The Best 2010 Rosé Wines

A rose is a rose, is a rose, is a rose... but a rosé is a rosé

Just as the warm weather of summer settles in, the 2010 rosés are here.

For me, there is nothing better than a well-chilled rosé on a warm day. In Mediterranean climates there are many warm days. So it should come as no surprise that the best rosés come from these areas where the wines are made to go with the regional food. These include primarily rosés from France with others from Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Australia, and increasingly California.

Each year, for the past 30 or so years that I have been drinking rosé, I find that there are many different terrific varieties from which to choose. So, for me, I pay very little attention to the year and just buy the wines that I like the most, making sure to try a lot of new ones each year to find even more favorites. Vintage after vintage, there are always many fabulous rosés that represent some of the greatest values in the wine world. Years ago, many people would dismiss my comments about how much I loved rosé, how well it went with food, etc.

Today there are many converts who have joined the parade. And, as the wines have become more and more popular in the U.S., the number of wines available each year continues to increase. This is great! Now having said that, once in a while a vintage comes along that seems to be particularly blessed. That is 2010. Across the board, from one country and area to another, the 2010s have that extra zip to go with the fruit that really makes them sing. If you have not yet tried rosé, and like to enjoy a really nice glass of wine with lighter foods, you need to get with the program. Rosés are very versatile and go with all the great foods of summer — vegetables, fruits, grilled fish and meat, salads, lighter pastas dishes, and cold foods including fish, meats, and vegetables. The list goes on and on. And they are balanced, easy to drink, and are relatively low in alcohol (generally between 10-14% with most around 13%).

And, although summer is the time that most people think of Rosé that is a shame. I like to drink rosé when the weather is warm and where I live that includes all seasons of the year. I also like to enjoy rosé when I am enjoying lighter foods which are a major part of our diet at Casa Tilson. Finally, after summer is gone most merchants discount their remaining rosé inventory and most importers do not bring in any more until the next spring when the new vintage is available. This is a great time for you to stock up because the prices are really attractive and the wines can keep well beyond one season.

In choosing your rosés, let me offer a few suggestions. First, in this particular case, color can be of great importance to you if you are not familiar with the wines. Not like red wines, where some mistakenly think that dark is better (more on that at another time), but just as an indication of the degree to which the fruit dominates the wine. For me, generally the darker colored rosés — shades of red, rather than pink — are fruitier and go best with food that is the most flavorful such as grilled salmon or meat. The lighter colored rosés — shades of pink or pale red — often show less obvious fruit and offer finesse and complexity. I like each style depending on what I am eating, but it is the rosés with finesse and complexity that really stand out for me. Along with Champagne, I think that rosés are, without question, some of the most versatile and food-friendly wines in the world. And, in each category, they also just happen to represent some of the greatest wine values on the planet.

Read on for my first notes on 2010 rosés. Later I will follow up with more notes as the wines arrive. Be adventuresome. These are wines to Buy! And, if you buy too many, don’t fret. Well-cellared, most rosés keep very well and can be consumed over a few years. Some such as the Sancerre rosés (Pinot Noir), Tavel rosés, and Bandol rosés can actually benefit from additional bottle age and most of these can be kept for many years. (Stay tuned. To illustrate this, I will publish notes in a future article on rosés that I have enjoyed years after their vintage dates.) 

Click here for the picks.

—John Tilson


Click here for more from The Underground Wineletter.