Winemakers seeing success through rose-colored glasses

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Pink wines are white hot right now, and there’s never been more to choose from.

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Domaine De Fontsainte (left) and Chateau Viranel are just two of the rose wines on the market.  MATTHEW MEAD/ASSOCIATED PRESS
MATTHEW MEAD/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Domaine De Fontsainte (left) and Chateau Viranel are just two of the rose wines on the market.

“It’s really amazing how people are drinking rose so much,” says Michael Madrigale, head sommelier at New York’s Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud restaurants. “Before, two men sitting at a table would never be caught dead drinking rose and now you see it all the time. The stigma of rose being a wimpy wine and rose being white zinfandel and therefore a bad wine is gone and I think the European attitude has really taken hold.”

And while sunny Provence is the traditional home of rose (pronounced ro-ZAY) wines, they’re now being made – and deliciously so – all over the world.

Take the Languedoc, which neighbors Provence in the South of France, and can be relied on for value roses. Wines to look for include the 2013 Domaine Fontsainte “Gris de Gris” Corbieres rose (Corbieres is an appellation in the Languedoc region) – “It is just dynamite,” says Madrigale – and the 2013 Chateau Viranel “Tradition” Saint Chinian rose.

Most roses are made with red grapes, but the skins have been in contact with the fermenting juice for only a short time, hence the pink color. Syrah, grenache and cinsault grapes are typical in rose wines from the South of France, but all kinds of grapes can be used.

In Washington state, where interest in roses is growing, winemakers are using grape varieties that originated in the Rhone region of France, including cabernet franc and merlot. A respected producer is Gramercy Cellars, while Treveri produces a sparkling rose.

And how about a splash of New Mexico wine country? Gruet Winery in Alburquerque sells a nonvintage sparkling rose for under $20; the more expensive 2010 Grand Rose also is worth trying.

In Spain, where a rose is a rose is a rosado, Freixenet, the sparkling wine company, is launching a new line of wines under the label Mia that includes a fresh rose wine made from red bobal grapes grown south of Barcelona, as well as a sparkling moscato rose.

Winemaker Gloria Collell tasted wine from all over the world to find out what people want and came up with the answer of something fresh and fruity with a touch of sweetness, but not cloying. “People are looking for roses to enjoy on the terrace, to enjoy on the patio,” she says.

Meanwhile, back in Provence, producers continue to turn out delicious wines with some newcomers in the mix.

That includes producers like Stephen Cronk, who moved with his family from London to a small town in Provence five years ago and put together a team, including an Australian winemaker, another innovation, to produce a rose under the name Mirabeau. Now available in 10 countries, the crisp and refreshing wines have won wide acclaim.

Cronk’s nontraditional approach extends to marketing. You may have seen his YouTube video of how to open a wine bottle with a shoe.

“One of the big things that I believe in is trying to de-snob, or de-mystify wine,” says Cronk, who has scores of other videos on his Web site, many of them meant to be fun ways to learn about wine. “Most consumers love the product but are slightly intimidated by it. Wine shouldn’t be at all intimidating.”


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