The field of Northwest rose grows with delicious variety

Increased thirst for this style of wine has prompted winemakers to offer multiple expressions from the same vintage.

Fiona Mak’s fascination with the French Riviera inspired her to focus on the production of rose for SMAK Wines in Walla Walla. (Richard Duval Images)

Fiona Mak’s fascination with the French Riviera inspired her to focus on the production of rose for SMAK Wines in Walla Walla. (Richard Duval Images)

By Eric Degerman / Great Northwest Wine

During these dog days of summer, the sip of a beautifully crisp Pacific Northwest rose can be a wine lover’s best friend.

Fortunately, most of the top producers in our corner of the world now craft at least one example of rose. The increased thirst for this style of wine has prompted some winemakers to offer multiple expressions from the same vintage. It’s a delicious trend that we hope never ends.

This summer, the Cascadia International Wine Competition helped to identify some of the best roses made in the Northwest, and there were more entries in that category than ever. Each was crafted to be food-friendly and thirst-quenching. The varieties of grapes used to make these ranged from pinot noir and pinot gris to grenache, mourvedre, syrah, sangiovese and yes, even cabernet sauvignon.

Look for these wines at your grocer and/or order directly from the producer. Don’t hesitate to slake your thirst by buying a full case, not only because it often will come with a tidy discount, but also the popularity of these wines means small lots can be drained by Labor Day — if not earlier.

And don’t fret if this winter you find a bottle or two still left in that case from the 2018 or 2019 vintages. There’s no expiration date on a bright rose. Rather, the structure and flavor profile of an expertly crafted rose will make it quite worthy of opening for several years, particularly when paired with poultry or fish.

Here are five of the top roses entered into the eighth Cascadia International, which included submissions from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and Montana. Find the full results at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

Fiona Mak’s fascination with the French Riviera inspired her to focus on the production of rose for SMAK Wines in Walla Walla. (Richard Duval Images)

Fiona Mak’s fascination with the French Riviera inspired her to focus on the production of rose for SMAK Wines in Walla Walla. (Richard Duval Images)

SMAK Wines 2019 Spring Rosé, Walla Walla Valley, $18: Winemaker-sommelier Fiona Mak grew up in Hong Kong, graduated from Syracuse in hospitality management and moved into the restaurant industry on the East Coast until her passion for wine led her to Walla Walla Community College’s famed winemaking school. She now works at vaunted Artifex Wine Co., which allows her to moonlight on her own brand that’s dedicated to rose. Spring is one of her three releases, and regardless of spring rains or sunny days, you’ll find this wine to show off floral aromas of apricot and honeysuckle flowers with hints of lavender and melon. Red cherry and red currant enter the palate with crisp acidity and meld into tropical fruit flavors. A truly delicate example featuring sangiovese, this wine finishes clean with pleasing minerality and lingering red cherry. Suggested pairings include oysters, ramen and sushi as well as spicy and fried fare.

Phillip and Patricia Butterfield were both professors in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University before Phillip transitioned into the role of full-time winemaker at their young Winescape project in Spokane’s Glenrose neighborhood. (Richard Duval Images)

Phillip and Patricia Butterfield were both professors in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University before Phillip transitioned into the role of full-time winemaker at their young Winescape project in Spokane’s Glenrose neighborhood. (Richard Duval Images)

Winescape 2019 Sangiovese Rosé, Red Mountain $22: Phillip and Patricia Butterfield in Spokane have dedicated their professional lives to the field of medicine and helping others. From their young wine project on the Lilac City’s South Hill comes this beautiful rosé that offers an attractive salmon color and enticing aromas of fresh-cut apricots, white peach and floral notes. On the palate, there are more hints of stone fruit, a fascinating fleck of minerality and just the right amount of acidity.

Chicken Dinner Wines 2019 Rosé, Washington State, $19: Gregg Alger of Huston Vineyards in Idaho goes beyond his native Snake River Valley and into Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills for these mourverdre grapes off Alder Ridge. This is a gem of a rose, featuring a pretty coral color and aromas of red cherry and currant, kiwi fruits and pink grapefruit. On the palate you love the crisp juicy acidity with strawberry, pie cherry and red currant. This medium-bodied rose has a long clean and creamy finish.

Roaming Dog 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Columbia Valley, $13: Tri-City winemaker Joshua Maloney earned a pair of double gold medals for the Aquilini family at the Cascadia for his work with rose from cabernet sauvignon. This example, which almost beat out Maloney’s slightly more expensive Be Human for Best Rosé at the Cascadia, entices with pronounced and pretty aromatics of strawberry, passionfruit and honey. The color is a pleasant light rose, not too pink and not salmon. Its lighter structure solidly fills the mouth with flavors of berries, red plum and florals. It concludes with refreshingly delicious crispness.

Bayernmoor Cellars 2019 Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, $15: The Harris family has hired one of the Northwest’s most respected winemakers, Brian Carter, to produce their wines. The Woodinville vintner once again displays his talent for blending wines with this even split of Rhone varieties grenache and mourvedre. It delivers perfumed wild strawberry, passionfruit and warm earth. The bright acidity wakes up the taste buds and encompasses myriad fruit sensations including berries, tropical fruit and bright citrus. The finale comes with zest.

Eric Degerman operates Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning media company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

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