Rosé Rising

A few years ago my wife and our two oldest grandchildren went to France and one of our first stops

was the little village of Antibes on the Mediterranean. It was one of the best vacations of my life. I

remember touching down in Nice and listening to the Dave Matthews song ‘You And I”

“Wanna pack your bags, Something small

Take what you need and we disappear

Without a trace we’ll be gone, gone

The moon and the stars can follow the car

and then when we get to the ocean

We gonna take a boat to the end of the world

All the way to the end of the world

Oh, and when the kids are old enough

We’re gonna teach them to fly”


When we rented the little flat on the sea, the owner said there would be a bottle of wine waiting for

us, “just make sure you leave one when you depart”. The bottle turned out to be Provencal Rosé. The

only Rosé I ever had before this was sweet and not particularly good, but this bottle was as good as

any wine I had ever had. As I recall, it was dry and full flavored, and made out of grape varietals I

had never heard of before – Carignan, Cinsaut, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Tibouren to mention a


We were now on a quest to try as many Rosé wines as we could find during our trip. I lost count half

way through the trip, but I did discover a new passion that carries on today.

There are two ways to make Rosé. The traditional method is to pick red grapes early in order to get

a lower alcohol content and fresh crisp acid in the finished wine, crush the grapes whole and leave

the juice on the skins just long enough to pick up the right amount of color and flavor. The other

way is to make Rosé as an after product of regular red wine making. The grapes are picked when fully

ripe with the intent to make red wine and the juice is bled off. In France, this is called saignée

(bleed). The remaining juice is made into a concentrated red wine. I’ve tried both methods but

prefer the traditional.

There is no doubt that we are on the verge of a Rosé revolution here in Washington state. The

combination of incredible variety, low prices ($10-20), and versatility in food pairing makes Rosé an

up and coming staple in our wine culture. Northwest Rosé is made from almost any grape variety.

The most common is Sangiovese, Syrah, and Pinot noir. Look for those made from Grenache and

the Southern Rhone varietals mentioned above.

Here’s my picks of Northwest Rosé. Unfortunately most are not available in our local stores, so look

at Trader Joe, Zupan’s, or New Seasons and stock up.

Syncline 2012 Rosé, $18

Syncline, the flagship winery in the Columbia Gorge AVA, was one of the first Washington

wineries to produce a great rosé. It is a blend of Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Grenache. Full of

strawberry cream and spice.

Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $13

This wine tastes great with almost any food. A perpetual winner at the San Francisco

International Wine Competition.

Trust Cellars 2012 Rosé, $18

This is made from Cabernet Franc giving it more complexity than most rosé but is still light

and fruity with tropical fruit flavors of kiwi and pineapple.

Charles and Charles Rosé Columbia Valley 2013 $12

This wine is widely distributed and is a great value. It is full of strawberry, herbs, and

watermelon sure to delight your senses. 72% Syrah, 8% Mourvedre, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon,

6% Grenache, 3% Cinsault, 3% Counoise.

Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir Rosé Dundee Hills 2013 $20

This is made as a rosé from the start. Whole cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel

the 2015 Pinot Noir Rosé is brimming with ruby grapefruit, guava, and floral notes.

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One of my first experiences wine tasting was when my Mom and Dad took us to Chateau St. Michelle 30 years ago. Was I ever surprises to see how massive an operation it was and I can remember how impressed I was with all the stainless steel, hoses, and barrels all glistening and pretty. It made a big impression on me thinking this is a French chateau right in my back yard!

Over the years I have visited many wine regions including the Willamette, Yakima, Columbia, Napa, Sonoma Valleys. I get giddy just thinking about meeting new wines and winemakers. I prefer tasting rooms located right at the vineyards and wineries. You never know when you will connect with someone who is willing to give you a grand tour of the property, or my favorite, the cellar and wine cave.

Here are some do’s and don’t that will make your experience the best it can be.

Do: research the region online so you can eliminate wineries that focus on wines you aren’t interested in.

Don’t: don’t skip smaller lesser known wineries.You may find a jewel and avoid the crowds. Do: Pick 3 or 4 wineries per day it visit so you can enjoy the experience and engage the staff

with questions. You will learn a lot.

Don’t: don’t act like you know a lot about wine even if you do. Wine people will notice your interest and you may find yourself tasting from barrels.

Do: buy the wines you like.
Don’t: don’t buy the wines you don’t like, but be polite about it. Some of my friends will buy a

‘sympathy’ bottle just because they had a good time and want to support people who are trying.

Do: drink plenty of water before and after to hydrate before you head out. Wine headaches are often a result of dehydration, not from sulfites or red vs white wine.

Don’t: drink too much. If you like reds just taste the reds skip the others. Wine tasting is not a way to get free wine, it a venture of discovery.

Do: be confidant about your palette. There is always someone who can taste ‘road tar’ in the wine. Who cares? Swirl, smell, taste and enjoy.

Don’t: don’t apologize about your lack of knowledge. Good tasters listen and learn.

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