From ancient Greece, where they created a field blend of red and white grapes (think “You got chocolate in my peanut butter”) to a Hamptons summer obsession, rosé has a colorful history. It is said in 6th Century BC, the Phocaeans took this pink wine made from reds to Massalia which is now Marseilles, and the Romans spread its popularity. In the U.S., it was the famed Mateus and Lancers rosé which flooded the market and became the ladies’ version of alcohol with training wheels. They weren’t taken seriously but the bottles did serve as lovely candlestick holders. (I, of course, had a fine palate and was drinking Riunite Lambrusco.)
In 1972, the famed Sutter Home White Zinfandel created a pink-hazed craze for bridge clubs and Junior Leagues and made plane travel much more enjoyable. Julia Child was one of rosé’s few defenders, claiming that it could be served with anything, yet any sommelier worth their tempestuous taste buds wouldn’t consider putting it on a wine list. But rosé was not insulted and pushed on, even attracting the likes of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to create their own label in 2000.
Luxury rosé managed to escape from its oxymoronic roots. From 2013 to 2014, sales of rosés over $20 grew 41 percent in the U.S. compared to one-percent growth for all other wine categories, according to Bloomberg. “Rosé all day” continued to rise in popularity to the point when in the summer of 2014, Wölffer Estate Vineyards ran out of cases of its rosé. Cryptocurrency had nothing on the secret stashes traded on the black market. Now rosé is consumed in such vast quantities it is jokingly referred to as Hamptons pool water. And even though women flock to the enticing blush color and flowery labels, men have also learned that pink isn’t just for pocket squares. Now rosé has earned a place at the tasting table and has gone from off the rack to high-wine fashion.
For National Rosé Day (which is annually observed the second Saturday in June), Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton hosted a garden party for Chateau de Berne, part of the Provence Rosé Group. Anything French and pink is always good in my book. The aforementioned Romans built the 1235-acre site of the Chateau de Berne Estate in Provence, where over 300 acres of vines are sustainably farmed. The Estate is also home to a five-star Relais & Chateau Hotel and Spa and Michelin-starred Restaurant. (Bonjour frequent flyer miles!)
Sommelier Jon McDaniel was kind enough to provide tasting notes for the delectable nectars from winemaker Alexis Cornu. The descriptions are as luscious as the wines and make me want to put on a white flowing dress with a daisy chain in my hair and run through lavender fields to the sounds of Jacques Brel — or at least saunter over to Starbucks with a sparkle in my eye.
Inspiration, “Dry in the finish with flavors of fresh strawberry, Provencal lavender, and picked basil.” Romance, my personal favorite (no surprise there), “Beautiful floral and berry aromas awaken your senses with freshly picked summer peaches and strawberry cream.” And if you are going to judge a wine by its bottle, there is the Ultimate Provence, another estate in the wine group near Saint Tropez on 100 acres with a new hotel, restaurant, and event space. The carved bottle promises, “Layers of raspberry, strawberry jam in the nose invite you to a gorgeous, yet spicy palate.” I swear in my next life I want to be a wine writer.
So, come on my friend rosé, you and I have both been underrated and only gotten more sophisticated with age. We have come a long way, and I can’t wait to see where we go next. Bring your passport.