Are you a rosé fan? Do you look forward to all the new releases in the spring? Many of us are drinking copious amounts of rosé (I know I am!) so of course, it seems that everyone wants to make rosé. But with more and more of the pink stuff flooding the market, it’s hard to know what to even drink these days. This is particularly true when for many, the model is the pale pink juice of Provence. The paler, the better they say. Of course, this has led to a continuous increase of uninspiring rosé wines on the market. Copycats, imposters, or whatever else you want to call them, they imitate but don’t duplicate. Now don’t get me wrong, I love and enjoy Provençal rosé. It’s what they do well. I don’t love all of them, but I do buy my fair share because when they’re good, they are GOOD.
But as much as I enjoy the pale pinks from the South of France, I also struggle with ‘sameness’ in wine. There’s just so much more to rosé. Sometimes I want more body and riper fruit in my rosé. Sometimes I want a little tannin. This is particularly the case when I’m at the grill with smoky, Texas BBQ on my mind. So what’s a girl to do? Turn to the U S of A, of course! American producers are certainly doing their thing with rosé in their own way. And I’m here for it. I don’t want you to try to be Provence. I want you to be the best version of yourself and do what you do best – American rosé!
Lucky for me, Mr. Corkscrew will drink pink whenever I pop open some. So between what I purchase and what’s sent to me to sample, I have a pretty good base of American rosé from which to choose. So here’s goes…
Rosé of Pinot Noir
When I’m thinking lighter bodied, I often look for a Pinot Noir rosé. As Pinot Noir is my first wine love, it’s not all that surprising that I enjoy many of these.
I did a social media chat with Kerith Overstreet, who is the winemaker at Bruliam Wines and had the opportunity to try her 2020 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($25). This was a new (to me) producer, but I love a great wine story and hers really spoke to me. Kerith was a doctor who decided it would be cooler to make wine. As a “trying to be a recovering tax lawyer” I get this. Like for real! She is also a mom of three and her kids’ names are the inspiration for the name of the winery. “Bruliam” is actually an amalgamation of her three children’s names – Bruno, Lily, and Amelia. As for the wine? She makes killer Pinot (available at my local Total Wine) so of course she rocked the rosé. Fresh and delicate with strawberry, peach, lemon zest, a touch of herbs, mineral, and some salinity. The bright acidity and complex nature makes it a natural for food, but it’s ok to do a little quaffing too. We loved it with shrimp tacos. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Kerith has a heart of gold. She’s one of the more charitable winemakers out there and even takes time out of her busy schedule to volunteer to give COVID shots. The rosé can be purchased at the winery.
I almost didn’t include the Big Table Farm Rosé of Pinot Noir ($32-42 depending where you get it) as I had the 2019 for the first time recently and nearly lost my shit on Instagram. My tasting notes are there too. It’s almost not fair to the other wines as I literally almost broke out in song. I immediately went on the hunt for more and couldn’t find any. But then they just released their 2020 so if you want some, act now. I bought more at my local wine shop Vinology but they also still have some at the winery as well. Foot tapping…
Another rosé of Pinot Noir that recently caught my attention was the Benovia Rosé of Pinot Noir ($32). Benovia crafts some killer Pinot, so I had high hopes for this one. It was sent to me as a sample to try and was just a gorgeous dark watermelon in the glass. This one just kept giving me stuff to think about – tangerine, raspberry, strawberry, peach, apricot, lemon zest. On the medium (minus?) end of the acidity scale, it goes down so. damn. easy. Ok, why did that GnR song, ‘It’s So Easy’ just come to mind? Anywho, I’ll be revisiting this one again in the pool. Trust.
And Then There was Rhône
Of course, Rhône varietals like Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre make excellent rosé wines and there are several that I’ve enjoyed recently.
Rhône varietals are the forte of Tablas Creek, so it’s no surprise that they craft a tasty one. A couple, in fact. Every year, I’m always excited to get my hands on a Tablas Creek wine. ANY Tablas Creek wine. I usually grab one of their reds from Total Wine, but I find the rosé online from my friends at Wine.com. I also just saw that Vivino sells it. I’ve said it so many times before – the annual Wine.com $50 Stewardship Membership pays off. You order whatever you want, anytime you want and you get access to stuff that you don’t have in your local market. The Tablas Creek Vineyard Patelin de Tablas ($25) is a blend of 75% Grenache, 19% Mourvèdre, and 6% Counoise and was a bit of a surprise to me. Given that it’s from Paso Robles, I was expecting more fruit. But this one provided as much in savory notes as fruit (lemon, watermelon, cantaloupe) – which is fine with me. Balance is your friend. In fact, this one reminded me of a good Provençal rosé.
