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Time to Say Goodbye to your old Rosés (well, most of them anyway)

By Justin Lord, Summit House General Manager

It may be strange to start thinking and drinking rosés with snow still on the ground, but now is the perfect time to clear out fridge of last year’s stock. You’ll make room for the 2018s, and you might just be surprised with some terrific-tasting wine. 

The vintage on a bottle of wine is always the year the grapes were picked, not when they are bottled. Grapes for rosés are usually picked around September, fermented and kept in tanks over the winter before being bottled around March. So, 2018s will be hitting the shelves of your wine shop before you know it. 

Generally speaking, most rosé producers pick their grapes on the earlier side to keep the acidity level higher. They also vinify (convert through fermentation) them quickly, usually in stainless steel, and bottle them in less than six months, protecting and locking in their freshness. So, rosés are often bottled in March and released just in time for the heat spike of spring. If you have any 2017s leftover from last year, now may be the time to uncork them and enjoy.

Though anything past two years in the bottle could be considered  “old” for a rosé, some of those with a second year under their belt may actually taste better and be more complex than they did at the end of October, when that first frost hit and you turned to hearty red Cabs and Malbecs. But why the improvement?

Most rules have exceptions, and in the case of rosés one age exception is wines from Provence, in the south of France, made with a grape called Mourvédre. Originally from Spain, Mourvédre tends to make rosés that are more complex, darker and higher in tannin, and therefore do better in their second year. A specific region, Bandol, is producing a very age-worthy style of wines that some would say are closer to a light red than a rosé. Château Pradeaux and Domaine de Terrebrune come to mind.  

Other varietals can be just as yummy and even better at year two. Zibibbo and Catarratto, from Sicily; Niellucciu from the Island of Corsica; Syrah from the Central Valley of California. All of these should not be overlooked. 

And if value is a motivator when it comes to buying wine? You’re in luck. Now is the best time for rosé deals as wine shops need to clear out the 2017s and make room for the ‘18s. So, go ahead, grab a few, pop ‘em and start thinking about summer! 

Formerly at three-star Michelin-rated per se in Manhattan, Justin Lord spent over seven years as sommelier before taking on the role of General Manager at Summit House. He focuses on wines that are unique.  He lives to discover "up-and-coming" winemakers who have yet to become overly expensive, and loves exquisite wines from distant locales.  Justin also experiments with all forms of fermentation (Beer, Cider, Wine) in his spare time at home.