Summer’s coming, and with it the excuse to drink rosé. The days of cloying white zinfandels have mostly faded, but if you’re afraid of getting a “sweet” rosé, you can bet safe and look to the Old World. France, where the wines are vinified dry, and where they are known for producing epic dry, terroir-driven rosés, is a good place to start.
Rosé really made a name for itself in Provençe, where they were making red wine that was crushed and left on the skins only briefly, and then processed and fermented to create a pink colored wine, since the Greeks ruled the area. By the time the Romans arrived in 125 BC the light pink wines of the region had acquired an admiral reputation.
Today, Provencal rosés are typically blends of Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Syrah, and Counoise. Choose a Bandol-style rosé, for example, and you are principally getting a bone dry wine made of Mouvedre, plus Cinsault and Grenache.
They’re also typically made in that traditional maceration style: The grapes are crushed, left on the skin just long enough to get that pale dusty pink color, and then vinified bone-dry. Sugar and alcohol levels are kept in check, and bright acidity typically balances the fruit out nicely so that a good rosé can be paired with food or can stand alone.
While many a rosé from Provençe can carry a hefty price tag, not all break the bank. Here are three Provençal rosés under $20 to drink this month.
Mathilde Chapoutier Grand Ferrage Côtes de Provençe Rosé 2016
A member of the eighth generation of the Chapoutier winemaking family, Mathilde began making her own rosé a couple years back. For this vintage, the wine comprises 50 percent Grenache and 20 percent Syrah, with the balance coming from Cinsault, Vermentino and Clairette. Pale pink in color, there’s peach and apricot on the nose of this wine. On the palate the wine hints at salmonberries, before going to peach and apricot. It’s bright, and just at the moment wine is set to round out and turn juicy, there comes a great punch of acidity to lift the wine and give it serious balance. $19.99, Stew Leonard’s
Les Hauts Plateaux 2016 Alpes de Haute Provençe
Sometimes you get a rosé that’s so floral and so full of perfumed notes you can’t help but be reminded of hot laundry. So it is with the incredibly floral Les Hauts Plateaux. On the nose, there’s white flowers and tangerine. The palate is light and fresh and full of white peach, tangerine, and white apple. Although it’s lower in acid, at the price point it’s an easy drinking bottle. $9.99 Grape Expectations
Mi Mi en Provençe Grande Réserve Côtes de Provençe, 2016
On the nose, there’s candied watermelon rind, watermelon, and raspberry, alongside a hint of minerality. That carries over to the palate too, where that minerality appears again in those watermelon and rind notes, plus raspberry and juicy white peach. It’s rounder and fleshier than the Mathilde Chapoutier but at the price point it’s an easy drinking Provencal style wine. $15.99, Grape Expectations
Related: Orange (Wine) Is the New Pink