Think pink: Provence-style rose is the drink of the summer

This time of year, it’s a good idea to keep a couple of bottles of dry pink wine in your fridge.

One of the hottest trends in Northwest wine country is dry pink wines, a category that only seems to grow annually and shows no sign of slowing down.

Indeed, across our region, it is easy to find more than 100 examples of pink wines being made in all styles.

Fortunately, most are made in the dry style typical of southern France’s Provence region, rather than the pink, sweet California Kool-Aid style that too often was passed off as “domestic blush” the past couple of decades.

Roses offer the best of both worlds: They’re appealing to red and white wine lovers, and typically pair well with regional cuisine, from fresh seafood to Asian and other international-inspired dishes.

This time of year, it’s a good idea to keep a couple of bottles of pink in your fridge, ready to come out whenever dinner hits the table.

Here are a few roses from the Pacific Northwest we have tasted recently. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant, or contact the wineries directly.

Browne Family Vineyards 2017 Grenache Rosé, Columbia Valley, $20: Waterbrook winemaker John Freeman and his team are tasked with producing more than a dozen wines for Precept CEO Andrew Browne’s pet project in Walla Walla, and this work off Canyon Vineyard Ranch near Prosser ranks as one of the largest bottlings of rose from grenache produced in the state. It carries a light pink wardrobe and offers fun aromas of cotton candy, fruit salad and dried strawberry. Inside, it’s quite serious with flavors starting with golden raspberry, white peach and apricot on the way to a food-friendly orange pith finish. The U.S. thirst for rose sparked Browne to double the production of this over the 2016 vintage.

Huston Vineyards 2017 Chicken Dinner Rosé, Washington, $19: Idaho’s winter-damaged vintage of 2017 forced Snake River Valley vintner Gregg Alger of Huston Vineyards to reach into Washington for the grapes to appease the fans of his wildly successful Chicken Dinner brand. Here, he leans on robust Rhône variety mourvedre. Bold aromas of strawberry, cherry, raspberry and rose petals leap from the glass to entice the first sip, which delivers a dry version of the aromas listed. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition where the nose shows bold, ripe fruit, hinting at sweet nectar, but instead it’s dry and offers the perfect balance for a second glass. Judges at the 2018 Cascadia International Wine Competition in Richland and the 2018 Experience Rosé Competition in Sonoma, California, awarded it a gold medal.

Cedergreen Cellars 2017 Viola Rosé, Columbia Valley, $16: A pair of acid-driven reds that tend to do well as rose — gamay noir and cabernet franc — are made into a Provence-style field blend by Kevin Cedergreen. The gamay from Skyline Vineyard in the Yakima Valley and cab franc from Melody Lynne Vineyard in the Yakima River Canyon were co-fermented into a refreshing drink. Clean aromas of red currant, strawberry-rhubarb compote and quince make their way into flavors of white peach, quince and apricot. It received a gold medal at the 2018 Experience Rosé Competition.

JM Cellars 2017 The Benches Cinsaut Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, $25: John Bigelow has been operating JM Cellars in Woodinville longer than all but a handful of wineries. His vineyard sources throughout the Columbia Valley — some estate, others under long-term contracts — are impeccable. In this case, he continues to pull his Provence-inspired rose of cinsaut from The Benches, a site overlooking the Columbia River that Long Shadows Vintners helped make famous as Wallula Gap Vineyard. The clean and inviting nose of montmorency cherry, white peach and cotton candy leads to brisk flavors of strawberry-rhubarb cobbler, Asian pear and dried cherry.

Primarius Winery 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé, Oregon, $13: One of the rising stars of the Oregon wine industry, Sarah Cabot continues to elevate the program at Primarius through her work near the base of the Dundee Hills for Seattle-based Precept Wine. Hers is a pinot noir house, and this marks the second straight year for rose production. Enticing aromas of strawberry-rhubarb compote, Circus Peanut candy and dusty rose petal leads to bone-dry flavors of pink strawberry and pink raspberry with a blood orange finish. Enjoy with poultry, grilled pork or salmon.

Love That Red Winery 2017 Love that Rosé, Columbia Valley, $18: Woodinville winemaker Terry Wells follows up on his maiden trip with Southern Rhône-inspired rose in a big way using a blend of syrah, grenache and mourvedre to achieve similar results to his 2016 version. Its delicate pink color brings along aromas of raspberry, cherry and rose petal. On the palate, it’s bone-dry with flavors hinting at pink raspberry, montmorency cherry and dried strawberry, backed by citrusy acidity that’s refreshing.

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

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