Lucky for us, the return of warm weather is accompanied by a new crop of pink wines. Served chilled, dry rosé is refreshing and flavorful, may appeal to customary imbibers of both red and white, and is often the best value from small and medium-sized locals. This roundup was chosen partly for availability and partly for prior proof of deliciousness, chilled to 46–48 degrees—although perhaps better enjoyed in the low 50s—tasted blind by a gang of four and rated on a scale of 1 to 5.
Thumbprint 2008 Rosé ($18) Brilliant and deep colored. Best liked for fresh aromas of fruit punch, cherries and berries; a meaty, spicy mouthful. First bottle emptied post-tasting. Rating: 4.5.
Balletto 2009 Rosé Pinot Noir ($16) A surprising runner-up given its pale hue. Crediting it with aromas of clover honey, honeysuckle, strawberry and Bosc pear, tasters were won over with flavors of apple, grapefruit and pomegranate. Rating: 4.
Cline 2009 Mourvedre Rosé ($12) A perennial best value shows well again, although the paler, orange-pink hue and floral, old-fashioned peach rose character seem atypical. Strawberry, peach flavors. Rating: 4.
Carol Shelton 2009 Rendezvous Rosé ($15) A pretty medium-pink with appealing apple, strawberry and vanilla following initial aromas, finishing dry. This was among the first polished off once the hard work was done. An example where a newly bottled rosé improves from a little air before serving. Rating: 3.5.
Toad Hollow 2009 Eye of the Toad Rosé ($9) Pale rosy hue, strawberry, watermelon, honeydew and grape aromas, and a fresh, tart palate. This vintage of the often reliable Eye bombed with only one taster. Rating: 3.
Quivira 2009 Grenache Rosé ($15) The pale, peach tint perhaps elicits olfactory impressions of same. This crisp and complex, but comparatively subtle, product of thin-skinned Grenache shares a palpable likeness with some classic rosés from France's southern Rhône. Rating: 3.
Enkidu 2009 Shamhat Rosé ($20) Medium-pink and perhaps ill-served at lower temperature, with aromas of horseradish, wet earth and pear-cherry flavor. Some thought it sour and dry, while another thought "apples on the tree in the warm summer sun." I kept the rest for myself and thoroughly enjoyed this texture-driven rosé as it opened up. Rating: 3.
Pedroncelli Dry Rosé of Zinfandel ($10) Nothing like white Zin, this is medium-pink and full-bodied, but unfortunately undermined by weedy, lawn-clipping aromas and a lack of sufficiently compensating flavor. Rating: 2.