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Pink wine season is upon us: The 10 best new rosé bottles, rated

by Tribune News Service | June 8, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
As more wineries rush to cash in on the popularity of pink, styles are expanding. (Dreamstime/TNS)

When the temperature soars and the sun is shining at 7 p.m., you know rosé days are underway again.

What people call the "happy wine" has always been something to sip without taking it, or yourself, too seriously. Rosé is about embracing fun, the beach, day-drinking and personal style, which is surely why we all guzzled it during the doom and gloom of a pandemic that isn't over yet.

Get ready. As more wineries rush to cash in on the popularity of pink, styles are expanding. This year brings a wave of new-spin versions worth sipping; some others are, predictably, more marketing hype than taste.

For example, the number of pricey prestige rosés aged in French oak barrels is growing rapidly, especially in the $35-$50 category. The idea is to create the kind of complexity that repays aging. Keep in mind few have that thirst-quenching juiciness that makes rosés great aperitifs around the pool. They're best served with food.

New celebrity rosés just keep coming, too, but they rarely distinguish themselves as wines. The latest is from Reese Witherspoon, who's pushing her just-launched $19 Editor's Collection, made by Sonoma's Simi winery, as the essential sipper while reading one of the picks of her book club.

After overcoming a legal brouhaha, George Clooney finally closed on 425-acre Provence estate Domaine du Canadel, 30 minutes from Brad Pitt's Miraval. Stay tuned for the inevitable rosé launch. Maybe next year?

France's new hotspot for bargain rosé is Languedoc, which sells 25 percent more pink wine than Provence, though the latter is still the ur- region. Not only is demand for favorites pushing prices up, wine tourism in Provence is also booming, with grand estates wooing enophiles with luxury digs and spas.

The 2021s arriving on shelves survived a challenging year in the south of France, with the first April frosts in 50 years and August wildfires that affected about 70 wineries. Don't worry, there's plenty of wine, quality is good, and 20 percent of the vineyards are now organic. The big problems for winemakers are obtaining the popular clear bottles and all-too-familiar shipping delays.

The fancy perfume-style rosé bottle fashion that started in Provence has spread to Italy, New Zealand, California and Spain. At the other end, Julian Fayard's delicious Just Pink California rosé can now be had in a 5.2 gallon keg for $450. (Canned examples are everywhere, but that's for another column.)

And in a first, Château Galoupet, the neglected Provence cru classé purchased by Moët Hennessy in 2019, has just released its new 2021 Nomade cuvée in a rectangular, eco-friendly flat plastic bottle made from recycled materials salvaged from the ocean. In the UK it fetches £23 ($29) on website clos19.com, but it's not in the U.S. yet.

The most fascinating pink experiment I've tried is a new California rosé made with a winemaking technique used for Spanish sherry. For my verdict on it and other new examples, see my ratings below (on a scale of 10 points), arranged from least expensive to most expensive.

• 2021 Herdade do Esporao Monte Velho Rosato ($12): This dark salmon-colored pink blend from Alentejo makes its U.S. debut this month. It's fresh, simple, richly fruity, and strawberry scented, and it uses a lighter-weight bottle. For the price it's more than acceptable. Go ahead, put ice cubes in this party pour. 6.5/10

• 2021 The Beach by Whispering Angel ($17): Rosé guru Sacha Lichine's latest -- an update on the Palm -- launched May 1. The new blend comes in a lighter glass bottle and with a commitment to the Surfrider Foundation. It's bright and fresh and fruity, but not as good as Whispering Angel, which offers an official limited edition for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Pageant. 6.5/10

• 2020 Sotheby's Rosé Provence Lot 802 ($19): One of the newest additions to the lineup of Sotheby's own branded wines, this pink wine is positively gulp-able. It's everything you want in a savory, tangy pale Provence rosé, and at a surprisingly reasonable price. 9/10

• 2021 Bodegas Ramon Bilbao Lalomba Finca Lalinde Rioja Rosado ($25): Hugely enjoyable describes this zingy, spicy rosado, a blend of garnacha with a touch of viura. Barrel aging gives it a creamy texture and subtle complexity that pair well with seafood salad or oysters. The 2021 is the first vintage to sell in the U.S. 8/10

• 2021 Wayfarer WF2 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($25): Last year, Wayfarer launched its WF2 wines from the West Sonoma Coast, which just became the latest official American Viticultural Area. The WF2 wines remain barely known. 8/10

• 2021 Visione Feudo di San Gregorio Campania Rosato ($33): The fancy frosted ribbed bottle for this tangy, refreshing crystal-clear Italian pink wine looks like it comes from Provence. But this fruit-and-herb scented wine, made with aglianico grapes, comes from a well-known producer in Italy's Campania region. It arrives on shelves next month. 8/10

• 2021 Villa Ragazzi Rosato di Sangiovese (three bottles, $105): You'll have to rush to get bottles of this lip-smacking, bone-dry, crisp, pale-salmon wine because only 37 cases were made! It's from a Napa winery that specializes in Italian grape sangiovese. 8.5/10

• 2020 Orixe Sotelo Rose en Flor ($38): This personal side project from Gustavo Sotelo, winemaker at Sonoma's Scribe winery, focuses on Spanish varieties in California. The fresh, citrusy, unique rosé, a blend of garnacha and tempranillo, is a brilliant surprise. Aging under a film of flor, or Sherry yeast, and then in huge oak casks gives it a salty, umami character and a structure that reminds me of a very light orange wine. It's a food wine. 9/10

• 2021 Tormaresca Furia di Calafuria ($38): This new spicy, citrusy luxurious pink cuvée in a curvy bottle is a more serious take on the basic rosés of Puglia's Salento region in the heel of Italy's boot. Zingy and super flavorful, it's ideal with antipasto (or barbecue) on a patio overlooking a vista of blue water. It will arrive in the US on June 20. 8/10

• 2021 Sullivan Rutherford Estate Rosé ($45): Lively, serious, and complex, the second vintage of this Napa Valley rosé is made from merlot, cabernet franc and malbec. The historic under-the-radar estate is being brought back to life by Mexican entrepreneur Juan Pablo Torres Padilla, who purchased it in 2018. 9/10

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