Many fresh, crisp 2014 Rosés are already on the shelves waiting for consumers eager to welcome the warm weather with a cold glass of wine. In this article, we review a large number of the rosés we’ve tasted over the past month. Most of these wines are from France, not just Provence, which as we’ve written earlier is experiencing a true rosé boom, but all over France from Bordeaux to the Camargue. Our notes on these wines are reported below, but, first, we provide a brief primer on the styles and quality attributes of rosé.
Rosés come in several different styles. Some rosés offer light and delicate aromas, while others are ripe and fruity. Some reveal dried cherry and strawberry flavors, and others show pomegranate and plum. Most rosés are crisp and dry, but others have residual sweetness. There are rosés for every palate and plenty of them to enjoy, including those made from indigenous grapes such as varieties like Carignan, Carmenere, Cinsault, Mourvèdre. Pineau d’Aunis, and Marselan.
What is a Good Rosé?
In our opinion, good quality rosé should, first and foremost, by young and fresh, not over-ripe. Consumers should in general only purchase the current vintage. Second, a good rosé should have bright, preferably natural, acidity. Good acidity is essential to convey a sense of freshness and vibrancy. Third, good rosé should have flavor. It can be light or concentrated, but it must be there and be enjoyable. And, finally, a good quality rosé should have everything in balance—alcohol, acidity, residual sugar, and tannins. Too much sweetness, or too much acidity, can be a turn off.
Given these attributes, individuals have different tastes and preferences about rosé—its color, sweetness, and flavors, in particular. While we try to set our own taste preferences aside in evaluating wines, we do have preferences. We prefer rosés that are light in style—light in color, subtly flavored, fresh and vibrant both aromatically and in the mouth, low in alcohol—and well-balanced with good acidity and, preferably, with a sense of minerality. We also prefer our rosés to show some complexity of aroma and flavor—perhaps some spice or herbs in addition to fresh fruit—and with good palate weight.
Making Quality Rosé.
Almost every winemaker says (whether they believe it, or not), “wine is made in the vineyard.” This is certainly true in the case of rosé, which requires the terroir—soil, temperature, and diurnal temperature variations—to produce high natural acidity. It also helps to plant specific parcels and clones for rosé and manage the canopy differently than would be done for red table wines.
Of course, rosés can be made either through direct pressing of grapes used only to make rosé or by bleeding (saignée) free run juice off fruit being macerated for red wines. The former (i.e., direct pressing) allows the winemaker to harvest red grapes earlier than she would for a red wine with resulting lower sugar, lower alcohol, and higher acidity, often resulting in a rosé of exceptional lightness and elegance. We’ve also had excellent rosés made using the saignée method, or using a combination of direct press and saignée. In either case (i.e., direct fermentation or saignée), fermentation or aging in oak can add flavor complexity and a soft, full mouth feel to the wine, but the barrels need to be neutral or well-used so that oak aromas and flavors are held in check.
Tasting Notes and Ratings
Alain Jaume & Fils 2014 Le Cretace Tavel ($20) 89+ The Le Cretace offers rich strawberry and red cherry flavors with a hint of minerals. It is beautifully balanced and tart on the mid-palate with good acidity, freshness and a long finish. Alain Jaume & Fils 2014 Reserve Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone ($15) 88 Light salmon in color, the Reserve Grand Veneer is a light delicately flavored wine with hints of cherry, good mouth feel, crisp acidity and freshness onto the finish. Importer: Kysela
Anne Delaroche 2014 Rose Cotes du Rhone ($10) 88 The Anne Delaroche displays a light salmon color and has light aromas and flavors of ripe cherry. It is nicely balanced with good acidity and freshness and a pleasant finish. Made for importer Fran Kysela.
Château de la Chaize 2014 Rosé Beaujolais-Villages ($20) 90 This 100% Gamay is a delicate, feminine wine. It’s floral and perfumed on the nose, followed by a soft, gentle palate brightened by bright acidity. Made from pressed grapes. Importer: Esprit du Vin.
