Catch up with Wil Bailey on the rosés of Europe and hear what our discerning Portfolio Director has to share after sifting through thousands of rosés to focus on only the best -with a particular focus on the finest of France.

“2015 is an excellent vintage all over Europe. It is a warm, “easy” vintage all over with plenty of fruit and ripeness. This will make it a particularly enjoyable red wine vintage in most corners of the continent. This easy ripeness makes for “easy to enjoy” roses as well, but honestly, it is a bit of a double edged sword as it was an easy vintage for producers who are not firmly focused on the “freshness” of their roses to make wines which might be better if they had a little more crispness and acidity. This is largely NOT the case with our producers, as we work hard to partner with people who value balance and freshness in their wines as much as we do. I’m just saying, warm, easy vintages do not actually always produce an abundance of honestly great roses, so this is a vintage to try before you buy.”

Top Three (these are all French, because that’s where we just were…)

Figuerasse, Gris de Gris – this wine is SOOOOO good this year. Crisp AND ripe, and lovely, and pale, and still a screaming deal!

Cocagne, Coteaux de VendemoisI’m thrilled to tell you to inform your customers this wine is back in full effect. Perhaps not as intensely pink grapefruit as it was two years ago, but it’s super tasty (2015 is clearly a VERY good Rose vintage in the Loire…). We told you to warn your customers off of this wine last year. Hopefully that integrity will pay off as you tell them to get back on this train hard this year. Yum!

Les Hautes Plateaux, Alpes de Haute ProvenceThis is a new wine this year, and I could not be more jazzed to present it to you and your customers. We have been looking for another great/accessible/well packaged Provencal Rose for a couple of years, and this will be a home run. It’s also incredibly affordable! This wine is made by the Breban family who makes the Baron de Seillac for us. FYI, the entire focus of the Breban family is Provencal sparkling wines and Rose. This is an example of one of our partners who is ENTIRELY FOCUSED ON FRESHNESS. See what I’m saying here?!

To be clear, I am in no way shorting the quality of the Dragon, l’Ermitage and the Cab de Saumur. They were great last year, and they are great again, I’m just saying the three wines above are particular overperformers. The Acanthes is very good again. It’s one which “embraces the vintage”. This is to say that it still tastes great, and at this price isn’t crowd pleasing exactly what you are looking for? I think the Carteresses Tavel is gonna be a great Tavel. It’s not shy, but let’s be clear, Tavel is not supposed to be shy. It’s got lots of power and intensity on a great mineral frame, and it is still the absolute best value anywhere in this appellation!

I also want to point out the cool expansion of our Italian Rose section with the additions of the Garofoli (Montepulciano) Rosato, and the Aia Vecchia (90% Sangiovese / 10% Merlot) Rosato. Both are fresh, understated (particularly by Italian standards), pale in color, and have cool packages to boot BTW – our Rose tasting is currently scheduled for Thursday, April 28th!

Borsao, Muga, and Rio Madre all look to be great again this year!” 

-Wil Bailey, Portfolio Director at The Wine Company

Wil Bailey’s Three Favorite Rosés of 2015

Every now and again we like to corner our Portfolio Manger, Wil Bailey, and ask him to list his favorite wines in a given category. Rosé in August is a particular favorite to inquire about, for late in the summer he’s been able to taste the evolution of the rosé wines and compare them to when he first picked them out.

Take it away, Wil!

I was talking to a friend yesterday about a report we heard on the radio confirming that not only does it “feel” to most of us like this is the best summer weather we can remember but that the empirical data back it up – THIS IS the best summer ever!

I told him I didn’t actually need to hear the weather data confirmed. I already knew it was the best summer yet simply because of the amount of Rose we have been going through at our house. We simply can’t keep up.

Having dinner – there goes a bottle of Rose, having friends over – there go a couple more, heading out to someone else’s house – bring a bottle of Rose, heading out to the boat or the cabin – there go a couple more. Honestly, it’s been kinda crazy in an entirely enjoyable kind of way.

So, in the spirit of the BEST SUMMER EVER I thought I might point out a few of my favorite wines of this season.

Sierra Cantabria, Rioja Rose, 2014


This is the first time we’ve bought this wine, and boy are we happy we did. It’s a bit of an anomaly in the Rose world as it’s a blend of red and white grapes (most Rose’s are red grapes held on the skins for only a few hours to pick up a little color before pressing). This wine is 50% Viura (white grape), 30% Garnacha (Grenache to the English speaking world), and 20% Tempranillo which is the king of red grapes in Spain and the core of almost all Red Riojas. As you might expect with the 50% white wine base this wine is a very fresh style, with an appealingly perky acidity matched by a smooth red fruit quality. It’s a surprisingly complex Rose, and one of my happiest surprises of the season.

Looking for Sierra Cantabria Rosé? See the list at the end of the post!

