Stephen Asprinio

Stephen Asprinio's summer wine resolution: step outside the box.

on Aug 14, 2008

Year after year, we hear about the so-called “quintessential summer wine” of rosé (still rosé that is --rosé bubbles rock). Personally, someone else should step up and take the throne, preferably from the white wine world. I’m really not too impressed with rosé as a whole. And so it is, you won’t find me drinking any rosé wine anytime soon, and honestly, probably not throughout the entire summer. It’s more about principle than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a well-produced bottle of rosé as much as the next guy, but does it really deserve all this attention every summer? Frankly, I don’t think so.

First of all, we have given way too much credit to still rosé wines in general. It really was the easy way out, declaring a mediocre style of wine (in most cases) as the poster child for summertime wines. And of course, once this set in, the market was flooded with even more sub-par examples from Spain, Portugal, South Africa and California. The taste profile in the majority of rosés is flaccid and unbalanced. Lastly, most are mass-produced and have no real backbone. Rosé is a “whatever wine.” You don’t really analyze it because there’s nothing much to analyze. I remember attending a rosé wine tasting in New York City in 2000, and ended up leaving very confused. I had a completely open mind at the time, and I could not understand for the life of me, what was all the fuss about? I literally tasted three wines I could actually palate, all of which were from the Tavel appellation in the South of France.

This brings me to the exceptions to the mediocre world of rosé. It is in the South of France where the majority of serious rosé producers exist. As I mentioned previously, Tavel stood out amongst the masses at a tasting of over 100 rosé wines, the best being the Château d'Aquéria. Tavel is the only appellation in France to make rosé wine exclusively. It is here they truly specialize in rosé, and do it better than almost everyone else. The only superior rosés to those of Tavel that I have found are from the appellation of Bandol. Bandol is the true king of rosé in the South of France, with top producers such as Château Pradeaux and Domaine Tempier.