Summer is finally here, and I can’t think of anything better to toast the season than a glass (or bottle) of chilled rosé. I put out an SOS call to my winery friends to find the perfect bottles of rosé for you all to enjoy this season. With the quarantine and social distancing, I was not able to physically share these wines with friends or taste with winemakers, but I took one for the team and tasted thru over a case of rosés to find the perfect pinks for all our summer needs.
Almost all the rosés I tried came from the West Coast: California, Oregon, and Washington. The one exception was the wine you can start your day with. The Domaine Rieflé Brut Rosé Cremant D’Alsace NV from Alsace, France. This sparkling rosé comes from a family winery dating back to the 1850s. Fine bubbles, a zesty nose, and just the right amount of fruit and sugar make for a delicious summer glass. Start your day with a glass of this at brunch, a perfect companion to smoked salmon eggs benedict.
After that delicious brunch it’s time to get outside. Whether it’s a forest hike or time on the boat, why not take a can of rosé? Canned wine is a trend that is not going away, and Cascadian Outfitters from the people who bring us Goose Ridge know what they are doing. Their canned rosé is 100% estate Syrah, not a lesser-quality product; it’s good enough to bottle but the can is so much easier to bring on a Pacific Northwest hike. One thing to remember (I may have found out the hard way): 1 can of wine is equal to two and a half glasses of wine or ½ a bottle!
Now if you are just chilling with a friend or two (social distance of course) on the deck this summer and need a rosé to enjoy with a caprese salad or crudité, then may I recommend these two from Washington: The Walls Vineyard “Cruel Summer” rosé and the DeLille Cellars rosé. Both are easy drinking, delicious examples of Washington rosés. Both are primarily grenache, so think of great Provençal rosés with a Washington twist. I found that Cruel Summer is excellent on a hot afternoon paired with a watermelon gazpacho. The more fruit forward DeLille will satisfy the most devote red wine lover.
So, the grill is going, and we need a rosé pairing for summer dinner al fresco. With dinner I often prefer pinot noir-based rosés. They pair well with most anything off the grill: seafood, BBQ chicken, veggie burgers, pork etc. Pinot noir-based rosés can be found up and down the west coast. La Crema, from the Monterey, California area, does the trick. It is perfect with salmon, and you can find it at Safeway for a mere $18.
Further up the California coast, the Russian River produces amazing pinot noir, and the Sbragia Family Vineyard uses them to create a full-bodied rosé with amazing aromas of strawberry and high acid. Pair with anything lightly grilled like fish, vegetables, sushi, or even a Veggie burger.
Of course, Oregon is pinot land and it seems every winery there creates amazing rosés. The folks at Dobbes Family Estate make Wine by Joe, and the rosé comes in can or bottle. The golden raspberry nose drew me into the glass and kept me coming back for more. I paired this with a garden fresh B.L.T. sandwich, tomatoes, lettuce, salty bacon with a little avocado is a party in the making. Take it up a notch and use some of that homemade sourdough we have all been baking in quarantine.
Some Washington wineries also make pinot noir rosés, such as Lagana Cellars in Walla Walla. Their 2019 rosé of pinot noir has something for everyone – from apple blossom on the nose to cherry and melon on the finish. In my opinion, rosés like this perfectly complement paella, or just a relaxing summer afternoon.
How about a twist to finish the day – perhaps a rosé Mead? A friend at Sky River Mead sent a bottle of their luscious blackberry honey wine. I was thinking it would be too sweet for me, but I was pleasantly surprised. The deep blackberry flavors can hold up to BBQ and keeps on flowing along with summer dessert. This flavorful, lower alcohol mead is the perfect ending for the day of rosé.
I received more samples than I included in this article, not because I didn’t like them, just because they didn’t arrive in time for the deadline and the word constraint for the published work. There are so many great Rosé wines out there, I recommend you buy a few new ones and have a tasting, discover the different flavor profiles and find which you like best!