Guigal, Cotes du Rhone Rose, 2014


Guigal is one of my favorite producers in the world, but honestly I’m not usually that wild about their Rose. LOVE the Cotes du Rhone Rouge, and the quality only goes up from there, but the Rose often leaves me a little flat. Then along came this 2014 vintage. This is a LOT of wine for the money. It’s got tons of character, depth and stuffing, but don’t be confused that this is a heavy wine. It’s a fresh and tasty Rose through and through, perfect for whatever you are doing with your grill and/on your porch. It’s just that it also holds your attention for a while as you are enjoying each tasty sip. Apparently we are not the only ones who have noticed how good this vintage is, as the Wine Advocate recently gave it a 90pt rating which is all but unheard of for a wine which is “simply pink”.

Looking for Guigal Rosé? See the list at the end of the post!

Hofer, Zweigelt Rose, 2014


Cards on the table, this is my hands down favorite Rose of the year! Speaking of not being able to keep up… This is also one of my favorite wineries in the world just because the Hofer family is just so unbelievably genuine, kind, and welcoming. Did I mention they also farm their grapes organically? Lots of good karma here! This wine is so juicy, and bright, and fresh, and full of strawberry goodness I find myself opening and sharing bottles every chance I have (this is why I can’t keep up). At their best like the Hofer I think Rose’s should be joyous and joyful expressions of the summer season, free of clutter and confusion, something you can bask in a little bit almost like the sunshine itself. I’m sure this reads as a little over the top and ridiculous, but you should try a bottle. Hofer – take me away…

Looking for Hofer Zweigelt Rosé? See the list below!

Locations are listed alphabetically by city. Of course call ahead to confirm availability (this is rosé after all .. here today, gone tomorrow!)

Sierra Cantabria Rose

Hy-vee - Austin

New Scenic Cafe

High Spirits Liquor

Rincon 38

Victoria's Restaurant

Solo Vino
Saint Paul

Samples - Taylor Stein
Saint Paul

Rite Liquor Store
Saint Paul

Colbeck, Cathy
Saint Paul

Wayzata Wines & Spirits


Guigal Rose

Liquor Barn
Long Lake

Lakeside Wine & Spirits
Long Lake

Tangletown's Wise Acre Eatery

France 44

North Loop Wine & Spirits

Capital Grille

Cafe Lurcat

Lowry Hill Liquors

The Wine Shop

Hy-vee - New Hope
New Hope

Hy-vee - Oakdale

Hy-vee - Rochester

St Anthony Village # 1
Saint Anthony

St Anthony Village # 2
Saint Anthony

Liquor Boy
Saint Louis Park

Thomas Liquor
Saint Paul

Wayzata Wines & Spirits


Hofer Zweigelt Rose

North Loop Wine and Spirits
(612) 338-5393

South Lyndale Liquors
(612) 827-5811

Lyn 65

Solo Vino
Saint Paul
(651) 602-9515

Wil Bailey’s favorite rose’ of 2013 part three (and some great rose’ pairing recipes from local food bloggers)

Photo hat tip to @amanda_paa at healthylifehappycook.com. See below for more info on this delicious and easy to make bacony thing.

Before we get to Wil Bailey’s rose’ pick part three, let’s talk a bit about wine and food pairings, specifically regarding dry rose’ wines.

Most wine and food pairing is based on a primary feature of the food (for instance, the delicious oil of a Copper River Sockeye Salmon) with a feature in the wine (the acidity of Sauvignon Blanc to cut through that oil and richness). However, there are many dishes that defy the easy and predictable wine pairing. When vegetables, fat, and spice are all introduced in combo, what do you do? How about bold flavors like curry combined with zest of citrus? This is where rose’ really shines.

A quick search on the web found a handful of recipes by local food bloggers that we think are ideal to show off the versatility of the dry pink wines of summer. Check these out and be sure to follow these blogs … all are super worthwhile.

@freshtartsteph wrote up a great post about Quinoa cakes topped with a poached egg. The combination of the texture of the cakes, the greens involved, and the always delicious poached egg could be a challenge for many wines (the variety is tough to pair with), but a rose’ will work ideally. Wil’s rose’ pick part one would be particularly delicious with this dish.

The prolific @amanda_paa over at Healthy Life, Happy Cook does a bevy of great recipes that often follow a gluten-free lifestyle. Keep in mind that gluten-free doesn’t mean un-delicious by any means, proven by the Bacon Wrapped Jicama with Cajun Spices. This might be the ultimate snacky back yard fare to start off a party, and the smoky bacon combined with the avocado sauce might be a tough balance for, say, a Sauvignon Blanc. Enter the magic of rose’, especially Wil’s pick part two, which can handle all sorts of variety thrown its way.

