Our exceptional Pacific NW rosés are highly anticipated and often made in small quantities. They start to trickle out in the beginning of the new year before the first daffodils have bloomed, and continue on well into summer. By and large they come from the most recent vintage, unlike some from foreign lands that may get an extra year in bottle. It’s freshness and newness that are for sale here, along with the anticipation of warmer weather, summer picnics and days at the beach.
For all their charm, rosés are not subject to any particular regulations other than those that apply to every wine of any type. In other words, there is nothing that specifically defines a rosé. We look for the color, the recent vintage, the springtime release and of course the name on the label. Other than that anything can be called rosé, made from any grape or combination of grapes, or simply made by blending a little red wine into a white wine.
Very good rosés are made here in the Northwest from grapes as varied as Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dolcetto, Gamay, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, Zinfandel and combinations of any of the above. The best are made from grapes that have been grown and picked specifically for rosé, given a modest amount of skin contact prior to fermentation and fermented without the skins, most often in stainless steel. A little color is the goal, minimizing red wine tannins, retaining acidity and emphasizing fruit.
When in search of the finest quality stick with dry rosés (though some fruit sweetness isn’t always detrimental). The days of sweet blush wines are long behind us. Drink your rosés chilled but not ice cold. If you’re throwing a party, buy several different rosés so you may admire the rainbow colors and be sure to enjoy the fresh, floral, fruity aromatics.
Recently Pét-Nats have come in vogue, and they are often simply rosés with a bit of carbonation (hence the crown cap rather than cork finishes). These can be deliciously refreshing, but I don’t list them here as they are generally available only at tasting rooms and not easily found elsewhere. Ask your favorite winery if they happen to have one next time you are visiting.
Due to the sheer volume of rosés that are released each spring the list below makes no pretense of being at all comprehensive. These are noted because they represent a good range of regions and styles. Now through mid-summer is when you should be on the hunt for the 2022s. Go get ’em!
Abacela 2022 Grenache Rosé
This is an elegant wine, pure Grenache, with light strawberry fruit and a dash of white pepper. It’s clean and fresh, though it thins out quickly.
1042 cases; 12.9%; $20 (Umpqua Valley) 89/100
Airfield Estates 2022 Sangiovese Rosé
Sangiovese, when ripened lightly, makes an excellent rosé, as it does here. There’s a peppery note throughout, and the acid/fruit balance is spot on. With a bit of breathing time the wine gains concentration and brings up cherry pit flavors through the finish. Note: not yet listed on the website so I cannot provide a link.
2552 cases; 12.2%; $18 (Yakima Valley) 91/100
Goose Ridge 2022 Revelation Rosé
A GSM style rosé from estate-grown fruit, this has rather high-test alcohol for rosé but keeps everything in good proportion. Fruit-powered from start to finish, it’s a mix of orchard fruits, melon and spring herbs. There is just enough acid to keep it lively, but do chill it down for best drinking. 13.8%; $18 (Goose Gap) 88/100
Hyland Estates 2022 Single Vineyard Rosé
This gorgeous rosé is principally Pinot Noir, though a mix of other estate-grown varieties are also in the blend. It’s effusively fruity, with big, bold flavors of citrus and orange and melon and even a hint of papaya. As good as it is, the temptation is to pop a maraschino cherry into the glass along with a shot of vodka. I leave that experiment up to my bartender friends. Go big! 275 cases; 13%; $28 (McMinnville) 91/100
Julia’s Dazzle 2022 Pinot Gris Rosé
Part of the Long Shadows lineup, this popular rosé comes in a distinctive bowling pin-shaped bottle. Pinot Gris when left awhile on the skins has a natural blush color, which is unusual for a white wine grape. This is all you could wish for in a springtime sipper – it’s fruity, forward, crisp, clean and lovely to look at. 6945 cases; 13.4%; $18-$20 (Columbia Valley) 92/100
