It’s that time of year again when the chill of winter fades and spring blossoms. It appears that this year’s season of mud will be prolonged. For most, this means we must endure a longer-than-usual window into the opening of trails for our collective affinity for outdoor recreation.
Perhaps in the meantime, we can embrace the arrival of the 2018 vintage of rosès.
For rosè aficionados, this time of year warms our souls with great pleasure, knowing that all of our favorite rosès of past vintages will return but with a slightly different character. This is the beauty of vintage wine – not just rosè. The wines resemble the previous year but with subtle nuances that differentiate them.
There is good and bad news cocerning the 2018 vintage of rosè in Europe and the U.S. In France, the world’s top producer of rosè, the infamous wines of Provence will be slightly softer, fruitier, and less acidic and alcoholic than in 2017. The upside of lower alcohol is that we can consume more of it with less intoxication.
Spanish rosès will also be slightly lighter due to a cooler-than-average vintage, which equates to lower-than-average alcohol contents and slightly higher acidities.
In Italy, which had a relatively normal year, a significant amount of rain and hail created problems for the northern region of Piedmont, specifically around Barbaresco and Barolo. Organic producers there were vulnerable due to the risk of fungal disease and their commitment to sustainability.
Both Germany and Austria benefitted from a warmer than usual vintage, which for those cool-climate producers results in lush, fruitier and softer wines.
California had a banner vintage in 2018 – a far cry from the previous vintage which resulted in heavy smoke taint from the various wildfires. An excellent California vintage means ripe, rich wines with soft acidities. If you prefer more tart rosè, seek out European wines. For softer and richer rosés, look closer to home.
Because of the rise in the popularity of rosè over the last decade, retailers and restaurants alike must place their pre-sale orders in January. Those establishments that did not place their pre-orders will likely miss out on many wines and opportunities. We are now seeing new wines arrive weekly and will continue to do so over the coming month.
Rosè sales have doubled in the U.S. over the past couple years. These delightful spring and summer wines continues to appeal to the masses. Their popularity has skyrocketed largely because consumers realize that the majority of pink wine in the marketplace is not sweet. It’s safe to assume these days that if it’s pink, it’s dry.
Not only are rosès delightful patio porch pounders, they also are unmistakably excellent food wines. Thanks to their crisp acidic mouthfeel, dry rosè is perhaps the most versatile food wine – excellent with sushi, Thai, Chinese, Italian, burgers and even steak. Their beauty also lies in their affordability, with prices starting below $10.
Alan Cuenca is an accredited oenophile and owner of Put a Cork in It, a Durango wine store. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.