A rosé wine that’s available in many wine shops across the United States sells for $30.
The glass appears to be crystal. It is shaped like a heart. The cork has affixed to it a white ceramic “handle” in the shape of a rose. It allows for the removal of the cork. Very cute. Eye-catching. I have not tried it.
I asked the wine merchant carrying this wine, “How much is it for the wine and how much is it for the bottle?”
He suggested that the bottle alone was probably worth $25. “That should tell you how much the wine is worth.”
There are many such image-conscious products that have been introduced into upscale societies that have proven successful. Often it is the packaging itself that sells the product; the merchandise in such cases is often incidental to the sale. Think perfume.
And what, after all, is fashion design all about anyway?
So does a Chardonnay that has tiny flakes of gold floating in the bottle. A lawsuit between Jess Jackson and Ernest Gallo decades ago revolved around a packaging design that one party believed infringed upon the other party’s “trade dress.”
In the case of the aforementioned rosé in the heart-shaped bottle, I imagine some potential buyers will be so smitten by the kitschy-ness of the presentation that it could lead to a sale. But the vast majority of people looking for a patio-sipping pink wine will be merely amused.
That’s because adjacent to it in the same store, I saw dozens of dry rosés selling for about half that price, including a few that had attractive packages.
The mere idea of expensive rosé is particularly ludicrous in view of the actual costs making one of these wines.
Good quality rosé can be made inexpensively from grapes grown in larger amounts and poor regions; harvested early in the season, without much risk of damage from Mother Nature. Such wines require no expensive French oak barrels, can be prepared for market literally in a few weeks, and are not impacted by the overhead that’s a mandate for fine-quality red wines.
Call many pink wines Chateau Cash-Phleaux.
None of this was reported widely in 2006 when Sacha Lichine decided to make the world’s most expensive pale pink wine. The son of the late wine impresario/merchant Alexis Lichine acquired a Provence property, Chateau Desclans, and soon thereafter released a line of wines that were all pale rosés.
Today, the top-of-the-line wine, called Garrus, has a suggested retail price of about $100. One merchant has it for $115.99
How are the Desclans wines? The last time I tasted them (a decade ago), they were nice. I liked them. But would you be happy spending $40 to $100 for a “nice” pink wine?
Last week, I was offered a chance to try a new French rosé. The New York-based PR lady said it sells for $40. I politely declined.
Rosés are all the rage these days. Several that are considered among the best sell for $25 a bottle, rarely more. A couple I have tasted that sell for more than $30 are really very good, but are they twice as good as the dozens available today from France’s Aix-en-Provence that sell for $15?
For most people, the answer is a resounding “No.” I consider great dry pink to be one of the world’s happiest of wines. They can enhance conversation around a swimming pool, at the beach, consumed out of paper cups, and improve the taste of finger foods, appetizers and snacks.
Like a good example of Beaujolais Nouveau, they are rapidly consumed, easily forgotten, but mandatory for the ultimate in unconscious consumption of a dry wine.
Good pink wine should be in every wine lover’s arsenal. But never forget that almost all of them are merely transitory baubles, a triviality in comparison to wine greatness.
And as such should be sipped with zero pretension. Add an ice cube if you wish.
A well-kept secret
The first wine column I ever wrote about dry rosé wines was in the early 1980s. It referenced a style of wine I thought would never sell.
That’s because it was the first time I had ever tasted such a wine that was noticeably sweet.
It was Sutter home White Zinfandel, which began to be made in 1972 as a dry wine for several years, and originally sold only at the winery.
Several of us geeks loved the austere drier version of the wine, and we regularly bought it by the case from a close friend who worked at a Los Angeles-area wine shop. He special-ordered it; it was a well-kept secret.
One vintage of the wine then unexpectedly turned out sweeter than the winery desired, and the rest is history.
Today, you can find truly sublime dry rosés from just about every place in the world. Fox Run of New York makes a Pinot Noir Rosé; Left Foot Charley of Michigan makes one from Blaufrankisch.
Germany, Austria, northern Italy, and British Columbia all make cool-climate rosé wines.
In Sonoma County, as recently as 2010, most wineries were making just a few hundred cases of rosé wines a year. Today, almost everyone has increased production and all of it is selling out.
Wine of the Week: 2018 Von Winning Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder) Rosé, Pfalz ($20)—The bright aroma of cherries and watermelon are fascinating, but there also is a delicate citrus note in the finish, a result of very high acid to offset the trace of residual sugar that makes the wine dry yet still slightly succulent. Imported by Michel Skurnik wines; often seen at $18 or less.