This may be the summer of Barbie pink, but summer wouldn’t be authentic without a wine glass filled with rosé. Better yet, a frozé on a scorching, humidity-off-the-charts kind of day.
For clarification, the reference to “day” is that it is more likely this blush beverage will be sipped before 5 o’clock. Be warned, however, as the alcohol content is misleading. A few glasses of this wine may taste more like flavored water, but it is not. On the upside, day sipping presents the perfect opportunity for a late afternoon nap.
The history of this blush wine is one that caters to the economy of wineries. Cashflow is important as wine ages in barrels, so what better way to capture sales early than to market summertime sips? If you want the full flavor potential, let the bottle sit for about 15 minutes on the counter once you remove it from the fridge. Here are the best of the best – taste test approved.
#1 - 2022 Justin Rosé, Central Coast, California
You’ll want to stock up on this summer sip, because what’s in this bottle of Justin Rosé proves the very definition of a classic wine. A summer-easy screwcap opening leads to a mostly Syrah rosé produced from this standout Paso Robles winery. This is a nicely dry version of rosé made whole cluster pressed without malolactic fermentation; in other words, minimal interference to the essence of the true strawberry and stone fruit notes and flavors. It is the perfect wine to pair with most al fresco dining options, but especially with light cheeses, avocado, Dungeness crab, and lobster meat. $20/bottle
#2 – Laurent Perrier Brut Cuvée Rosé, Champagne, France
Rosé of Pinot Noir is atypical in Provence, but in Champagne, this is the pink with bubbles. This Champagne wasn’t made with one grape, but with 10 different Crus in the Montagne de Reims region, specifically the Côte de Bouzy Ambonnay, Bouzy, Louvois, and Tours sur Marne, and aged for 5 years.
Presented in a gilded bronze cage, bring a bottle over a friend’s house before heading out for dinner so you can share this elegant raspberry and red current-driven taste as a start to a celebratory evening. It’s exquisite and silky palate is lush berry-forward and easy to drink alone, but if you’d like to have some cheese or fries… even better. $90/bottle
#3 – Ott 2020 Domaines Ott, Provence, France
First, any translucent glass wine bottle is an indication of a “drink now” wine. But there is something to be said about the aging of rosé, if only to explore and compare past vintages. Rosés are typically consumed within a year of bottling, which is why many bottles skip the cork and opt for a screwcap. But what happens when you forget to open a bottle… until three years later? First, the blush tint is more salmon as the wine begins to oxidize. But for this 2020 Ott, there were no flaws, but more complexities that worked. Instead of a fresh burst of strawberries on the palate, the taste was of ripened raspberries with citrus peel. This wine is a favorite blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Mourvèdre grapes. Cost for a bottle of this beauty is $25.
Ott 2019 Domaines Ott
To sip a 4-year-old rosé may seem ludicrous, but it was an interesting experiment to learn how this “drink now” wine might age. And it aged well. On the palate was more of a ripened skin of red berries mingled with the tiniest oxidation. Surprisingly, this was quite lovely and would never be considered undrinkable.
#4 - One Stone 2022 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California
The One Stone label is an artful illustration that depicts “The woman who moves a mountain starts with a single stone.” Aside from this deep pink and crisp Paso Robles rosé that presents a bit more lushness on the palate than its pale pink counterparts, it’s more about the philanthropic efforts of One Stone that garner interest. For every bottle sold, support goes toward Dream Big Darling, a nonprofit dedicated to mentoring up-and-coming women in the wine and spirits industry. Open a few bottles to pair with summer’s best fish tacos and flatbreads. $18/bottle
#5 – Château Mourgues du Grès 2022, AOC Costières de Nîmes Rosé Galets Rosés, Rhône, France
Château Mourgues du Grès is a 65-hectare estate in the AOC Costières de Nîmes. This Rhône beauty is made from biodynamically-grown Syrah, Grenache Noir, and a bit of Mourvèdre grapes. It’s clean, and it’s an amped up in a bright garnet version of pink and a minerality that comes from the galets, which are rocks similar to the Chateauneuf-du Pape stones surrounding the vines. The winemaking process is Saignée (bleeding), which involves extracting a portion of red grape variety juice after skin and seed contact. This method gives rosé its color, aroma, and body, and it’s all in one bottle of a fruity, herbaceous rich summer sip of France -- sure to bring you back to the Rhône. Priced at $15/bottle, it’s a bargain.
