Well, I think the answer to this question is most people. And, guess what? Most people are wrong. Please let me explain.
Some people think that rosés do not age because they never keep them. In fact, some people even think that rosés are inexpensive sweet wines. These are the so called blush wines which include things like White Zinfandel. But, the best rosés are dry and are made to go with food. And, the fact is that a large percentage of the dry rosés that we drink in this country are made in France. In France the people have a long history of consuming rosés and they understand them. Rosés account for nearly 30% of all wine sales in France. Here it is different. Rosés account for less that 1% of the wines consumed in this country but they are growing rapidly and becoming increasingly popular. Still most wine consumers have no concept of how long to keep rosés, and most people have no idea of when to drink them and with what foods.
Also, in this country, rosé is sold like it is milk with an expiration date. With each new vintage many rosé importers get their orders from retailers first and then order their wines. They want to make sure that they have very little or no inventory into the fall season. Likewise, a lot of retailers want to sell the current vintage as soon as possible. Of course, that is true for most wines. But, rosés are perceived as being best very young. Most American consumers do not want to buy them in the fall and winter. Therefore, those that are left after the summer season are usually discounted as the end of the year approaches. This is the wine trade’s version of Old Maid! The result is that by the New Year, it is hard to find rosés to buy. This, of course, creates pent up demand for the new vintage. That’s the game.
So what is a consumer to do if you want to drink rosés on warm days throughout the year? That’s simple. Do what I have done for many years and buy enough rosés to have at least a one or two year supply on hand. As this is depleted, buy the new vintage when it comes in and buy more at the end of the selling season when the wines are discounted. Rosés are very festive and great to drink with a wide variety of foods over the year end holidays. Then what is left can be consumed over many years going forward (to read my article on when to drink rosés click here ). Since domestic rosés have only recently begun to come into the market in any quantity, I have no idea how they will age. But, I would guess that most will not age that well. Vamos a ver. Likewise, I have less experience with rosés from other parts of the world. For, with the exception of places like Spain and Italy, rosés from other parts of the world are relatively few and mostly not available here. So for purposes of what I am saying, my comments apply only to French Rosés.
Every year I drink a lot of the new vintage rosés when they first arrive. I have just finished my initial tastings of the 2013s (to read the articles click here ). And I have also bought some to drink for the balance of this year and for years into the future. As I said, the great majority of the rosés I buy and drink are French. I not only taste them when they first arrive, but I drink a lot of them. Then I drink them and older rosés throughout the rest of the year. These are wines that are anywhere from a year or two old up to ten or more years. I first wrote about older rosés in a Thanksgiving article a few years ago (to read that article, including recipes and notes on the wines click here ). That year, 2011, I served a 2003 and a 2004 rosé, the first from France and the second from Australia – 2003 Pascal Cotat Sancerre Rosé Chavignol and 2004 Charles Melton Rose of Virginia. Both were delicious. Sadly the Charles Melton Rose of Virginia has not been imported here for years. I thought the bottle I served in 2011 was my last bottle, but I have since found another bottle tucked away in a corner of my cellar so I will have it this Thanksgiving.
Over the last year or so, I have tasted some 77 French Rosés that are a few years old up to over 20 years old. They ranged in age from 2012 to 1991. Most were actually better that they were young (Better), many were really attractive (Just As Good), and some were declining and past their peak. But, of the wines past their peak, most were still very sound and drinkable, a few had declined to the point where they lacked a bit of fruit (Just A Bit Past), and a few were a bit flat and not very flavorful or interesting (Definitely Past) and one was completely gone (Not Attractive). It is also worth noting that the price range for these wines at the time of purchase was in a range of $10-$35 with many of them priced below $20. This makes French Rosés consistently some of the greatest wine values on the planet!
Below are notes on older French Rosés. Here is the number of wines from each year: 2012 (1), 2011 (4), 2010 (10), 2009 (17), 2008 (8), 2007 (4), 2006 (12), 2005 (7), 2004 (4), 2003 (6), 2002 (1), 2001 (1), 1998 (1) and 1991 (1). These wines represent most, but not all, of the old French Rosés I have in my cellar. There are many types of French Rosés in this group. The five categories are listed in the order referred to above: Better, Just As Good, Just A Bit Past, Definitely Past, Not Attractive. The best wines in the Better category are highlighted in red. In my concluding remarks I also have comments on some of the best wines.
