Pink-Wine Evangelist Charles Bieler and his Cruisin’ Crusade
By Lou Radivoyevitch
If one of the romances of wine is storytelling, then Charles Bieler is not only a great storyteller, but also a great story. TheWineBuzz met him in early June at Heinen’s in Chagrin Falls. At first glance, Bieler’s infectious smile, pink Cadillac and sneakers to match, seemed to channel part Jagger-esque rock star and part P.T. Barnum promoter. But after a few minutes of conversation, his deep knowledge and passion for Rosé convinced us all that he is the ambassador of Rosé.
Bieler’s first trip across America was 20 years ago. At 22, Charles Bieler was fearless, naive and hell-bent on doing whatever he could to help his father’s winery in Provence sell dry Rosé in America. Bieler launched the Rosé Road Trip, the pink Cadillac became his vehicle of choice, and the difficult-to-sell (at the time) dry Rosé style of wine, his mission.
Two decades later, he’s back on the Rosé Road Trip, but his mission is different. Rosé is now the darling of the wine world. But with explosive growth comes a glut of wine — good, bad and uninspired.
While Bieler is amazed to see Rosé become the hottest category in wine, he’s also shocked at all the grocery-store brands that have entered the market, and the enormous amount of Rosé wines that appear to depend on marketing gimmicks.
He believes the Rosé you buy today will either be a world-class terroir wine, reflecting the climate and soil where it was grown, or a “lifestyle ornament,” perhaps in a gimmicky bottle or with a trendy label. But what really irks Bieler is the number of Rosés that have been color-manipulated to be lighter and “prettier.”
His ideal Rosé is “a tug of war” between red fruit and savory notes of minerality, with enough acid to tie it all together. Color actually doesn’t matter when it comes to the wine’s flavor and aroma profile, he told us.
The Bieler family of wines consists of his and his father’s wines from Provence, Bieler Pere et Fils (which means Father and son), and his collaboration with Washington winemaker Charles Smith, the Charles & Charles label.
If you want to take a deeper dive into understanding what quality Rosé should taste like, I think Charles Bieler wines are a great place to start. The man spent the last 60 days away from his wife and kids driving across our country so the wine consumer isn’t taken for a ride. That alone reason enough to pick up a few of his bottles.