Drinks

Weekend wines: Kick off summer with two versatile rosés

May 17, 2013 at 4:37 PM ET

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One of the bigger wine trends in recent years is the increasing popularity of rosé in this country. As we look toward Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer, it’s the perfect time to start the search for outstanding rosés that can provide a refreshing and delightful counterpoint to summer meals.

Rosés, with their typical red-berry tastes, are made from any number of red grapes. In the basic production method, the juice receives only brief contact with the color-producing skins after pressing. Depending on just how long that contact is, rosés range in hue from just the slightest blush to deep ruby in color.

I find that they are among the more versatile wines, often pairing as easily with lamb, for example, as with chicken or fish dishes. Many are great for sipping on their own and, perhaps best of all, most are well under $20.

These days, they're making rosés in just about every major wine region, though France and Spain generally lead the way in both volume and quality.

Two notable new releases come from a producer in the south of France, both of them blends of syrah and grenache, the region’s most prominent grapes. More specifically, the wines are from the mountainous Luberon appellation in the southeast corner of the Rhône Valley just north of Provence.

Marrenon’s 2012 “Petula” Rosé has subtle strawberry tastes, a touch of vanilla and an herbal note on the finish that provides a nice contrast to the wine’s fruitiness. The blend is 95 percent syrah and five percent grenache. The suggested price is $17.

Marrenon’s 2012 Grande Toque Rosé is a slightly fuller wine, with more concentrated raspberry and strawberry tastes, an herbal touch and a good deal of minerality on the finish. This one is 80 percent syrah and 20 percent grenache and is a great value at about $12.

I mentioned the versatility of rosés, and these wines proved it when I tasted them the other night with a paella that friends made. Mussels, clams, freshly caught fluke, chicken, sausage and the spicy seasonings – none of it overpowered the wines, which went perfectly with the dish.

Edward Deitch is a James Beard Award-winning wine critic. Find many more of his wine reviews and commentary on his blog, Vint-ed.com, and follow him on Twitter.

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