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.