The Seventh Annual Largest Blind Tasting of American True Rosés–Flights 5-6

Two 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, slightly more than last year’s 51,  but thankfully lower than 2021’s 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).

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 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 a red grape crush, a portion of the grape juice (after brief contact with the skins) is bled off (“saigné” 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 intention of making rosé. True Rosés are therefore not a byproduct of red wine production, they are intentionally or purposefully made. They are True Rosés.

53 bottles of pink ready to be chilled down.


Four years ago, just a few days after the Third Annual Largest Blind Tasting of American True Rosés, two articles landed in my inbox. The first was from the online wine publication, Vinepair, and its then Executive Editor Emily Saladino (who has since moved on to be a writer with The Wine Enthusiast) 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 nowhere else to go but down since the market is now flooded with hundreds of inexpensive, “bad” rosés.


The other article, by Mitch Frank in the June 30th (2019) issue of Wine Spectator,  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 a few interesting points of view and several unsubstantiated assertions, they seemingly 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 seven 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 53 American Rosés on a glorious Saturday afternoon, trying to find the best. As promised, I am publishing my actual notes from the tasting, which we tasted in 13 flights of 4 wines. Here is the third set of two flights.

2022 C.L. Butaud Pa Pa Frenchy Rosé, Texas High Plains, TX: Retail $15. 100%(?) Cinsault. Light color, a faint cotton candy pink. Bright fruit on the nose with great strawberry and a hint of sweetness. Dry, fruity, tangy, and fresh on the palate with great wild strawberry and cherry. Great balance and plenty of verve. A stellar wine. Outstanding. 95 Points.

2022 Covenant Red C Rosé, California: Retail $30. Grenache, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Appellation: California. Fairly light in the glass, close to a white, but without much fruit to be discerned on the nose. The palate is tart, and the fruit is there, but it is fairly hard to find. The acidity drive the boat, though, and carries it fairly far. Very Good. 89 Points.

2021 Balverne Pinot Noir Forever Wild, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $24. Orange-ish pink with a wonderful nose of ripe, fresh, sweet, strawberry and cherry. The palate comes off as a bit sweet, too, a little too much for the acidity to handle, in fact. This is likely a crowd pleaser. Very Good. 89 Points.

2022 Brooks Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $28. Medium to dark pink with an orange tint. A bit austere on the nose with a heavy mineral aspect. The palate is fruity but a bit lacking in acidity, particularly initially, but it comes through on the finish, balancing out the wine nicely. Excellent. 90 Points.

2022 Stephen Ross Pinot Noir Rosé, Edna Valley, CA: Retail $25. Light, barely pink with a hint of orange. Quite expressive on the nose with plenty of peach and melon. Fruity and lovely on the palate with all that fruit plus plenty of acidity to balance it out. Quite juicy and expressive, this is a lovely wine. Fantastic. Outstanding. 94 Points.

2022 Sokol Blosser Rosé of Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR: Retail $28. Medium pink with a bit of orange. A nice nose of subtle fruit—strawberry and rhubarb, quite nice. The palate is quite tart, quite, but it works here since there is also plenty of fruit. Very nice. Excellent. 92 Points.

2022 Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir Rosé Avant Garde, Carneros, CA: Retail $30. Fairly light in the glass, with just hints of pink and orange. Good fruit on the nose with a mélange: peach and wild strawberry, and a bit of mineral aspect. The palate, while fruity, is initially a bit flabby, but some acidity comes in on the mid-palate, to carry it across the line. Very Good. 89 Points.

2022 Balverne Pinot Noir Forever Wild, Russian River Valley, CA: Retail $28. Fairly light color, but a wonderfully fruity nose with a touch of salinity. The palate carries on with the same, great fruit, that salinity, and a nice healthy dose of tartness. Medium to above average finish. Excellent. 91 Points.

Flights 1-2       Flights 3-4


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 Cinsault/Cinsaut, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

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