Is Pink the new White?

WHITE WINE, SUCH AS CHARDONNAY, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and more recently Viognier, has reigned supreme for summer soirées, picnics or barbecues. But rosé wine is soaring in popularity, prompting some to ask “Is pink the new white?”

Rosé once conjured up memories of Lancers and Mateus in the early ‘70s. “Hey, hey, hey, Mateus Rosé,” was one TV commercial jingle.

But times have changed. “At its top end, pink wine is more serious than ever,” writes San Francisco Chronicle Wine Editor Jon Bonné. “Diligent winemakers are crafting it more seriously than ever.”

Premium dry rosé is catching fire. Dry rosé sales increased 29 percent by value and 18 percent by volume in 2013 while growth was even more impressive in the over-$12 category, according to market analyst Nielsen.

The United States is second after France in global rosé consumption, where rosé outsells white wine. The reasons for rosé’s growing popularity include the rise of younger wine consumers, an appealing color, an attractive price, and an accessible flavor. In the foothills’ here are some rosés to sample:

• Sierra Starr Rosé of Zinfandel
A recent Best of Class winner at the El Dorado County wine competition. “Our Rosé of Zin is 100 percent estate fruit,” says winemaker Jackson Starr. “It was lightly crushed and spent 24 hours on the skins before it was pressed off to reveal its beautiful blush, color.”

• Solune Barbera Rosé
“We have long believed that Barbera was a perfect candidate for a rosé, given its refreshing acidity, exuberant fruit and vibrant color,” says winemaker-owner Jacques Mercier. “Our rosé showcases the more developed end of the red berry spectrum, with raspberry and cherry dominating. Truly the red wine lover’s white wine.”

• Montoliva Sei Ore
Sei Ore is Italian for “6 hours.” This is how long winemaker Mark Henry leaves this Sangiovese Rosé on the grape skins before pressing off. “The pleasing strawberry nose delights, the palate cleansing finish satisfies; it’s perfect for those warm foothill sum- mer afternoons,” says Mark.

• Avanguardia Cara Mia
The winery’s first rosé type wine, the Cara Mia Rosato is made from Sangiovese and other red varieties vinified as for a white wine. Compares favorably with Provence rosé wines.

• Smith Christina’s Blush
Created from Merlot grapes. Light and fruity with aromas of rhubarb and strawberry with flavors of cherry leading to a fresh, clean finish.

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