#6 - Château Beaubois 2022, AOC Costières de Nîmes Rosé Expression, Nîmes, France
Expression is the perfect description for this exceptional biodynamic-grown blend of Southern France grapes: Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault. Typical grapefruit, strawberry and raspberry flavors of a blush wine are complemented by the location of the vineyards. Less than 10 miles from the Mediterranean Sea, the Costières de Nîmes is a French winemaking region that produces the opposite of what the majority of wine regions produce – this region makes more rosé wine than either white or red.
The vineyard’s pebbly soils hold in heat for optimal ripening, and the mistral winds prevent overripe grapes. The Expression of stone fruit, red berries, and a finish of citrus and minerality make this wine a perfect accompaniment to summer pesto dishes like a tomato flatbread, fries, or with a plate of Thai food. $17 per bottle
#7 –Château d'Aqueria 2022, AOC Tavel Rosé Château d'Aqueria, Côtes-du-Rhône, France
First, the facts… Tavel became France’s first rosé AOC in 1936. Next, the taste. This Château d'Aqueria AOC Tavel Rosé presents as a genuinely nice, vibrant, deeper shade of blush to perk up summer sipping. The sandy slopes of vineyard rows that grow the grapes blended in this wine include Grenache (50%), Syrah (25%), Clairette (15%), and Cinsault (10%). What contributes to this wine’s outstanding elegance is that Tavel is a place in the Côtes-du-Rhône where the Appellation Tavel Protégée produces some of the finest rosé wines in the world. So, the dominating factor here is place. And it is here that 2022 was particularly challenging, with hail reducing the amount of fruit available at harvest. But that fruit was more concentrated; therefore, the wine is rich with flavors of crisp, red berries with a caramel finish. Light the grill and get that BBQ going before opening up a bottle, priced at $20 or less.
#8 – 2022 B&G AOC Côtes de Provence “Tourmaline,” France
Barton & Guestier’s slender, seductive bottle with its bowled bottom and glass stopper is a keeper to use as a vase. Its pale pink contents are worth consuming immediately with friends who love a quintessential AOC Côtes de Provence rosé made with Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah grapes. Its name is a nod to the famous pink gemstones found on the Provenćal coast in France. It’s taste expresses an understated yet powerful fruit and freshness -- exactly what you’d expect from Provence. The added bouquet of ripe red berries and white flowers comes from the skins of the grapes, which were macerated for a few hours. Better yet, this is a vegan-friendly and sustainably farmed wine, best served with scallops. It’s no surprise Concours Mondial de Bruxelles awarded this wine a grand gold medal. Purchase a bottle at your nearest wine shop for approximately $19.
#9 - Peyrassol’s 2022 Provençal Rosés, France
With my mind set on Barbie pink, I was surprised to open a dust-pink box that arrived with a note inside: Happy Peyrassol Season! No Barbie dolls were inside, but better than a plastic doll were 3 elegant bottles of Provençal rosés, each lying in a carved out bed of white satin lining.
The most elegant of all 3 was the Le Clos Peyrassol Rosé, AOP Côtes de Provence, presented in a bottle typically used for Syrah – wide on the bottom. This summer sip of exquisiteness is a blend of 40% Cinsault, 35% Grenache, 20% Tibouren, 10% Syrah, and 5% Vermentino. If you’re wondering what Tibouren is, some research indicates this black-skinned grape originated in either Greece or the Middle East, but today is grown primarily in Provence, France and Liguria, in Northwestern Italy. Six months of aging in clay amphoras is where this wine birthed its uniqueness. If one could bottle elegance, Le Clos Peyrassol is what you’ll find in a bottle with minerality of crushed stone and delicate floral in its aroma, and on the palate, subtle red berries and stone fruit mixed with dried apricot -- with a finish of slight citrus and hint of salinity. Best served at a dinner party with white fish on the menu. $80 per bottle
Les Commandeurs Rosé, AOP Côtes de Provence 2022, priced at $29 per bottle, is a subtle, lovely blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 15% Syrah, 10% Vermentino, 5% Mourvèdre and will pair well with scallops.
