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Spring is Time for Pinot Noir Rosé

Rosé is a bit of enigma for Pinot Noir producers. Consumers love it and usually eagerly snap up all of a winery’s production shortly after release. The problem is that you can’t charge much for Rosé, despite the expense of Pinot Noir grapes and Rosé production. Premium Rosés have an image problem because they are referred to as “blush” wines, and are often thought of as White Zinfandel equivalents. About $18-$22 seems to be the sweet spot to attract consumer interest, and at this price level, wineries receive little or no profit.

The popularity of Rosé wine is skyrocketing, but domestically and in countries like France. According to a January 2014 Nielsen report, retail sales of premium rosé wines (bottles priced at or above $12) rose by 39 percent on volume and 48 percent on value last year.

The best Rosés come from producers who dedicate a special part of their vineyard to Rosé, groom the vines specifically for Rosé production, and give serious winemaking attention to the vinification of Rosé. When Rosé is well-made, the only thing better than a chilled glass of Rosé is another glass of Rosé. The 2013 Rosés are all of astonishingly high quality.

2013 Bucher Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., $18, screwcap. · Moderately deep pink orange color in the glass. Aromas of dried herbs, underbrush, and shellfish salinity. Moderately full on the palate with flavors of cherries, orange-infused cranberries, and savory dried herbs. The wine picks up interest and fruitiness over time in the glass and is still fine two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 89

2013 Heintz Vineyards Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.50, TA 0.64, 125 cases, $19, screwcap. A blend of two clones field sorted and hand picked followed by de-stemming with a gentle “berry popping.” Grapes are cold soaked for 3 to 4 hours and then gently pressed. Aged 4 months on lees without stirring in neutral French oak and 60 gallon stainless steel drums. Bottled January 2014. · Light pink orange color in the glass. Love the nose offering a perfume of fresh strawberry, blood orange and complimentary floral array. Interesting and complex, with flavors of red berries, melon, pear, and vanilla cream. Slightly creamy on the palate with a dry, refreshing finish. An exceptional Rosé. Score: 92

2013 MacPhail Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., pH 3.53, TA 0.55, 400 cases, $22. Released spring 2014. Sourced from all the winery’s Sonoma Coast vineyards. Multiple clones. Harvest Brix 23.7º-26.0º. 100% de-stemmed, juice saignéd after 24 to 48 hour cold soak. · Moderate red orange color in the glass. Aromas of strawberry, yellow peach, dried rose petals and herbs lead to full-bodied flavors of cherry, strawberry, and orange water. What this wine lacks in vibrancy, it makes up with intensity of flavor and can stand up to substantial foods. Score: 88

2013 Ousterhout Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 360 cases, $25. · Light pink orange color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of strawberry jam, orange marmalade and yellow peach. Endowed with luscious flavors of red berries and white stone fruits, this wine is light and pleasant on the palate with a slightly creamy mouth feel and a crisp, lengthy finish. Score: 90

Ousterhout Wine & Vineyard

A winery owned by Douglas Ousterhout and his spouse Nancy, specializing in Zinfandel from the Ousterhout Estate in Alexander Valley, Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Valley, and uniquely, Rosés from the Russian River Valley. The winemaker is Micah Wirth who trained at Gary Farrell Winery for years, teaming up at the same time with a partner to create the Joseph Jewel brand. The Rosés are gently whole cluster pressed and free run juice is sent into tank. The wines were recently released at the winery’s 1st Annual Spring Wine Tasting in San Francisco. Visit

2013 Ousterhout Woods Vineyard Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 379 cases, $25. · Light pink orange color in the glass. Enticing aromas of cranberries and strawberries with a hint of dried herbs and baking spices. Plenty of flavor punch featured strawberry, yellow peach and blood orange. Polished with a dry, pleasing finish. This Rosé really comes at you. Score: 91

2013 Ousterhout 800 Vines Vineyard Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 124 cases, $25. · Moderate pink orange color in the glass. Lovely scent of strawberry, rhubarb, cranberry, rose petal and petrichor. Nicely flavored and smooth on the palate with notes of red berries and pear. Crisp and refreshing, with a little less concentration than the Woods Vineyard bottling, but more welcome minerality. Score: 91

2012 Soliste Soleil Rouge Sonoma Coast Rosé de Pinot Noir

13.1% alc., 327 cases, $22. · Moderate pinkish-orange color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of raspberry, strawberry, herbs and macaroon. Light and lively on the palate with red berry and blood orange flavors, finishing with high-wire, orange-infused acidity. The 2012 vintage of Soleil Rouge Rosé has just been released. Score: 89

2013 Stoller Family Estate Dundee Hills Pinot Noir Rosé

13.8% alc., pH 3.24, TA 0.69, 1,515 cases, $20. · Moderate pink color. Grandiose aromas of raspberry, strawberry, guava and orange peel. Crisp, lively and refreshing, with flavors of Texas red grapefruit, red berries, white peaches and a hint of watermelon. Thoroughly enjoyable with a finishing burst of fresh peach flavor and a zest that urges another sip. Score: 92

2013 Van Duzer Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé

13.1% alc., 1,800 cases, $18, screwcap. Release June 2014. 100% estate grown. A rigorous block selection was used to create this wine. Selected vines were encouraged to produced a higher yield to retain acidity. An early pick of clone 115 and a later pick of Wädenswil clone were blended. This Rosé, like few others, is intentionally created through directives in the vineyard and winery to produce a distinctive wine. After gentle pressing, the juice was inoculated with four yeasts to highlight the aromas and mouthfeel. After a slow and cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine was aged on lees. · The color is a very pretty and modest orange coral. Love the aromas of strawberry, blood orange and cut flower bouquet. This wine offers everything you could want in a Rosé with fresh flavors of strawberries, raspberries, orange zest, a hint of herbs in the background, a creamy mouthfeel and bright citrus-infused acidity. This dry wine is extremely agreeable to drink and unusually provocative for a Rosé. Score: 93

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