Rosés For A Summer Weekend

Food & Drink

On the yacht or the seaside terrace, these rosés belong in your fancy-pants weekend plans.

Rosé from Provence has long evoked lazy afternoons on seaside terraces, at the beach or on your French Riviera yacht (you have one of those, right?). Historically, the wine has been more about the lifestyle than a brand … more about halcyon days than serious wine. Then came along nouveau brands like Château Miraval (a partnership between Famille Perrin and the no-longer-partners Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) and Château d’Esclans’ Whispering Angel that helped placed the category on trendy “must drink” lists, perhaps inspiring other long-time producers such as Château Minuty and Domaine Ott to come out from behind the shadows and toot their own cru classé horns. Now, rosé is a bonafide global business with serious quality levels.

Long in historic roots, today Minuty and Ott are among the numerous estates that have in recent years helped elevate the category to premium status.

“Drinking pink certainly conjures up many cliches—the yachts, boats, patio pounders—but Château Minuty has been focused on producing quality and distinct upper cuvées,” says Michelle Waleck, North American business development manager for Château Minuty. “The focus on an estate wine program has fueled our reputation as a high-end producer.”

“Many wineries are looking outside the district because the grapes in Cote de Provence are, frankly, limited and expensive,” she says. But, Minuty remains literally rooted in the area: Waleck says it’s one of the last regional estates to 100% hand harvest its fruit.

Likewise, Domaine Ott prides itself on its three estates spanning two of the three appellations approved for AOP wines. With roots in the region since the late 19th century, the family acquired Château de Selle in 1912, followed by Clos Mireille in the 1930s and Château Romassan (Bandol) in 1956.

“When my great-grandfather arrived, the appellations did not exist but he understood that the land was conducive to the production of great rosé wines in Provence with its soil and climate,” said Jean-Francois Ott, fourth-generation family winemaker for the estate. “Today, the care we take in growing vines is the same as in the best vineyards for white and red wines. This culture of winemaking … allows us to raise our rosés [to] the premium wine category.”

Whether you’re on land, by sea or on the water, here are a few exceptional rosés to take with you on a socially distanced weekend sojourn.

Château Minuty Cotes de Provence AOP. “Prestige” 2019 features a transparent pink-onion skin with enticing strawberry plant leaves. High acid, tart, clean fruit like baby strawberry, wild raspberry, and a slightly tropical guava undertone ($30). A delicate, light aperitif wine and also good with lobster or fresh peach/feta salad. The “Rosé et Or” 2019 is another of Minuty’s cuvée—smokier and deeper than the Prestige with ripe summer strawberries, more skin tannins, weight and body—actually a better match with the lobster salad accompanied with a fresh baguette ($55). With its tall, curvy bottle, “M” 2019 is chic like a runway model. Pretty, super-light cotton gauzy pink color and quintessentially Provence with light, fresh, strawberry and red currant wispiness and a peach undertone; ethereal ($23). The “281” 2019 is so light pink, it’s almost like a pink-tinged water. Grapefruit rules—more citric than red fruit—redolent of Sauvignon Blanc. A high-end, elegant cuvée to serve on the VIP deck ($90).

Château Puech-Haut Argali Rosé 2019. This estate is not in Provence, but in its western neighbor, Languedoc. But the pretty bottles, attention to winemaking, and higher price points all merit a place on the yacht. So, here’s another tall drink of a bottle, this time in a pretty frosted vessel with a glass topper. Very pale pink. Looks sweet but a surprising sour-cherry flavor saves it from being sappy. Nice slightly bitter herbal finish. $22

Château Puech-Haut “Tete de Belier” 2019, Languedoc DOP. Light onion skin in color, this has a more pronounced herbal nose than its eastern Provencal cousins. Deeper fruit, cooked-berry compote, slightly more tannic structure makes this more of a food wine. We had it with grilled chicken tacos, and a burrata and grilled-zucchini salad. Glass topper on the bottle is easy to take on the go and makes a pretty presentation. $34

Château Peyrassol 2019, Cotes de Provence. Classic Provence, but at this price, it belongs on the yacht, not in a bistro. Fresh and crisp with watermelon and red fruits, made from Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache, Ugni Blanc and Rolle (Vermentino). $30

Château Roubine La Vie en Rosé 2019, Cotes de Provence. Light onionskin in color, teaming with cranberry and raspberry flavors. High acid with a fresh lime/citric underlay. Good with mozzarella and pancetta pizza bites. $24

Château Beaulieu Cuvée Alexandre Rosé 2019. In a pretty, shapely bottle like Miraval’s, this fresh and zippy wine is laced with fresh baby strawberries, pink grapefruit, tropical guava and even a pineapple note. $23

Jean Luc Colombo Rosé 2019 “Cape Bleu” IGT. Not marketed as a premium wine, but it belongs on the boat for its saline-like edge that transported me to the seaside. Very light pink, almost sheer. A little on the wispy cotton-candied side with bright, strawberry and raspberry. This is a “pass the bouillabaisse!” kind of wine. $14.99

Fig + Olive, Cotes de Provence. This very lightly onion-skin-colored wine came with a surprisingly earthy nose. Private-label juice made from classic GSM grapes. Tart cranberry, sour cherry, rhubarb, slightly bitter and earthy. Not a fruit bomb, slightly creamy. Another pretty bottle for the boat. $29

Domaine Ott, Château de Selle (Côtes de Provence) . This elegant Provencal blend driven by Grenache (56%), followed by 25% Cinsault, 11% Syrah and 8% Mourvèdre reflects its Mediterranean terroir. Stony soils and herb-scented bramble (garrigue) play their earthy part, a snap of citrus and light layer of peach, all accompanied by a distinct saline-inflected smack of the sea. Wild strawberries are laced throughout. ($57). From Bandol, known for its historic, steep terraces, comes the Château Romassan, made of 60% Mourvèdre, 25% Cinsault and 15% Grenache. Deeper red fruits and tannins, in part from aging in oak barrels, make this a sturdy food wine to be paired with a wide range from grilled vegetables and fresh fish to a spicy tagine ($57) BY. OTT is the second wine of the estates, made from an almost identical blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre as its sister Selle. Here the Grenache (60%) plays a starring role with strawberries jumping out of the glass, along with some crunchy pomegranate. A little less restrained than its big sister, it’s a fun wine to knock back while lounging on the prow ($25)

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