Drinking pink is just as hot a trend this summer as it has been for the past six. So many new rosés are now on the shelves that I’ve focused my tastings this year on those from regions not usually associated with pink wine. One of the most interesting and delicious I’ve sipped recently is the intense, strawberry-scented 2010 Lafon-Roset, made by Château Lafon-Rochet, one of five grands crus classés in Bordeaux’s St. Estèphe appellation.
Owned by the Tesseron family, Lafon-Rochet is known for its balanced, elegant, well-priced red. The rosé is a new idea — 2009 was the first vintage — partly the inspiration of the new generation, 32-year-old Basile Tesseron, who is taking over management of the château from his father Michel.
Most Bordeaux rosés are afterthoughts, a sideline result of bleeding off some of the pressed juice to concentrate the flavors of the château’s red. Until a few years ago, most were bottled by château owners for family picnic consumption only. A surprising number of famous châteaux now sell theirs, at prices way below that of their reds, but I’ve rarely found them distinctive or exciting.
The Tesserons started out differently, with the intent of making a top rosé, and enlisted help from the team at Provence rosé specialist Domaines Ott. Rather than use the same blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot they do for their reds, they decided the grapes for the rosé would come from a special parcel of 35-year-old cabernet sauvigon vines.
The wine is a lovely pink color and has some of the polish, structure and body of Bordeaux, but also the flair and fresh, savory minerality of Provence, a winning combination with summer foods.
And besides, the elegant bright pink label looks great in a tub of ice.
Zester Daily contributor Elin McCoy is a wine and spirits columnist and author of “The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste.”