June has become the unofficial beginning of rosé drinking season. Each year I wonder whether the drink-pink trend will start slowing, but, no, it just keeps growing. The reason is wines like this dry, pale pink 2010 Robert Oatley Rosé of Sangiovese, with its bright fruit aromas, fresh strawberry-rhubarb-watermelon flavors, and crisp, savory finish. It’s a wine for sipping on the deck or patio, with or without food, a wine that makes you crave another glass.
I’ve never thought sangiovese, the Italian grape used to make chianti and Brunello di Montalcino, produced memorable rosés, nor that the varietal was a particular success in Australia, so I was quite surprised by this wine’s elegance and character.
Rosé, of course, can be made from any red grape. After pressing, the juice is separated from the grape skins, a process called saignée. Since contact with the skins produces color, the rosé remains pale pink.
Robert Oatley Vineyards is named for its Aussie owner, whose family made Rosemount Estate one of the most popular Australian brands. Its chardonnay defined a style and introduced many a drinker to that country’s wines.
Oatley sold Rosemount a decade ago and now owns about 1,300 acres of vineyards in Mudgee, about 160 miles northwest of Sydney. One of the country’s highest wine regions, it was planted with grapes 150 years ago. On Oatley’s estate are the country’s first sangiovese vines.
The vineyards are in the scenic foothills of the Blue Mountains, which shelter the grapes from coastal rains. The long, cool, but sunny ripening season, the rocky volcanic soils and the 1,500-foot elevation all preserve acidity in the grapes — and give the resulting wines their freshness.
The popularity of rosé has, sadly, inspired dozens of wineries to jump on the bandwagon, and many are producing boring new bottlings.
Which make this one seem even more of a standout.
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.”