A Learned Man’s Guide to Rose
2012 Clos Cibonne ‘Cuvée Special des Vignettes’
This wine is the real deal, plain and simple. Clos Cibonne has a history dating back to the early 1700s, and their Cuvée Special des Vignettes is crafted from the estate’s oldest vine holdings of a rare, native grape called Tibouren and matured in old oak foudres under fleurette. (Sherry lovers will recognize fleurette as the unique, protective yeast cap the Spanish call flor that biologically ages the wine and requires crazy-specific climactic conditions to occur.) The combined intensity of Tibouren’s expression and maturation under fleurette produces a deep, heady rosé with waxy notes of citrus oil, orange blossom and white spice. Sit alone with this for a few hours.
FROM: Côtes de Provençe, France. Provençe, with its sultry Mediterranean climate, is the heartland of rosé production. Although it’s also a known source for easy-drinking, beach-friendly rosés, some of the longest-living and serious pink wines in the world are borne from this tiny coastal appellation. If Tibouren isn’t immediately available, look for Mourvèdre-based wines for the same depth and structure we love from Clos Cibonne.
DRINK WITH: Your best-effort Bouillabase. Don’t skimp on the good saffron.
2013 Mas Cal Demoura Qu’es Aquo
The gateway rosé for the die-hard red wine drinker. Mas Cal Demoura is an estate doing its fair share to fan the flame of affection for a rugged, oft-overlooked growing region in southern France. Though known for producing deeply expressive reds unique to their terrain, the estate also produces this rosé, a blend of five different grapes that focuses mostly on Cinsault and Grenache, two bookends for a wildly rustic, ferrous wine that seems proud of its roots in the glass. It’s a rosé of substance and weight, with strong herbal aromas and deep, dark fruit.
FROM: Terrasses du Larzac, Languedoc. Southern France is red wine territory for sure, but the rosés produced here have a combination of power and finesse Sugar Ray Leonard would envy. Look to this region year-round for rosés that can stand up to heartier dishes, cooler temperatures and your buddy’s “Cali-Cab-only” palate. Dinner party fact: “Qu’es Aquo” translates to “What’s this?” in Occitan, the endangered Romance dialect unique to this region of France.
DRINK WITH: Whatever manner of dry-aged goodness your buddy wants to throw on the grill.
2013 Domaine Richou ‘L’R osé
Cabernet Sauvignon gets a new lease on life in this humble but complex rosé from one of the Godfathers of the Loire Valley. Didier Richou and his brother, Damien, are masters of their vines in a way few men are; urbane and soft-spoken, their energy comes out in the glass. The L’R osé is dynamic — all spice and earth with ripe plum and raspberry notes, iron and solid structure. It’s quiet power.
FROM: The Richou estate is located in Anjou, a small appellation in the Central Loire Valley. The sleepy villages here are deceptive birthplaces for the compelling wines they produce, however, and we suggest you start drinking more of them. Start with the nuance of Chenin Blanc and graduate to the complexity of Cabernet Franc.
DRINK WITH: Fresh chèvre, boudin noir and the crustiest baguette you can get your hands on.
2013 Domaine de Vaccelli ‘Juste Ciel!’
We’re confident that a certain diminutive French general would have proudly drunk himself under the table on this stuff. We would happily join him. Ripe peach, clementine zest and a perfectly crisp, slightly salty finish make this the rosé we’ll be reaching for when the mercury starts to rise this summer.
FROM: Corsica. Look to this island for well-made, value-driven wines made from unpronounceable grapes (Nielluccio? Sciacarello?). The region’s unique cultural heritage blends French and Italian winemaking traditions, resulting in nuanced wines with great balance.
DRINK WITH: Oysters and 90 percent humidity.
2013 Gai’a ’14-18h’
We’re aware of all the nasty, retsina-ridden gossip you’ve probably heard about Greek wines. Forget it, please, and join us up here in the front row. Just like all rosé is not White Zinfandel, all Greek wine is not retsina (and retsina’s actually not all bad, but that’s a story for another day). Greece is turning out some of the most interesting, value-driven wines in the world right now, and we owe a lot of that to Yiannis Paraskevopoulos and Leon Karatsalos, the guys behind Gai’a and two big players in the small revolution happening in the vineyards and cellars of Greece right now. Start with the 14-18h, a rosé made from Agiorgitiko (it also goes by St. George, if that’s all Greek to you) that’s a vibrant fuschia color and a perfectly ripe cherry-fest in the glass. Hold on tight to your masculinity and dive right in.
FROM: Peloponnese, Greece. As we mentioned, there’s a bit of a revolution happening in Greece, so we’re going to generalize here: You should be drinking wine from all over Greece. The Peloponnese, Santorini, Drama, Naoussa, Samos… There are few better values for unique and well-made wines in the market right now. Get them while the getting’s good.
DRINK WITH: That quail that’s been in your freezer since your over-excited trip to Ottomanelli & Sons.