Lone Birch 2022 Rosé
The value label from Airfield, this Syrah-based rosé is fruity and feels slightly off-dry. It’s spicy and crisp, done in a style that will appeal to most consumers, at a price that no one will argue with. Though not the most complex rosé in this group, it represents a fine value in a well-made, every day choice. Note: the website is way out of date so I cannot post a link for purchase. 1300 cases; 12.8%; $12 (Yakima Valley) 88/100
Ovum 2022 PNK Salt
This unusual rosé is sourced from 40-year-old Columbia Gorge Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a musky, dusky wine, a sunset hue, with astonishing depth and power. Perhaps the pink salts of Hawaii are the inspiration; it’s bone dry and mineral-drenched wine. The strawberry and candy cherry fruit carries an appealing hint of saltiness that should prove irresistible for matchups with “take me out to the ballgame” type foods. Definitely one of the top rosés of the vintage. 12.5%; $19 (Oregon) 93/100
Portlandia NV Rosé Sparkling Wine
This non-vintage Syrah-based wine, made by the traditional method, is lovely to look at – a fading sunset hue. I’ve had few if any sparkling Syrahs, but this one avoids unnecessary tannins or earthy funk. It might easily be mistaken for a sparkling Pinot Noir, which is a good thing. The flavors dance around mixed tree fruits and citrus, and if you look hard there are hints of berry also. It’s a captivating wine that delivers plenty of pleasure for the price. 4880 cases; 12%; $22 (Columbia Valley) 91/100
Quady North 2022 GSM Rosé
This is one of a number of superb rosés from Quady North. It’s 56% Grenache and 42% Syrah; what the 2% Mourvèdre brings to the mix is a bit of a mystery. This is a juicy, lively wine, with rather delicate flavors touching upon citrus, apples, and orange slices. The jaunty, colorful label adds to the overall ‘let’s party!’ feeling. 2837 cases; 12%; $17 (Rogue Valley) 91/100
Quady North 2022 Cabernet Franc Rosé
Past vintages have featured rosés from Grenache and Counoise; this year it’s Cab Franc in the spotlight for the first time since 2011 As always with Quady rosés it’s handled with a light touch, and the intensity of the flavors is surprising given the alcohol below 12%. Flavors skip lightly over spring fruits and berries, no hint of underripe or green fruit at all. 401 cases; 11.8%; $20 (Rogue Valley) 92/100
Ricochet 2022 Confluence Rosé
A field blend of Syrah, Malbec and Viognier grown at Moody vineyards in the Columbia Gorge, this is a highlight from the portfolio of Erich Berg. Barrel fermented, this is revelatory, capturing lovely floral and citrus aromatics that lead into a lushly-textured and lively palate. Details of citrus, orange liqueur and earthy strawberries come out, but this is not a heavy or tiring wine in any way. Its flavors extend and develop much as an older rosé might, so the prospect for additional complexity is tantalizing. But right now it’s hard to resist. 300 cases; 13%; $25 (Columbia Gorge) 92/100
Toil Oregon 2022 Pinot Noir Rosé
This is a solid, quenchable wine, balanced and dry, with flavors of rhubarb, unripe strawberries and crushed rose petals. It’s light and easy going, a perfect wine to chill and sip on a spring picnic. 400 cases; 12.5%; $30 (Oregon) 90/100
Wine by Joe 2022 Rosé of Pinot Noir
The everyday nature of this lineup is emphasized by the fact that you can buy this in bottle or can. It’s solid, unpretentious and inexpensive, though it won’t roll your socks up and down. Just a good glug, with strawberry and cherry fruit backed with zesty citrus. 13.1%; $14 (Willamette Valley) 90/100
Winter’s Hill 2022 Rosé of Pinot Noir
You can expect to pay a little extra for rosés from estate-grown, Dundee Hills Pinot Noir because they often give you a little extra. Subtle details add texture and length to the wine, and move it from being a simple quaffer to a more serious wine deserving of thoughtful attention. 224 cases; 13.5%; $29 (Dundee Hills) 91/100
Yamhill Valley Vineyards 2022 Estate Grown Rosé of Pinot Noir
Tart, lightly spicy and featuring racy acidity, this refreshing rosé will make a fine aperitif and accompaniment to cured meats, salty cheeses or picnic dishes. Nothing fancy about it, but a pleasant quaffer. The website is way out of date so I cannot provide a link for purchase. 250 cases; 12.5%; $24 (McMinnville) 88/100