A New Way To Rosé: Taking cues from orange wine and light reds

This lineup is a far cry from Whispering Angel, but no less thirst-quenching
Photo: Jeremy Hernandez

Mix and match any two of these rosés and get 15% off

It wasn't that long ago it seems that American wine drinkers discovered dry rosé — a world away from the sweet White Zinfandel of the 1980s. But now the demand for so-called 'pale summer water' (in our shop, anyways) has been eclipsed by requests for funky orange wine and light reds.
However, there are more and more rosés I have been finding that have far more in common with lighter reds and funky orange wines than they do with the oceans of Provençal-style rosés that still flood the market. Though some are still worried that any color other than the lightest ballet pink will be sweet, many have caught on that this pale color is often achieved through artificial manipulation and sulfur, which acts as a kind of bleaching agent.
There's a huge range of colors possible from different grape varieties all over the world, and this is shaking up what we think of as rosé and making wines that are some of the most unique and versatile I come across. Wines that don't really fit neatly into any category are always some of my favorites, since they feel unique, new, and exciting.
But most importantly they are refreshing and thirst-quenching; able to quell the heat without scaring away your friends at the park. Pair with firepits, fire escapes, or air-conditioning.
Image of Domaine Ilarria Irouléguy Rosé 2021
Domaine Ilarria Irouléguy Rosé 2021
A blend of Tannat and Cabernet Franc that is ripe and juicy like a plum about to burst; a very generous vintage for this wine. Alpine strawberry, sour cherry, rhubarb, and savory roasted red pepper — all kept in check with refreshing Basque minerality. More vivid and more ruddy than anything from Provence, this is almost getting into light red territory. This vintage also feels just a bit more rustic and playful than in the past. Peio Espil of Domaine Ilarria was a pioneer of natural farming in French Basque country. Minimal sulfur, but not what I would call funky. Just stupid delicious. JK
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Image of Alexandre Hote Tavel Red 2021
Alexandre Hote Tavel Red 2021
If you've ever had Eric Pfifferling's sought-after l'Anglore Tavel rosé you'll be excited to know that there are others delivering similar thrills. Is it red? Is it rosé? Somewhere in between. It delivers maximum freshness and soft, smooth, elegance. Blood orange, blueberry, ruby red grapefruit, and overripe plum, with lower acidity and just enough herbal, Aperol-ish notes to add complexity. 70% Grenache, 30% Cinsault with light maceration. Despite zero sulfur additions, this is more luxe than funk. I'm not mad about that. JK
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Image of Gismondi Chiaretto Rosato Campania 2021
Gismondi Chiaretto Rosato Campania 2021
Anabel and Antonio Gismondi have only been making wine since 2018 but the Gismondi family has been cultivating grapes, olives, and vegetables for many generations. Since they stopped selling their grapes to the cooperative, they have quickly been championed by natural wine lovers all over Italy. Their rosé is a blend of red and white grapes — Merlot, Malvasia, and Sangiovese — that are direct pressed and co-fermented. The resulting color is more pale orange than pink. Tangerine, grapefruit, Capri Sun, with a subtly smoky volcanic umami underpins everything. Crunchy minerals and a snappy edge are the result of the slightly cooler microclimate they inhabit in Campania, where Tyrrhenian Sea breezes run into the foothills of the Apennines. Zero sulfur added, this has a rustic beauty that is bewitching. JK
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Image of Martin and Anna Arndorfer "Rosa Marie" 2021
Martin and Anna Arndorfer "Rosa Marie" 2021
Martin and Anna Arndorfer's Rosa Marie has been one of my all-time favorites in the 'darker rosé' category for four or five years now. It is Rotberger (fka Zweigelt) that is fermented on the skins of Grüner Veltliner, a truly original approach that was a practical solution geared towards 'using everything in the kitchen' including unused skins from other wines, but is so dang delicious that they now make two other wines — Anina Verde and Martha Rouge — using the same method. The Grüner skins add a lot of spicy lift and crunch to the wine, while it retains a lot of the black cherry and savory notes of a light red. It's vibrant and nervy with Alpine strawberry, fresh raspberry juice, rose petals, and a sprinkling of white pepper. JK
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