The Largest Blind Tasting of American “True” Rosés in the World—The Initial Results

This past Saturday morning began like most others—I woke in a state of panic. Usually, I wake with the sincere intention of meeting up with a group ride here in Houston for a good 40-50 mile ride. Given my two hungry boys and my nine month-old puppy, I have a host of tasks to perform before I can roll out the driveway and on to the city streets of Houston.

There was no ride planned on Saturday, though, instead I needed to get ready: I was hosting the “Largest Blind Tasting of American ‘True Rosés’ in the World” and there was plenty to do. A few local journalists were coming over at 1:00 p.m., but I planned to taste all 68 wines ahead of time since I would be pouring for the others when they showed up after lunch.

The idea was to wake around 6:30, print out the tasting sheets, number the paper bags, have breakfast, open all the bottles, and then have my wife randomly bag them. The goal was to start my own tasting at 10:00, which would have afforded me just about 3 minutes a wine to taste and write a tasting note that approached coherent and, hopefully, useful.

I would be finished by 1:00 and then I could focus on the others tasting and not have to worry about writing note while I was pouring, hosting, and trying to be short of an all-around pain in the rear.

That was the plan.

Unfortunately, I broke one of my own cardinal rules: ignore all texts, messages, and calls after 10 p.m. Yeah, I thought it was a good idea to read that message that woke me up in the middle of the night.


So instead of getting eight hours of sleep, waking at the crack of dawn, and getting to work, I got about four hours of sleep, woke at well past 8:00, and then scrambled to get everything done.

In the end, I started my individual tasting at 10:30 and got through all but eight of the wines before the panel showed up.

My wife dutifully bagged all the wines for me in the cellar.

For those that have never done it, tasting 68 rosés blind might sound “fun” but since I ended up doing it twice in rapid succession, I can assure you that it is a ton of work. (Yeah, yeah, I hear you—“work”? Really?)

The tasting with all eight of us took about 4 and a half hours (I had hoped for three hours, but planned on four), and by all accounts, it went well. At the end, I asked each participant to give me their top five wines and from that list we selected a consensus top five, which is below.

Some general observations:

  • The overall quality of the wines this year (as compared to last year’s 29 wines) was decidedly better. There was only one wine that was questionable this year as opposed to several last year.
  • I contend that “True Rosé” can age as well as any well made white wine, but I did think that it would be fairly easy to identify the older wines (roughly 1/3 of the wines were from 2016), but that was certainly not the case.
  • Tasting 68 wines is considerably more than 2.35 times harder than tasting 29 wines.
  • My palate began to get a little fried after about forty wines, at which point it was necessary to stop, have a bit of cheese and cured meats before going on.
  • There are a finite number of ways that one can describe the color pink.

The Group’s Top Five (in alphabetical order):

  • 2016 McIntyre Rosé of Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands ($24)
  • 2017 Passaggio Tempranillo Rosé, Clarksburg ($32)
  • 2017 Quady North Grenache Rosé, Rogue Valley, OR ($20)
  • 2016 Red Car Rosé of Pinot Noir, North Coast, CA ($28)
  • 2016 Sanford Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, CA ($25)

The Group’s Top Five

Interestingly, three of the group’s Top Five were from 2016 and those precise wines were in the tasting last year (those who send me two bottles for the tasting, one goes for the current year, and I save one for the following year). The McIntyre was also in my top five last year, and I considered the Red Car “Outstanding.” Interestingly, the Sanford did not make my list of top wines last year.

The wines that I rated at 93 points or higher:

  • 2016 Acquiesce Grenache Rosé, Lodi ($25)
  • 2017 Benovia Rosé of Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ($32)
  • 2016 McIntyre Rosé of Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands ($24)
  • 2016 Sanford Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, CA ($25)
  • 2016 Onward Rosé of Pinot Noir, Redwood Valley, CA ($22)

A special mention needs to go to the 2013 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris Tuilé, Central Coast, CA ($26). It was easily the most discussed wine of the tasting, with some detesting it, and others (like me) absolutely loving it (I gave it 92-94 Points). Chances are, if you are not a complete wine geek (and even if you are), you will not like this wine. While certainly not a rosé (Bonny Doon calls it a “brick wine”), it is a blend of red and white grapes. That is not what makes it unique (although it is fairly rare to blend red and wine grapes in still wine production). The wine is a deep golden color from “prolonged exposure to the elements (typically 9 months) in glass demijohns, en pleine air, as it were, absorbing solar radiation.”

Holy crap! An amazing wine, that is certainly not for everyone, but I find it fantastic.

The Bonny Doon is third from the left.

I will be publishing all of my tasting notes of all the wines over the course of the next few weeks.

Flights 1-3.

About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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18 Responses to The Largest Blind Tasting of American “True” Rosés in the World—The Initial Results

  1. wineismylife says:

    So did you pee pink after? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. wineismylife says:

    btw, glad to see the Passaggio made the groups top five. I’m sure Cindy will be flattered.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. chef mimi says:

    Fabulous! Now begins the arduous task of finding out if I can get any of these to Enid, Oklahoma!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oz's Travels says:

    WoW. A challenging day…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. okiewinegirl2015 says:

    Wow! Your pipes must reek of rose? or did you dump the spit buckets on the lawn? Hope the palate has recovered! Now I’m off in search of these wines.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. jimvanbergen says:

    I’m in total agreement on the Acquiesce and the Sanford Rosés! You are a true challenge taker- that’s a TON of rosé to rate & review in one day! Cheers- JvB

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks so much for the shoutout – I am flattered for sure!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Sandra says:

    Fantastic tasting! Thanks for the invite and thank your wife for being such a great hostess. 🍷


  9. SAHMmelier says:

    Great picks! Glad to see Passagio on there!


  10. janowrite says:

    Great post! I have been thinking of getting into rose this summer but had no idea where to embark 🙂


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