Coming up roses: Texas wineries shine with their latest round of rosé

12:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 30, 2015 Austin360

Rosé wines were once perceived as sweet, low-budget “pink” wines that no self-respecting wine aficionado would dare touch. That’s changed in a big way.

Just ask master sommelier and Whole Foods’ global beverage buyer Devon Broglie. He spent an entire seminar during the Austin Food and Wine Festival this year raving about them — and he didn’t leave Texas wines off his recommendation list. Here and around the world, winemakers are producing award-winning rosés that are easy on the wallet and are well-suited to sipping in this steaming Texas weather.

“Rosé is fresher and lighter than a full-bodied red wine, but it has the structure and complexity of a cool red that you can drink in the summer. It’s the white wine equivalent for red wine drinkers during the hot summer months,” Broglie says.

And, boy, does Texas have some hot months ahead. The heat provides “the perfect climate to drink copious amounts of rosé,” he says; it’s also exactly what grapes grown in the Hill Country and the High Plains regions of the state for rosé need to thrive.

Making these wines here has been a recent pursuit. Finding bottles of Texas rosés only 10 years ago wouldn’t have been possible, Broglie says, because Texas winemakers were only just starting to persuade drinkers to go for a glass of Texas-grown Tempranillo and other grape varietals that aren’t common in California. Forget rosé — Texas winemakers hadn’t made the Hill Country the highly lauded, well-traveled wine region it is today.

“(Texas winemakers) now recognize warm-weather varieties from Provence and the Rhone Valley, versus those from Bordeaux and Burgundy, are more in line with the Texas climate,” Broglie says. “Growers are planting those grapes, and lo and behold, they’re more suited for making delicious Texas rosé wines.”

Although many of the Texas rosés on the market today are dry and originate from the French red grape varieties Cinsault and Mourvedre — two grapes that shine in Texas summers — rosé can be made dry or sweet or sparkling and can come from red or white grapes. They also range in color from a pale orange to a strawberry red.

Here are some Texas rosé wines, all from the 2014 harvest, that Broglie (and I) recommend for any backyard barbecues or poolside hangouts you have planned this summer. Rosés are the wines you want to take to a picnic or when you’re firing up the grill, he says, and they’re also fresh and crisp enough to stand up to the spiciness of Tex-Mex or Mexican food.

Lewis Wines 2014 Rosé: “Refreshing and fun with an edgier spicy note,” this blend of Cinsault and Mourvedre draws out notes of fresh watermelon and slightly underripe strawberry. Pull out a bottle ($30) when you’re watching the sunset on your back porch — Broglie says it’s best as a transition into the nighttime hours.

Brennan Vineyards 2014 Mourvedre Dry Rosé: This playful fruit-forward wine ($20) must be good: The San Francisco International Wine Competition just awarded it a double gold medal.

William Chris Vineyards Cinsault Rosé 2014: In this wine, a floral nose gives way to a bright burst of clementine and tropical fruits and a finish of dried apricot. Find it at the winery or at William Chris’ online store for $30.

McPherson Les Copains Dry Rosé Table Wine 2014: Another gold medalist at the recent San Francisco International Wine Competition, this vibrantly pink wine, “full of jazzy citrus and tart fruit,” is one of the most accessible of the bunch in terms of both taste and cost, retailing between $11 and $15. This rosé is primarily Cinsault, but Mourvedre and a white grape, Viognier, also contribute to the wine’s complexity.

Duchman Family Winery 2014 Dry Rosé: Italian grapes aren’t as known for making stellar rosés as French varietals — but they sure do in this Montepulciano rosé, which bursts with light berry and watermelon notes and draws you in with a rounder mouthfeel. The wine is only available at the winery and select restaurants ($18).

Wedding Oak Rosé 2014: I’ll also recommend this watermelon-hued wine made from Dolcetto grapes. Aromas of red berry and zesty citrus lure you into a rosé with a clove-like spiciness on the palate. Buy it at the winery or online for $24.

Pedernales Cellars Texas Dry Rosé 2014: This one, with a subtle mix of orchard fruit and honey notes, was another delight for me. This rosé ($30) straddles the best of Spain and France by blending Tempranillo and Mourvedre grapes to lively effect.

Once you find just the right bottle for you, Broglie has only one rule about rosé: Keep it chilled and drink it outside. “And have at it,” he says.

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