Rosé wines, in shades from barely pink to watermelon to translucent fuchsia, blossomed at the recent Experience Rosé Competition held at Soda Rock Winery in Healdsburg, Calif. Crafted from dozens of grape varieties from A to Z (aleatico to zinfandel), wines traveled from regions near and far to be evaluated at the largest rosé competition in North America. Entries hailed from 18 different states as well as international regions within Canada, Italy, France, Spain, and Australia. The competition was orchestrated by Wine Competitions Management & Productions founder Debra Del Fiorentino and her capable, dedicated backroom staff.For years, consumers and professionals alike eschewed blush-colored wines, expecting them to be too sweet and simple. Fortunately, that thinking has changed among discerning wine consumers, thanks to vintners who are crafting multi-layered, drier style wines that are vibrant and more complex. As a result, the trend for well-crafted rosé wines in North America continues its upward swing, as they’re proving to be the perfect aperitif, a versatile food pairing wine, and a refreshing choice for picnics, outdoor barbecues, and special celebrations.
The total entry count (428) and the number of gold (62) and double gold medals (22) awarded at this competition confirm the renaissance of this delectable wine, in all of its varied expressions. Here are some of the standouts.
Sparkling RoséJ Vineyards & Winery NV Brut Rosé; Russian River Valley, Calif.: Engaging aromatics begin the joyful ride with this well-crafted, traditional method brut rosé. Scents of warm baked bread and juicy red fruits make way for a brilliant blast of flavors dancing on the palate. Sweetheart cherries, citrus blossom, fresh strawberries, biscuity notes, and a trace of peaches entwine with a firm spine of acidity, and the finish is persistent. Best Domestic Sparkling Rosé, Best of Class, Double Gold (95 points) www.jwine.com
Risata NV Sparkling Rosé; Veneto, Italy: This extra dry sparkling, crafted of 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir, oozes with delight, beginning with the engaging aroma of fragrant tayberries and a fresh spring bouquet. Impeccably balanced and vibrant with flavors of strawberry sorbet, sweet tayberries, raspberry tarts, and a splash of blood orange. Best International Sparkling Rosé, Best of Class (BOC), Double Gold (97) www.risatawines.com
Del Rio Vineyards NV Rosé Jolee; Rogue Valley, Ore.: This delightfully sweet, frizzante-style rosé composed of muscat, riesling and cabernet franc, is full of verve and personality. Alluring aromas of fragrant flowers and spice rise from the glass. Frolicking on the palate are layers of tropical fruit, white peaches, wild raspberries, subtle crushed herbs, and pink grapefruit. This semi-sparkling wine is a party in a glass! Best Domestic Sweet Rosé, BOC, Double Gold (DG) (95) www.delriovineyards.comCarlos Creek Winery NV Ruby Minnescato; Minn.: This distinctive bubbly (crafted of frontenac and catawba) is fragrant, juicy, and well balanced. Finely tuned layers of hard cherry candy, dark plums, Bazooka bubble gum, subtle herbal elements, and fresh red seedless grapes unfold onto the palate. Brisk acidity carries the wine to a lifted finish. Gold (91) www.carloscreekwinery.com
Balletto Vineyards 2018 Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir; Russian River Valley, Calif.: Here’s an extraordinary dry rosé, brimming with elegance and energy that will keep you clamoring for more. Ripe strawberries and florals greet the nose. Expansive and flavorful with layers of red raspberries, strawberry pie, a touch of exotic spice, lemon-lime granite, and revitalizing acidity that invigorates the palate. Precisely balanced with a vivid, memorable finish. Best Domestic Dry Rosé, BOC, DG (96) www.ballettovineyards.com
Le Grand Courtage 2018 Très Chic Rosé; Pays d’Oc, France: A shimmering salmon-pink hue captures the eye, and the floral scent is heavenly at first swirl of this dry Rosé (a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Cinsault). Juicy summer peaches and raspberries at the core, with accents of sliced strawberries, savory spice, and a subtle hint of Meyer lemon. The texture is silky smooth, and beautiful balancing acidity keeps it lively through the long-lasting finish. Best International Dry Rosé, BOC, DG (96) www.legrandcourtage.com
Soda Rock Winery 2017 Rosé; Mendocino County, Calif.: Complex, succulent, and tantalizing, this deeply fruited wine opens with a delectable explosion of flavors. Crafted of 68% syrah, 27% grenache and 5% French colombard, blackberries, boysenberries, and spiced plum jam flavors are framed by a solid base of racy acidity. The wine struts forth with bold confidence and its bright disposition never wanes; entrancing! BOC, DG (96) www.sodarockwinery.com
Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery 2018 Rosé of Grenache; Lodi, Calif.: The alluring fragrance of a delicate white floral bouquet captures the senses. A bowlful of ripe raspberries, strawberries, a pinch of spice, and thirst-quenching watermelon ice captivate the palate. Precisely balanced with bracing acidity, and the texture is satin smooth. A touch of citrus peeks through on the memorable finish. (Winery located in Denver, Colo.; fruit sourced from Lodi.) DG (96) www.bigsbysfolly.com