Fun facts: Commanderie de Peyrassol was founded by the Knights Templar in 1204, and ever since, the 1,000-hectare estate has continuously produced distinctive wines emblematic of the iconic terroir of Provence. The year 2022 marks the first vintage harvested as certified organic.
Château Peyrassol Rosé, AOP Côtes de Provence 2022 is priced at $45 per bottle and is the perfect aperitif before watching the Barbie movie. This blend of 45% Cinsault, 25% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 8% Mourvèdre, 4% Tibouren, and 8% Vermentino is utterly unique among rosés in that it has a complexity beyond typical blush wines. It’s zesty and bold, yet with barely-there rich red fruits, and is that tangy exotic flavor lychee? Whatever you want to call it, it’s a combination of pear and citrus – and it's delicious.
Watch and learn more about the estate and its wines HERE.
#10 - Dutcher Crossing Grenache Rosé, 2022 Winemakers’ Cellar, Dry Creek Valley, California
This summer sip should be called Dutcher deceptive, as the color of this dusty copper wine and its flavor is barely there, but there it is. Dutcher Crossing has never disappointed, and its streak continues. This rosé is a perfect match for a rosé lover who desires the full impact of grenache. The minerality is perfection, the hint of gardenia and jasmine in the bouquet is charming, and the palate of pomelo, citrus rind and cream ends with that splash of stone fruit minerality. Enjoy with sautéed zucchini flowers and a spicy summer salad. $39 per bottle
#11 – 2021 Pasqua Rosé Trevenezie, 11 Minutes, Lake Garda, Italy
Lake Garda is on the bucket list, especially after tasting Pasqua rosé, which has now become a fan favorite and one of the most unique, expressive rosés of summer. The use of native noble varietals Corvina (the dominant varietal) and Trebbiano of Lugana are blended with Syrah and Carmenère to make all the difference. This bottle won a gold medal at Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. That is something special. And so it the bottle – atypical of a wine bottle, this is more of a bourbon-style.
The 11 minutes is a nod to the production of rosé and the skin contact time, which isn’t a lot, yet brings out that nice blush shade. From maceration, 11 hours in a tank are necessary for the more solid parts to decant before fermentation begins. Once fermentation is completed, the wine remains in contact with the lees for a few more months before filtration and bottling. A bouquet of Lake Garda florals (or so I assume) is the start to a more intense rosé on the palate than a typical Provençal style. The Syrah adds some spice, and the complexity is derived from the total varietals and production methods. $18.99/bottle
#12 – 2022 Osmosis Rosé, Mendoza, Argentina
Zero sugar. 85 Calories per 5-ounce serving. Nine percent alcohol by volume. Sustainably farmed. Blend of 80% Syrah, 15% Merlot, and 5% Bonarda (think Charbono).
This Osmosis wine is a light and breezy, easy vegan wine produced in a proprietary technique, and it couldn’t be more interesting to the newest generation of oenophiles who want a taste of Mendoza, Argentina rosé. The wine’s faint pink tint leads to a bouquet of watermelon and strawberries and a palate of favorable minerality and subtle citrus and passion fruit. It’s a taste of summer elegance when served with seafood paella. $14.99/bottle
#13 – Brilla Prosecco Rosé, Italy
The bottle of Brilla Prosecco is textured to feel like gemstones. But inside, these Italian rosé bubbles made from Glera and Pinot Nero grapes pour to a crisp, red berry taste that will make you want to shout, Brilla!, which means ‘shine on’ in Italian. The invitation to shine is also renovated in the packaging with the label printed on pink glitter paper, a nod to the vibrancy of the bubbles. $15/bottle
Charlene Peters is a wine writer and author of "Travel Makes Me Hungry."