Selection of Summer Rosés
Pink wines that enliven your table and palate
By the first week of June, my fridge is always well stocked with vibrant rosés. Pink wines, as sure a sign of summer as open-toed shoes, come in a whole rainbow of alluring hues from flesh-toned to orange, pale pink to strawberry, fuchsia to ruby. They are the peacocks of the wine world, bringing visual excitement to your dining table.
Though rosés are made all over the world, the true specialists are located along the sun-kissed French Mediterranean. Vignerons have been making pink wine in Provence since 600 BC. These magic elixirs are produced from a blend of red grapes (Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvédre and Rolle). They take their color from the skins briefly left on in the fermenting juice. Every year, the top producers from the region send out their latest cuvées. I tasted through the 2011 vintage and selected my seven favorite summertime sippers (all $16–$20 a bottle).
The peacocks of the wine world, rosés bring visual excitement
to your table
> Château Coussin
From the Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire appellation, the Sumeire family, which goes back seven centuries in the area, has 600 acres under vines. Their fleshy pale pink rosé has 70 percent Grenache in the blend, which creates a lovely fresh flavor. This is a delightful partner for grilled or smoked salmon.
> Château Rimauresq
A peach-colored rosé with complex fragrances of white flowers and Asian spices, Rimauresq is a Cru Classé (one of only 18 chateaux out of hundreds of wine estates) from a 130-acre vineyard located near the city of Toulon. Its blend includes Tibouren, a rare grape in Provence rosés, which gives it a warm flowery scent and silky mineral finish. Its delicate flavors accent sashimi.
> Château de Saint-Martin
With violet and lilac aromas plus notes of grapefruit, peach, pomegranate and clementine, this almost translucent peach-hued rosé is just a marvel. The Tibouren in the blend brings out the floral fragrance. It’s a Cru Classé from a family-owned estate that dates to the 1700s. Try it with lobster salad.
> Château Léoube
From the Côtes de Provence appellation, this floral and citrusy wine is a blend of the classical varieties fermented with wild yeasts. The terroir is influenced by the sea. It’s a year-round rosé, ideal for an aperitif or the perfect match for shellfish.
> Château de Pourcieux
From one of Côtes de Provence’s most esteemed estates (with vestiges of Roman times found in its vineyard), this pale pink rosé has complex aromatics of juniper, licorice, black currant, raspberry and exotic fruits. Serve with a fruit tarte, berries or soft, mild cheeses.
> Château Roubine
Another prestigious Cru Classé (owned since 1994 by Valérie Rousselle-Riboud, who restored the 320-acre property to its noble standing), this ruby-hued rosé made from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Carignan is spicy with a wild herbal smell of the garrigue. It can stand up to meat, such as a lamb kebab.
> Prieuré de Montézargues
Made with predominantly Provençal grape varieties (Grenache, Cinsault, Clairette), this light strawberry-hued rosé is a spectacular Rosé Cru from Tavel, the only appellation that solely produces rosé, in the southern Rhône, just north of Avignon. With an irresistible flavor of red fruits (cherry, raspberry) and peach, plus a perfect acidic balance, it’s a great match for spicy seafood dishes like bouillabaisse.