A new vintage is underway

A new vintage is underway

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Do Rosés really need to be in tasting competitions?




Dry Rosé wines have reached a new level of respectability.  I recently received an email from a wine news entity that alerted me to a May 27-28, 2016 competitive tasting at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Colorado.  Wine Country Network, the producer of the event, announced a call for entries to their second annual, double blind tasting event, the Drink Pink Vino 2016 Competition, during which prestigious wine producers from around the world are encouraged to compete in this “exclusive Rosé competition.” 
Most wine enthusiasts know that dry Rosé is not an overnight sensation.  For years, even decades, it was the Rodney Dangerfield of wines—it got absolutely no respect.  It was shunned by most wine enthusiasts because they thought it would be sweet (like White Zinfandel), and it was avoided by White Zin drinkers because it was not sweet enough.   Also, when it came to our dinner guests, I would have to nag them with an annoyed, “Just TRY it!”
Despite that bumpy history, interest and acceptance gradually increased as many European tourists, including yours truly, returned home with the experience and message that Rosés were the tasty and refreshing Summer wines of choice in Spain, Italy and the South of France.   If the Europeans embraced them so effortlessly, why couldn’t the Americans?

But it was when the highly regarded Wine Spectator magazine gave it front page treatment in 2007, with a list of tasting recommendations, that “my flaming-haired girlfriend” finally got the respect she deserved.  Additionally, in 2011 the Spectator published a lengthier review of global Rosés, as did the San Francisco Chronicle, with the brief note from the latter that “evangelism (is) not needed,” implying it was no longer necessary to implore people to “Just TRY it!” And most recently, in the Spectator's June 15, 2016 issue, Matt Kramer was quite firm as to, "Why Rosé Is Here to Stay."

While I am delighted that Rosés have risen to the heights of an international tasting competition, I am, for several reasons somewhat unenthused about the event.  First, much like other wine tasting competitions, popular and critically rated producers seldom, if ever, submit their wine to those events; they have little to gain and much to lose. It is for those producers wishing to score some visibility, and break out of the cluttered pack of anonymous also-rans, who are the typical submitters.  (You won’t, for example, EVER see the Brad and Angelina’s Miraval Rosé entered into any of these events. Wine Spectator’s articles, aka free publicity, have already eliminated the need for entering competitive tastings!) 
Second, given the wide variety of grapes used in the global production of Rosé, the various methods (approved or otherwise) for producing it, and the stylistic options at which the winemaker might be aiming, I don’t see how Best of Show and/or the other Olympic-like ratings of Gold, Silver and Bronze really mean much, even when entrants are classified by country.  Other than being produced in various shades of salmon, they still do not have a common or shared set of underlying attributes (emanating primarily from the grapes utilized) to be effectively assessed in a side by side tasting.
And thirdly, speaking from a more philosophical (and mythological) point of view, I contend that analyzing and rating Rosés goes against their inherent nature.  They are not dense, full bodied, Apollonian fruit bombs that are deeply concentrated and lavishly structured.  And they most certainly do not need, nor require, rating card analysis to understand their underlying charms. They are wines for the senses and emotions, not the intellect
To be sure, Rosés should be fault free and well balanced, but beyond that, they are free spirited, Dionysian delights.  They shine at a casual, back yard barbecue with friends and family or at a game and laugh-filled, picnic at the beach or park.  In that sense, Rosés are background music to the interpersonal activities of the moment—not the analytical center of attraction at a formal dining event.  Really, all one needs to do with Dry Rosés is to drink them.  To analyze them is to miss the point.