I haven’t always been an avid participant in the #roséallday frenzy that has swept this country in cultish millennial fashion. In fact, the first time I tried rosé I didn’t quite get it – light-bodied, peeping tannins, screaming acid, pink and perplexing, my palate didn’t know what to do with it. I was managing a South African restaurant at the time in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the rep who had brought a rosé from Stellenbosch had described it like a light-bodied chilled red and a “porch pounder.” I don’t know if it was the marriage of the words porch and pounder, his handlebar mustache, or the juxtaposition of a burly man admitting love for a pink wine, but before I could say “rosé all day,” I was signing for multiple cases of Mulderbosch. It was the best-selling wine by the glass for several months, and this was right as the rosé trend was taking ascension.
Having been a fan of rosé for several years now, I appreciate this trendy wine style immensely today because of how far my palate has come to fall in love with it. I feel compelled to balance all the mushy admiration with a dose of reality: I am quite discerning when it comes to rosés I love. I don’t like styles of wine that are all acidity, no tannins. Conversely, I don’t care for “all body” rosés with flabby mouthfeel and drying tannins that leave acidity as something to be desired, like some California rosés tend to be. Just like a bold red, or a great quality white wine, or LIFE in general, in a rosé I look for balance.
Since launching WineUp last summer, I knew I wanted to focus on the majority millennial wine consumer – a market abundant in wine appreciation, but lacking in wine education… the wine drinker who has a desire and budget to enjoy wine, but lacks the experience or the formal background in wine knowledge. The questions I ask about this demographic are easy to answer, since I fit in this group:
- Where do we shop for wine?
- What dictates the purchase?
- What sticking points do we run into when we are buying wine?
If I am answering honestly, and transparently, I can list the answers as so:
- The grocery store – driven by convenience
- Value proposition and taste profile
- There are so many unknown and untried labels – AKA wine uncertainty
Not all varieties of rosé are treated equal, and they range greatly depending on the the terroir and winemaker’s style. Here are four rosés you can find in most wine retail outlets or grocery stores, and all are under $20, sorted by price.
- La Ferme Julien ($6.99 Trader Joes)
- La Vielle Ferme ($8.99 Safeway)
- Bieler Pere & Fils ($10.99 Safeway)
- Chloe Rosé ($18.99 Safeway*)
*all Safeway wines were at the Club membership price, otherwise they were slightly more expensive
La Ferme Julien is a highly aromatic wine with aromas of strawberry candy, peaches and cream, strawberries and cream, and cotton candy. When tasted, this wine is dry, tart, and popping with lively acidity. You can tell how high in acid this wine is because of the mouthwatering reaction that occurs shortly after sipping. If you look at the tech sheet linked to the wine, you can see that the fruit was high in phenolic compounds and anthocyanins, which contributes to the “cream” aromas and slightly buttery mouthfeel of the wine. I highly recommend this wine for its ease and drinkability and would pair it with simple food dishes like salad or chicken and fish, although this wine also fares well on its own. A great value wine that tastes better than its price point would seemingly dictate. I also ran a micro-experiment and blind tasted two male friends on these four rosés…this was the highest-rated/favored one of the group. The cheapest rosé was the favorite, which proves a point I am always trying to drive home for people, you get what you pay for doesn’t always apply to wine!
La Vielle Ferme is the famous rooster on the label grocery store “GO-TO” rosé for many people, although I had never tried it until this tasting experiment. It was a popular choice in the WineUp community poll, and many people recommended I try it. While I did notice the signature rosé characteristics of highly aromatic strawberry aromas, and it initially smelled amazing, I noticed that it fell flat after that. Other aromas I picked up were Lemonhead candy, orange zest, tart raspberry, and under-ripe cherry. However, I found this wine to have a slightly plastic odor, like the inside of a cheap ziploc container. When sipping this wine, the first thing I noticed is how acidic it is, sometimes described as “juicy acidity,” as it has a propensity to make your mouth water. The tasting note I found off-putting is that the body is very light (like lowfat milk comparative to whole milk); it’s like drinking lemon water.
As a general rule, the quality of wine lies in the balance of all the components together in a complementary ratio. If this wine were fuller-bodied and had more ripe fruit characteristics with less mineral notes, it would have a better balance. Both wines 1 and 2 use the saignée winemaking method, a French term for “bleeding,” by which color is imparted into wine, hence creating the pink hue that rosé is known for. After conducting more research, I found out that both wines, La Ferme Julien and La Vielle Ferme, are under the Perrin Family portfolio; same producer, different labeling. The former’s label is printed specifically for Trader Joe’s, while the latter is found at other retail chains like Target and Safeway.
Bieler Pere & Fils rosé has aromas of strawberry rhubarb pie, citrus, and hyacinth. One of the noticeable differences when sipping this rosé, compared to the others, is that the tannic structure is more noticeable, meaning that the shrink-wrap mouthfeel occurs slightly, but then it is counterbalanced by lively acidity levels. These tasting notes tell us that this rosé is high quality because of the balance in mouthfeel. At around $11 a bottle, this is an excellent buy, and is my favorite of the rosés in this tasting experiment! In doing a bit of research on this wine producer, I discovered some great information on the rosé category, quoted below.
“The classic Provence Rosé profile is what every serious winemaker around the world attempts to mimic and for good reason… Dry rosé not only remains one of the fastest growing wine segments in the US wine market but has even accelerated further this past year and Provence, France remains the standard for what consumers are buying and drinking”.
Another fun fact about this producer, Charles Bieler, is that he is known for being a top wine innovator and is responsible for championing rosé in the American market during a time where it was wildly unpopular. In other words, if you’re a rosé all day fan, you can raise your rosey glass to Mr. Bieler!
Ding ding ding, and clink!
Chloe Rosé is the most expensive in this WIneUp tasting experiment, but knowing what I do of California rosés, I was fairly confident it would not be my favorite, as California rosés tend to be fuller in body, have less acid, and have more dominating tannins that I find out offputting. Nonetheless, I approached this wine with an open-ish mind and only slightly annoyed at the $20 retail price. An immediate telling difference between the French and the Californian rosés is in the color. Generally speaking, Californian rosés are deep, almost mauve-pink, or magenta, while French rosés are just a slight tinge of blush pink. This can also be a predictor of how full-bodied the wine will be – the deeper color tends to denote fuller body. This is because the contact with red grape skins is longer (the French tend to keep skin contact at a maximum of 2 hours, while, say, Chloe states they process the skin contact for 2 days).
On the aroma, there are notes of strawberry cake, buttercream, and vanilla frosting. While sipping this wine I noticed immediately a creamier mouthfeel – similar to Chardonnays that undergo malolactic fermentation (a style made popular in California), which creates that “buttery” descriptor Chardonnay lovers use. No online tech sheet was found for this wine, but a listing on wine.com did share some winemaker notes. You will like this style of rosé if you tend to like Californian style Chardonnays, and wines that are dry, yet jammy, and have a simple or clean finish.
Here is the official WineUp ranking of these grocery rosés: (1 being the most favored, 4 being the least)
- Bieler Pere & Fils
- La Ferme Julien
- Chloe Rosé
- La Vielle Ferme
If you try these rosés, I would love to know what you think of them and how you rate them. Leave a comment or a question describing your preferences and why. The interesting thing about wine is that there is no wrong or right opinion, and all thoughts and personal experiences are valid.
Until next time, here’s to full glasses and even fuller hearts, cheers!