That Rosé Lyfe: The Best Pink Wines of the Season

America's sommeliers have access to some of the best wines in the world. But what are they drinking off duty? Welcome to a special edition of "That Wine Lyfe," wherein the country's top wine pros pick their favorite 2012 and 2013 rosés.

rose wine

There hasn’t been a mainstream wine craze quite like the rise of rosé since, perhaps, the rise of pinot grigio.

Just a half decade ago, few could’ve predicated the word “allocated”—a term generally used to refer the divvying out of to thing like high-end Champagne and Burgundy to top buyers—could ever be applied, widespread, to everyday rosé. But over the past few years, demand for everything from Provence’s Holy Trinity—Tempier, Château Pradeaux and Château Simone—to a wine like Sulauze’s Pomponette Rosé (a delicious, but simple Provençal wine that retails for $15) has far exceeded supply.

The rosé boom is real.

To help wade through the many shades of 2013 (and some 2012) rosé, we asked a handful of the country’s top sommeliers to share their favorite wines so far this season. Here’s the damage.

Michael Madrigale | Head Sommelier, Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud, NYC

Chateau Simone Palette Rosé 2012 | $60
“This is rosé to serve at the adult’s table. It’s not the stainless steel, fast ferment-get-this-sucker-to-market-so-we-can-have-cash-flow rosé. It’s Holy shit, THIS is rosé? rosé. It’s expensive as hell and you could probably find Jaffelin Clos de Vougeot for less money. But who wants mediocre Grand Cru Burgundy when you can have the world’s greatest rosé?”

Chateau Riotor Côtes-de-Provence Rosé 2013 | $18
“Had a blind tasting last year with over 40 roses at all price points. And not only was this the best in show, it was also the least expensive.  Clean with the right amount of fruit matched with the right amount of acid. The type of rose that evaporates quickly.”


Pascaline Lepeltier | Beverage Director, Rouge Tomate, NYC

Domaine La Grange Tiphaine ‘Rosa, Rosé, Rosam’ Pét-Nat 2013 | $20
“Every year since I’ve been in New York I find myself frantically looking for the new release of this pét-nat (pétillant naturel). Sometimes it’s a bit drier (like the 2013 version), but always perfectly quaffable, delicious, savory and fresh, with tiny, tiny bubbles.”

Clos du Trias Rosé Ventoux VdF 2012 | $20
“I don’t get that crazy excited with rosé, but this one blew my mind. From the Ventoux, a blend of old vine grenache and grenache blanc macerated on the skins of the grenache blanc for three months. Naturally farmed along the gorgeous Dentelles de Montmirail. This is really good rosé.” (Available the U.S. next week via Camille Rivière Selection.)


Steven Grubbs | Wine Director, Empire State South (Athens, GA) and Five & Ten (Atlanta, GA)

Clos Cibonne Tibouren Rosé 2012 | $28
“Clos Cibonne is the last great champion of the obscure Tibouren grape in the Côtes-de-Provence. They treat the wines to a very unusual process, including an extra year of aging in some rather epic century-old foudres (large oak casks) underneath a layer of yeast similar to flor.  The result is a very serious pink wine, one that likes to be decanted and will spring to life against a wide scattering of various foods. I like to put it in a similar league with Bruno Clair’s Marsannay Rosé and Lopez de Heredia’s Rioja Rosado, two other wines that demand to be taken as seriously as any red.”

Rousseau Freres Touraine Noble Joué 2013 | $15
“The Noble Joué wines from the area around the city of Tours in the Loire Valley were once much more famous than they are today.  These vins gris (essentially rosés with pale satiny color and a shimmering of gray or silver) were a favorite on the table of Louis XI, but they began to disappear as the urbanization of Tours took hold. In 2001, though, the wine was awarded its own AC, showing off three different varieties of pinot (meunier, gris and noir) in a vin gris format.  I like Noble Joué because it isn’t just some pink version of a more famous red wine (like what we find in Sancerre or Bandol); instead its color is a part of its definition. I appreciate that kind of—for lack of a better word—thingness.”


