Washington's Rosé Revival
Five years ago, this pink wine was relegated to the bottom supermarket shelf. Today it's a harbinger of summer, and a particular strength of Washington winemakers. Here are seven bottles that drive home that point.
Rosé has experienced a nearly complete change in fortunes here in the last few years. Five years ago, there were few quality bottles produced in Washington. Consumers weren’t terribly interested in rosé; most drinkers lumped it with cheap, sweet, white zinfandel on the bottom of the supermarket shelf.
Today, there is an abundance of quality rosé being made in our state. Some have even become quasi cult wines, selling out almost immediately upon release and long before the sun starts to shine in the Pacific Northwest.
So what happened?
Previously, many winemakers made rosé by fermenting red wine juice, siphoning some off in a process called saignée. This served the dual purpose of concentrating their red wine and creating some quick cash flow. Quality was seldom a factor, and many of the wines were made from grapes not particularly well suited for rosé.
Flash forward to today, where more winemakers are farming grapes specifically to make rosé, harvesting them earlier to help retain acidity. They're also turning to grapes historically used for rosé in Provence and France’s Loire Valley. Finally, many have also been eschewing the off-dry to semi-sweet style in favor of dry-style wines that pair better with food (dry rosés are some of the most diverse food pairing wines out there). The result is nothing short of a rosé revival here in the Northwest with a sudden abundance of quality wines to choose from.
Rosés come in many different shades, which is, of course, part of their charm. The color can also speak to style, with darker wines often having richer fruit flavors and lighter colored wines displaying a bit more delicacy.
When purchasing a rosé, determining whether it will be dry, off-dry, or semi-sweet can be challenging (and has nothing to do with color). Some producers will label their wine ‘dry’ to give a sense of their intention. Most, however, will not. When in doubt, ask your local wine steward.
While we all know that summer doesn’t officially start in the Pacific Northwest until July 5, Memorial Day weekend certainly marks its unofficial beginning. The season is short. So grab a bottle of pink wine this weekend and let summer begin.
Charles and Charles Rosé Columbia Valley 2013 $12
A broad, layered wine with abundant notes of strawberry, herbs, and watermelon.
Kerloo Cellars Grenache Rosé Angiolina Farm Yakima Valley 2013 $22
A very pretty pale pink, this single vineyard wine is all about elegance with notes of bubblegum, strawberry, and melon.
Gramercy Cellars Rosé Olsen Vineyard Columbia Valley 2013 $25
A blend of cinsault, grenache, and syrah, it’s a very pretty pale salmon color and hits the delicious gong hard with rich fruit flavors.
Renegade Wine Co. Rosé Columbia Valley 2013 $11
An exuberant wine that drinks a hair off dry with notes of watermelon, strawberry, and bubble gum.
Seven Hills Winery Dry Rosé Columbia Valley 2013 $17
This longtime winery’s first commercial rosé is crisp and refreshing with notes of peach and spice.
Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir Rosé Dundee Hills 2013 $20
A vibrantly aromatic wine with notes of freshly sliced watermelon, raspberry, and wild strawberry.
Syncline Wine Cellars Rosé Columbia Valley 2013 $18
Syncline has long carried the dry rosé banner in the Pacific Northwest, and this wine is rich in feel with notes of strawberry and melon.