It’s time to give rosé the respect it deserves

Written By kom nampuldu on Sabtu, 21 Maret 2015 | 20.49

For a generation of wine drinkers, rosé has been synonymous with cloyingly sweet plonk designed and marketed for the unserious wine drinker — the type who cut her (always a "her") drinking teeth on Strawberry Hill before graduating to the marginally more sophisticated Sutter Home and idling there.

But things have changed.

A younger generation of vinophiles are increasingly embracing the pink stuff, and more and more winemakers are producing rosé to keep up with its rising popularity.

According to Nielsen, rosé sales in the US grew 25.4 percent last year.

Now, "most every winemaking country makes rosé," says Rebecca Banks, wine director for the Keith McNally Group, whose restaurants include Balthazar, Cherche Midi and Minetta Tavern. "You have so many options."

Jeff Patten, owner of Uva Wines & Spirits in Williamsburg, says he first noticed the tide beginning to turn for rosé in the mid-'00s, and it's been on the rise ever since.

"[The trend] started around '06 and got bigger and bigger very quickly from there," he says. It's "increasing as more and more producers throw their hat in the ring."

Patten points to a glut of dry, artisanally produced rosé entering the New York market in the last decade, allowing a generation of drinkers with a growing interest in wine access to new and better iterations of a previously maligned quaff.

Photo: Getty Images

His shop has had to double and even triple its rosé buys in recent years to meet demand.

Beverage consultant Justin Chearno also notes how much the image of the once uncool wine has changed.

"It's been marketed as a lifestyle beverage — Provence, yachts, the good life," he says.

As its popularity has grown, rosé has begun to shed its seasonal specificity. "For me it's very normal to have rosé all the time," says Banks, who keeps three or four rosés on Balthazar's list year-round.

Groovy oenophile restaurants like Alder and Reynard have gone a step further, creating special "Winter Rosé" categories to emphasize that the wine can hold its own with a wide variety of fare, from the rib-sticking to the delicate.

"Color alone is no reason to crave [rosé] only in the summer," says Bill Fitch, wine director of Vinegar Hill House and wine consultant at Mission Chinese. "Frankly, rosés pair with a wider variety of foodstuffs than either a white or a red might."

And while many rosés are moderately priced and meant to drink now, some winemakers are creating complex vintages worthy of aging — with the price tag to match.

Garrus, a Provençal rosé from Chateau d'Esclans, sells for $105 at Sotheby's Wine on the Upper East Side — that's about 15 times the price of the average pink bottle in your local wine shop.

At Beautique, a West 58th Street hot spot, you can drop $850 on a 4-liter bottle of Garrus, equal to six regular bottles. The same size bottle is $1,100 at Bagatelle restaurant in the Meatpacking District.

André Compeyre, the French-born wine director at the Regency Bar & Grill, where they have a standard-size bottle of Garrus on the wine list for $215, says the rosé is worth it.

"Garrus comes from a little patch of very old Grenache vines on a hilltop in Provence," he explains. "Instead of being vinified quickly like rosé usually is, the fruit is fermented and aged in new oak barrels for 10 months, just like fine white Burgundy."

Frankly, rosés pair with a wider variety of foodstuffs than either a white or a red might. - Bill Fitch, wine director of Vinegar Hill House & wine consultant at Mission Chinese

The result is a very pale rosé that throws off golden glints. It's sleek yet rich in the mouth, with flavors hinting at mid-summer nectarine — a wine to savor, not to slurp.

Casino king Steve Wynn was reportedly so smitten with Garrus that he ordered a whole case of it. The winery had none left to sell, so it had a London wine shop FedEx six bottles to Wynn's yacht cruising off the South of France.

But not everyone has so eagerly embraced rosé. Christina Turley, of Napa's storied Turley Wine Cellars, says "people were appalled" when she started releasing a completely dry Provençal-style white zinfandel in 2011.

Her parents' generation, she says, associated the Turley name with big, serious Napa reds, and were initially a tough sell.

But all it took was getting the critics to taste the dry, berry-fruited stuff and they hopped on the bandwagon. "It's been a great success," Turley says. "It's opened up peoples' minds."

Additional reporting by Pete Hellman.

Don't wait for the weather to heat up. Four rosés to drink now:

Château de Pibarnon, Bandol

$35 for a half bottle at Balthazar, 80 Spring St., 212-965-1414
"It'd be really nice with a grilled or roasted salmon dish with gnocchi on the side, or maybe a mushroom thing. Something earthy," says the restaurant's beverage director Rebecca Banks.

Château de Trinquevedel, Tavel

$18.99 for a bottle at Flatiron Wines, 929 Broadway, 212-477-1315
"It has a breadth and richness and meatiness that bolsters it for cold-weather dining. It'd be amazing with chicken pot pie," says wine buyer Susannah Smith.

Štoka, Teran Rosé

$17.95 for a bottle at Vine Wine, 616 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, 718-349-1718
"It's refreshing and delicious but it has enough weight and structure to hold up to some winter foods," says owner Talitha Whidbee. "I took it home and had it with chicken and tomatoes baked with feta."

Kir-Yianni, Akakies

$12 for a glass or $48 for a bottle at Mission Chinese, 171 East Broadway
"Even though it's got a little more tannin than other rosés, it goes well with spicy food," says the restaurant's wine consultant, Bill Fitch. "It's pretty popular, especially with [people ordering food with] Sichuan peppercorns."


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