La Vie en Rosé

Want to pair your wine with June’s glorious swing from spring to summer? Then prepare to pour out the pink.

June is soft pink sunsets, the first alfresco dinners of the season and the anticipation of a long, lush summer. LeeAnn Kaufman, wine director and sommelier at the St. Regis Aspen Resort, views it a tad more emphatically: “Cue the chorus of angels fluttering from above, summer is finally here!

And because June brings real summer warmth to the mountains, I love to declare it official rosé season.”

One of the joys of good rosé is its versatility, as it plays well with nearly every activity and meal under the sun. “Rosé is easy enough to pour into a cup and drink while working in your garden,” says Kaufman. “It’s refreshing enough to put in your camel-pack and take on a short hike to your favorite picnic spot. Rosé is great cold and it loves food.”

But it’s not all syrupy sweet stuff. While Kaufman notes that experienced oenophiles often snub these relatively inexpensive sugary wines, rosé producers are working to reverse this tainted reputation of offering mere “intro” wines to the masses.

“A true rosé is often off-dry to dry in nature and displays appropriate fresh fruit flavors that lean toward the strawberry and raspberry side of the fruit spectrum,” Kaufman says. “And with the diversity of selections available now, there is a style for everyone, from hearty and full-bodied Tavel and Spanish rosado that is more akin to drinking a chilled lighter red, to the delicate strawberry aromas and pale peach color that is typical of the Cinsault-dominant rosé.”

Blushing Pride

To help you marry the month of June with a winning rosé, California Editor Steve Heimoff recommends these top-rated Golden State bottles.

92 La Grande Côte 2011 L’Estate Rosé (Paso Robles). One of the best rosés on the market, at a fair price. With a pale copper color, it’s dry, crisp and deeply flavored, yet feels delicate and subtle. Sommeliers, battle to buy it. The blend is Mourvèdre, Syrah and Grenache. Editors' Choice.
abv:14.2%                      Price: $20

92 Minassian-Young 2011 Rosé (Paso Robles). California rosé is often too sweet or heavy. This Grenache-Cinsault blend knocks it out of the park. Dry, delicate and modest in alcohol, it has subtle peach, rosehip tea, orange zest, watermelon and spice flavors. Editors' Choice.
abv: 13.3%                      Price: $16

91 Birichino 2011 Vin Gris Rosé (California). This rosé looks to Provence for inspiration. It has a pretty partridge-eye color, and is dry and crisp, with complex herb, citrus, apricot and vanilla flavors. Will pair deliciously with fish stew, ham or pesto pasta. Best Buy.
abv: 13%                        Price: $15

90 Lynmar 2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). This dark-colored wine is very fruity and full-bodied for a rosé. But it’s delicious, offering waves of berries, cola and spices. The acidity is refreshingly high. You can drink this instead of a red wine with lighter meats.
abv: 14.2%                      Price: $25

90 Luli 2012 Rosé (Central Coast). This unusual blend of Grenache and Pinot Noir was crafted by winemaker Jeff Pisoni. It’s a highly likeable blush, pale in color and delicate in the mouth. Shows slightly sweet flavors of orange tea, peaches and vanilla, with refreshing acidity. Best Buy.
abv: 14%                         Price: $15

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