In the world of rosé, France undoubtedly continues to dominate. But made from an array of grapes grown in diverse soils and available in a range of hues, there’s a lot more to say about the country’s flushed bottlings than “yes way.” Read on for an abbreviated guide to its most prominent pink wine styles and the French regions that craft them.
In two decades, Provençal rosé has become America’s benchmark. Almost white in color and in the world’s most amazing array of fancy designer bottles, great offerings are fresh and fruity, crisp and dry.
Relatively low in alcohol, these pale pink wines are made from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and sometimes Mourvèdre. Tasting of red-currant fruits and just a hint of pepper, they shout summer, even in the winter.
Set along the Mediterranean coast, Provence has four appellations that each yield distinct rosés.
Coteaux d’Aix en Provence allows Cabernet Sauvignon to be added to the blend and is the most structured. It’s a good food wine. Coteaux Varois en Provence, meanwhile, is rounded, balanced and often perfumed. It’s the best choice if you want an ageworthy rosé that will last well into the winter.
It’s Côtes de Provence that produces the crisp classic, all fruit with a touch of pepper. There, subappellations Sainte-Victoire and La Londe bring depth and richness.
Finally, Bandol, the small enclave inland from the seaside resort of the same name, is the most complex, thanks to its use of Mourvèdre.
Look for the light 2018 vintage or the richer 2019 vintage, both on the market now. —R.V.
Château Gassier 2019 Le Pas du Moine Rosé (Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire); $30, 92 points. This is a rich, raspberry-flavored wine, full of vibrant acidity and fruitiness. Freshness contrasts with the wine’s ripeness and generous structure. Drink from late 2020. Wilson Daniels Ltd.
Château Minuty 2019 Rose et Or Rosé (Côtes de Provence); $55, 92 points. Grenache and a touch of Tibouren come together in this soft, rich and generous wine. Acidity is beautifully integrated into the fruits and rounded texture, making this a great food wine. Drink from late 2020. Vintus LLC.
Figuière 2019 Confidentielle Rosé (Côtes de Provence La Londe); $42, 92 points. Grenache and Cinsault form the base of this wine made from organic fruit. With its lightly herbal character and fruitiness, the wine has acidity and texture. It is a rosé for food, with its tight character and pepper and mineral aftertaste. Drink from late 2020. Craft+Estate–Winebow.
From summertime quaffers to ageworthy icons, rosé from the Rhône Valley runs a wide and fascinating spectrum. Throughout the region, most typically, you’ll find luscious cherry and strawberry flavors of Grenache. Cofermentations with Syrah, Mourvèdre or Cinsault are common, and many examples include small proportions of white grapes.
In 1936, Tavel became the first and, to date, only Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) for rosé. Intensely pink and concentrated in flavor, Tavel teeters close to a delicate red wine than a standard rosé. Longer maceration on grape skins, typically 12–24 hours, produces hues that range from a fiery sunset to fuschia and even ruby. Tavel’s penetrating red-fruit flavors, fine tannins and nuances of earth and spice are perfect pairings for hearty meat or game dishes. Tavel is one of the few rosé offerings that can improve with age.
While deeply hued rosé proliferated throughout the region, it is increasingly being known for lighter-hued, delicately fruity styles suited for sipping.
The sun-drenched, maritime appellation of Costières de Nîmes is known for juicy rosés bursting with watermelon flavors and get lifted by a hint of sea spray. By contrast, those from high-altitude vines in Ventoux or Luberon often have zestier sour cherry and raspberry flavors, edged by a cooling mineral crush. Widely available rosé labeled Côtes du Rhône can be sourced from anywhere in the greater Rhône Valley region. —A.I.
Campuget 2019 1753 Syrah-Vermentino Rosé (Costières de Nîmes); $21, 91 points. A flurry of bay leaves and rosemary accent this peppery blend of Syrah (80%) and Vermentino (20%). It’s a penetrating sip boasting bright blackberry and cassis flavors backed by a cooling mineral brace. Full bodied but freshly composed, it’s a refined year-round accompaniment to everything from seafood to meat. Dreyfus, Ashby & Co. Editor’s Choice.
Château Pesquié 2019 Terrasses Rosé (Ventoux); $16, 91 points. Jubilant whiffs of wild strawberry and white peach perfume this pristine, fruity dry rosé. A blend of Cinsault (50%), Grenache (40%) and Syrah (10%), it balances ripe, sunny red-fruit flavors against kicks of dried thyme, rosemary and mint. It makes for an effortlessly enjoyable but elegant summer sip. European Cellars. Editors’ Choice.
Les Vignerons de Tavel & Lirac 2019 Trésor des Sables (Tavel); $23, 91 points. Rose petals, watermelons and raspberry preserves lend perfume this plum-pink wine. It’s a rich, sultry sip packed with luscious blackberry and plum flavors edged by a firm mineral backdrop. The finish is spicy and long lasting. A structured, powerful rosé with elegance, it’s likely to please both red- and white-wine lovers well through 2022. Fruit of the Vines, Inc. Editors’ Choice.
Languedoc, the world’s largest wine-growing region, is France’s leading producer of rosé. Recent figures suggest that it accounts for around 34% of the country’s pink wine, and about 11% of global rosé production.
The Languedoc is large, with many subsites and appellations that vary in terms of soil composition, varietal preference and ocean proximity. Yet, a few overarching conditions allow for ideal rosé production, like a generally dry and warm Mediterranean climate with abundant sunshine and strong, moderating winds from maritime or mountain influence.
