That is what I am calling it.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a penchant for hyperbole. It often got me in to a bit of trouble, particularly as an Ohio State fan growing up in Southeastern Michigan (for those of you that does not know what that means, imagine an anti-gun activist attending the National Rifle Association’s annual convention).
Over the past several weeks, I have been amassing American True Rosés. I originally hoped to have the tasting last month, but with every week, a few more wineries would contact me to enter wines.
So I waited, but no longer. I will be hosting the tasting at some point in the next five weeks (I am still trying to finalize the date with a few other writers). Will it actually be The Largest blind Tasting of American True Rosés in History?
I have no idea, but it has to be close.
Why I am I so sure? Well, for some reason I can’t explain, there are not many people out there espousing the virtues of True Rosé. The proof lies in the term “True Rosé” itself–I coined the term since there is no consensus about what to call a rosé made intentionally. What does that mean? Until relatively recently, most American dry rosés were a byproduct of red wine production. In that process, shortly after harvesting the grapes, winemakers would bleed off a portion of the juice (usually around 10%) so that the remaining juice would be further concentrated (much of the flavors and complexity in red wine comes from the grape skins during fermentation, by reducing the volume of juice, those skins have a greater impact).
Often, that bled off juice would simply be sold off as bulk wine or, more simply, would go down the drain. At some point, a fiscally responsible producer decided to take that bled off juice, vinify, bottle, and sell it. Since it had acquired some color from its brief interaction with its skins, it was called a “rosé.” The French call this the “saignée method” (saignée is French for “bled”).
The problem, in my mind, with saignées is simple: the juice comes from grapes that were raised to be red wines. Why is that a problem? Well, generally speaking, grapes for red wines are allowed to ripen longer (for at least a couple of weeks) than if the grapes were intended to become a rosé. Over those two or so weeks as the sugar content of the grapes increases, their acidity drops quite a bit as well.
And acidity is vital in making a rosé.
True Rosés, on the other hand, are made from grapes that were farmed and harvested with the intention of turning them into a rosé wine from the beginning. As rosés become increasingly popular in the U.S., more producers are making True Rosés since the difference in quality of the resulting wine can be significant.
While there is little consensus what to call this preferred method. I have seen “intentional”, “pressed”, or even “bespoke” to refer to True Rosés to distinguish them from saignées, winemakers of such wines seem to be uniformly enthusiastic about their rosés. This despite the fact that rosés are not a huge monetary draw–the market does not yet seem to support pink wines much above $25 or $30.
Last year, I gathered a group of local writers to taste through 29 True Rosés (there were actually a couple of saignées that snuck in). About half of those wineries sent two bottles of their wine, which I stored in my cellar. Why? My contention is that well made True Rosés, in addition to being categorically better than saignées, also can age and evolve for at least a few years after their vintage, which is why they will be included in this year’s tasting.
What does this all mean? Well, this year we will be blind tasting over sixty True Rosés (with a couple of saignées that snuck in): 40 from 2017 and 20+ with at least a year of age.
Here are the wines I have thus far:
|2017 Acquiesce Grenache Rosé|
|2017 Benovia Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2017 Bokisch Rosado|
|2017 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare|
|2017 Cambria Estate Winery Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2017 Chehalem Three Vineyard Rosé|
|2017 Cline Ancient Vines Mourvèdre Rosé|
|2017 Copain Tous Ensemble Rosé|
|2017 Denison Cellars Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2017 Farmstrong Field Rosé|
|2017 Ferrari-Carano Dry Sangiovese|
|2017 Gifft by Kathie Lee Gifford Rosé|
|2017 Gran Moraine Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2017 Harney Lane Dry Rosé|
|2017 J. Bucher Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2017 Keller Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2017 Kramer Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2017 Lazy Creek Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2017 Longford Estate Pinot Noir Rosé|
|2017 Lucas & Lewellen Estate Pinot Noir Rosé|
|2017 McIntyre Estate Pinot Noir Rosé|
|2017 Onward Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2017 Passaggio Tempranillo Rosé|
|2017 Patois Wines Pinot Noir Rosé|
|2017 Pedroncelli Dry Rosé|
|2017 Plow & Press Pinot Noir Rosé|
|2017 Quady North Counoise Rosé|
|2017 Quady North GSM|
|2017 Quady North Grenache Rosé|
|2017 Real Nice Shallow Seas Pinot Noir Rosé|
|2017 Rodney Strong Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2017 Ryder Estate Pinot Noir Rosé|
|2017 Sassoferrato Rosé of Sangiovese|
|2017 Scheid Estate Pinot Noir Rosé|
|2017 Scheid District 7 Rosé|
|2017 Sidebar Syrah Rosé|
|2017 St. Amant Rosé|
|2017 Stoller Estate Pinot Noir Rosé|
|2017 Tongue Dancer Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2017 Wilakenzie Estate Pinot Noir Rosé|
|2016 Acquiesce Grenache Rosé|
|2016 Benovia Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2016 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare|
|2016 Brooks Pinot Noir Rosé|
|2016 Claiborne & Churchill Cuvée Elizabeth|
|2016 Ferrari-Carano Dry Sangiovese|
|2016 Jaqk Cellars Charmed Rosé|
|2016 Keller Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2016 Kokomo Grenache Rosé|
|2016 Lasseter Enjoué Rosé|
|2016 Lazy Creek Vineyards Rosado|
|2016 Magna Porcum Sus Volans|
|2016 McIntyre Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2016 Passaggio Tempranillo Rosé|
|2016 Red Car Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2016 Sanford Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2016 Stoller Pinot Noir Rosé|
|2016 The Larsen Projekt Grenache Rosé|
|2016 Vicarious Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2015 Onward Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2014 Onward Rosé of Pinot Noir|
|2013 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris Tuilé|