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A Parade of Rosés

A couple nights ago, we ordered in some food here at the office and held a blind tasting of 10 different rosé wines. Sure, you could argue that the extreme heat had prompted us to look into what makes rosés such great summer sippers. But really, we wanted to see how some of the wines that we offer through the site would stack up against some very desirable, highly esteemed and more expensive rosés. And we also wanted to prove to ourselves, in the best way possible (tasting blind), that pink wines are most definitely not all alike, and most certainly cannot be held to a stereotype.

We bagged up 10 rosés, seven of which have been or will be offered on Lot18, all $20 or under. The other three have never been offered on Lot18, and all were more expensive.

The evening’s roster of wines was as follows:

  • 2011 Michel-Schlumberger Le Flirt Dry Creek Rosé. ($14.99, Lot18)
  • 2011 Château Réal Martin Peretz de Rosé, Provence, France ($19.99, Lot18)
  • 2010 La Grande Côte Rosé, Paso Robles ($16.66, Lot18)
  • 2011 Château de Ségriès Tavel Rosé, Provence, France ($16.64, Lot18)
  • 2011 Brown Estate Betelgeuse Napa Valley Rosé ($16.65, Lot18)
  •  2010 Curran Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Rosé ($16.66, Lot18)
  • 2010 Vie Vité Côtes de Provence Rosé, Provence ($18.20, Lot18)

The Ringers:

  • 2009 Cayuse Grenache Edith Rosé, Walla Walla Valley, Wash. (MSRP $70)
  • 2000 R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosé Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain (MSRP $30)
  • 2011 Domaines Ott Château de Selle Côtes de Provence Rosé, Provence (MSRP $35)

We wrapped all the bottles in paper bags so as to hide their labels, as well as any other easily distinguishable details. We gathered our crew of a dozen or so tasters and set to sipping.

The results were somewhat surprising. Firstly, one would think rosés from Provence would take the crown, but the top two performers were both from California. The 2010 La Grande Côte Rosé from Paso Robles was the outstanding favorite, followed in close second by the 2011 Brown Estate Betelgeuse Napa Valley Rosé. The Réal Martin Peretz from Provence and the Cayuse Edith tied for third. (Full disclosure, our original plan for a strictly closed ballot voting system was thrown by the wayside after about the 6th wine we tasted, so we made the final judgement by show of hands.)

Perhaps most interestingly, though, you’d think that drinking 10 different rosés would be incredibly boring, but the variation from wine to wine was as startling as it was intriguing. So much so that lumping all rosés in a category together makes as much sense as doing it for all reds.

If time and funds allow, next time you’re at the wine shop, pick up a few rosés from different parts of the world, brown bag them, order up some light food and invite a few friends over. You’ll find a lot to discuss about the differences, good and bad, and the bottles will be empty before you know it…so maybe get two of each bottle.