By Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman
Roses are superb wines. Great roses are beautiful to gaze upon, and they are so delicious to drink, pairing especially well with the outdoor living and cuisine that come with summer.
Roses are among the most versatile food wines; they can go well with everything from seafood to burgers.
When we talk about roses, we are not referring to California Kool-Aid that is made by the millions of cases of wine.
While white Zinfandel is not quite as big as it was for the past 20 years, it remains a mass-produced wine that is one of the most popular wines in America. But white Zin typically is sweet with little character left from the red Zinfandel grape that is its origin.
Instead, we love the current trend of dry roses — more typical of France’s Provence region — that we are seeing in the Pacific Northwest. In the past few years, more top winemakers are putting in the effort to craft superb dry roses.
Roses usually are made by leaving the juice of the grapes on the skins of red grapes for a few hours.
This will cause just enough color to remain to provide a beautiful pink color. The wine then is made similarly to a white wine, with the winemaker being careful to preserve the delicate aromas and bright, fruit-driven flavors.
For the next two weeks, we will look at a few great roses we tasted for the Summer issue of Wine Press Northwest magazine. Here are a few Washington roses we especially enjoyed. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly:
Barnard Griffin 2012 Rose of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $12: Owner/winemaker Rob Griffin has established himself as the king of Northwest roses, as this wine has won a gold or better in a major competition for the past eight years. This won best rose at the Great Northwest Wine Competition in March. It is a vibrant color of pink, followed by gorgeous aromas of fresh strawberry, raspberry and clove. On the palate, it delivers flavors of Marionberry, strawberry taffy and peach. It’s a bright wine with beveled corners and salivating flavors.
Thurston Wolfe Winery 2012 Second Chance Rose, Yakima Valley, $13: Winemaker Wade Wolfe made this from Lemberger, a rare Austrian red grape that is grown in Washington. It is a vibrant wine with aromas of pomegranate, cranberry and yellow grapefruit, followed by lip-smacking flavors of white strawberry, cranberry and red currant. It is delightfully dry and entirely approachable.
Goose Ridge Estate Winery 2011 Rose de Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, $18: Pinot Gris is thought of as a white wine, yet the grapes are not white like Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc. As this wine proves, you can get a lot of color from Pinot Gris if you leave the skins on the juice for 36 hours. The result here is a salmon-colored wine with aromas of apple, watermelon and Mandarin orange. On the palate, it reveals flavors of orange zest, apricot and tangelo. It has a bit of sweetness (1.4 percent residual sugar), yet it is backed up with dazzling acidity.
Ross Andrew Winery 2012 Meadow Rose, Columbia Valley, $16: Made from Sangiovese, this superb rose got its pretty pink color from just 12 hours of skin contact. It opens with aromas of strawberry, clove and orange blossom, followed by flavors of fresh Rainier cherry and strawberry/rhubarb jam. It’s a wine that delivers full flavors to the palate yet is filled with finesse on the nose.
Martinez &Martinez Winery 2012 May Mae Rose, Horse Heaven Hills, $17: This delicious rose is made using Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s beautiful with fantastic aromas of cranberry, pomegranate, red currant and a North African spice market. On the palate, it is delicious with flavors of fresh-picked strawberry, cherry and watermelon candy.
Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, www.greatnorthwestwine.com.