Sure, I could easily lead off with some typical wine-blogging cliché about it “being summertime” and “time for rosé,” but that’s all been done before, and frankly, I’m much better than all that. Besides, most non-sparkling rosé isn’t even worth drinking, unless there’s nothing else available. After all, much of the still rosé on the market is nothing more than a by-product — an after-thought, if you will — to more serious wine-making. For those who might not be hip to the game, when winemakers begin to ferment their red wines, they will often “bleed off” some of the liquid in order achieve a better skin-to juice ratio, which allows for a richer color extraction and more tannic structure (the French call this method saignee, a term that has its roots in the Latin sanguis, meaning blood). Long story short, that bled-off by-product often becomes rosé, which means that packaging it and selling it as a legitimate wine is often some slick marketing hocus pocus. Don’t believe the hype.
My noteworthy exception to this rule, however, is the delicious rosé offered by Unti Vineyards in Sonoma Dry Creek. I tend to rave about all of the Unti wines, and this rosé definitely deserves some recognition. Of course, the first sign that any rosé might be sub-par is if it’s made with non-Rhone varietals, such as Cabernet or (even worse) Zinfandel. These wines may be billed as “unique,” but they’re most likely a sucker bet. On the other hand, the 2008 Unti Rosé ($19) features 79% Grenache and 21% Mourvedre, which exemplifies the type of Rhone pedigree that serious rosé requires. And not only has Unti stuck to the script with its Rhone varietals, but I should also point out that, even though Unti does offer red versions of Grenache and Mourvedre, the Unti Rosé is only about 15% saignee. How many other wineries can boast such a claim? And besides, while most rosé can taste like a simple, watered-down red wine, the Unti Rosé has a terrific aroma of strawberry blossoms, with the taste to match.