But to really prove the point of rose’ being the ultimate in food pairing power, try this one out: Slow Braised Citrus Pork Curry from Keane via MNFoodDudes. The recipe is incredibly simple, but takes a few hours to cook in the oven. The combination of flavors is incredible, and most wines would have a hard time finding the perfect ‘hook’ to work with or against the flavors (you’ve got everything from pork to fish sauce to citrus to cilantro working here). So for a great pairing with this dish? See Wil’s rose’ pick part three, below.


Chateau Tour de Mirambeau, Bordeaux Rose, 2012

Mirambeau Rose 2012

This is probably the biggest “surprise” for me of our 2012 Rose’s for four reasons.


One – I generally don’t like Bordeaux Rose very much. I usually find them short on both fruit and intensity and often a little bitter. They often strike me as very much afterthought wines from producers who aren’t paying much attention to them.


Two – I generally don’t like Cabernet Sauvignon based Rose’s very much (this wine is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot). I find a lot of Cabernet based Rose’s to be “trying too hard”. I feel like they are often over extracted and missing the freshness and joy I’m looking for in most Rose’s or (if they are harvested earlier) they are kind if green and unpleasant – apologies to any great Cabernet Rose producers I’ve just offended.


Three – The red wine production at Tour de Mirambeau is about 80% Merlot, so it never occurred to me that their Rose would be so driven by Cabernet.


Four – This wine tastes great! This is our first vintage working with this wine. It is bright, intense and juicy. It has a pronounced spicy quality which is clearly the yummy side of Cabernet Rose I’ve been missing before. And to top it all off, it’s priced such that you can share it with lots of your friends and show them how tasty Bordeaux Rose can really be.

– Wil Bailey

The following list of accounts have purchased the Chateau Tour de Mirambeau Rose’ 2012. Please call ahead to confirm availability. Accounts are listed alphabetically by city. 

Wil Bailey’s favorite rose’ of 2013 part two: Cabernet de Saumur

Before we get to the next of Wil’s picks for 2013 rose’, a question: What makes for a great rose’?

Should it reflect the grape that it is made from? (Yes, of course.)

Should it reflect the place that it’s from? (For sure.)

Should the wine blissfully dismiss any notion of seriousness so you can get the task at hand and just enjoy it? For rose’, yes.

Some people are intrigued: if we are to call ourselves serious wine people, how can we be so passionate about something as cheery, gulpable, and simply likeable as a great glass of rose’?

It’s easy.

Here’s a context to put this in: We drink oodles of dry pink wine here at The Wine Company. It has come to mean something to us, and that something is not about the details or the marketability of a wine. It’s not about adjectives. It’s not about pontificating. And it’s most definitely not about scores (rarely is in these parts).

It’s about the seasons. It’s about the lilacs starting to bloom (finally this year). It’s about sitting outside on the patio and being amongst friends, laughing the evening away. It’s about marking the start to a great summertime, hanging at the cabin or idling away the day fishing.

It’s about savoring life during this little sliver of time in Minnesota that we call summer. For the same reason we have more golfers per capita than anywhere else in the country, we have an equally embracing rose’ culture.

We have other wines in our warehouse to pontificate about. But rose’ is the opposite.

Rose’ is about living well, surrounded by laughter, friends, and sunshine. That’s what makes for a great rose’.


This year we’ve cornered Wil Bailey to bring his top picks of the rose’ season. With literally hundreds to choose from in all sorts of different styles, he fretted and hemmed and hawed (how do you choose a favorite child?) but finally handed over his list.

We present to you part two of Wil’s favorite rose’s of 2013.
(Did you miss part one?)

Caves de Saumur “Cabernet de Saumur Rose” 2012

Cab de Saumur Rose 2012


Truth be told, this is my personal favorite Rose this year. I always like this wine (I like Cabernet Franc a lot in most of its guises), but this year’s release is particularly excellent. Sumptuous and satisfying are the first two words which come to mind, but please don’t construe that to mean this is a heavy Rose. It has all the freshness a good Rose should, but it combines that freshness with a completely enjoyable juicy roundness that just makes it a complete pleasure to drink. As it has a little more mid palate than many Rose’s I also think it’s a particularly great “grillin” choice for this summer.  Out of fairness I should also point out that the price/value ratio is absolutely out of this world! – Wil Bailey

Where can you find or enjoy this wine? Below is a list of retailers and restaurants that have purchased the Cabernet de Saumur Rose’. Call ahead to confirm availability. Accounts are arranged alphabetically by city.

Wil Bailey’s favorite rose’ of 2013 part one: Martin Ray Rose’ of Pinot Noir

Rose’ is loved here at The Wine Company. A big part of our company philosophy is the fraternity and friendship around the world of wine, and there is no wine better for this than dry rose’ while sitting around our patio (even with a slice of watermelon in it — photo credit to @AmuseeWine). And in terms of food versatility, it is unbeatable. We even love it with Pho from one of our local restaurants.

Portfolio manager Wil Bailey estimates he’s tasted about 200 rose’ so far this year. Less than half of those made the cut and came to Minnesota. A significant percentage of those sold out so fast that we barely had a chance to enjoy them around the office (egads!).