Maxwell Leer | Wine Director, Bestia, LA

Alfredo Maestro Castilla y Leon Rosado de Lágrima ‘Amanda’ 2012 | $30
“This rosé freaks me out for a myriad of reasons.  For starters, the absolute purity of the juice—”lágrima” means “tear” in Spanish and refers to the wine being made of free-run juice of the garnacha tintorera grape—leaves one at a loss for words.  Second to that, the transient trickery of the texture gives you the sensation of now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t wine magic that leaves you constantly wanting more.”

La Kiuva Rosé de Vallee NV (2013) | $15
“The first time I poured this liquid it felt like freeing a paradise bird from a cave. The color of this wine is like a snowy magenta, which is perfect seeing as the wine is mountain-made in Montjovet near the Italy’s border with the French Alps. Past color, this wine has brilliant acidity, mineral-dense texture and an overall GTFOH performance on the palate.”


Eric Railsback | Owner, Les Marchands, Santa Barbara

Weingut Jager Rosé of Zweigelt 2013 | $20
“Stuck in the middle of a long drought here in Santa Barbara County we have begin to ration our water intake and replace it with a higher level of rosé consumption. So far this is my go-to of the season.”


Jordan Salcito | Beverage Director, Momofuku Group, NYC

Patrick Bottex Vin du Bugey-Cérdon ‘La Cueille’ NV | $20
“Bottex’s Bugey-Cérdon is an off-dry sparkling rosé made from gamay and poulsard grapes grown in the foothills of the French Alps. Bottex’s wines, to me, taste like strawberries, limestone and summer.  Historically, though, this style was known as “Christmas Wine,” as it had to be consumed during the holidays before the weather warmed and the bottles could explode under pressure. I love this wine so much that it even served as inspiration for my upcoming Bellus release “La Vie en Bulles,” a collaboration between Bellus and Copain Winery that will be released in a few weeks.”

Stein Mosel Rosé ‘Secco’ 2013 | NA
“Long an advocate for preserving the Mosel’s ungrafted, low-yielding vineyards, Ulli Stein single-handedly saved the extremely steep Bremmer Calmont site by offering growers higher rates than market value in to sustain the labor-intensive farming requirements. He also fought authorities until they allowed him to plant unconventional red grape varieties (sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, merlot) in his Mosel vineyards. He makes red wines from these renegade vines, as well as a sparkling and a still rosé. Both are vibrant and packed with intensity.” (Available late month through Crush Wines & Spirits in NYC.)


Michelle Biscieglia | Wine Director, Blue Hill, NYC

Domaine Zafeirakas Limniona Rosé 2013 | $13
“This is what I’d call my perfect patio sipper. I first tasted it in the mountains of Greece. So dang pretty. Give me this at a table outside with summer greens and some Etta James.”


Matthew Kaner | Owner, Bar Covell, LA

Red Car Rosé of Pinot Noir 2013 | $20
“Red Car Winery started in Los Angeles and has morphed into one of the most important players in the Sonoma Coast. They farm the pinot noir for this wine solely for the purpose of making rosé. And while their pinot noirs go for about $30-70 per bottle, you can grab a bottle of this for around $20.”


Dana Frank | Wine Director, Ava Gene’s, PDX

Chateau Virgile Costieres de Nimes Rosé 2013 | $12
“This little wine is the definition of a patio pounder—quenching, bright, not too serious and great with or without food.  It’s a simple wine, but exactly what I want to be drinking this time of year.”

Weingut Nüsserhof Lagrein ‘Kretzer’ 2012 | $25
“Nüsserhof is an estate that has been near and dear to my heart since my early days in the business, and I always wish there was a little more of their Kretzer to go around.  I love the depth and body that lagrein has in rosé form; it’s a great wine to drink a year or two out of vintage, and an awesome wine to drink with meat off the grill. While I enjoy an easy drinking, no-serious-thought-needed pink wine, I also very much appreciate a rosé that drinks a bit like a chilled red wine.”


Josiah Baldivino | Owner, Bay Grape, Oakland

Matthiasson Napa Valley Rosé 2013 |  $25
“I freakin’ love California and this wine is a perfect example why. You can pretty much drink this for any occasion: relaxing in the park, playing corn hole at a wedding or a day on the bay fishing for salmon.”

Thibaud Boudignon Rosé de Loire 2013 | $22
“This wine has booty and when I am craving a bigger, fuller rosé this is my go-to.”