Admittedly, I have a pink obsession. I love all shades of pink and I absolutely love pink wines, whether you call them rosé, rosato or rosado. This obsession has been amplified, naturally, by the birth of our twin girls last June. Pink has pervaded my entire being.
It just so happened that the particular circumstances of the 2011 vintage spurred me to produce not just our winery’s normal four but eight different rosati this year. I am not the only winemaker consumed by pink. My colleague Roman Roth down the road at Wölffer Estate is making more than 10,000 cases of rosé this year. That is nearly half his entire production and more than a 150-fold increase over the 62 cases he first produced in 1992. The swiftest growth has come in the last three years, which has doubled their production from 5,000 cases.
A similar situation is unfolding for us here at Channing Daughters where our Molti Rosati program has almost reached 25 percent of our production in 2011. Over on the North Fork at Paumanok, their production, too, has increased to nearly 1,700 cases out of 10,000. There is even one producer, Croteaux Vineyards, dedicated to making only rosé.
The fact that there has been a surge of appreciation of dry, pink wines in the last decade is indisputable. It has skyrocketed. For me this is easy to understand. I, as do many others, believe dry rosé is a versatile and rewarding wine on its own and at the table. It goes well with dishes from seafood to steak. Dry rosé is comfortable from checkered picnic tables to white tablecloth restaurants.
The dry rosati of the East End are full of character and offer a delicious aromatic flavor and textural experience. I want to celebrate rosé, especially with the bounty of the ocean, the bays and the land where we grow our grapes and make our wine. Rosé is not just a summer tipple anymore either. Year-round sales have increased, and local as well as New York City restaurants are keeping selections by the glass in all four seasons.
At the recent “NY Drinks NY” tasting at the Astor Center in March there was a crush of both industry and consumers jockeying for position at the tables to taste many of the newly released pinks. This is generally at least a month early for that kind of interest in rosé wines. The situation will be much the same or even more pronounced at the upcoming Brooklyn Uncorked on May 9.
Winemakers the world over customarily bottle their new vintage in January or February, aiming for an April release in anticipation of the all important May–September (in the Northern Hemisphere) span when much of the world’s pink wines have traditionally been consumed. But those lines and dates are being redrawn yearly, and both ends of the “pink season” are now extending with an earlier start in the spring and a later push into winter.
So open your eyes, nose and mouth to the vibrant and expressive pink wines of the East End and don’t box them in. Consider the eight pink wines I made this year as part of our Molti Rosati program, created from merlot, refosco, cabernet franc, Franconia, cabernet sauvignon, lagrein, petit verdot and syrah. (Honestly, this is just too darn tasty and fun.) Whether you try my crazy eight or others, the new vintage of Long Island rosati promises a wealth of wonder and deliciousness.
James Christopher Tracy is the winemaker and partner at Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton, as well as a student candidate for the Institute of Masters of Wine.