So for the 2013 rose’ season we thought it would be fun to corner Wil and force him to choose three as his favorites. It wasn’t easy for him, but he did it.

We present to you Wil’s rose picks of the season (part one).

Martin Ray, Pinot Noir Rose, 2012

Martin Ray Rose 2012

It’s rare that a California Rose makes my top three list but not a surprise in any way that a Rose of Pinot Noir is one of my faves. It’s no secret around the office that I love, love, love Pinot Noir. What I think people sometimes overlook is that Pinot Noir often makes a really lovely Rose. The Martin Ray 2012 combines an appealing ripeness of fruit (think strawberries and black cherries) with a freshness that makes it super easy and enjoyable. Some Pinot Noir Rose’s from warmer climates can get a little heavy and cloying. The Martin Ray is all Russian River fruit and nicely plays up the elegance and lively qualities of this cooler district of California winegrowing. – Wil Bailey

Martin Ray Rose’ of Pinot Noir can be found (until it’s sold out, of course!) at the following Minnesota retailers and restaurants.

Locations are listed alphabetically by city. Please call ahead to confirm availability.

The 2013 Rose’ season has begun!

Every year we host a huge tasting for the retailers and restaurants of Minnesota to make their picks for the newest releases of rose. This year’s tasting happened yesterday while the temperature in the Twin Cities hit 98 degrees (luckily we have a temperature controlled warehouse to enjoy during events like this).

Understanding how we pick our rose‘ has been covered in an earlier post, but we decided this year to detail, for you, all the rose’ we poured at our tasting.

(However, this list doesn’t represent all of our rose by any means. We have sold out of quite a few already and thus they were not poured at yesterday’s event.)

In the next week, look for more posts featuring our portfolio manager Wil Bailey highlighting his favorite rose’ picks of 2013.

If you are interested in any of the rose’ listed below, email us at info@thewinecompany.net, tell us your location, and we will direct you to a store carrying the wine.

Many thanks to our own Nicholas Livingston for compiling this list!


Muga Rose’ 2012 (Rioja, Spain)
From the calcareous (limestone) soils of Rioja, Muga’s Rosado is unique in being a blend of red and white varieties; it’s 60% Garnacha, 30% Viura and 10% Tempranillo. After only 12 hours of skin contact this is then fermented less than a month in small oak barrels and then allowed to come together for a couple months before bottling. 2012 was a vintage for Grenache for its ability to handle dry spells and still bear fragrant fruit –with aromas of peach, pear and cherries, a pleasing sour apple acidity and a nice texture from its time spent of fine lees. Unique and poised for the table, this Rosado closes at the finish with an appetizing scent of cherry frangipane.

Protocolo Rose’ 2012 (Castilla, Spain)
50% Tempranillo, 50% Bobal grown in La Tierra de Castilla in La Mancha in central Spain, this rosado is the easy drinking rosé made by the talented Eguren family -famous for a number of estates including Sierra Cantabria, San Vicente, and Teso la Monja among others. Tempranillo imparts the ripe fruit we love but its the Bobal (incidentally among the grapes with the highest levels of resveratrol) that bears its fresh scents and juicy acids -yielding a rosé with notes of raspberry, strawberry and citrus fruit all coming together into a fresh glass of wine.

Marques de Caceres Rose’ 2012 (Rioja, Spain)
85% Tempranillo 15% Garnacha, this Riojan Rosado is especially structured fragrant and fruity in 2012 because the growing season was warm and sunny all the way from bud break through harvest. Fermented long and slow under controlled temperature, this never sees oak in order to preserve its scents of fresh berries and that echo on a refreshing palate but has ample body for richer food pairings and even has a bit of tannin to stand up to fleshier foods.

Muga, Protocolo, Caceres Rose

Martin Ray Pinot Noir Rose’ 2012 (Russian River Valley)
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir already benefits from the long ripening of the cool days from morning and evening fogs but this is from one of the best vintages of the decade -making a rose that is concentrated in its aromas and flavors: Mouthwatering aromas of ripe strawberry and mango are enhanced by notes of orange zest, rose petal and a hint of savory green herbs. This intensely aromatic, flavorful wine is crisp and juicy in the mouth, with lingering flavors of strawberry, tropical fruit and citrus. Long, delicious finish.

Pedroncelli Zinfandel Rose’ 2012 (Dry Creek Valley)
Best Buy Wine Enthusiast, this is perhaps the best rosé they’ve ever made –which is saying a lot because it is always delicious, the 2012 is gorgeous. Signature Selection Dry Zinfandel Rosé is full of fresh strawberry and raspberry fruit –ripened yet still bright, fresh but plush, fleshy and somehow snappy with an engaging aroma throughout the finish. A skeptical friend of mine Angela Kallsen said she would actually drink this Zin rosé –no small feat I assure you!