Three Sticks Winery 2018 Casteñada Rosé; Sonoma Coast, Calif.: This eye-opening, stimulating rosé is crafted of syrah, grenache noir, grenache blanc, marsanne, and viognier. Intensely aromatic and well structured, with a stunning fruit profile. Multi-layers of raspberries, black plums, peaches and cream, and spiced lingonberry jam enchant the palate, and the finish is everlasting. DG (95) www.threestickswines.comScotto Family Cellars 2018 Dry Sangiovese Rosé; Lodi, Calif.: Here’s a rosé of sangiovese that’s bursting with vibrancy and class. Perfumed aromas on the nose make way for irresistible fruit-focused, zesty flavors that fill the mouth. Sweet cherries, Santa Rosa plums, a dusting of earth, and touch of citrus entwine in harmony. Well integrated and skillfully balanced as it heads to a bright and gratifying finish. DG (95) www.scottocellars.com
Dry Creek Vineyard 2018 Rosé of Zinfandel; Dry Creek Valley, Calif.: This brilliantly nuanced dry zinfandel rosé opens with an out-of-this-world floral bouquet. Fanning out onto the palate are flavors of wild berries, watermelon, a twist of Sunkist orange, spicy nuances, and cherry scone notes. Well-structured and balanced, it remains vivid and expressive through its persistent, sunny finale. Gold (94) www.drycreekvineyard.com
Borjón Winery 2018 Ecks Rosé; Amador County, Calif.: Crafted of 95% zinfandel and 5% syrah, this succulent rosé struts forth with panache. Spice-laced berry pie aromas lead the way. In the mouth, the spiciness continues, wrapped around a core of sun-ripened boysenberries, raspberry jelly, and black cherries. Lively and well balanced through the bright and satisfying finish. Gold (94) www.borjonwinery.com
Sierra Starr Vineyard 2018 Sun Spot Rosé; Sierra Foothills, Calif.: Glorious aromatics are just the start of this zesty gem crafted of sangiovese. Lip-smacking cherries, spiced cranberry sauce, hints of earthiness, and a generous dash of cinnamon keep the senses engaged. Well balanced with crisp acidity, and the finish goes on forever. Gold (93) www.sierrastarr.comRutherford Ranch 2018 Reserve Rosé; Napa Valley, Calif.: A blend of 54% cabernet sauvignon and 46% malbec, this dazzling rosé is vivacious and confident as it glides smoothly across the palate. Red currants, plums, and olallieberries create a delicious mosaic of flavors in the mouth. Faintly sweet with good balancing acids, and the close is long and refreshing, Gold (92) www.rutherfordranch.com
Imagery Estate Winery 2018 Aleatico Rosé; Sonoma Valley, Calif.: Intensely aromatic with tropical fruit and honeysuckle aromas. This graceful rosé with a striking pink diamond hue is crafted of aleatico (a grape more commonly grown in Italy). Citrus blossom, exotic rambutan fruit, raspberry sorbet, and a dusting of herbs unfold with elegance on the palate. Crisp acidity keeps it balanced and energetic. Gold (91) www.imagerywinery.com
Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery NV Chambourcin Rosé; Ill.: Forest berries and just-picked ripe cherries, a suggestion of pickled watermelon rind, and a hint of earth are showcased from the engrossing aroma, through the fruit-focused palate, to the last drop. Creamy in texture and well balanced with crisp acidity. Gold (91) www.galenacellars.com
Cória Estates 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir; Willamette Valley, Ore.: Brimming with red fruits and spice on the nose, you’ll want to linger over the glass. On the palate, red raspberries, tayberries, cherries, spice box highlights, pink grapefruit juice, and a hint of earthiness unravel deliciously. Streamlined and oh so pleasing through the appealing finale. Gold (91) www.coriaestates.comPearmund Cellars 2018 Rosé; Va.: Made from 90% chambourcin and 10% riesling, there’s plenty of appeal from the minerally, forest fruit opening through the extended finish. Dark wild berries, peaches, and chopped herbs are carried across the palate by lively acids, and the consistent thread of minerality adds dimension. Tightly wound, aerate for heightened enjoyment. Gold (91) www.pearmundcellars.com
Stringer Cellars 2018 Babbling Brook Rosé; Santa Barbara County, Calif.: This rosé of pinot noir displays engaging fruity, citrusy aromas. Flowing elegantly on the palate are layers of fresh ripe strawberries, stone fruit, cranberries, a hint of herbs, and sweet tangerines. Juicy and refreshing with nice balancing acidity keeping it bright and engaging. Gold (91) www.stringercellars.com
Dusty Nabor Wines 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir; Sta. Rita Hills, Calif.: The inviting aromas of cherries and tea spice speak volumes to what’s in this glass. Flavors of red cherry, pomegranate, lemon verbena, and cranberry light up the palate. Fresh and clean with zingy acidity and a finish that persists beyond the last sip. Gold (90) www.dustynaborwines.com
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