Château de Lancyre 2014 Pic Saint-Loup Rosé Coteaux du Languedoc ($20) 90+ The 2014 Lancyre is very enjoyable with pure light red fruit, excellent weight, and a balanced, refined mouthfeel. Although it’s not the largest part of the blend, Grenache has a huge influence on this wine. A blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 10% Cinsault. Importer: Handpicked Selections.
Château des Arnauds 2014 Caprices l’Anais Bordeaux ($) 89 The Caprices l’Anais is a fragrant wine offering strawberry and cherry freshness and flavor on the palate. It is soft on the attack with a lovely mouth feel good acidity and a crisp finish. Importer: Kysela
Château d’Or et de Gueules 2014 Les Cimels Rosé Costières de Nîmes ($32/1.5L) 89 Very pale orange tinted salmon color. The Les Cimels provides mineral-accented aromas of orange skin and red cranberry that carry over to the palate. This is a subtly flavored, stony wine that will be especially appealing to those who like their rosés on the steely and dry side. We like this style. Diane de Puymorin makes this wine at the estate located southwest of Nimes that she purchased in 1998. A blend of 30% Cinsault, 30% Mourvèdre, and 40% Grenache. Importer: Robert Kacher
Château du Donjon 2014 Rosé Minervois ($16) 89 Salmon pink. Fresh and floral with red berry notes, the Château du Donjon also reveals a floral, feminine palate that combines a soft texture with crisp, balancing acidity. A superb, refreshing aperitif wine that would pair well with simply prepared fish or grilled vegetables. From the Languedoc, a blend of 30% Syrah, 30% Cinsault, and 40%
Château Grand Cassagne 2014 Rosé Costières de Nîmes ($12) 89 Copper tinged medium pink. Just the nose sets this rosé de saignée apart from other wines with its earthy, blood orange, and red berry nuances. On the palate, the wine is full with good flavor density and a long, flavorful finish. The 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah fruit comes from south-facing slopes near the village of St. Gilles just north of the Camargue and 25 miles west of Avignon. Importer: Robert Kacher
Commanderie de la Bargemone 2014 Rosé Coteaux d’Aix en Provence ($19) 90 Pale eye of the partridge. Fresh, balanced, crisp and dry, this is a fragrant, easy-drinking wine with light flavors of berries and herbs. Very good. A blend of 36% Grenache, 26% Cinsault, 21% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Rolle (Vermentino). Importer: Handpicked Selections.
Domaine de la Mordorée 2014 Tavel ($24) 89 This Tavel is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Consult, and 20% Syrah. Dark pink in color it displays aromas of fresh strawberry and hint of plum. It is ripe and full flavored on the palate with good acidity and a crisp finish. Domaine de la Mordorée 2014 Cotes du Rhone ($20) 91 A blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Consult displays an attractive medium-pink color and aromas of dried cherries. It is elegant on the palate and beautifully balanced, with good acidity and freshness and a long finish. Domaine de la Mordorée 2014 La Reine des Bois Tavel ($34) 91 This is an elegant and feminine wine with aromas of bright cherry. A blend of Grenache, 60%, Consult 20% and Clairette 20%, it has excellent acidity and freshness on the palate with a delicate mouth feel and a bright crisp finish. Domaine de la Mordorée 2014 La Remise Vin de France ($16) 88+ Light salmon in color, the La Remise offers aromas of strawberry, citrus and herbs. It has moderate intensity of flavor on the palate with crisp acidity and a long finish. A blend of Marselan and Merlot. Importer: Kysela