2012 Charles Joguet Chinon Rosé
2011 Au Petit Bonheur Les Pallieres Gigondas Rosé
2011 Domaine De Terrebrune Bandol Rosé
2010 Bernard Baudry Chinon Rosé
2010 Clos St. Magdeleine Cassis Rosé
2010 Domaine Du Gros’ Noré Bandol Rosé
2010 Domaine de Reuilly Reuilly Pinot Gris Rosé
2010 Domaine de la Tour du Bon Bandol Rosé
2010 Daniel Chotard Sancerre Rosé
2009 Charles Joguet Chinon Rosé
2009 Compte Abbatucci Cuvee Faustine Ajaccio Rosé
2009 Chateau de Pibaron Bandol Rosé
2009 Domaine De Fonsainte Gris de Gris Corbières Rosé
2009 Domaine de la Tour du Bon Bandol Rosé
2009 Domaine Du Gros’ Noré Bandol Rosé
2009 Domaine Sainte–Eugénie Corbiéres Rosé
2009 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé
2009 Mas Carlot Tradition Costières de Nîmes Rosé
2009 Mas Champart Saint-Chinian Rosé
2007 Chateau La Roque Pic Saint Loup Coteaux de Languedoc Rosé
2007 Chateau de Lascaux Coteaux de Langudoc Rosé
2006 Domaine Du Gros’ Noré Bandol Rosé
2006 Domaine de Reuilly Reuilly Pinot Gris Rosé
2006 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé
2006 Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rosé
2005 Domaine De Fonsainte Gris de Gris Corbières Rosé
2005 Domaine Ott Chateau de Selle Côtes de Provence Rosé
2005 Domaine Terrebrune Bandol Rosé
2005 Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rosé
2004 Domaine Michel Brock Sancerre Rosé
2003 Chateau Valcombe Côtes Du Ventoux Rosé
2003 Domaine Ott Chateau De Selle Clair de Noirs Côtes de Provence Rosé
2003 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé
1998 Charles Joguet Chinon Rosé
Just As Good
2011 Domaine de Giolellie Vin de Pays de L’Ile De Beute Rosé
2011 Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rosé
2010 Chateau d’Or et de Gueles Les Cimels Costières de Nîmes Rosé
2010 Domaine des Corbillières Touraine Pinot Noir Rosé
2010 Domaine De Saint-Antoine Costières de Nîmes Rosé
2010 Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rosé
2009 Bernard Baudry Chinon Rosé
2009 Domaine Des Corbilliéres Touraine Pinot Noir Rosé
2009 La Croix Du Prieur Côtes du Provence Rosé
2008 Domaine Des Corbilliéres Touraine Pinot Noir Rosé
2008 Domaine De Fondrèche L’Instant Ventoux Rosé
2008 Domaine De La Petite Cassagne Costières de Nîmes Rosé
2008 Philippe Rainbault Apud Saricum Sancerre Rosé
2006 Domaine Des Corbilliéres Touraine Pinot Noir Rosé
2006 Domaine De Fondrèche L’Instant Côtes du Ventoux Rosé
2006 Mas Champart Saint-Chinian Rosé
2006 Philippe Rainbault Apud Saricum Sancerre Rosé
2005 Domaine Thomas & Fils Terres Blanches Sancerre Rosé
2005 Pascal Cotat Chavignol Sancerre Rosé
2004 Domaine de Noiré Chinon Rosé
2004 Domaine Sainte-Eugènie Corbières Rosé
2004 Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rosé
Just A Bit Past
2009 Chateau d’Or et de Gueles Only Girls Cinsault Vin de Pays d’Oc Rosé
2009 Mas Carlot Tradition Costières de Nîmes Rosé
2009 Chateau Guiot Vin De Pays Du Gard Rosé
2008 Mas Carlot Tradition Costières de Nîmes Rosé
2008 Mas De Bressandes Cuveé Tradition Costières de Nîmes Rosé
2008 Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rosé
2007 Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol Rosé
2007 Domaine Du Gros’ Noré Bandol Rosé
2006 Chateau De Trinquevedel Tavel
2006 Lucien Crochet Sancerre Pinot Rosé
Definitely Past, But Drinkable
2009 Domaine Sainte-Eugénie Corbières Rosé
2008 Domaine Sainte-Antoine Vin De Pays D’Oc Rosé
2006 Domaine Sainte-Antoine Vin De Pays D’Oc Rosé
2006 Rosé de Chevalier Bordeaux Rosé
2005 Chateau Des Sourges Vin De Pays Du Gard Rosé de Fayel
2003 Chateau Calabre Bergerac Rosé
2003 Chateau Guiot Costières de Nîmes Rosé
2002 Rosé de Calon St. Estephe Bordeaux
2001 Mas Champart Saint-Chinan Rosé
1991 Domaine Philippe Naddef Marsannay Rosé
2003 Domaine de le Petite Cassagne Costières de Nîmes Rosé
