We may be far enough away from last summer and hopefully close enough to spring to bring out the rosé.
Considering the seasonality of wine has become passé, with everyone drinking everything all the time, stores have a pink wall year-round for those who want something refreshing, beautiful and often a bit more substantial than a white wine. Rosé often has tannins and structure, the contours of red wine made from the same grape.
If you go through the pink wall, be mindful of vintage dates. Anything less than two years old is fine, so 2019 rosés are perfect, and we should see 2020s on the shelves soon. Most 2018s will be fine but also different than they would have been earlier. If you try anything older than that, you tempt fate and take the chance of taking home a drinkable, but possibly washed out, wine.
I recently tried some rosé made from pinot noir, one of the grapes best suited for rosé production. Winemakers have several ways to arrive at a pinkish wine. One is sagniée, a word that means “bleeding.” A byproduct of red wine production, sagniée involves collecting free-run juice that occurs from harvesting and handling the grapes before pressing and using that juice to make a rosé. While the winemaker may have less red wine by volume, the greater skin-to-juice ratio that remains creates a bigger, denser red wine. The other way to make rosé is from the juice of pressed red grapes.
Sojourn 2019 Rosé of Pinot Noir Sonoma County is a blend of both methods, showing mandarin orange and strawberry with a slight effervescence and smooth finish. PLCB $15. ♦♦♦♦
Decoy 2018 California Rosé is part of the second label for Napa Valley producer Duckhorn Vineyards, which specifically grows grapes for rosé production rather than making it as byproduct of red wine production. The wine blend consists mostly of syrah with carignan, grenache and some of the wine grape vermentino. A year older than I typically feel comfortable with, this wine may have shed some of its youthful fruitfulness, yet it retains a bit of effervescence. It shows some flavors of white peach and watermelon. Bright, clean and undemanding, it has a minerally finish. I’d reach for a more recent vintage if available. PLCB Three and half stars. $19. ♦♦♦ 1/2
Out to dine on Valentine’s Day, I found a slice of Endless Mountain romance with Nimble Hill 2018 Pinot Noir Rosé Tozcko Vineyards. Grapes used for rosé can be harvested at lower ripeness levels, ideal for cool climates in the Eastern states. Nimble Hill’s rosé has a rich, round texture; tart cherry and ripe watermelon character; and a soft finish. I paid a restaurant price, but you can get a more recent vintage at the Tunkhannock tasting room for $18. ♦♦♦♦
When you see a local or Eastern rosé, show the winery some love and give it try.
GRADE: Exceptional ♦♦♦♦♦, Above average ♦♦♦♦, Good ♦♦♦, Below average ♦♦, Poor ♦