On National Rosé Day (June 9th), I invited a few writers here in Houston to my house for what I believe to be was the largest blind tasting of American True Rosés in history. What is a “True Rosé”?
Well, there are essentially three ways to make a rosé wine. The first, which is rarely practiced outside of sparkling wine production, is simple blend of red wine and white wine. The second, which is widely practiced around the world, is called the “Saignée Method” where shortly after a red grape crush, a portion of the grape juice (after brief contact with the skins) is bled off (“saignée” means “bled” in French). This bled off wine is then vinified as if it were a white wine.
The third option is what I call a “True Rosé.” In this process, the grapes are raised, picked, and processed with the idea of making a rosé in mind. True Rosés are therefore not a byproduct of red wine production, they are intentionally or purposefully made. They are True Rosés.
This week, just a few days after The Largest Blind Tasting of American True Rosés, two articles landed on my doorstep. The first was from the online wine ‘zine, Vinepair, and its Executive Editor Emily Saladino who took a rather meandering look at the current rosé market in the U.S.
Among other puzzling points, Saladino claimed “At this point we have absolutely hit peak rosé.” I imagine that she meant that after several years of rather dramatic growth, the U.S. market has become over-saturated with pink wine. She continued, suggesting that the market has no where else to go but down since the market is now flooded with hundreds of inexpensive, “bad” rosés.
In the other article, by Mitch Frank in the June 30th issue of Wine Spectator, the other also took a multi-faceted look at the rosé market (which frankly lacked focus, but that is another matter, perhaps). Among many of his claims, Frank suggested that the current rosé “trend” (which he posited was a step above a”fad”) had likely hit his zenith. He also seemed to imply that rosés, were less serious than other styles of Wine:
And rosé can be a lot of fun, its alluring hues often packaged with eye-catching labels and creative bottle shapes. Market research firm Nielsen claims that 40 percent of rosé consumers are women ages 21 to 34, but the pink wine audience is broader in scope-just search the hashtag “brosé.”
While both articles provided interesting points of view and several unsubstantiated assertions, they based their opinions on the bottom of the market, wines that cost $10 or less. The Spectator article did mention that many of the “new” rosés on the market were saignées, which “was an afterthought, and the quality of most of it reflected that.” Neither of the pieces spent much time on the wines at the upper end of the spectrum, on intentional or True Rosés, which for me represent the best of the category, both in the present and future.
Too many continue to see rosé as a niche, a fad, a non-serious wine that does not require much thought. Well, if our tastings these past couple of years are any indication, there are oodles of wines that prove that some rosés are not only at the top of the genre, but should also be considered outstanding wines regardless of hue.
A couple of weeks ago, seven of us tried 68 American Rosés on Saturday, trying to find the best. As promised, I am publishing my actual notes from the tasting, which we tasted in 17 flights of four wines. Here are the second three flights.
2017 Lion Ranch Vineyards & Winery Lioness, Santa Clara Valley, CA: Retail $22. Light pink. Strawberry and peach. Good fruit, good acidity. Really solid from start to finish. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2016 Ferrari-Carano Dry Sangiovese, Sonoma County, CA: Retail $14. Medium pink with some orangecantaloupe and rhubarb. Bright, rich fruit, with a laser like acidity. Lengthy finish. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2016 Brooks Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $20. Dark Pink, close to red. Candied. Strawberry Jolly Rancher, a bit of coffee. Rich fruit flavors, acidity is there, but not dominate. Dusty finish. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2017 Patois Wines Pinot Noir Rosé, Monterey County, CA: Retail $9. Medium to dark pink. Sweet tree fruit with strawberry. Rich and perfumed on the palate, this is really good. Saignée? Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2017 Keller Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $35. Medium pink. Vibrant green apple Jolly Rancher on the nose. The green apple flavor continues on the palate, but it is not joined with its requisite acidity. Far from flabby, but lacking in tartness. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2017 Copain Tous Ensemble Rosé, Mendocino County, CA: Retail $25. Light pink. Strawberry and spice. Sweet fruit and good acidity. This might be a prototypical rosé. Nice. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2016 McIntyre Rosé of Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA, Estate: Retail $24. Light pinkish orange. Caramel and red berry fruit on the nose. Rich, unctuous, completely delicious. Whoa. Perhaps my wine of the entire tasting. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2016 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare, Reserve, CA: Retail $35. Light pale pink. Muted fruit, a bit of minerality, some coffee. On the palate, much the same. A bit lacking in fruit, but this is a solid effort. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2017 Gifft by Kathie Lee Gifford Rosé, Monterey County, CA: Retail $15. Medium pink. Tons of grapefruit, like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc “grapefruit.” Tart citrus, the grapefruit really come through. Good acidity, but really grapefruity. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2017 Quady North GSM, Rogue Valley, OR: Retail $20. Light, plae, pink. Peach, pear, white flower. Light fruit (pear), pretty, delicate, tasty. Good, maybe on the verge of really good. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2017 Denison Cellars Rosé of Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR, Kiff Vineyard: Retail $22. Dark, almost a red. A bit reductive with a strong sulfur aroma. Gradually blew off. Red fruit (cranberry, strawberry?). Decent fruit, but a thin midpalate, the story here is the finish, which is long and tasty. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2017 Cline Ancient Vines Mourvèdre Rosé, Contra Costa County, CA: Retail $18. Medium pink with peach and ripe strawberry. Strawberry fruit, good acidity. Nice from beginning to finish. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.