Cline Mourvedre Rose’ 2012 (Sonoma)
2012 heralds a great vintage for this wine. From Cline’s Oakley ranch in Contra Costa county. These century-old vines grow in the deep sand-soil along the delta of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers whose cool winds preserve bright acidity. This rosé is made as a Blanc de Noir or “white of red grapes,” in the style of a white wine. The skins are removed by pressing before fermentation begins yielding a pleasant fruit on the nose where plum, pomegranate and cherry dominate, balanced by a delicate hint of sweet anise –an excellent chilled accompaniment for spicy foods, chicken Provencal, salmon or Teriyaki.

Cline, Pedroncelli, Martin Ray, Goats do Roam

Goats do Roam Rose’ 2012 (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
From South Africa’s Western Cape, this fuller bodied rosé is made of 46% Syrah for body, 33% Grenache for fruit, 11% Mourvèdre for spice, and 10% Gamay for freshness. Balanced into a great blend that makes a deep color, fuller scents and flavors and a tangy cherry palate with a bit more of a mouthfeel than the quieter rosés –and great with grilled foods because of it.

Morrisfarms “Mandriolo” Rose’ 2012 (Tuscany)
A fresh and frisky rosé made from 100% Sangiovese, this is a welcomed new arrival from Morisfarms, the renowned pioneer of Morellino. This charms for being a pale rosé that is light and nimble but a compelling example of what sets the Morisfarms apart from their other Tuscan neighbors.

Borsao Rose’ 2012 (Campo de Borja, Spain)
We love their Tres Picos WE LOVE their rosado! Borsao is renowned for having the best Garnacha rose in all of Aragon. Coming from Spain’s Campo de Borja appellation of Aragón, this is clean and crisp, with bright red fruit like wild strawberries. On the palate it makes quite the impression as a easy drinking, dry rosé: snappy, fair, polished, and bright, this is an engaging to the last drop.

Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rose’ 2012 (Pfalz, Germany)
Estate grown in the Pfalz, the Villa Wolf Rosé de Pinot Noir is a true rosé, made with a brief maceration before pressing to extract a lovely salmon color. It is light and refreshing, with bright berry and fruit flavors and a clean, zippy finish.

La Vielle Ferme Rose’ 2011 (Rhone Valley, France)
From chalky Mt Ventoux, slow ripening Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah combine to yield a richly structured rosé made in the saignée method of bleeding off early fermenting wine from a batch of red before extracting too much color -which is full and fragrant as a result.

Villa Wolf, Morris Farms

Rose d’Acanthes 2012 (Rhone Valley, France)
50% Grenache, 30% Carignan, 20% Cinsault from the Gard region within Lauguedoc-Roussillion in southern France, this rosé is clean and crisp, fair and fragrant with an elegant floral character and a quenching structure bearing a bright and polished mouthful of pale, red fruit that makes for an engaging, refreshing and uplifting rosé of outstanding value.

Campuget, Costieres de Nimes Rose’ 2012 (Rhone Valley, France)
10 miles south of Nimes, in the southern Rhone Valley, Campuget tends vines averaging 25 years old planted to the alluvial “gress” of pebbly stones that mark the Costières de Nîmes and ensures even ripening. 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache makes for a bright glass of rose –this pale rose practically glows in its glass and expresses itself in charming crunchy red fruit.

Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose’ 2011 (Rhone Valley, France)
60% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 7% Syrah, and 3% Mourvèdre planted to the Cotes du Rhone. Drawn off the skins after a brief maceration and long temperature controlled fermentation, this rosé is clear, brilliant and fresh with an expressive nose of red fruits and citrus and a palate expressing raspberry and redcurrant making a well-balanced elegant wine overall that’s fruity, fine and round.

Domaine des Carteresses Tavel 2011 (Rhone Valley, France)
(50% Grenache + 15% Mourvedre + 13% Clairette + 12% Picpoul + 10% Syrah) + TAVEL TERROIR = an outstanding rosé from a land devoted to making serious full bodied rosé. Just across the River Rhone from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel is an appellation wholly devoted to rosé and was the favorite of Phillip Le Bel, the Popes of Avignon (just south of Tavel), the 19th century novelist, Honoré de Balzac, the 20th century writer, Ernest Hemingway. Among the few rosés  that can age, Tavel is lovely in its youth so good luck keeping your hands off of it. A rich nose full of fruit (cherries and plums) opens onto a vinous palate that in terms of body and texture is more akin to the red end of the spectrum.

Vignerons de Saumur Vendomois “Cocagne” Rose’ 2012 (Loire Valley, France)
Northwest of Tours above Vouvray, Coteaux de Vendomois gives the central Loire this bracing mineral rosé that’s both fair and fresh. Made from 100% Pineau d’Aunis (also known as Chenin Noir), this was the favorite of Henry Plantagenet, is a lovely variety unique to the Loire and is charming for a minerality that persists through all its high toned fruit.