Make no mistake, French Rosés not only keep, but a lot get better and most of the others keep very well for many years and are just as good as they were the year they were sold. Wines in these 2 categories (Better and Just As Good) accounted for nearly 3/4s of the 77 rosés that I cellared and drank. And nearly ½ of all the rosés I drank I thought were Better than they were in their first year of release. The vintages for these wines ranged from 2012 to 1998. Of the rest of the wines, only about 12% were Just A Bit Past another 12% or so were Definitely Past, But Drinkable, and just one wine was Not Attractive and completely gone. And, apart from just having rosés on hand when they are hard to find in the marketplace, a prime reason is to see how many of the wines improve with age. Those wines are highlighted in red in the above listing.
I have a large number of Bandol and Sancerre Rosés in my cellar. Wines from these areas accounted for about 1/3 of the wines tasted. They ranged in age from 2011 to 2003. These wines age beautifully. In fact, I am continually amazed at how the Bandol Rosés blossom with age. The Domaine Tempier Rosés are stunning with some age. The 2009, 2006, and 2003 are absolutely gorgeous now and should drink well for several more years. Like wise for the 2009 Domaine de la Tour Bon, the 2009 Chateau de Pibaron, the 2006 Domaine Du Gros’ Noré, and the 2005 Terrebrune. Also the Sancerre Rosés age beautifully and become more complex yet keep their crispness. Prime examples are the 2005 and 2006 from Lucien Crochet and some of the older Pascal Cotat rosés. And rosés from Chinon age beautifully. The 1998 from Charles Joguet is simply remarkable. Also, wines from Reuilly (the 2006 and 2010 Domaine Reuilly are fabulous), Cassis, Côtes de Provence, Corbières, Costières de Nîmes, Saint-Chinian, Coteaux de Languedoc, and other areas can also age beautifully. To what extent rosés age depends on the producer and the vintage.
The results are, of course, biased based on what I bought, drank, and cellared. That’s a given. If you chose a different group of rosés to age, undoubtedly you would come up with different results. But, that goes for any wine. You need to carefully select the wines you want to keep for extended aging and then make sure that they are stored properly (to read an article on wine storage with a link to an article detailing why and how to store wine click here ). But, even with ideal storage, the evolution of rosés requires careful monitoring. They will not age like great red wines. So they need to be tasted and evaluated at short intervals of a few years. Clearly, I had left a few of my rosés too long. So be it. It was not that big of a percentage and I had already drunk and enjoyed most of the ones that had faded. And, most of the wines actually improve with years of age. So, for me, aging French Rosés is the way to go.
Rosés have a unique place in the world of wine. They are so perfect in so many ways, but as much as anything they are attractive for what they are not. And, that is they are not overly extracted and overly alcoholic (to read my article on why rosés are so attractive click here  and to read why it is the perfect anti wine click here ). I am an unabashed lover of rosés. I drink them often, young and old. But the only ones I keep for any extended period are the French rosés. Most of the rosés I buy from other parts of the world I drink in the first few years after they are released. French Rosés are different. So let’s put that old song to rest that French Rosés don’t age. Buy all you want. And, if you get a real deal at the end of the season, stock up. Should you buy more than you can drink in a year don’t despair. Rejoice and look forward to great drinking experiences over many years. And stay with the Underground where drinking wine with food is the order of the day!