[See Previously: 10 Tips for Wine Rookies]
As summer winds down (or up, depending on your plans), it’s time to celebrate the pink drink that fuels fantasies of seaside, Provençal retreats. If I had a garden hose that spouted such watermelon-hued berry bliss, I would fill a pool and host a fête. Alas, no such aquifer exists; the best we can do is visit the gorgeous vineyards of Long Island or pick up some chilled bottles and take the party to Sheep Meadow — discreetly, of course.
A chilled glass of rosé appeals to drinkers of white and red — it refreshes while offering fruit and body to pair with all manner of foods. Wolffer Estate in Bridgehampton might be the most prolific and well-known rosé producer out of the East End, but there are many others to seek out. Below are my five favorites to enjoy right now, before summer’s end.
Keep in mind that though our demand for rosé has grown, local production remains small. A helpful note on finding my five picks: You can buy them directly from the wineries (in-person or on their websites), try your local wine store like Astor Wines and Spirits in NYC, or check out Empire State Cellars (the first all NY wine shop) which ships to NYC for a flat $10 fee.
Channing Daughters (South Fork) 2011 Rosato di Lagrein ($20). Purplish-pink and brimming with flavor, this dry, 100 percent Lagrein rosé is crisp, floral, fruity, and spicy, all in one sip.
Channing Daughters made eight variations of rosé, both from well-known grapes such as Merlot to more esoteric varietals (at least for Long Island) like Lagrein. Hues range from pale tangerine to pink flamingo, and are as pretty sitting on the table as they are in the glass. Tastings are inside at the bar, but there is a shaded patio that faces the vineyards with several benches. About half the rosati are sold out, so check their website. Channing Daughters focuses largely on Northern Italian varietals and has an intriguing lineup of whites, reds, and orange wines to explore, should you (gasp) tire of rosé.
Peconic Bay (North Fork) NV Nautique Esprit de Rosé ($9.99). 50/50 Cab Sauv and Cab Franc, this dry, medium-bodied wine is redolent of muddled strawberries, dried herbs, orange peel, and tea leaves.
Peconic features an indoor tasting bar and outdoor, shaded patio with plentiful seating, and live music on weekends. In addition to the Nautique rosé, a great value at $9.99 (or $99 a case), I highly recommend their whites. The Riesling and Gewurztraminer are exceptional North Fork examples of these grapes.
Paumanok (North Fork) 2011 Dry Rosé ($17.99). A blend of Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Pale persimmon in color and highly aromatic, with pronounced strawberry-rhubarb notes on the refreshing, zippy palate.
Paumanok has a large deck overlooking the vineyards and allows outside picnic food. They have a well-regarded lineup of whites and reds, including a Chenin Blanc. Their Tuthill Lane reds are great examples of the depths Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon can reach in Long Island in an excellent vintage, albeit pricey at $60 a bottle.
Mattebella Vineyards (North Fork) 2011 Dry Rosé ($18). Mostly Merlot with a splash of Cab Franc. This dry, pale pink, lighter-bodied wine smells and tastes like a garden in full-bloom showing herbs, flowers and plump, red fruits with balanced acidity.
Mattebella evokes a lawn party at a friend’s rustic country cottage, with a smattering of tables scattered outside. The owners are hands-on and friendly, and will happily share with you the joys and frustrations of owning a vineyard. They make several other wines, including Chardonnay and old-world-style red blends. The 2011 rosé was picked up by Jean-George Vongerichten’s flagship restaurant as the house pour.
Croteaux Vineyards (North Fork) 2011 Merlot 314 Rosé ($19). Salmon-hued, medium-bodied, and dry, this juicy, merlot-based wine shows notes of melon, apple, dried lavender, and roses, with sea-salt woven throughout.
Specializing in rosé only, Croteaux made 12 versions for 2012. Their tasting garden is gorgeous — think romantic French countryside. Prices range from $19 for their signature merlot based wines up to $30 for fuller-bodied versions. Croteaux is releasing a new rosé at the end of summer called Voyage for only $16. Yay, rosé in the fall!
Dog owners should note that Croteaux Vineyards, Peconic Bay, Paumanok, and Mattebella Vineyards are all dog friendly!
Lauren Mowery is a wine and travel writer based in NYC. She blogs at Chasing the Vine.