Vignerons de Saumur “Cabernet de Saumur” Rose’ 2012 (Loire Valley, France)
100% Cabernet Franc from the chalky tuffeau of Saumur of the Loire Valley, this remains a perennial favorite every vintage. At an appetizing 12.5% alcohol, this rosé is lovely for its creamy and juicy strawberry fruit, its tangy acids, its big mouthfeel, and its rich and balanced texture. The fruit is complete from the nose, across the palate and long onto its minty finish.

Chateau Tour de Mirambeau Rose’ 2012 (Bordeaux, France)
Our first year bringing in this rosé, this shows how Bordeaux can make an elegant rosé. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot from vines planted in Bordeaux’ Entre Deux Mers (between the Dordogne [Dor-DOYN] in the north and the Garonne [GAH-rone] to the south), this yields a clean and crisp rosé of crunchy red fruit particularly red currants with a refreshing currant leaf note that lends an appetizing green note to the uplifting finish –offering a lot more snap than most other Bordeaux rosés. A quaffable little rosé to drink all summer long.

Rose tasting 2013

Alexis Bailly “Rose Noir” (Hiawatha Valley AVA)
A deeply colored off-dry rosé (noir means black) which fits perfectly between a white and red wine. Light and flavorful, bursting with cherry fruit, the grapes are Foch and deChaunac, two red grapes pulled off their skins quickly at harvest to minimize both the color and intensity. Delightful on its own, or match it with equally light and lovely foods. Serve chilled.

Saint Croix Vineyards Rose’ NV (Hiawatha Valley AVA)
The Frontenac Rosé has a lovely ruby color with pleasant cherry and berry aromas. Just the right wine for a hot summer day this is a local wine made for the local taste buds: a semi-dry rose (meaning a touch sweet) with a lovely ruby color and pleasant cherry and berry aromas -making a great wine for sipping with cheese and fruit, appetizers pork and ham.

Bianchi “New Age” Rose’ (Mendoza, Argentina)
This truly Argentine, semisweet, slightly sparkling rosé is made of 50% Malbec and 50% Merlot from the Bianchi vineyards in San Rafael, Mendoza. Fresh and floral it offers sweet scents of wild raspberries, a little kiss of sweetness and a pleasantly effervescent finish that is so nice served chilled as an aperitif or a light dessert wine.

Riondo Prosecco Rose (Veneto, Italy)
This delicious light pink colored sparkler displays fine bubbles loaded with aromas and flavors of sweet cherries and fresh picked strawberries. It is light to medium bodied, lively, fresh and explosively fruity. This is a great crowd pleaser made from the Raboso variety unique to the Veneto region

Il Follo Prosecco Rose’ (Veneto, Italy)
70% Glera (the variety formerly known as Prosecco which is now strictly speaking an appellation among the DOCG) & 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Beautiful gemstone pink color. The nose is of strawberries and a little yeast. There’s bright yet sweet cherry hard candy on the palate that’s perfectly balanced by its acidity and fine mousse.

Chiarli Brut de Noir Rose’ (Emilia-Romagna, Italy)
Gently pressed from Grasparossa and Pinot Noir, this brilliant rose from Emilia Romagna spends six months in cuve close to yield a delightful glass of sparkling rose. A gentle mousse bearing a gentle rose with the soft spoken charm of leesy strawberries, faint mint and cider apples opens onto a creamy textured bubbly that is perfectly balanced with the acidity of fresh fruit and a dry snap that I could drink all day long. One ought to spend many a weekend brunching over this wine -when throughout the mid morning meal you simply pop into more of the same sparkler until your lifestyle seems defined by leisure. An absolute delight of a dry, sparkling rose that pours over the palate and washes away the tarnish of the world, Chiarli makes effervescent wine both interesting and playful. 12% alcohol by volume.


Baumard Cremant “Carte Corail” NV (Loire Valley, France)
100% Cabernet Franc. This is was a surprise addition to our offering of Baumard wines, one day it just appeared in the inventory. One of our favorite sparkling wines is the Cremant Brut from Baumard, cremant meaning lightly effervescent. So on their last visit to the winery its no surprise that the rose struck a harmonic cord with our staff. Really pretty in the glass, its equally attractive in the mouth. Suggestive of strawberry and rhubarb pie with melting vanilla ice cream. A total charmer! -Larry Colbeck

Baron de Seillac Rose’ NV (Provence, France)
This rose is a great follow through to Baron de Seillac’s Blanc de Blancs’ 1-2 punch proving Laurent Breban makes top notch sparkling wine. 100% Grenache lends a fresh, floral fragrance and a dry palate replete with white cherries, a faint mandarin acidity, and a fine mousse. At 11.5% alcohol, this wine is a dreamy option as a ready aperitif, a delightful bruncheon wine, or a terrific vin de soif! Buy it by the case and keep one in the ice box at all times. Baron de Seillac is a shining example that shows sparkling wine should be a daily affair -adding joy and panache to each and every day.

