Can you tell us about at least two rosés you like to use in hot weather: a light, brisk example as an aperitif and to serve with lighter foods, and a fleshier, deeper one for richer dishes, or even as a red wine substitute. And please describe categories of food or specific dishes that you enjoy with both styles.
Rajat Parr, Wine Director, Mina Group (San Francisco). Last year I went to Corsica and discovered a delicious rosé for hot days. It is the Domaine Abbatucci Ajaccio Rosé Cuvée Faustine. It is made from the local sciaccarellu grape and renders a pale-colored, mineral-driven wine. It’s moderate in body, with bright acidity. When it is properly chilled, it is superb with grilled fish like sardines or octopus. And its dry flavors are delicious with cured meats–wild boar salumi Corsican style!
For richer rosés, I typically, or traditionally, look to French classics like Bandol and Tavel. But recently I tasted a grenache rosé from the Central Coast of California that was delicious. The wine is the Verdad 2011 Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard Rosé Edna Valley. A portion of the wine is whole cluster, and the wine has intense flavor and minerality. It has red fruit and rocks and wild herbs and certainly enough acidity to pair well with many flavorful foods. I would drink this rosé with cumin-spiced pork loin, faro with wild mushrooms, and rustic mountain cheeses.
Chuck Furuya, Master Sommelier, DK Restaurants (Honolulu). Yes, it is the time of year when drinking light, refreshing pink wines seems so apropos. For lighter, more ethereal styles of rosé, there are thankfully a growing number of really good ones readily available. From California, for instance, consider the Birichino Vin Gris. Former long-time Bonny Doon winemaker, John Locke, has fashioned quite an amazingly light and pale-hued pink wine from 126-year-old cinsault vines with a dollop of 100-year-old grenache and a smidgen of vermentino. Not only is this wine delicious, but it over-delivers for your dollar.
One of the very best pink wines we have ever had out of California is the Scherrer 2011 Dry Rosé Sonoma County. Because 2011 was a very cool year in the Russian River area, winemaker/owner Fred Scherrer used some of his less-ripe syrah from Calypso vineyard, whole cluster-pressed it, blended in some Grenache, and produced a fabulous rosé. Well worth seeking out.
From the Old World it would be hard to find a better-value, more gulpable pinkster than the La Poussin Rosé Grenache from Sasha Lichine. It really is ideal for warm-weather sipping and at its incredibly reasonable price point one should keep a healthy reserve in the refrigerator.
For those looking for something really unique and special, we highly recommend the Marquiliani Rosé de Sciaccarellu from the island of Corsica. It is remarkably light and airy; so wonderfully delicious and thirst-quenching. It truly is one of a kind.
We find these kinds of rosés work well with the lighter summer fare featuring fresh vegetables and the bountiful seafood available at this time of the year. We also pair them with savory soups made from oxtail and pig’s feet.
For those looking for the fuller, more heady styles of rosé, consider the Botasea Rosato from Palmina. Produced from early-harvested dolcetto, barbera and nebbiolo grown in the Santa Barbara appellation, this tasty, full-flavored pink wine is surprisingly light on its feet and works well with our local-style roasted kalua pig and laulau specialties.
From the Old World, we just tasted a very interesting, masculine though delicious and sumptuous mourvèdre-cinsault-grenache rosé from Domaine Gros Nore in Bandol. They really hit the nail on the head with this beauty. We recently served it with grilled marinated octopus, which proved to be quite a hit.
Michael Madrigale, Wine Director, Bar Boulud (New York City). Cave de Vendomois 2011 Coteau du Vendomois Pineau d’Aunis Rosé Lieut-dit Cocagne Cave de Vendomois. Nice racy rosé from the Loire. Zingy flavors of black pepper and pink grapefruit. Excellent pairing with crudo or oysters.
Domaine de Fontsainte 2011 Corbières Rosé Gris de Gris. Watermelon juice and red berry fruit. Juicy and delectable. Great pairing with gazpacho and grilled shrimp.
Jim Clarke, Wine Director, Megu New York (New York City). I’ve been really enjoying a couple of Trentino-Alto Adige rosés this summer. From Trentino, the Pojer & Sandri 2010 Vin dei Molino Rosato has filled that lighter, aperitif role; 100% rotberger, it’s got a juicy red berry character with mouthwatering, crisp acidity. Then from Alto Adige, Manincor’s 2010 La Rose de Manincor (a blend of lagrein, merlot and cabernet sauvignon) has a bit more body and deeper fruit character but is still crisp. If a rosé doesn’t have a good backbone of acidity, I don’t care how fruity it is, it’s not going to be refreshing. With rosés that don’t have it, you just have to chill the hell out of them and let the temperature do what the wine failed to do on its own.
Elise Loehr, Proprietor/Wine Director, F. Scott’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar (Nashville, TN). Version #1: Light, crisp aperitif style: Domaine de Couron 2011 Rosé Ardeche. This petal-pink gem is a crisp, light and dry 100% grenache from a quaint little producer of Côtes du Rhône & other Southern Rhône goodies; I love it with our summer salad of Du Puy Lentils with Goat Cheese, Fresh Tomato & Marcona Almonds, or of course the classic Niçoise Salad.
Version #2: Fleshier, deeper style: Domaine Ameztia 2010 Etxaldea Irouleguy. A blend of tannat, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, with medium body and lush texture. Opulent ripe fruit with a subtle yet noticeable sweetness makes this a dream to accompany richer foods, such as smoky summer barbeque, or our “Hot Quail”–spicy hot pan-fried quail served southern style with white bread, mayo and slaw. It also pairs exceptionally well with more refined fare like Crispy Veal Sweetbreads or Rabbit Confit & Caramelized Onion Cakes.
Happy summer y’all!