Produced using the saignée method, Languedoc rosés tend to exhibit bright, ripe red-fruit, balanced by vivid acidity and a crisp, refreshing finish. Single-variety bottlings exist, but blends of the region’s primary red grapes, like Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan, are more common. —L.B.
Château La Négly 2019 La Natice Rosé (Languedoc); $25, 91 points. Bright peach and melon aromas leap from the glass of this light salmon-pink rosé. It’s partnered with touches of fresh pressed herbs and orange peel. The palate has slight weight at first, but it’s quickly countered by medium-plus acidity and lively, tart citrus and berry fruit flavors that continue through to the bright, nervy finish. Refreshing, well balanced and satisfying, it returns to stone-fruit tones on the back of the close. Wine Wine Situation LLC.
Gérard Bertrand 2019 Cote des Roses Rosé (Languedoc); $18, 90 points. A pale coppery-pink color, this rosé made from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault opens with aromas of freshly pressed sweet pea and peony combined with notes of white cherry and watermelon rind. The palate is light and easy to enjoy, but with a ripe-fruit character that lends a satisfying impression. A touch of herbal spiciness and tangy pithy citrus provides length and interest through the close. USA Wine West.
Jean Claude Mas 2019 Jardin de Roses Rosé (Languedoc); $20, 90 points. There’s a fresh, minerally and earthy edge to the nose of this wine, like crushed stone mixed with fresh lavender buds. It’s medium in weight on the palate, but incredibly vibrant and lifted on the back, as minerally freshness couples with lemony citrus and melon-rind flavors. It’s bright and clean, yet also somewhat enduring, with a pithy texture and softly tart, lingering fruit tones. Grape Expectations (CA).
Bordeaux’s rosé has come a long way, and fast. While the wines were once dull and tasted more of caramel than fruit, today is a different world.
Previously, Bordeaux rosés were an afterthought to red winemaking and generally produced saignée, or draining some juice from the freshly picked, usually Merlot, grapes.
Instead, vineyards are now designated for rosé. Their grapes are picked earlier and are handled differently than they would be for red wine.
The resulting wines are classic Bordeaux blends or, even better, made entirely from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. They satisfy a slice of the world’s demand for pale-colored, fresh and crisp rosé, offering fruitiness and just a bare amount of structure. Bottlings often have a slight blue tinge, a result of the region’s oceanic climate and soil.
Some top estates make rosés that are more serious and sometimes wood-aged. Château Léoville-Barton, Château Brown and Domaine de Chevalier are three of the best. All those listed below, however, fall under the Bordeaux Rosé appellation and are generally inexpensive. The 2019, a good vintage, is the right time to check them out. —R.V.
Château Haut-La-Péreyre 2019 Bordeaux Rosé; $18, 88 points. The vineyard in the cru region of Haut-Benauge in the Entre-deux-Mers has crafted this fruity, crisp wine with attractive red-fruit Cabernet Sauvignon flavors. It is juicy and refreshing, with plenty of ripe flavors. Drink now. Vintage ’59 Imports.
Château des Amandes 2019 Les Caprices d’Anaïs (Bordeaux Rosé); $18, 87 points. This blend of equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is perfumed and lightly structured. Freshness is balanced by rich strawberry flavors and acidity. Drink now. Kysela Père et Fils.
Domaine de Chevalier 2019 La Petite Lune (Bordeaux Rosé); $19, 87 points. With 55% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, this wine from one of the top estates in Pessac-Léognan is softly round while having a light structure. It is tangy, juicy and full of ripe raspberry flavors that shine at the end. Drink now. Pioneer Wine & Spirits of Louisiana.
As always, the Loire Valley is about diversity. The region produces many red, white and sparkling wines, as well as whatever style of rosé you may fancy.
The central Loire, close to the city of Orléans, is a land of chalk, rolling hills and narrow river valleys, where water adds growing degrees of warmth. Vines in Sancerre, Menetou-Salon and Coteaux Giennois produce high-quality bottlings. A typical Sancerre rosé brings rich cherry-flavored Pinot Noir fruitiness paired with a crisp, mineral texture, with the potential to age for two or three years.
Rosé de Loire and Val de Loire appellations cover Anjou and Touraine. Taking advantage of the Loire’s cool climate, both increased quality dry-rosé production in recent years. The result is lightly textured, immediately drinkable, crisp and fruity wines with raspberry and red currant flavors.
Anjou rosés, grown near the Atlantic, are made from a bewildering variety of grapes: Grolleau, Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Pineau d’Aunis. Their style is at the whim of the producer. Touraine concentrates on Gamay, the grape for all seasons. —R.V.
Château Sainte Croix 2019 Charmeur (Rosé de Loire); $19, 90 points. This wine has a smooth richness to complement the ripe red fruits. With this roundness as well as the light acidity, it is a style of wine that should age a few months more. Drink from late 2020, with the Thanksgiving turkey perhaps. DB Wine Selection.
Domaine Delaporte 2018 Rosé (Sancerre); $34, 90 points. This is a rich rosé, full bodied and packed with flavor. Ripe red berries are full of sweet juice, giving the wine acidity and a warm character. A touch of caramel comes through at the end. Drink the wine now. Vineyard Brands.
Lionel Gosseaume 2019 Gamay Rosé (Touraine); $15, 88 points. This rounded wine shows warmth as well as crisp red-berry flavors, an attractive touch of spice and a burst of acidity at the end. Drink from late 2020. Scoperta Importing Co. Inc.