There’s a certain skip in our step as the first shades of spring take hold, and everywhere a spectacle of color comes to life. The purple crocuses rise toward the sun; a burst of yellow that only daffodils and forsythia bring; verdant grass to quote John Updike, “the color of liquid green.” A panorama of coral, violet, and gold sweeps the sky.
Beauty on the verge is April, a vision of hope and something we thirst for these days. What better accompaniment than rosé, a darling of the wine world, especially come spring, and a veritable chameleon at that.
Rosé wines come in a kaleidoscope of colors, textures, and styles—running the gamut from dry to sweet to sparkling, and made all over the world with myriad grape varietals. Black grape varietals are most commonly used, although some gray varietals, such as pinot gris are introduced. Grape juice is clear, hence the color and personality of rosé comes from the skins of the grape. The skins are left to macerate with the grape juice, dependent on the color desired, and the grape varietal used. Heartier black grape varietals such as syrah and mourvèdre will inevitably offer more extraction. Likewise, thin-skinned varietals such as pinot noir and nebbiolo will more easily produce a lighter style of rosé.
A common method used for making deeper, more structured, and tannic rosés, which often look and behave like a light red wine, is the saignée method, which is a process of “bleeding off” a portion of juice from a red wine during fermentation, then use it to make a rosé. Blending white and red wine is another way to make rosé, but not commonly practiced, as it eliminates the complexities of both the finished product and the process. Ultimately, a rosé’s disposition is a matter of timing and the intention of the winemaker.
To help kick off this season of optimism, four passionate North Shore wine retailers share a selection of their favorite, harbinger of spring, vintage 2020 rosés, poised and eager to take center stage.
Lauren Moran, HONEYCOMB
248 Bay Rd., Hamilton, 978-626-0014, honeycombhamilton.com
+ 2020 Upwell, Lodi, California $18
A collaboration between winemaker Eric Clemons and Coeur Wine Company, made with Spanish varietal tempranillo. Deep in color, ripe fruit, lovely aromatics, and quietly brooding. Distributed by Arborway Imports
+ 2020 Christina, Burgenland, Austria $19
Christina Netzl produces a deep wine of undulating texture and heightened aromatics where cherries and strawberries keep time with a steady minerality. Made with Zweigelt, this is a wine for contemplation. Distributed by Olmstead Wine Company
Sarah Marshall, Lucille Wine Bar and Tasting Room
776 Washington St., Lynn, 781-584-4695, lucillewineshop.com
+2020 Seehof, Rheinhessen, Germany $20
A staple for the team at Lucille, juicy, aromatic, and quaffable, with great acidity, made entirely of pinot noir, from winemaker Florian Fauth. Distributed by Vineyard Road
+ 2020 Domaine Zafeirakis, Thessaly, Greece $20
Made with indigenous varietal limniona, a fruity, mineral laced, and herbaceous style, and of salmon hue, from fourth-generation winemaker Christos Zafeirakis. Distributed by Vineyard Road
Susan Ulbrich, The Cheese Shop of Salem
45 Lafayette St., Salem, 978-498-4820, thecheeseshopofsalem.com
+ 2020 Leonardo Bussoletti, Umbria, Italy $19
Bright pink, deep, aromatic, fruit forward, with loads of raspberries and strawberries, and a touch of savory mischief. Made with native varietal ciliegiolo. Distributed by Mucci Imports
+ 2020 Gönc Winery, Ptuj, Slovenia $20
Whimsical and just plain cool, the one-liter Grape Abduction is meant to put a smile on one’s face. Strawberries and cream, peaches, wet stones, and fun. Distributed by Gilbert Distributors.
Jeremy Kirkpatrick, Grand Trunk Wine and Cheese
53 Pleasant St., Newburyport, 978-499-4441, grandtrunkwine.com
+ 2020 Ulacia Txakoli de Getaria, Basque Country, Spain $22
Made with native varietal hondarrabi zuri, it’s easy to imagine sitting at the edge of the ocean’s breath. Brimming with salinity and slightly spritzed, this is fruit-forward territory balanced with lively acidity. Distributed by M.S. Walker, Inc.
+ 2020 Domaine Pellé, Menetou-Salon, Loire Valley, France $20
Rich and ripe red fruit, with taut, well integrated acidity, from a discovery appellation, just next door to Sancerre. Pale of color, with elegant aromatics, made with pinot noir. Distributed by D.B. Wine Selection.