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Wine Buzz April 2016: Special Rose Edition

Posted on  | March 22, 2016   Bookmark and Share
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Last summer was the tipping season for dry rosé. Cases of pink wine joined stacks of red blends and Pinot Grigio on display. Whispering Angel was seemingly ensconced in every storefront and cooler in the Hamptons. The phrase “brosé” even caught some traction.

Provençal rosé in particular showed scorching sales. For the 12th straight year, the flow of rosé wines from Provence to the U.S. grew by double digits. In fact, 2015 brought the largest spike since 2001 as Provençal rosés notched a 58% increase in volume over 2014, and a 74% increase in value.

While Provence may remain the statistical and spiritual leader of dry pink wine (their trade association likes to call it “iconic”), the success of pink wine in general has also spurred a slew of innovation and ramped-up promotion. Some signs of the impending Pink-Apocalypse:

 The first 2015 Provence rosé of the season arrived in early winter—designed for winter: Grain de Glace “Le Rosé de l’Hiver.”

 NY Metro distributors Baron Francois and Winebow hosted rosé-only trade tastings; and the Skurnik tasting had a rosé cheat sheet mapping out all their pink wines.

 Picking up steam after success in 2015, “La Nuit en Rosé” events (photos above) sold-out in NYC (1,200) in February and Miami (700) in March.

 PR firms are pitching rosé as the coolest wine in a vintner’s whole portfolio.

 A group of winegrowers in France were fined 10,000 euros for mixing red and white wine to make rosé—sacré bleu!


Selling Tips

  Start your selling season with a variety of styles, price points and looks. You’ll see what is working, and still have time to reorder before the vintage dries up.

  Group your pink wines—making their collective color even more attractive.

  Shelf talkers with a wine’s style, grape(s) and origin can be especially helpful with rosés.

  Rosé presents an opportunity to explain how rosés are made. All wines get their color from the skins of grapes; at crush, if the juice of red grapes is given only short skin contact, it remains pink instead of becoming red. Then, winemakers decide how far to let the fermentation go: if they stop it, the wine will be on the sweet side, like White Zinfandel; if allowed to ferment fully, the wine will be dry but still fruity.


An Explosion of New Rosés

The pink-hued lessons of 2015 were not lost on suppliers: 2016 is bringing an unprecedented boom in new products. But the explosion of rosés is hardly as homogenous as their common color would suggest. While the Provence dry-crisp model has been adeptly emulated—from Long Island to Temecula, Stellenbosch to Tuscany—there are bubbly and sweetish options making their way to market as well.

And therein lies a glint of a downside. Buoyed by its widespread popularity, the term rosé is also now being used all over the map, so to speak—not merely as a call for a dry salmon-tinted wine, but as a generic name that can be stuck on just about anything wet and on the pink spectrum. The flood of new products is bound to bring more imprecise use of the word.

This is certainly a factor retailers and restaurant servers should bear in mind. In more situations than in the past, people who sell wine are going to be challenged to present their pink wines accurately. Is it dry? Is it sweet? Where is it from? What’s in it? Be prepared to make sense of the options.

Here are some brand new rosés that have crossed our path of late. Color is just about the only thing that connects them all, and these are only a fraction of the expansive pink market:



Matua put a lot of thought into their new 100% Pinot Noir rosé: night harvesting (for freshness), multiple yeasts (for aromatics), partial aging on the lees (for texture) and “Elegant & Dry” on the label (for browsers).


Fresh from Italy, Aia Vecchia’s “Solidio” is a dry, deep-colored and full-flavored 90% Sangiovese; and the new Ruffino is sparkling Glera (Prosecco, basically) and a splash of Pinot Noir. Are both “rosé”? Only Ruffino’s label says so.




PINO Cellars, from Oregon, is the newest Bronco Wine Co. rosé, joining Sables d’Azur, Heritages and 1749 from France; and Balletto, Robert Hall and Six Degrees from CA.





Bubbly fans might be happy to find the fanciful limited edition Chandon Rosé (the regular juice) wrapped in new skin by fashion designer Carol Lim. Or the Charles Heidsieck Rosé Millésime 2006 (SRP: $150), the first vintage rosé release by the house since the 1999 vintage. The 2006 was disgorged and released ahead of the 2005.


Never count out the French. Champs de Provence is a new Côtes de Provence from Prestige Imports. South American specialist Guarachi Wine Partners teamed up with French specialist Jeff Welburn to bring over two new rosés: Brun Estate (Côtes de Provence) and La Domitienne (Languedoc). Also from Languedoc, the 2015 Château de Jonquières is available in a magnificent magnum bottle. And Pasternak’s new “M de Mulonnière” Rosé d’Anjou—made by the Saget family in the Loire—is bright, ripe and fresh, with a bit of a Jolly Rancher kick.

Chateau St. Jean’s Bijou has a French name (meaning jewel) but a simple California AVA. Truvée is Central Coast, and consists mostly of Paso Robles Grenache. Head High is dark and strong (14.2% ABV), made from mostly North Coast Zinfandel and Syrah. The new Dark Horse Rosé is California AVA, and built from 40% Grenache, 20% Barbera, 20% Pinot Gris, 20% Tempranillo.


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