Domaine de St. Antoine 2014 Rosé Pays du Gard ($12) 88+ Made from hand-picked Syrah, this medium pink wine comes from a 20 ha vineyard of rocky limestone soil located southeast of Nimes in the heart of the Costières de Nîmes. The wine reveals fresh, tart plum on the nose; it has a soft attack and a bright, flavorful palate of red berries and plum. This is a wine that hits the happy medium—bright and fresh yet with an abundance of flavor. Well done. Jean-Louis and Marlène Emmanuel make the wine. Importer: Robert Kacher
Domaine des Cabotières 2014 Rosé Touraine ($ ) 87 A direct pressed rosé made of 80% Gamay and 20% Pineau d’Aunis, this is a pale pink, light and easy drinking wine with light rose petal and watermelon aromas and flavors complemented by bright acidity. Thierry and Marie Delaunay are the 5th generation winemakers at this 27 ha estate on the banks of the Cher river east of Tours. Importer: Robert Kacher
Domaine des Corbillières 2014 Rosé Touraine ($18) 89 From the 26 ha vineyard farmed by Dominique and Véronique Barbou in Oisly in the Loire Valley, this rosé is light and pleasant with light berry and melon notes and a very crisp, refreshing finish and notable minerality. The wine is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Pineau d’Aunis. Importer: Robert Kacher
Domaine Michel Thomas & Fils 2014 Samcerre ($33) 91 This is a gorgeous wine offering fresh crisp cherry aromas and flavors and mineral notes. It is beautifully balanced with good acidity and crispness on the palate and a long persistent mineral note on the finish, Elegant and refined too. Importer: Kysela
Domaines Ott 2013 Rosé Château de Selle Côtes de Provence ($50) 91 Pale eye of the partridge color. Crisp and clean with delicate aromas of rose petals and light flavors of watermelon and citrus, finishing with good length and a mineral character. A blend of 63% Grenache, 22% Cinsault, 12% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Domaines Ott is owned by Champagne Louis Roederer. Importer: Maisons Marques & Domaines.
Domaine Roger Champault 2014 Les Pierris Rosé Sancerre ($22) 91 Pale pink, revealing fresh red berry and cherry scents. The wine is crisp with good body and a firm structure, finishing on a long perfumed note. Delightful. Made of 100% Pinot Noir. Importer: Esprit du Vin.
Jean Reverdy 2014 Les Villots Sancerre ($24) 90+ The Les Villots offers assertive fragrance on the nose with strawberry and cherry flavors on the palate. It exhibits good concentration, excellent acidity and a persistent finish. Importer: Kysela
Laurence Féraud 2014 Pink Pégau Vin de France ($22) 88 Féraud’s Pink Pegau is a rosé done in the dry, steely style with crisp, tart acidity. There just a hint of cranberry on the palate and a lingering flavorful finish. An appealing, uncomplicated rosé well worth the price. A blend of 70% Cinsault, 20% Grenache, and 10% Clariette from 35-60 year old vines. Importer: Handpicked Selections.
Les Rocailles 2014 Rosé Vin de Savoie ($18) 88+ Soft on the attack and on the palate, the Les Rocailles reveals notes of red berries and ripe apple with moderate acidity. A suave, fully flavored rosé from the French Alps. Made from all Gamay planted in rocky, clay and limestone soils. Importer: Handpicked Selections.
Les Vignobles JeanJean 2014 Domaine Le Pive Gris Sable de Camargue ($16) 90 This is a very pretty, soft, and feminine wine. It shows scents of spring flowers and rose petals and reveals a suave, gentle, almost creamy mouth feel with nuances of watermelon and raspberry. It’s a delicious, easy drinking wine that’s the perfect summer evening aperitif. A vin biologique made of 30% Grenache Gris, 30% Grenache Noir, 30% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Importer: Handpicked Selections.
Les Vignerons de Cases de Pene 2014 Penya Rosé Côtes Catalanes ($12) 89 A blend of 96% Grenache Noir, 4% Syrah, the Penya Rosé is a lovely, easy drinking wine that shows strawberry and watermelon scents and flavors on a crisp, dry palate. Cases de Penes is just 30 miles north of the Spanish border. Importer: Handpicked Selections.
