While the crisp, dry rosés of Provence aren’t going anywhere, it’s about time their cousin—the lush and vibrant pink wines made from Malbec— got their due. Full-bodied and tannic, with notes of black and red fruits and undertones of smoke and spice, Malbec-based rosé is a versatile option any time of the year, particularly the changing seasons. Aromatically, Malbec exudes notes of violets, campfire, and fresh black plum. Says Marin Brennan, assistant winemaker at Bedell Cellar on Long Island’s North Fork: “The [rosé] category has far greater range than to only be enjoyed during the warmer months. Rosé should be included in ‘what wines to have on your Thanksgiving table’ articles.”
Despite originating in southwestern France, Malbec has become synonymous with Argentina, which accounts for approximately 70% of the world’s Malbec production. And while it’s mostly associated with robust reds, Malbec is starting to take more of a lead role in the production of rosé. Recently, this category has been wowing judges at prestigious competitions including Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. Bordeaux’s Château Les Ricaudelles 2020 was recently awarded a Gold Medal at the 2021 CMB competition while the rosé-based Malbec from Bulgaria’s Katarzyna’s Estate was awarded a silver.
Winemakers are increasingly turning to Malbec for rosé, both to showcase it as a regional grape and due to the robust body and heady aromas it lends. For Ricardo Rivadeneira, Executive Director of Chile’s Viña Maquis and Viñedos Calcu, Malbec is key to crafting a bold and structured rosé with an unyielding bouquet. “The exuberance of Malbec’s aromas is very attractive,” he says. “In fact, people often ask if we use any Sauvignon Blanc grapes in the rosé blend.”
Cédric Blanc, winemaker at Château Lagrézette in Cahors, France uses the grape in the production of three different rosés, all made with 100% Malbec. “Cahors is the native [growing] place for Malbec,” he says. “It makes a very full-bodied wine with a big structure and lots of tannins, which is why Malbec rosé has so much character and is drinkable year-round. Malbec is already a very complex grape, so it doesn’t need another grape to bring out its character and complexity.”
Malbec also ripens easily in most regions and has naturally high acidity. This is among the reasons why it’s a favorite grape of Bedell Cellars’ assistant winemaker, Marin Brennan. “It’s our earliest ripening red, has bright natural acidity, and the vibrant color makes it a great candidate for rosé,” she says. “Malbec also has more body and mid-palate than other grape varieties used for rosé, but it still has a refreshing acidity that makes it more than just a summertime wine.”
Rosés made with bolder grapes such as Malbec can stand up to heartier meals—another reason why it’s perfect for fall and winter. Château Lagrézette’s Cédric Blanc pairs creamed chicken supreme with the winery’s Rosé de Julie, and vegetables and fish a la plancha with the lighter RoseBerry. He considers the Pigeonnier Rosé a veritable gastronomic rosé, pairing it with mushrooms or truffles—something with umami.
The industry is abuzz with chatter about the age-worthiness of rosé and how versatile it is no matter the season. After all, rosé has natural acidity, complexity, and naturally high sugar levels—all requisites for strong aging potential. Malbec-based rosé checks all these boxes, plus delivers on deep, round flavors. “My small batch Malbec rosé started off with flavors of beach plum and raspberry and has evolved to white cranberry and guava,” says Brennan. “The saline minerality character of the North Fork is the backbone and stays with this wine throughout its life.”
Here are some of our favorite bold and rich Malbec-based roses to enjoy with your favorite fall or winter meal.
Eric Meynaud Château Les Ricaudelles Rosé, Bordeaux, France
Provenance Vineyard Rosé, Napa Valley, California
Château Lagrézette Roseberry / Rosé de Julie / Pigeonnier Rosé, Cahors, France
Viu Manent Reserva Malbec Rosé, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Coen Wines Rosé, Uco Valley, Argentina
Calcu Reserva Especial Rosé, Marchigüe, Chile
Viña Maquis Gran Reserva Rosé, Colchagua Valley, Chile
Bulgaria è Katarzyna Estate Rosé, Thracian Valley, Bulgaria
Bedell Cellars Rosé, North Fork of Long Island, NY
Bodega Tapiz Alta Collection / Tapiz Sparkling Malbec Rosé, Mendoza, Argentina
Hafner Vineyard Rosé, Alexander Valley, California