The rise of rose ranks as one of the most delectable trends embraced by the Pacific Northwest wine industry, and it is one that deserves to become a mainstay rather than a fad that fades away.
And many modern-day examples of rose should not be forgotten after Labor Day or dismissed as a carton of milk that carries an expiration date of Dec. 31. Instead, these bright and fun wines can show deliciously at least two years beyond vintage, so expect the 2017s to pair easily with Super Bowl party fare, tapas, savory snacks and popcorn.
Granted, some of these pink wines may have lost half a step when it comes to their color upon release, but many began their life in the bottle tilting toward a Provence style in their appearance — think of a light salmon or pale pink wardrobe. And they have been created in a food-friendly style, meaning they are beautifully fruity yet far from sweet.
The 20th annual Platinum Judging, staged in October by Wine Press Northwest magazine, gathered 44 of the region’s top examples of rose. Each earned a gold medal from at least one respected wine competition. Exactly 25% of those entered went on to earn a Platinum.
Here are several of the judging’s top examples that had the largest scale of production. Even if you can’t track down any of these roses at your favorite grocer or wine merchant, take a moment to ask someone for a recommendation. The goal of these folks is that you will enjoy that bottle then come back and ask about the 2019 vintage after it is released this spring.
In the case of Barnard Griffin’s Rosé of Sangiovese, a perennial favorite of wine judges across the country, look for its unveiling to arrive around Valentine’s Day.
Elk Cove Vineyards 2018 Estate Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, $19: The continued collaboration among winemaker Heather Perkin and second-generation vintner Adam Campbell is stronger than ever. One of the Northwest’s largest offerings of rose from pinot noir offers a gorgeously fun color and strikes the right balance. Notes of strawberry, Jolly Rancher watermelon candy, white peach and melon make this not only a crowd-pleaser but also a complete rose.
14 Hands Winery NV Rosé, Washington State, $6: Keith Kenison and his crew recently jumped into the canned wine scene, and their pink in a can went Platinum. It’s not a traditional package, and neither is it a straight-forward approach. Yet, the resulting blend of syrah, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and pinot gris is simply delicious and consumer-friendly. The light pink color opens with strawberry-rhubarb and keeps delivering with cherries and berries. Refreshing acidity gives it a broad appeal and a match for light salads, grilled tuna, paella and salty cheese.
Vino la Monarcha 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $20: It’s rarefied air for the same vintage of the same wine to earn a Platinum two years in a row, but we’ve come to expect greatness from Victor Palencia, a graduate of Prosser High School. This marks the fifth straight year in which Palencia’s electric pink wine from pinot noir has earned a Platinum. Alluring aromas of strawberry, cherry and rose petal lead to beautiful flavors of cherry and orange Creamsicle with boysenberry acidity that doesn’t slow down.
Coyote Canyon Winery 2018 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Life is a Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, $18: A Platinum for the second time in three years, this rose was crafted by Justin Michaud in Prosser, using the Italian grape barbera grown by winery owner Mike Andrews. Fun hints of Jolly Rancher watermelon candy, kiwi and orange zest come with a great mouthfeel and generous finish of yellow grapefruit.
King Estate Winery 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $20: One of the Northwest’s most majestic properties and leading producers continues to deliver for those who purchase their wines at restaurants, bottle shops and grocery stores. Brent Stone, a product of Washington State University, and his team earned a Platinum for this drop-dead gorgeous rose that grabbed a gold medal at judgings in Southern California, Washington and Oregon. Rather than hinting at red fruit, this crowd-pleaser is redolent with Meyer lemon, orange zest and orange blossom, joined at the close by apricot jam and a bite of a tree-ripened nectarine.
Jones of Washington 2018 Rosé of Syrah, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $14: It’s deliciously easy to keep Victor Palencia’s award-winning rose programs straight. Under his own label, it is pinot noir. For the Jones family, it is syrah. When combined, they total nine pink Platinums in the career of the Walla Walla Community College product, four of them with syrah. Here, the winsome wardrobe of pink comes with notes of strawberry freezer jam and Hermiston watermelon that trail into a finish of golden raspberries and tangerine.
Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman operate Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning media company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.