a la Francaise
I don't know who invented rose wine, but I believe the French have been the first to give it a big ol' bear hug of acceptance. Ok, maybe a peck on the cheek- but that's huge love from the French. Provence (with its hot summers) is the epicenter of rose in France but it is everywhere- even Bordeaux (try Clarendelle from Chateau Haut Brion's second line @ $15-20- affordable awesomeness).
For affordable French one must go to Loire, which is where we find Coteaux d'Ancienis Cour de Rohan. I don't know if the store I was at got a screaming deal on it or what, but I got it for $8.99. I am finding it on line for $12 ish. So I'm guessing my low price was not the usual. It's made from 100% Gamay grapes which makes it a pretty blu-ish pink color. Its strong color gives away the fact that it is a very powerful rose with tons of strawberry flavor and a bit of earthiness to soften its acidic punch. This one goes perfectly with salami, pates, and prosciutto- a.k.a. charcuterie.
Next I went to Chinon which is in the Loire region as well to find the M. Plouzeau Chinon Rose "Rive Gauche." Chinon is the land of Cabernet Franc, and that is the grape employed for this bottle. It is light on the fruit, more young strawberry than jam and has a finish that reminds me of men's cologne. It is about 100 times more complex than the Gamay I tried earlier so would be better with first courses like pasta and peas, bean soups, or cooked seafood dishes. Of course, with a name like "Rive Gauche" it's made for parties Matisse or Hemingway would have frequented in the Parisian heyday celebrated by the term. Coming in at under $20 and organically made, it is worth a toast for sure.
Of course no discussion of French rose is complete without pointing to the cradle of French rose: Tavel in the Rhone. You can hardly go wrong with any rose from Tavel. Grenache and Cinsault are the grapes here, and the wine is considered the "rose of kings" as it was the favorite of Louis the 14th. It was also the go-to wine for the papal court in nearby Chateauneuf du Pape.
P.S. In France it is illegal to make rose by adding red wine to white (except in Champagne). It is always to be made in the saignee method which means they "bleed" off the juice from red grapes, varying the amount of time they allow the skins to remain in contact with the juice. Longer contact means more color, tannin, and tartness for the wine. Some grapes need little to no contact as they have so much going on in the pulp. Others need more as the "meat" of the grape doesn't yield so much flavor.