By Brian Yost
There has been a veritable rosé renaissance in recent years as wine drinkers discover or rediscover this very approachable beverage. The baggage created by the many myths surrounding this style of wine is being discarded and rosé consumers are buying it like never before.
Rosé is typically made from red-wine grapes using one of several methods, but the end result is largely the same. By limiting the contact with the grape skins, the wine takes on a much lighter hue, which can range in color from a melon or peach to a much darker red currant.
Rosé wines come in a range of taste profiles and levels of sweetness. You will also find still, semi-sparkling or sparkling rosés. There is a style for nearly every occasion and palate.
Dispelling the Myths
In America, for many years, rosé’s reputation suffered as the preponderance of white zinfandel on grocery store shelves led consumers to believe that rosé was a sweet wine. The fact is that traditional rosés are almost exclusively dry-style.
Provence, in Southern France, is one of the world’s oldest and most famous producers of rosé. Indeed, it is the dry Provençal style that is most imitated by winemakers far beyond the borders of that region.
Growing up and well into my adult years, I knew many who believed it was unmanly to drink rosé. I have no idea how rosé was assigned its emasculating qualities, but one must assume that it was due to the color of the wine. I will say simply “get over it” – there is no need to fear the pink.
Finally, as long as I can remember, conventional wisdom seemed to dictate that rosé is a wine consumed in the spring and summer months. Despite the number of references to “rosé season” that can be found in an online search, and while it is true that a chilled rosé does pair well with lighter summer fare, large numbers of consumers are beginning to embrace these wines as a year-round beverage.
Sites like roseallday.com and yeswayrose.com embrace rosé as almost a way of life. Its many styles offer something for both new wine drinkers and serious oenophiles. It is a middle way, literally and figuratively, between red and white.
There are many Northern Virginia wineries producing excellent dry-style rosé. At least four of them are located within minutes of Middleburg.
This is only the second vintage of Boxwood Winery rosé, but like all of their wines it is exceptionally well crafted. This blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot is a salmon pink wine with red fruit notes, minerality and a nice dry finish.
Chrysalis Vineyards is famous as the world’s largest grower of the norton grape. Indeed, it is from norton that the Mariposa rosé is made. Strawberry mingles with red cherry in this well-made wine, but the bright acidity and a tiny hint of black pepper help temper the fruit to create a very good dry-style rosé.
This was the first vintage for the Greenhill Winery & Vineyards rosé, but it proved so popular that it sold out within weeks of its release. The syrah-based wine was full of red fruit that finished with a splash of crisp acidity. Winemaker Sébastien Marquet has identified a second source of syrah and intends to at least double production next year to meet demand.
Slater Run Vineyards may be the newest addition to the local wine scene, but they have already proven to be an industry force. They were just awarded “best rosé” at the Virginia State Fair. It is an excellent example of a dry-style rosé produced from cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon and is crisp, fresh and balanced with a beautiful nose.
Avoid giving credence to the myths surrounding rosé. You may consider exploring examples from other parts of the globe, but start locally. In addition to the regional examples above, wineries throughout the Commonwealth offer many rosés in a variety of styles. ML
Brian Yost blogs as The Virginia Grape and writes for a number of local, regional and national publications. His articles concentrate on wine trends and wineries in the Eastern United States. Find more of his writing at thevirginiagrape.com.
Boxwood Winery: Open summer hours Thursday-Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; 2042 Burrland Ln, Middleburg, VA 20117; 540-687-8778; boxwoodwinery.com.
Chyrsalis Vineyards: Open April-October Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.- 6p.m., Friday-Sunday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and November-March Monday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; 23876 Champe Ford Road, Middleburg, Virginia, 20117; 540-687-8222; chyrsaliswine.com.
Greenhill Winery & Vineyard: Open Sunday-Monday noon to sunset; 23595 Winery Ln, Middleburg, VA 20117; 540-687-6968; greenhillvineyards.com.
Slater Run Vineyards: Open Thursday-Saturday noon-7 p.m. and Sunday noon-5 p.m.; 9030 John S Mosby Highway, Upperville, VA 20184; (540) 878-1477; slaterrun.com.