‘Tis the season … for rosé wine

Would a rosé by any other name taste as sweet? As sultry summer comes in, I think of cool, refreshing drinks. I think I’ll have a glass of rosé!

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Unfortunately, rosé wine’s reputation took a hit in the U.S. during the 1970s, when the industry addressed a shortage of white grapes by creating white Zinfandel (and white Pinot, white Syrah, and a variety of other white wines) made from red grapes.

Initially these new-age beverages were vinified as dry white wines. But these white-from-red wines really took off when some wineries discovered that they sold better when they were redesigned as pretty pink and fairly sweet. Someone came up with the name “blush” wine for the genre; and before long they became a staple of the bargain bins.

Real rosé, overwhelmed in the rush, became a niche item, and it wasn’t a particularly large niche. Before long, when most people called for a glass of Zinfandel in a restaurant or bar, they expected something pink, soft, and sweet. If they got a real Zinfandel, dark red, intensely fruity and high in alcohol, they’d send it right back.

But far away from the trend, rosé wines in the Mediterranean tradition – rosés from Provence, the Rhone and Languedoc in France, Rosato from Italy and Rosado from Spain – continued to offer just about everything you could want in a summer wine, or even year-round: Usually bone-dry, fresh, fruity and crisp, often showing delicious nuances of herbs and spice that evoke the lavender-scented hillsides of Provence. They’re refreshing when served well chilled, and they go very well with dinner salads and light summer fare.

Rosé is traditionally made from red wine grapes, by separating the color-bearing grape skins from the colorless juice in the fermenting vessel after a short time. In this process, which is sometimes called “saignée” from the French word for “bleeding,” the red skins stay in the juice just long enough to impart an attractive pink, copper, salmon or, well, rosy hue to the wine without having it reach the deep color of a serious red.

The resulting wine comes out light, fresh and crisp, and it’s usually made bone-dry: a perfect wine to serve chilled on a steamy summer day. Perhaps this is why good rosé’s reputation has bounced right back, and you no longer feel the slightest shame about raising a glass of something beautifully pink and delicious.

Like, for example, this week’s featured wine, Domaine du Salvard Cheverny Loire Rosé.

Domaine du Salvard's Cheverny property is certified as high environmental value ("high HVE"), a certification that guarantees a farm's attention to environmental performance.

Domaine du Salvard’s Cheverny property is certified as high environmental value (“high HVE”), a certification that guarantees a farm’s high level of environmental performance.

This excellent Loire Valley rosé is made from a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Gamay from 20-year-old vines certified as having high environmental value (“high HVE”), a certification that guarantees a farm’s high level of environmental performance. It’s vinified in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks and aged on the yeast lees without malolactic fermentation.

Domaine du Salvard has been a working domaine since 1898, ¸says importer Kermit Lynch, through five generations of the Delaille family, which continues under the brother team of Emmanuel and Thierry Delaille with help from their father Gilbert. Kermit Lynch has represented Domaine du Salvard in the U.S. since 1992, a year before Cheverny was promoted to controlled appellation (AOC) status.

“To our delight,” Lynch writes on the importer’s website, “they have carried on the traditions established by their ancestors, producing a true, classic Cheverny that is both simple and elegant. … Gilbert and his sons have also made their own contributions to the heritage of the domaine, including the introduction of sustainable farming practices into the vineyards, as well as temperature-controlled vinification equipment to the winery.”

It’s a delicious, refreshing rosé. You’ll find my tasting notes below.


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Today’s Tasting Report

Delaille 2022 Domaine du Salvard Cheverny Loire Rosé ($19.99)

Domaine du Salvard Cheverny Loire Rosé

A blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Gamay, Domaine du Salvard Cheverny Loire Rosé is a very pale color in the glass, just off-white with a pretty pale-pink glow; tiny bubbles line the glass and add a pleasant prickly tickle of carbonation to the wine’s flavor. Light but pleasant scents of wild strawberries lead in the aroma, with a citric whiff of tangerine and a hint of fresh green herbs in the background. The flavor is prickly, bright and fresh, shaped by zippy acidity, with stony minerality showing up in a very long finish. 12.5% alcohol. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (June 15, 2023)

FOOD MATCH: Wine-Searcher.com suggests pairing it with salads and green vegetables, and that sounded good. We enjoyed it with a summer salad of roasted fresh asparagus and mild goat cheese in an oil-and-lemon vinaigrette.

WHEN TO DRINK: Even at the upper ends of the rosé spectrum I’m in favor of drinking it early. This 2022 vintage is deliciously fresh, and I’d enjoy it during the next year while it stays that way.

Wine-Searcher.com’s $20 average U.S. retail matches my local price. It’s an excellent rosé and easily justifies this price point.

Importer Kermit Lynch features Domaine du Salvard’s rosé red and white bottlings on this producer page.

Cincinnati-based wine shop Hart & Cru offers a fact sheet on Domaine du Salvard Cheverny Loire Rosé at this link.

Check prices and find vendors for Domaine du Salvard Cheverny Loire Rosé on Wine-Searcher.com.

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to learn more about the Loire’s Cheverny region and browse listings for dozens of its wines.


Wine Focus June 2023 –
Benchmarks of Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc. What can we say? It’s one of the most famous grapes in the world. It’s certainly one of the big three white grapes, alongside Chardonnay and Riesling. It’s also quite easy to recognize in the glass, as it has some very distinctive characteristics, even if those shift depending on where the grapes are grown. Sauvignon Blanc from its ancestral home in the Loire is a very different wine from Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand. Is Cotat the benchmark, or is it now Cloudy Bay?

Lots to unpack regarding Sauvignon Blanc, and the weather is definitely white-wine friendly in the Northern Hemisphere right now. Grab a glass and let’s talk Sauvignon Blanc.


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