grenache with a hint of Viura. The barrel aging gives it a creamy texture and subtle complexity that pairs well with a seafood or oyster salad. The 2021 is the first vintage to be sold in the US. 8/10
2021 Wayfarer WF2 Rosé Pinot Noir ($25)
Last year, Wayfarer launched its WF2 wines from the west coast of Sonoma, which just became the latest official wine zone. WF2 wines remain little known. 8/10
2021 Visione Feudo di San Gregorio Campania Rosato ($33)
The elegant frosted and ribbed bottle of this tangy and refreshing Italian rosé wine seems to come from Provence. But this fruit-and-herb-scented wine, made from Aglianico grapes, comes from a well-known producer in the Italian region of Campania. It hits the shelves next month. 8/10
2021 Villa Ragazzi Rosato di Sangiovese (3 bottles, $105)
You’ll have to hustle for bottles of this delicious pale salmon-colored, bone-dry, crisp wine, because only 37 cases were made! It’s from a Napa winery that specializes in Italian grape sangiovese. 8.5/10
2020 Orixe Sotelo Rose in Bloom ($38)
This personal side project by Gustavo Sotelo, winemaker at Scribe Winery in Sonoma, focuses on Spanish varietals in California. The fresh, citrusy and unique rosé, a blend of Grenache and Tempranillo, is a brilliant surprise. Aging under a film of flor, or sherry yeast, and then in huge oak barrels gives it a savory character, umami and a structure that reminds me of a very light orange wine. It is a wine for food. 9/10
2021 Tormaresca Furia di Calafuria (US$38)
This new tangy and citrusy luxury rosé cuvée in a curvaceous bottle is a more serious take on the staple rosés from the Salento region, in Italy’s boot heel. It is ideal to accompany an antipasto (or a barbecue) on a patio overlooking the blue water. It will arrive in the US on June 20. 8/10.
2021 Sullivan Rutherford Estate Rosé ($45)
Vivacious, serious and complex, the second vintage of this Napa Valley rosé is made with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. This little-known historic estate is brought back to life by Mexican businessman Juan Pablo Torres Padilla, who acquired it in 2018. 9/10
This article was translated by Estefanía Salinas Concha.