Let’s get a few ground rules out of the way: The first is that rosés should be very, very dry. If not, then they’re not doing their job, which is to refresh, quench thirst and stimulate the palate. Beyond this, it’s helpful to break them all down into three subsets: rosés for beginners (fail-safe bottles to pick up and guzzle down, generous, delicious, soothing); rosés for experts, (a bit more challenging, elusive and serious); and rosés for weirdos (iconoclastic, experimental, odd, delightful — some traditional, some not).
This spring I asked a group of Los Angeles independent wine retailers to suggest wines in each of these categories. As buyers, it’s their daily task not only to navigate the influx of ros but to convey the right wine to the right imbiber. I hit up Lou Amdur (Lou Wine Shop), Jill Bernheimer (Domaine LA), Samantha Dugan (Wine Country), Randy Clement (Everson Royce, Silverlake Wine) and Dan Perrelli (Wine Hotel). Here’s what we came up with.
While dry rosé is made all over the world, its ancestral home is the south of France, and this is where beginners ought to begin. This is warm, Mediterranean France, where the sun is hot, the air is dry, the dining is alfresco and the thirst is nonstop. The warmth of these places — Provence, Corbieres, Lirac, Tavel, Nimes, Ventoux — tends to guarantee a generous fruit profile. Best of all, many are affordable; all of these hover around $15.
Dugan recommends a delicious, accessible wine called Côte Mas Aurore, blending mostly Cinsault and Grenache. That’s a liter, for about $10.
Perrelli selects a Ventoux from Domaine de Fenouillet that blends direct press and saignée Cinsault and Grenache juice for a crunchy, lip-smacking pink (about $12).
Clement suggests a Costières de Nimes Rosé from Chateau Mourgues du Gres called Fleur d'Eglantine, a blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah and Carignane that’s dry, affordable and thirst-quenching (about $12).
Bernheimer recommends a wine from Domaine de Sulauze in Aix-en-Provence called Pomponette, an organically grown Grenache blend that’s warm, refreshing and mildly floral (about $16).