A student asked me recently if any rosés are worth more than $20. My answer was yes, but just a few.
Rosé can be more complex than credited. However, some that fetch a pretty penny are priced based on reputation and supply and demand, more than quality.
You can get superb rosé for less than $20, and perhaps even less than $15.
Most wine drinkers expect rosé to be fresh and lively. If it has a few other characteristics, all the better. I look for these qualities as well, but revelations of varietal character and/or terroir are what makes some rosés stand out.
As with dessert wines, the varietal character and terroir in rosé is often muted. However, that is not always the case. Rosé can be mineral-driven or fruit-forward. It can be peppery, herbal and floral. Some rosés have tannins.
Luckily, as the popularity of rosé has increased, so has the selection. To kick off your spring, here are three that retail for under $15.
Penya Rosé, VdP des Côtes de Catalanes, 2011 (Roussillon, France): Penya is a cooperative in the small town of Cases de Pene. The area is sometimes referred to as French Catalonia as it is 30 miles from the Spanish border. Composed of 60 percent grenache and 40 percent syrah, it is a typical blend for the region. With faint herbal and floral aromas, subtle red berry fruit on the palate and immense texture from six to eight hours of skin contact, this rosé craves food and would be perfect with a lunchtime picnic. Suggested retail: $11
Dr. Heyden Rose, 2011 (Rheinhessen, Germany): This is a dynamic 50 percent blauer portugieser and 50 percent pinot noir blend from the town of Oppenheim in the southern Rheinhessen. Founded in 1999, Dr. Heyden is on the rise in Germany. Frank Heyden had barely finished his enology studies in 2005 when his father passed away. He became the man of the vineyard and, subsequently, took over the winemaking. He has done a superb job, with every vintage being a notch up from the last. Minerally and delicate with hints of orange and strawberry, you can drink this rosé on its own or with food. Suggested retail: $12
Gérard Bertrand Gris Blanc IGP Pays D’Oc, 2011 (Languedoc, France): Gérard Bertrand produces a very large range of wines in the Languedoc, all of which are, at a minimum, pretty good. Made entirely from grenache gris, this rosé is one of the most impressive. Crisp and clean with tart lemon, strawberry and raspberry fruit, this is a perfect wine to throw in a backpack and take to the park. Suggested retail: $12
Pamela Busch was the founding partner of Hayes and Vine and CAV Wine Bars, and is a wine educator and writer.