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Wine Advice that Nobody Asked For: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

A month ago it was 70 degrees and sunny. This morning I woke up and it was snowing. What better time of the year to taste through a dozen plus rosé to buy for the coming year? That’s a trick question, there’s no bad time for rosé.

When I started working in wine about fifteen or so years ago, rosé was a relatively niche category, the misconception was that all of the pink wines were sweet, and that rosé could only be drunk from Easter through Labor Day. In what seems like a pretty short window of time, the first misconception has all but evaporated, and now we’re stocking dozens of different rosé all year long.

While there are countless “wineries” buying bulk Provincial juice and putting it in bottles that look like bowling pins with cutesy names, there are also quite a few wineries making world class wine built for aging that would go toe to toe with some of the most famous wine regions in the world.

I had the good fortune when I was cutting my teeth on wine to taste rosé from Clos Cibonne in Provence and Lopez de Heredia of Rioja. Clos Cibonne, as best I can tell, are the only dedicated specialists of the rare grape Tibouren in the world, and Lopez de Heredia made the unique habit of not releasing their rosé until 8 to 10 plus years after the harvest.

These were eye opening. Cibonne aged their Cuvee Speciale des Vignettes in barrel under a thin layer of flor yeast akin to production with wine from Jura or Jerez, which made for a taut, linear wine with great aging potential. Meanwhile, Lopez de Heredia’s was broad and powerful, with flavors unrecognizable from what most people expect of rosé. Unfortunately, those days are gone as both wines gained traction with hardcore fans. Cibonne has become allocated with availability going forward uncertain, and we’ve only gotten about 12 bottles of Lopez’s rosé over the last ten years between two vintages.

But aside from what are now unicorn wines, they laid a fundamental understanding that rosé wasn’t just for summer glugging (although sometimes it is), but that it could be enjoyed year round with all kinds of food. The broad classic wines of Tavel and Montepulciano based rosé from Italy could stand in place of lighter bodied reds, while some of the more ethereal rosé from the south of France would forgive you for thinking that they were white wines.

What I was alluding to at the beginning of this passage was our annual opportunity to taste through 12+ rosé from Oslo Selections, a family owned importer from the Washington DC area. Every year Olivia, one of the founder’s, comes through with a small pile of rosé to taste through. Regular rosé enthusiasts may recognize them for bringing in one of our biggest hits every year, Pigoudet.

They not only give us an opportunity to taste rosé to choose for the upcoming season, but they give us a snapshot of how the vintage is shaping up for more whites and reds to come. And the 2022 vintage for southern France tastes like it’s shaping up quite well, and we’ll start seeing the wines arrive this week. So yes, it was snowing this morning, but like I said, there’s no bad time for rosé.

-Joe Buchter, Import Wine Buyer

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