Not only was Memorial Day weekend the unofficial start of the summer season, but the official start of rosé season. As I sampled a number of rosés at various parties, lunches and dinners, I was reminded of the versatility of the wines, which can complement everything from burgers and hot dogs to spicy grilled chicken to roasted whole fish, in this case freshly caught black sea bass from our favorite fish market.
With their almost infinite shades of pink and salmon and copper, rosés have become a red-hot category in recent years, and with good reason. Not only are they great aperitif wines, but they can effectively bridge the gap between whites and reds (they are made from the juice of red grapes with just minimal contact with the color-producing skins). I have often enjoyed rosés with simply grilled meats like lamb and steak, which are typical red-wine foods.
I’ll be pointing out rosés frequently this summer, starting with two that stood out for me this past weekend. From France, Jean-Paul Brun’s 2009 Rosé d’Folie Beaujolais is an unusual example of rosé from that region and from the gamay grape. It’s quite dry with tastes of spicy cherry, some herbs, a touch or orange rind and a distinct minerality that gives it a real sense of originality and place. It’s also made with wild or indigenous yeasts, which the exception rather than the rule in Beaujolais. $15. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections, New York.
From Australia, I also enjoyed Robert Oatley’s 2009 Rosé of Sangiovese from the Mudgee region of New South Wales. Fruit-forward in style with notes of peach and watermelon, this one practically screams out “summer.” It’s effortless to drink and is a natural for the picnic table and patio. $15. Imported by Robert Oatley Vineyards, Petaluma, California. (Wines received as press samples.)