This is not to say that rosé is new to the Loire Valley. For as long as red wine has been made, so has pink, but what is new is the expansion of grape varieties that are being used. In Chinon and Sancerre, excess cabernet franc and pinot noir has, respectively, been turned into rosé and with some, growers have dedicated part of their land for rosé production. Yet, grolleau, pineau d’aunis and similar blends are becoming much more commonplace. And, as with a lot of rosé I used to buy that crept up beyond the $20 mark, many from the Loire are less expensive.
With much ado, here are a few to try:
Domaine du Haut Bourg Vin de Pays du Val de Loire Grolleau, 2013 Grolleau is a hot ticket now but it was very much the bastard stepchild of Loire Valley wine grapes and was on the decline until several enlightened folks decided to champion it. Light-bodied and pale colored, it was mostly used as a blending grape in the past but on its own makes easily drinkable, mildly spicy red and rosé. Grown in sand near Nantes, France, an area that is known for Muscadet, this is a modest wine with a gentle touch of berry freshness and minerality. It’s perfect for glugging and chugging. Suggested Retail: $13
Baudry Chinon Rosé, 2013 (Chinon) It seems as if with each vintage, Bernard Baudry’s wines keep getting better and better. Founded in 1975, it is now organically certified and only native yeasts are used during fermentation. This rosé is from a 20-year-old gravel-laden vineyard, and it has a bit of a wet pavement scent that is often found in wines from this type of soil. Clean, delicate and lively with a hint of pepper and mineral undercurrents, it is subtle but not lacking character. Suggested Retail: $21
Château Soucherie Rosé de Loire, Cuvée le Jardin Anglais, 2013 Whenever a top estate changes hands there is a period of uncertainty, but now that the new owner of Château Soucherie, Roger Beguinot, has a few vintages under his belt, I’m feeling much more relieved as the wines are still very well-made in a classic style. Though not as serious as their other wines, this blend of grolleau and gamay is quite delicious with zesty, tart fruit, spice, minerality and floral notes. Suggested Retail: $21
Pamela S. Busch has been working in the wine industry since 1990 as a writer, educator and consultant and co-founded Hayes & Vine Wine Bar and Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen. In 2013, she launched TheVinguard.com, a blog covering a variety of wine-related topics.