Bigger, Bolder, Aged: the Fall Rosé
The robust side of pink wine to sip into autumn and winter
Unofficial rules dictate that rosé is only appropriate for the summer. Wrong. Dare I say it—some rosés can be a cuddly companion for the crisp fall weather, and even through the winter. Rosé styles with bigger depth exist, and they are not just simple, crushable pink drinks, but ones that possess savory, robust complexities from aging and the use of hearty grape varietals. The end result makes these rosés perfect for friends, food, and fall.
Regions dedicated to Rosé
Focus on one thing and do it well. That’s the way of life in Tavel. Situated a short distance from Chateauneuf-du-Pape in France’s Southern Rhone Valley, Tavel produces only one style of wine—rosé. A handful of red and white grapes are used for blending in the region, but, grenache noir does the heavy lifting and others like grenache blanc, cinsault, and mourvedre make up the difference. Though its famous neighbor Provence famously produces rosé, reds and whites can also be made there. Thus, making Tavel the only region in France dedicated to just rosé wine. Of course Tavel wines could be enjoyed in the summer but their deep coral-colored splendor deserves reflection and begs for a feast. Garrigue and savory spice tickle your nose while decadent currant and berry fruits sail over your palate like Le Mistral (the famous cool winds from the area). One example is Château de Trinquevedel, run by fourth generation winemaker Guillaume and his wife Céline, farm old vines from nearly 30 hectares in Tavel. The estate has been family run since the 1930s and continues to make powerful, concentrated rosé furthering the notion that rosé can be a serious wine.
The Italian Rosato
The Italians, like the French, are known for wine of all different colors, textures, and styles. They even dedicate appellations to certain styles. In 2010, the Italian DOC Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo was established just to focus solely on rosato wine. Unlike Tavel, however, Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo is a style of wine that can be produced from the Abruzzo region, which also produces reds and whites. Meaning “cherry” in Italian, Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo is made from the hearty and rustic Montepulciano grape from Italy’s Adriatic Coast, and the wines can be downright poetic. Meaty, smoky, and savory aromas dominate this crimson-colored wine. Cristiana Tiberio of Azienda Agricola Tiberio, a native of the Abruzzo region, makes romantic and powerful Cerasuolos that demand your attention.
From head to toe, rosato is made all over the country. Deep in Italy’s heel, Puglia winemakers make fruity and pronounced rosato wines from the primitivo grape. The grape has acclimated to Puglia’s arid climate and the resulting wines translate the region’s persistence for fine winemaking. Since the 1960s, Cantine San Marzano has been making stellar wines that preserve Puglia’s traditions and sense of terroir. The winery’s Tramari Rose di Primitvo is the perfect balance between a refined and casual. Either way, a plate of firm cheeses is a must have with this one.
The Aged Rosé
Good things come to those who wait. Fact: Most rosé is consumed in its youth. Fiction: Aged rosé is terrible. In a saturated market that sees pink wine released as soon as midnight arrives on New Year’s Eve, some quality-minded winemakers choose to age their rosé wines for years, sometimes decades—a reward for the patient.
Bodegas Lopez De Heredia, a family owned estate in Rioja, certainly needs no introduction in the realm of fine Spanish wine. With over 130 years of experience, their reds, whites and rosados are hallmarks of the dinner table. Maybe it’s not the first thing on the mind when Rioja is mentioned, but rosado is a permitted style of wine in the region. Although varying by category (ex: Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva) Rioja Rosado must be aged with a combination of oak and bottle. Heredia’s 2008 Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva Rosado is a fierce match for any burly banquet. Illustrious green herbs and tropical fruit complexities arrest your senses while all thoughts of moderation are left behind. A must have for Thanksgiving.