Les Vignerons de Tautavel Vingrau 2014 Le Cirque Rosé Côtes Catalanes ($15) 90 Medium pink salmon. This is a well-balanced, crisp rose that reflects the high amount of Grenache in the wine, showing red strawberry with nuances of pomegranate and fresh garden herbs. It has everything one would want in a rosé—freshness, bright fruit, and excellent acidity. A blend of 35% Grenache Noir, 35% Syrah, 30% Mourvèdre from old vines. Importer: Handpicked Selections.
Mas de la Dame 2014 Rosé du Mas Les Baux de Provence 90 The Rosé du Mas reveals a ripe, red berry nose. It’s delicious and crisp on the attack with a perfumed, round palate. Made from 60% Grenache, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, and 10% Mouvedre, both pressed and saignée. Importer: Esprit du Vin.
Saint Victoire 2014 Rosé Cotes de Provence ($17) 89 The pale salmon Saint Victoire Rose is bright crisp and flavorful> It displays fragrant cherry aromas and good acidity and freshness on the palate. It is nicely balanced with a long pleasant zesty finish. Importer: Kysela
Suavia 2014 Rosé Bordeaux ($13) 87 This Rosé offers light and slightly earthy aromas of cherry and strawberry. It is somewhat tart on the mid-palate and has a light dry finish. Importer: Kysela
Villa des Anges 2014 Old Vines Rosé Pays d’Oc ($12) 88 Pale eye of the partridge color. Showing attractive aromas of strawberry and watermelon with a hint of thyme. The wine is refreshing, revealing light red berry flavors and a clean finish. A Cinsault Rosé crafted by winemaker Jeff Carrel from old vines grown northwest of Béziers. Importer: Handpicked Selections.
Villa des Collines 2014 Rosé Alps de Haute Provence ($16) 88 This Provence Rosé shows perky light red cherry scents and a lively palate with good flavor and racy acidity. It’s a fun wine to drink, leaving a fresh, persistent impression. A blend of 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 15% Cinsault from 20 year old sustainably grown vines planted on hillside vineyards at 1500’ altitude. Importer: Handpicked Selections.
Austria, Chile, Spain, and Virginia
Arrumaco 2014 Garnacha Rosé Spain ($30/3L) 87 The bag in a box Arrumaco Rosé offers convenience and easy drinking in a convenient format for those who simply want a glass of cool, crisp rosé and a low alcohol one at that. The wine has the soft, strawberry like fruit typical of Garnacha and is fresh with good acidity. It’s lightly flavored but pleasant drinking. From vineyards in Galicia and just 11.5% alc. Importer: Handpicked Selections.
Boxwood Winery 2014 Rosé Middleburg ($17) 90 The 2014 Boxwood Rose displays a salmon color and ripe plum flavors. A blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and Malbec, it was made following the saignée method and 17% whole cluster pressed Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is rich in fruit and relatively high in alcohol (14.1 alc) but is well balanced and crisp and dry on the finish.
Hugl 2014 Zweigelt Rose Austria ($13) 87 The 2014 Hugo Zweigelt displays a salmon color and aromas of fresh strawberry and cherry. Fruit forward with a touch of sweetness, it is rather simple and easy drinking with a moderately crisp finish. Importer: Kysela
Maipe 2014 Rose Lujan de Cuyo ($13) 88 The Maipe reveals a beautiful dark pink color and aromas of strawberry with a hint of plum. It is nicely balanced with good acidity and freshness on the mid-palate and finish. Ripe and flavorful, but lacking vibrancy. Importer: Kysela.
Tres Ojos 2014 Rosado Calatayud ($14) 88 This Rosado is a blend of 50% Garnacha and 50% Tempranillo. It reveals a dark pink color and a nose of ripe strawberry. It is fresh, fruity and mouth filling, while only moderate in acidity and crispness on the finish. Importer: Kysela