The Seventh Annual World’s Largest Blind Tasting of American True Rosés–Flights 1-2

A couple of weekends ago, I invited a few wine professionals here in Houston to my house for what I believe to be the largest blind tasting of American True Rosés, This year we tasted 53 wines, which was just a tad more than last year’s 51 (two years ago, we had 68, three years ago we tasted 74, in 2019 there were 54, 68 in 2018, and the first year we had 36), while maintaining physical distance (for the most part).

I know what you’re thinking: “Wait, what the heck 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 a 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 the fruit intended for red wine is crushed, a portion of the grape juice (after brief contact with the skins) is bled off (“saigné” means “bled” in French). This bled-off pink 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 often planted, raised, picked, and processed with the intention of making rosé. True Rosés are therefore not a byproduct of red wine production (as with a saignée), they are intentionally or purposefully made. They are True Rosés.

This is not to say that all non-True Rosés are “false”–there are many saignées that are wonderful wines. What I am saying, though, is that all other factors being equal, a True Rosé will be “better” than a saignée. Why? Well, simply put there are two main factors that provide structure for a wine: tannins (almost exclusively in red wines) and acidity. Red wines are generally picked at higher sugar and pH (lower acid) levels since the skins contain high levels of tannin. The juice from the red grapes will remain in contact with the skins for an extended amount of time in order to extract those tannins and provide structure for the wines (additional structure, tannins, and flavor can be added by using oak barrels to age the wine).

The night before, I had a little pregame with this True Rosé.

White wines, on the other hand, usually spend as little time as possible in contact with the skins to avoid the imparting of tannin. Thus, white wines rely almost solely on acidity to provide structure for the wine (oak barrels can also be used with whites but more often than not the barrels used in white wine production are neutral). So, generally speaking, white grapes are picked with lower pH (higher acidity) than their red brethren.

No matter the method, the vast majority of rosés are like white wines as they rely solely on acidity, not tannins, to provide the wine’s structure. So again, all other elements being equal (winemaker, quality of fruit, etc.), a True Rosé is a more desirable way to make a pink wine since it will be higher in acidity and therefore have better structure than a saignée.

Thus, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, we waded through 53 American True Rosés (OK, there were two saignées that got in there somehow) four wines at a time, without knowing their identities.

53 bottles of pink ready to be chilled down.

A little less than half of the bottles were from a previous vintage (when wineries send more than one bottle, I save the additional bottles for the following year’s tasting) since it is my contention that well-made rosés do not have to be consumed almost immediately after release. Sure, as with whites and reds, rosés lose a bit of fruit and freshness as they age, but they also develop different flavors as they evolve–just as do all well-made wines regardless of hue.

As promised, I am publishing my actual notes from the tasting of 13 flights of four wines. Here are the first two flights in the order they were tasted.

2022 Purple Star Rosé, Columbia Valley, WA: Retail $20. Blend? Pink to orange color with a very inviting nose of cotton candy and fruit (strawberry and cherry) along with a floral aspect of red rose. The palate comes off as a bit sweet given all the fruit but great acidity and body. Excellent. 91 Points.

2022 Chehalem Rosé of Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $28. A bit of effervescence in the glass and on the palate. A bit herbal and with some tree fruit (peach). Quite tart on the palate, this is particularly yummy with fresh cherry and some peach. Excellent. 92 Points.

2021 Flaunt Wine Company Pinot Noir Rosé, Sonoma Coast, CA:  Retail $24. Almost has a jolly roger aspect on the nose with great watermelon and a bit of peach and cherry. Medium to dark pinkish orange. The palate is a bit lacking in acidity, and the wine is coming off flabby. Good finish though. Very Good. 88 Points.

2021 Emery Grant Pinot Noir Rosé, Anderson Valley, CA:  Retail $25? Medium orange with a bit of a chalky nose and subtle fruit. A bit flabby at first, with an interesting meaty aspect, but then the acidity comes in on the mid-palate and a good finish. Very Good. 89 Points.

2021 Pellegrini Family Vineyards White Pinot Noir Olivet Lane Estate, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $40. Not very pink at all, more golden than pink. Lovely nose of melon and rhubarb with a splash of honey. Fairly rich with plenty of fruit and that honey aspect but dry. Good acidity and a lengthy, lovely finish. Outstanding. 93 Points.

2020 Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir Rosé Avant Garde, Carneros, CA: Retail $30. More golden than pink with more of an orange aspect in the color. A bit salty, with a hint of caramel on the nose, might this have some age? Not a lot of fruit on the palate either and the acidity struggles to assert. Still, Very Good. 88 Points.

2022 Calafia Pinot Noir The Princess, Sonoma Coast, CA: Retail $25. Bright pink, rich color, close to red even. Somewhat muted nose with some cherry jam and a bit of cotton candy. A bit muted as well on the palate and lacking in fruit. The acidity is there, but without the fruit, this is still solid, but… Very Good. 89 Points.

2021 Brooks Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, WA: Retail $22. 100% Pinot Noir. This has always been a solid performer in the World’s Largest Blind Tasting of American True Rosé and this 2021 is not an exception. Light pink with an orange hue with good fruit and a salty, slightly meaty, but lovely nose. Very nice on the palate, too, a solid wine, top to bottom. Excellent. 91 Points.

More coming soon!


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.
This entry was posted in Pinot Noir, Rosé, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Seventh Annual World’s Largest Blind Tasting of American True Rosés–Flights 1-2

  1. This was interesting and informative. It must have been a wonderful gathering too. Hugs.


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