Cheap & Cheerful? Not Exactly…

I have always had a love-hate relationship with rosé. Or maybe, more accurately, it’s the relationship with the producers, mostly from my home state of California that torments me. This is not an issue of a Francophile wine snob bashing everything domestic and holding on high any juice from overseas. In fact, I have tasted many more poor rosés from France than I have from California. Nonetheless, a troubling trend has been developing among Golden State rosé producers over the last few years.

What do you think of when you think of rosé? The beach? A picnic? Sitting in the shade to escape the heat of a 95 degree day. Brunch? While this list is a great start in cataloging God’s greatest gifts to humanity it is not a litany of the most cerebral experiences. Even to the biggest wine nerds among us will admit that like the events associated with pink wine, the juice itself is usually not meant to be dissected or pondered. Yes, yes, yes…I know there are plenty of exceptions. Chateau Pibarnon comes out with a layered, complex and age-worthy rosé every vintage. Lopez de Heredia’s decades old rosé seems to contradict every commonly held belief about the style being fruity, cheap and cheerful. The few exceptions aside, you won’t hear the words “Tavel” and “Gevrey-Chambertin” uttered in the same sentence.

Why is it then that so many California rosé producers find it necessary to elevate their rosés beyond their reach and slap $30 or $40 price tags on them? “This rosé was made from special clones of Pinot Noir snuck back in the country from Champagne.” “We cut our yields in half over the last few years and now there is barely enough wine for you to have any.” “Next year we are thinking about bottling our rosé in magnums!!” I have heard countless producers use a collection of one-liners to separate their wines from the sea of pink flowing out of California. Are the wines tasty? Absolutely!! (But there is a lot of great wine out there). Has the quality of the wine improved over the last decade? Immeasurably (But so has Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and most of that is still under $10 a bottle). Is California one of the world’s premier rosé regions? Without a doubt (But the state has proven it can excel at all wine styles). Are the wines worth the $30+ prices that they often fetch? I’m not so sure.

As we suffer through the hottest days of the summer there is no doubt we will all be drinking a lot of rosé. If you want to drink an exclusive, pink wine that can only be obtained through a member’s only mailing list then be my guest. I think I will save my money for the California Chards, Cabs or Pinots and guzzle bottles of $15 roses from other parts of the world.

By Will Sugerman

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the opinions of others at Amanti Vino. If this generates even a quarter of the debate that it did in the store I will be a happy man.



  1. Janice said

    Have you ever been to Paris, where you can swill pretty good rose from the corner store every night?

    • amantivinoblog said

      I was just there last month with my family. We swilled supermarket rose every night. That’s funny, my mom’s name is Janice. What an incredible set of coincidences!!

      Thanks for reading the blog that only a mother could love… 🙂

      • Janice said

        Dear Will, may I call you Willy?

        What a coincidence indeed. We are having sweltering hot weather here in San Francisco, even in our foggy neighborhood. Any bargain basement rose to recommend to cool off?

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