Staying with Rhône varietals, I’d highly recommend the Liquid Farm Rosé of Mourvèdre. Ok, I’m going to get dramatic again. Well, first, let me just say how I took a trip out to Santa Barbara a couple of years ago before the dreaded ‘Rona and my mind was blown. The folks out there are killing it! I think I brought home three or four cases of wine. I wasn’t familiar with Liquid Farm at the time, but they were recommended to me during another tasting. I snagged a bottle of their Chardonnay and brought it home figuring I’d get around to it eventually. During a family day in the pool last year (cause pandemic and nowhere to go so we swam almost every day) I decided to crack it open. Y’all, I had this look on my face and Mr. Corkscrew inquired. All I could say was, damn!
After sharing this revelation on social media, all sorts of folks were like “girl yes, they make great wine.” Were they deliberately keeping me in the dark? Well better late than never. I say all that to say that I had high expectations for the rosé and they were met. Acid head here, so I loved the bright acidity and all the stone fruits (peach, apricot) as well as the savory herbs and minerals. I also loved that it’s a lower alcohol wine. I’ve purchased both on the winery website as well as recently at my local wine store, Houston Wine Merchant.
Another Rhône based lovely is the grenache rosé from Grounded Wine Co ($15). This one hails from Josh Phelps who grew up in a winemaking family – his father Chris Phelps makes high end wines and has consulted with the likes of Dominus, Petrus, and Inglenook. But Josh’s interest has always been in making affordable wine. Not cheap, bulk affordable wine, but rather wallet-friendly wines of good conscience. His wines are made using select sustainably-grown fruit from trusted farmers in California, Oregon and Washington. His rosé, which I received as a sample, is clean and fresh and a delight for summer. The nose offers up rose, wild strawberry, tangerine, and stone while the palate provides notes of orange cream, peach, apricot, mineral, herb, and raspberry. When I read that the Phelps family had a pizza oven in their back yard, I figured pizza was the way to go with this one. And y’all, I saw his wines in my local HEB grocery store!! I know I’m always like “expand your horizons, buy online” but here’s an example of a quality supermarket wine. You’re welcome!
Of course, before I finish I up, y’all know I have to rep my Texas peeps! They too are doing their thing when it comes to American rosé. Charamie Wine (who I wrote about earlier this year and is the first Black female winemaker in Texas) crafts a gorgeous Rosé of Montepluciano. Reminiscent of a classic Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, it’s a fantastic food wine and what I like to call a serious rosé.
I’ve also had a few frizzante Texas rosé wines that brought a smile to my face. These are wines that I want to sip all summer long in the Texas heat. I was fortunate to be able to chat with Dr. Young of Bending Branch Winery earlier this year and still smile when he told me how people told him to not make a rosé with Tannat. “Don’t bother” they said. Not only did he make a still rosé, he also made a frizzante version ($22) that I enjoyed on Tannat Day. Yes, I celebrate many of the wine holidays. And let me tell you, he so proved the naysayers wrong! Lightly effervescent with fresh red fruits and lemon zest.
I also tasted Ron Yates’ Pét-Nat of Sangiovese ($28) from Spicewood Vineyards and what a fun wine. Co-fermented with a small amount of Viognier, it’s one of those cerebral wines that just kept evolving in the glass. Strawberries and tangerines and apricots and peach and brioche and yes, even bananas, buttered popcorn, and honey. A veritable medley of flavors that seriously paired beautifully with fresh fruit. Ron is such a gifted winemaker and we’re lucky to have him in Texas.
And a perennial Pét-Nat Rosé at our house is from William Chris Vineyards. We pick up one every year (Whole Foods, Total Wine or Kroger amongst others) and it never disappoints. This is true even thought the blend may vary from year to year. The most recent vintage is crafted based on Sangiovese and Mourvèdre, alongside new additions of Cinsault and Trebbiano.
Well, that’s it. These are some of the rosé wines I’ve been drinking over the last several weeks. But like I said, I’d buy now rather than later as many of the best tend to sell out. And if you have any American rosé wines you love, I’m all ears!