Jansz Brut Rose’ NV (Tasmania, Australia)
Northeastern Tasmania’s cool climate and Pinot Noir combine to great effect.  In the Tamar Valley of the Pipers River region the basaltic soil slowly ripens the fruit and with the moderating effect of the Bass Strait nearby, they preserve the acidity in this sparkling rose. With its secondary fermentation in bottle, this combines rose petals with turkish delight, that strawberry fruit from the Pinot Noir and a creamy texture that provides balance and length to its refreshing finish. Jansz was Tasmania’s first sparkling wine to be made according to the traditional méthod champenoise which they like to call the Méthode Tasmanoise.

Argyle Brut Rose’ 2009 (Oregon)
48% Pinot Noir, 42% Pinot Meunier, 10% Chardonnay from Knudsen Vineyards in the Dundee Hills AVA of Willamette Valley. From its pale salmon-pink depths, rise aromas of rose petals, spring’s first strawberries, cherry blossoms, and just a hint of hay in a sun-drenched summer field. This Rosé shows a complex and elegant palate of red berries with underpinnings of licorice, guava, and filo pastry, all supported by a wonderfully slaty acidity and a delicate, yet persistent mousse.

Haton Rose’ NV (Champagne, France)
A fourth generation Champagne house of premier quality and astounding value, Haton is now run by Jean-Noël and his son Sébastien out of the family property in the Marne Valley.  Comprised of 30% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Meunier, 25% Pinot Noir, and the addition of reserve wines to round it out, Haton’s Rosé is made from the family holdings in Damery within the Marne.   The colour is a pink with salmon pink shades, enhancing the white and creamy head. The fruitiness of the nose is mostly based on red berry aromas conveyed on a full-bodied that finishes soft.

Hebrart Rose’ NV (Champagne, France)
erhaps Terry Thiese descibes this Marne rose best “As always this is an intellectual lady-librarian with, shall we say, an ooh-la-la taste in undergarments, and perhaps a fetching tattoo hidden beneath them. You think it’s “correct,” it starts to vamp, you think it’s “sexy,” it starts to admonish you with its elegance and command. 46% CH, 45% PN and 9% Mareuil still PN (from ’06); the blend is 70% ’07, 30% ’06. 12/09 disgorgement. This is an extroverted rendition of this always-delicious Rosé. It’s almost giddy, silky, with crisp diction, yet baby, what ripe berries are in this basket.” Oh and perhaps it’s good to know this Farmer Fizz scored 91 WA, 92 Tanzer, and 90 Burghound.

Muga at rose tasting 2013

Barbecue Wines: Finding the perfect pairing

Summer season is in high gear, and this week we will be celebrating with the feast of Saint Thibault (barbecued meats and French wines). The question comes up often: what are the best wines for barbecued fare?

It’s a broad question, and has a multitude of answers. Let’s start with some definitions, talk about varietals and styles, and end with one of our favorite styles of wine.

As you probably know, barbecue, by definition, is cooking with offset heat (as opposed to direct heat) and often over plenty of time
, patiently rendering the fat in tougher cuts of meat into succulent goodness (so note that this post is entirely about barbecue and not about grilling, which will be a future post). Another way to salivate over the definition of barbecue is to read how 16 different champion pitmasters define the term.

Pork shoulder, pork ribs (both spareribs and babyback), and beef brisket are the meats that most often fall into this category. Wood smoke is involved, especially in the early stages of cooking, to really impart the aroma and taste of the fire. This wood smoke build can make for intense flavors in the meat that are rich and long-lasting on the palate. Combine this heavy use of smoke with the common use of barbecue sauce (usually vinegar based and occasionally spicy) and you have a combination that can destroy the flavor of many wines, so you have to pick carefully.

Because of the intensity of flavors in most barbeque, delicate wines such as Pinot Noir are out. They would end up being the proverbial weakling on the beach getting sand kicked in their face. Also on the list of what not to pour are lower-acid varietals, namely many American Merlots and some Australian reds. If you serve a lower acid wine with a high acid dish (acidity in this case coming from the sauce) you make the wine taste flabby and the food taste too sharp. (For the ultimate example of this, have an inexpensive low acid merlot from California with red sauce pasta.)

What you should look for with barbecue are fuller bodied red wines that have a firm grip of acidity, which will help balance against the potential acidity of the sauce.

Chick thighs at the 2011 Saint Thibault feast

There a number of ‘go-to’ varieties for classic pork and beef barbecue. One of the most common (for good reason) is the all American Zinfandel, which often brings a peppery spice with waves of black cherry and plum aromas … perfect for ribs and brisket. Zinfandel often clocks in with slightly higher alcohol that most wines (the grapes have a tendency to produce more sugars than say, Pinot Noir, resulting in higher ABV), and this actually helps to amplify the boldness and richness of the food with the drink. Favorites around the office of course include Ridge Vineyards and Chateau Montelena (who is best known for Cabernet, but make a stunning Napa Valley Zinfandel as well).

