It’s mid-August, the “high season” in the Hamptons when the chicest of the chic vacation. It is the time of the notorious parties. An example being Ronald Perlman’s fundraiser for the Apollo Theater at his 57 acre estate “The Creeks” last weekend that had Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, Pharell Williams, Usher, Jon Bon Jovi, Lionel Richie, and Joe Walsh among others perform. Another sign that it is August in the Hamptons is the whispering of a shortage of Chateau d’Esclans’ Whispering Angel Rosé, that chic wine from Provence, France sometimes referred to as “Hamptons water.” Wölffer Estate’s Summer in a Bottle is also becoming more and more difficult to find.
To understand both rosé wine and a possible rosé shortage I went out to the North Fork and pulled into a Macari Vineyards wine tasting center in Cutchogue. Lovely employee Audrey Nicolletti explained that last year at this time (August) Macari Vineyards too had run out (sold out) of rosé. She put me into contact with both Alexandria (Alex) Macari and Gabriella Macari who were most helpful on getting down to the “WHY” a shortage of rosé has been occurring the last few years.
First, Gabriella Macari defined a Macari 2015 Rosé. “Our 2015 rosé is layered with fresh red fruit, a medium body, and bright acidity. This version of our rosé is a bit fuller in body than 2014, and is a rendition that we all prefer to match with food. This wine is begging for deli sandwich picnics, fried seafood, and summer lobster rolls.” Aromas include juicy watermelon, fresh strawberry, and cherry, with a palate of summer red fruits, medium body with crisp acidity and a long finish. Macari recommends you pair it with ham and cheese, lobster rolls, fried seafood, grilled shrimp, crab cakes.
With this information I now understood perhaps why rosé is a perfect wine for Hamptons cocktail and dinner parties. But, why the shortage?
Gabriella Macari explained that wine is a finite product with a “production limited to the harvest of grapes in any given year.” She suggested that Long Island wineries use “approximately 15 percent of their grapes for rosé with the reds and whites taking up most of the grape harvest.” Macari is producing 900 cases of rosé this year. She added in recent years wineries have increased their production of rosé to meet the demand, but the reds and white are still the more important wines for ratings. Presently Macari is well stocked with Macari Rosé, but they will most likely be sold out by October.
A bottle of Whispering Angel Rosé from Provence France retails for around $22. An example of Long Island pricing of rosé, specifically Macari Rosé, shows a similar price range. Although provided in different size bottles. It can be found for $19 (750ml or 5 glasses), $40 for a Magnum bottle (1.5 L or 10 glasses), $100 for a Jeroboam bottle (3L or 20 glasses) and $200 for an Imperial bottle (6L or 40 glasses).
Amazingly in 2006 there were a reported 10,000 cases of “Whispering Angel” Rosé bottled in Provence, France. This year 415,000 cases were reportedly bottled! The problem is “Whispering Angel” now has a world demand, from Amagansett to China. Rosé sales are increasing despite the fact that the light pinkish colored rosé was once frowned upon by the sophisticated wine connoisseur as “adolescent.” However, rosé wines are now highlighted at events.
A 2015 Vanity Fair article by Alex Beggs suggested that the popularity of rosé may be traced back to 1980’s white zinfandel craze. But, in the end, he concluded it was French marketing targeting the Hamptons that amped up sales in the 2009 – 2010 period. Perhaps the fact that Beyoncé’ was sipping it all over Manhattan at about that time had an effect too. Men are still reportedly hesitant to order rosé, but even that is changing.
My conclusion is simple: there is a shortage of rosé because the demand is growing faster than the planting of more grapes. According to Gabriella Macari, it takes a 5-year process before the harvesting new grapes that will produce more wine. However, wineries have seen fads before and are not anxious to go all in. Remember the merlot affair! One day merlot was the very popular choice but then after the movie Sideways, not so much.
At the end of the research I did sample a chilled 2015 Macari Rosé on the North Fork of Long Island. If I weren’t about to drive back to the South Fork I would have stayed for more than a taste.