Rosé has a lot riding on it this year. Not only does it have to maintain its status as the harbinger of spring and drinking on roofs and the might-as-well-order-another-bottle mood, but now it has to be a salve. We need some restorative rosé energy, something to shake off the previous season. Did we even drink rosé last year? Who knows. Frankly, who cares. But this year we will.
To get a sense of how the return of rosé is shaping up, we reached out to a number of wine buyers from shops across the country to hear what pink wine they’ll be keeping in their fridge this spring. Many of them couldn’t help but dream about travel in the context of rosé—to Mediterranean cliffs, green Austrian hills, a harvest in South Africa’s Stellenbosch.
Of course, there is, unsurprisingly, a caveat. Many wines are slow to arrive on these shores this spring because of shipping issues out of Europe. The upside: Many of the picks in the market right now have a bit of bottle age, as intended by the winemaker, and are perfectly positioned to transition from winter to spring. Here, a first-round batch of rosé to get you in the spirit.
Ping Ho, The Royce | Detroit
“I stock and drink this rosé all year-round. It is primarily made from the ancient varietal tibouren, which is unique to [Provence] and was reportedly brought to France by the Greeks as far back as 500 B.C. Its salmon/light orange color defies what one would think of a Provençal rose. … It’s clean and elegant, with fruit notes of mandarins and underripe strawberries, tomato vines and dried herbs, with a hint of tannin. We’re currently selling the 2018 vintage, as this is a rosé that can withstand aging.”
Erika Widmann, Salt & Time Wine Shop | Austin, Texas
“This is about as unique a rosé as they come. A blend of grenache and tannat, it’s a far cry from the strawberry-water-style of Provence: [It’s] fuller-bodied with bold red berry fruit, a savory complexity and nice tannin structure, making it a great transition from red wine to rosé season. [Winemaker] Hank Beckmeyer works out of the Sierra Foothills in California and his style is pretty unconventional, even for low-intervention wine. He practices biodynamic farming [and] native yeast fermentations in the cellar, and often holds
TJ Douglas, The Urban Grape | Boston
“To be honest, I’ve been a little lukewarm on rosé for the past two vintages, preferring to spend some time with light-bodied red wines that I could serve with a chill. But after a long COVID winter, I’m back in the rosé game. I was lucky enough to work a harvest at Kanonkop Estate in South Africa and we would crush bottles of their rosé after long, hot days in the sun. Just seeing this wine stateside in 2021 brought me right back to one of my last pre-COVID travel adventures, and the first sip was straight-up memories and smiles.”
Bryn Hagman, Glinda | Seattle
“Seattle ‘spring’ brings with it a myriad of moods, so I find myself often reaching for a bottle that can straddle many seasonal lines. This super-small-production piccola nera from the Nicolini family vineyard, located on the Italian coastline next to Slovenia and Croatia, can ride through an afternoon of sunshine (and scattered showers), coast through a dramatic dusk, and fit straight into a chilly evening. The nose is set in sun-swept wildflower fields and lush berry brambles, giving way to zippy acid, delicate tannins and a lithe body. Right now I’d take it for an afternoon on the Seattle sound with grilled oysters, a cheese plate situation and a blanket to snuggle under later.”
Michael Drapkin, Kingston Wine Co. | Kingston, New York
Christina Rosé 2020 | $18
“In September 2019 I went on a quick, yet memorable, trip to Austria (unknowingly, my last trip outside of New York for quite some time). The gracious, arms-wide-open and passionate hospitality of the Austrian winemakers, coupled with the serene beauty of the countryside, has been a moveable feast of sorts over the past year and a half. And this rosé is a perfect segue to welcome us into the more light-filled spring of 2021. What captivates us about all of Christina’s wines, and especially this charmer, is their clarity of flavor and freshness. Most of my tasting notes are a direct link to the innocent-yet-delicious flavors of childhood—this one brings me back to being seven years old, hungry and poolside. I’m handed a freezing cold, brightly flavored cherry popsicle. An optimistic wine for all to enjoy.”
Jess Kiefer, La Pharmacie du Vin | Los Angeles
“After a year of making it to the bottom of my glass before thinking much about what was in it, I am ready to reconnect and contemplate anything besides 2020. Sylvain Pataille’s old-vine Fleur de Pinot is exactly the right rosé for deep thoughts. Don’t get it twisted: This is serious wine, he treats his rosé just as he does his red and white Burgundies; all of his rosés are aged in neutral barrel for 2 years. It’s tough to resist a cantaloupe-colored, salted black cherry, treat-yourself rosé in the sunshine with all of your newly vaxxed loved ones.”
Shawn Mead, Petite Soif | Seattle
“We won’t see the full spectrum of 2020 bottlings for a couple months, but I have no problem drinking last vintage rosés (some actually get better with a little age, some are meant to age). Lately I’ve been smitten [with this pink Lambrusco] from Emilia-Romagna. I love the racy acidity that seems to mirror the crisp April night air and that the tension in the wine is softened with light, fluffy bubbles. It reminds me of pink grapefruits—juicy with a nice pithy bite. It’s a hazy, saturated, smoky deep rosé.”
Max Davis, Oakland Yard | Oakland, California
“It’s easy to be enchanted by the wines of Liguria. [Bisson winemaker] Pierluigi Lugano makes a dry and brilliantly red rosato from the indigenous variety ciliegiolo. Is it a garnet-hued rosé? Or a very light red? Either way, it’s a perfect example of the fresh, food-friendly wines of the region, with wild berry flavors, firm minerality and a gentle little love-bite of tannin.”