Another common selection is Malbec from Argentina, though in this case you have to be careful. Many pick Malbec because Argentina’s meat culture leads them to think it’s a perfect combo for any outdoor cooked meats, but the Argentine barbecue style is far different from America. Additionally, there is a wave of sub-par Malbecs flooding the U.S. market right now trying to ride the wave of popularity. These young-vine wines are surprisingly thin and one-dimentional. Best to stick with older vines that show the richness and power of Malbec, such as TintoNegro or Llama from Mendoza.

Another grape that is a barbecue superstar is Barbera from Piedmonte, Italy. High acid, low tannin (tannin makes spicy food taste unreasonably spicier), and core of deep black and red fruits. Called by many wine writers “Possibly the most food-friendly wine around” this is a perfect solution when cooking a wide variety of barbecue to be served at one sitting. Dozens of great producers are to be found, including the legendary Vietti, the under the radar Rizzi and Paitin, and the more modern style of Boroli.

Why do what everybody else does? There is a world of varieties out there, and often times these hidden gems have some of the greatest bang for the buck. A few of our favorites:

  • Bonarda is a grape grown in Argentina (though most plantings are quickly being ripped up for more Malbec) that often has a smoky cherry cola undertone that makes it play extremely well with smoked meats. For those seeking a wine that works well but is not overwhelming, this is a fine choice.
  • Cabernet Franc when bottled on its own does a suprisingly satisfying job with barbecue. To test this theory we popped a bottle of wine from Chinon, France last week to test with a new rib receipe.  It was stunning — fresh, lively, bright but not light. It’s a style of wine rarely found from countries outside of the Old World.
  • Classic Mediterranean bone dry Rose’ wines are possibly the best wine to pair with a hot day and good barbecue. Refreshing, cool, bright, and palate cleansing. The continued popularity of Rose’ is a sight to behold. Learn more about Rose’ and wine pairing from our Portfolio Director Wil Bailey in this video!

Rose’ Season 2012 has arrived

Rose’ season is in full swing, and we have incredible selections from around the world at The Wine Company. Sales of dry rose’ wines continue their upward path, and this is a good time to review how rose’ is made as well as some ideas on how to sell it.

Making rose’ by blending

Simply adding some red wine to white wine is not a common practice, and is discouraged in all major wine regions (the one great exception being Champagne, of course).  This has, in the past, been the way some very cheap pink wines have been made, but the resulting wines have little to do with what we are talking about here.

Making rose’ by skin contact

Because the color of a red wine comes from the skins of the grapes, if you take red or black grapes and press them gently, then leave the skins in contact with the juice for a small period of time (usually 2-4 days will do it), you only get a hint of the color rather the dark richness of ‘normal’ wine.  This method is used when the entire production of a batch of grapes will be for rose’ and rose’ alone, as in Tavel, France.

Making of rose’ by saignee (“SAHN-yay”, French for ‘bleeding’)

The third method of production is the ‘bleeding’ of a tank.  When a red wine is being made, the initial crush of the grapes in the tank are released by opening a valve at the bottom.  This first free-run juice that comes out has only a slight hint of color and is sent to another tank for a separate fermentation.  After 10-15% of this first juice is captured, the valve is closed and the production continues as normal.  Thus, a winemaker ends up with a more concentrated and deep red wine, and at the same time a beautiful pink wine that you can enjoy during the upcoming summer season.  This method has been used in all major wine regions for decades – pink wine as a natural by-product of good red wine production.


For retailers and restaurants: HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY SELL ROSE’

RETAIL: You group them all together, front and center, with a sign announcing “Dry Rose’ season has arrived!”  This achieves a few things: 1) it keeps the wines in one spot, rather than dispersed around.  The visual impact is amazing.  2) It encourages questions from the customer, and anytime a customer asks a question you have an opportunity.  3) It emphasizes the word DRY because some people still associate pink with sweet.  Point out to them the alcohol content (whenever a wine is over 12% alcohol you are pretty assured of holding a dry wine).

RESTAURANTS: Some of the same techniques apply.  Put the bottles out where customers can see them.  Have servers walk around with them.  Give free taster samples.  Have a rose’ season kick off party.  Emphasize that if you are in Provence or Paris in the summertime, this is what you drink.  Present some of the classic Mediterranean style summertime dishes and have them come with a free half glass of rose’ (just build the price of the wine into the dish).  If you want to be in the top one percent, have a rotating rose’ flight — no need to print a wine menu for it (the server can pour and show the bottles at the table) … three half glasses of great pink wine at a set price.  You can then rotate through a huge number of selections for the summer season.

Photo of a delicious glass of rose’ by Flickr user Gak