Clos Cibonne, one of the 18 Grand Crus of Cotes-de-Provence, has a similar approach to ageing their rosé—with a little added flair. The estate has been around since the late 1700s and after hard times in the mid 20th century, revitalized their property in the 1980s. Their focus is on the native grape tibouren. Just like Tavel, they focus on one thing and do it well. Clos Cibonne’s red bottlings from the grape are immaculate but their rosé reigns supreme. Aged similarly to sherry, the rosé wine ages in old barrels under a natural yeast layer called fleurette. Salty, nutty strawberries are paired with a burnt pink sunset hue and aromas of wildflowers and orange pith. Clos Cibonne Cuvée des Vignettes has the body of a red wine and the tenacity of seasoned marathon runner.
Below are some of our other favorite brawny and ageworthy roses for fall:
Azienda Agricola Valentini Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo 2014
Abruzzo, Italy ($100)
Valentini bottled not just wine, but drinkable time capsules in rosato, rosso, and bianco. Wines are always top quality and some are only made in the best vintages. Edoardo Valentini’s secretive approach to winemaking made his wines the most sought after wines in the world. Valentini, who died in 2006, never shared many details about his winemaking and only released the wines when he believed they were ready. The winery is now run by his son, Francesco. The 2014 Cerasuolo is captivating, unctuous and downright sinful. Ginger, green peppercorn, rose petals, sunkissed minerality with ripe red fruit gloriously sing together in harmony that would give an Italian opera a run for its money.
Amyndeon, Greece ($15)
Amyndeon, located in the northwestern corner of Greece, is the only PDO in the country dedicated to rosé wine. Vineyards range from 500 meters to above 700 meters with sandy and limestone soils. Winemaker Stellios Boutaris makes wine with equal parts innovation and respect for tradition. Like most viticultural areas in northern Greece, xinomavro is king here. Known for its tannin and tartness, xinomavro is the Greek equivalent of Nebbiolo. Akakies dry rosé is a stimulating expression of the grape’s versatility. Acid is the backbone of the wine and fragrances of wet rocks, herbs, cantaloupe makeup its personality.
Paso Robles, California ($20)
The Wild West landscape has been tamed over the last century to make it suitable for viticulture. However, the rousing nature lives on through its wines. Broken Earth Winery is committed to eco-friendly agriculture and is a pioneer in promoting high-quality wines from Paso Robles, having started in 1973. Broken Earth Winery received the title of Paso Robles Winery of the Year at the 2019 New York International Wine Competition. The Limited Release Rosé is 100% of the sun-loving grenache grape. With weighty, ripe berry fruit with jasmine and lavender notes sprinkled in, this pink punch will have you lassoed in no time.
Georges Vigouroux Voluptueux Malbec Rosé 2018
Southwest, France ($12)
As the name “Voluptueux” suggests, this wine has quite a bit of body, made from 100% malbec in southwest France. Although widely planted in Argentina, France is malbec’s home and it thrives in the countryside. With over a century of winemaking under its belt Maison Georges Vigouroux produces red and rosé wine from malbec. This “voluptuous” rosé is luscious and inviting with mouthwatering berry fruits and herbaceousness. Perfect to keep you cool by the fire. It was a favorite at the 2019 Berlin International Wine Competition where it won a Gold Medal for favorite dry rosé.
Bekaa Valley, Lebanon ($32)
Chateau Musar is an estate that persisted through years of war to emerge as one of the finest and most historic winemaking families in Lebanon, and perhaps the world. Gaston Hochar planted the chateau’s first vineyards in the 1930s. Hochar and the generations since, have collected many accolades and their wines put Lebanon on the mainstage of world class winemaking. Serge Hochar, Gaston’s son, was a fan of French style rosé wine so it’s no surprise he decided to make his own. But, it is only produced in the finest vintages. A blend of obeidah, merwah (rumored to be related to chardonnay and semillon), and cinsault, the wine sees some aging in French oak. The 2012 vintage is nothing short of fantastic. Eucalyptus and spearmint jump out of the glass with ripe stone fruit aromas unfolding with every swirl. Salmon will do nicely with this one, but a nice steak would be daring and fabulous.