In the past several weeks, I must have tasted 30-plus roses for an upcoming column. It didn't seem like a few years ago when I tasted only a handful. Are there more roses on the market -- or am I just more engaged this year?
Several producers -- including Kendall-Jackson -- announced the debut of their roses this year. When K-J gets involved, you know there is money to be made. And, that's now the case with a wine that was once left to the French.
Unfortunately, much of the rose I tasted this year was more like Kool-Aid. Yes, it had the right color and the right vibrancy, but some were slightly sweet and many were more expensive than they were worth. Clearly, producers saw the market trend and decided to get into the game. But that signals to me their roses are afterthoughts.
Not so in southern France where quality producers make nothing but rose. It's in France where you can oddly find bargains and quality in the same bottle. "Odd" because I would expect them to be more expensive than California roses. Some California roses were priced at $20 and more.
French rose producers use mostly grenache and syrah grapes -- ideal for the spirited fruit flavors, vibrant acidity and young, fresh fruit that make roses so delightful on warm days. Spain also uses grenache and even some California producers have followed the French model. But I've also seem more cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, tempranillo, and merlot. I have to wonder if those aren't the grapes the producers have left over.
The most notable ones so far? Whispering Angel, Chapoutier Bila-Haut, Guigal Cotes du Rhone, Les Dauphins and Stoller. More to come on this subject.