Want to look at the world through Rosé-colored glasses? Turns out you don't have to travel too far. Bandol, Provence and the Rhône may have hundreds of years of tradition on us, but Virginia wineries are in the pink right now, with bright, crisp, food-friendly Rosés a-plenty. "If there ever was a wine for all people to keep on hand at all times, that's Rosé," says Early Mountain Vineyards winemaker Ben Jordan. Bien sûr!
This Madison winery grows and picks grapes specifically for Rosé (mostly Merlot, but also Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Malbec), which translates to an irresistible sipper that's lightly-hued and energetic, according to Jordan. A salmon hue and aromas of strawberries and peaches are followed by flavors of fruit and minerality, including wet stone and pink salt, "allowing it to walk the line between subtlety and playfulness," Jordan says. Fresh, crisp and dry, it goes with anything, especially a sunny afternoon on Early Mountain's patio. Grab it now and serve it with burgers or fried chicken at a picnic.
Named for the small town where the winery is situated, this Merlot-based Rosé undergoes two days of skin contact and fermentation in stainless steel tanks at low temperature, and is topped with a level of carbon dioxide to ensure the wine maintains its freshness. "It is fresh and crisp with notes of grapefruit, lime, watermelon and a light grassiness on the nose," says Matthew Brown, a rep for the winery. "Throughout the palate, a lifting acidity carries flavors of bitter cherry, peach and rose petal." It's perfect served with light fare, but it really needs nothing more than an Adirondack chair.
Virginia's warm climate is similar to that of France's Rhône Valley, so winemaker Rachel Stinson Vrooman uses the Rhône varietal Mourvèdre in her Rosé, picked just under the ripe side to lend herbal notes to the finished wine. "A great Rosé is a versatile, serious wine with elegance and complexity," she says. This one has strawberry and candied watermelon, with minerality, spice and a hint of smoke on the palate. It has aging potential, for sure, but she likes to think of Rosé as a "snapshot of a moment in time," produced and enjoyed in the same year.
A complex blend of all five permitted Bordeaux red varietals, this Rosé from Middleburg is unique as 53 percent of it is made by pressing whole clusters of grapes (rather than bleeding off the juice.) Executive vice president Rachel Martin says this method delivers an uncommon round mouth feel. Pale salmon in color, it boasts aromas of pear, lychee and white flowers. "The body is medium with a rounded palate and balanced, lingering acidity," notes Martin, with honeydew melon and a white pepper finish. She suggests matching it with charcuterie, shellfish, octopus and oily fish including mackerel.
Produced with estate-grown Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot and lightly filtered to retain its vibrant color, this Rosé from the Charlottesville winery is made in the style of those from Saumur and Anjou in France's Loire Valley. Aromas of strawberry, grapefruit and thyme join spice, watermelon and raspberry. "The attack presents a juxtaposition of soft fruit and bold structural appeal," says winemaker Jason Hayman. "White pepper, bubblegum and sweet herbs emerge on the palate to give it a pleasant body while remaining crisp and refreshing." Partner it with quiche Lorraine, ham and melon, or fig and arugula salad.