It’s almost impossible to overstate how hot rosé is right now, locally and nationally.
This year figures to be no different, especially after the ridiculously long winter we have endured.
Some signs that the penchant for pink is not remotely about to abate:
• Exponentially more retail shelf space is devoted to rosé, from longtime champions Solo Vino and North Loop to chains such as MGM and Haskell’s (which for decades before the recent bandwagon craze was Tavel Central in the Twin Cities). Restaurants are on board, too.
• Solo Vino’s annual Rosé Tent Tasting (solovinowines.com) which recently outgrew its adjacent parking lot, has become the best-attended store-sponsored “happening” of the year. This year’s bash starts at 2 p.m. Saturday (1 p.m. for those purchasing VIP tickets) at St. Paul College’s lower westside parking lot.
• The movement has headed north. Grandview Lodge traditionally carries only one rosé by the glass but has expanded to three offerings this year. The list at New Scenic Cafe in Duluth includes the delicious St. Innocent “Oeil de Perdrix” White Pinot Noir and just-as-tasty Bodegas Los Bermejos Rosado; when a Canary Islands wine is showing up on the North Shore, it’s safe to say something’s happening.
• Rosé is merging with two other recent trends, as it’s now available in cans (Underwood, Babe, Tangent and others) and kegs (Tre Monti at Tavern 333 and I Nonni; Angeline at Hazellewood Grill, Hazelwood Food & Drink and Agra Culture). Actually, make that three merging movements: Angry Orchard is among the producers hawking a rosé cider.
• Perhaps most tellingly, the frosé, basically a rosé slushie, is actually a thing. The Lexington and the Town Ball Tavern at Target Field are among the local outlets.
Some cork dorks might pooh-pooh such a frozen concoction, but anything that brings people to wine is A-OK with me. And rosé’s surge — national sales rose 53 percent last year, according to Nielsen research — hasn’t seemed to hurt other wine categories.
The only potential downside is that so many producers have tried to take advantage of the furor (Girly Girl, anyone?) that there have been mixed results. That is especially true with the grapes used: For every Kendall-Jackson, whose inaugural Vintner’s Reserve Rosé is delightful, there are one or more purveyors trotting out clunky pink wines made with merlot or cabernet sauvignon.
By and large, the exemplary stuff is made from lighter-bodied red grapes with some natural acidity: pinot noir, sangiovese, cabernet franc and especially grenache, the main grape behind so many of the stellar offerings from rosé’s epicenter, the Provence region of France. Other grapes from that area, such as syrah and mourvèdre, can make worthy offerings, too.
Most rosés are best within the year, or sometimes 18 months, after their vintage date, although some such as Domaine Tempier (and others from Bandol), R. Lopez de Heredia and Fullerton’s Three Otters can age for at least a few years. And while spendier bottles such as Miraval and Whispering Angel can be worth the expense, it’s easy to find great stuff for under $20.
Here are seven such gems from five regions, all from the 2017 vintage:
Elk Cove Pinot Noir Rosé Willamette Valley: As with most pink wines, cherry-berry aromas and flavors dominate, but this one throws in some watermelon notes before the crisp but smooth finish.
Airfield Estates Sangiovese Rosé Yakima Valley: Gentle but generous, this delightful offering boasts stellar fruit, lots of juiciness and an especially long finish.
Domaine de Nizas Rosé Languedoc: One word: yum. Another word: alive. This energetic yet graceful blend is fairly intense for a pink wine, but packs enough flavor from the polished fruit to provide perfect harmony.
Shane “Ma Fille” Rosé Sonoma County: Bloomington native Shane Finley really knows how to wrest flavor and texture out of a syrah-based rosé, which deftly fluctuates between sleek and sturdy.
Juan Gil “Shania” Rosé: This is way juicier, spicier and tastier than any boxed rosé I have encountered, perfect for a patio party or a picnic.
Valle Reale Cerasuolo Rosato: The red-berry flavors glide across the palate, but there’s a swell mineral undergirding and a nice bit of grip on the midpalate and finish.
Kirkland Signature Côtes de Provence Rosé: The salmon-meets-gold color is alluring, but it’s the balance of fruit (melon, peach) and mouthwatering acidity that makes this Costco item a gem, especially for just 10 bucks.
Bill Ward writes at decant-this.com. Follow him on Twitter: @billward4.