Rise of rosé: Here are the best wines for summertime sipping
The hottest thing around when it comes to summer sippers, rosé sales rose 53 percent in 2017 – outpacing all other table wine sales. This year, sales are anticipated to be even higher. No doubt, many of us are now getting ready to rosé all day and make our contribution to the continued increase in pink drink sales. But with so many rosé choices, and so little time, where does one begin? We tasted more than 65 rosés and picked out the most delicious wines for poolside, riverside, oceanside, patio-side, picnic-side sipping. In short, a rosé for every occasion.
Taft Street 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir — Unscrew the cap, pour into your stemless plastic wine glass, and toast to summer as you float down the Russian River with a bottle of Taft Street’s rosé made with pinot noir grapes grown just a few miles from the iconic Sonoma County river. With its high acid and low sugar, it’s a dry wine with bright notes of raspberry, watermelon and strawberry. It’s a destined crowd-pleaser.
Sidebar 2017 Rosé Russian River Valley — A side project of acclaimed winemaker David Ramey, Sidebar offers easy to drink wines that are meant to be enjoyed now (unlike Ramey’s coveted, cellar- worthy pinot noir under his Ramey Wine Cellars label). The first rosé we tried this year, it’s made from old vine syrah. It has a beautiful color that draws the eyes in and a taste of strawberry and cream that is lush and satisfying on the palate. A great reward after a long day of kayaking on the Russian River.
Corner 103 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir — Unlock summer with this screw cap rosé that was crafted with pinot noir grapes specifically grown just for the purpose of making rosé. A salmon pink, it has a cherry and berry notes, with touches of herbs on the nose and lush notes of melon and strawberry on the tongue. It’s Corner 103’s first foray into still rosé and was well worth the wait — pick up a bottle (or two) now, as only 56 cases were produced.
Balverne 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir Reserve, Russian River Valley — Newer wine lovers might not recognize Balverne, but back in the 1980s Balverne was poured at the White House to much acclaim. Today, at their estate property, located a mere mile or two from downtown Windsor, Balverne produces some of the best kept secrets in Wine Country. Their rosé is a real stunner, with lush floral notes, strawberry and watermelon, and its bright pink color is the result of 20 hours of skin contact before fermentation.
Kenwood Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir 2017 — Kenwood’s rosé returns to the list as one of our favorites this year, after an impressive debut last year with its inaugural vintage. A beautiful bottle, pretty pink grapefruit shade, and lush, berry flavors paired with floral hints on the nose and tip of the tongue combine to create a package deal. On the label, an Indian Paintbrush flower, which is prominent along the Sonoma Coast during the summer, makes this a perfect oceanside wine.
Quivira 2017 Wine Creek Ranch Rosé — Quivira has been producing organic wines for many years at their Healdsburg estate. Behind the label featuring Quivira’s wild boar mascot and under the screw cap lies a blend comprising three Rhône varietals intentionally grown just for this rosé: grenache, mouvèdre and syrah. Stonefruit rules here — if you love apricot, peach and nectarines you’ll love this like a hummingbird loves nectar.
Preston Farm & Winery 2017 Vin Gris — Per Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet “that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” and sweet is not this rosé. Winemaker/owner Lou Preston references Shakespeare when talking about his latest pink release, a blend of cinsault and mouvedre that are picked just for the purpose of crafting a rustic, nice, savory wine that is chock full of strawberry, orange cream and just plain goodness. Bonus points: it’s organic.
Three Sticks 2017 Casteñada Sonoma Coast Rosé — Anyone who has tasted prior vintages of this rosé will not be surprised that the current vintage has made the cut. This wine is all about fashion and function. The cute, stubby bottle shouts “Old World” while the watermelon-colored liquid goodness inside screams “rosé all day.” A Rhône blend, you’ll be struck with strawberry, grapefruit and a touch of tartness that will perk you up. A “see and be seen” rosé that is Instagram worthy.
Rustic chic rosé
Reeve Wines 2017 Vecino Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir — Accessible wines are a specialty of Reeve Wines, which crafts pinot noir, sangiovese and riesling from eco-friendly vineyards that they serve up at their rustic-come-hip Dry Creek Valley tasting room. This biodynamic rosé is a gem of a pink, and probably too good — it’s strawberry and sweet tangerine notes make it easy to drink and perfect for poolside lounging … you’ll be done with the bottle before you know it.
Belden Barns 2017 Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir — “Wish big” is the motto at Belden Barns, where Nate and Lauren Belden pour their small lot, handcrafted estate wines in a rustic, century-old cow barn atop Sonoma Mountain. Their salmon-colored rosé will have you wishing for more. Lauren describes it as a drink-worthy wine for “all occasions in life.” This charming wine has a lovely, tart raspberry touch to it that makes it unique amongst its counterparts and worthy for sipping anytime, anyplace.
Fun and funky flavors
Auteur 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir — Auteur remains one of the best kept secrets in Wine Country. Proprietors Kenneth and Laura Juhasz are obsessed with all components of the craft — from the soil to the final sip. That doesn’t just go for their chardonnay and pinot, but also their new rosé, which tickles the senses with mint, lemon and raspberry as well as a taste of watermelon and stone fruit. The acid is just right, making it perfect to pair with a savory goat cheese, a baguette and your best friend.
Anaba Wines 2017 Rosé of Grenache, Sonoma Valley — Made with grenache grown about a mile away from the quaint town of Sonoma, this wine is Anaba’s first foray into our best of rosé list. Leaning toward the trend of acid freak-friendly wines, it’s an unusual wine with bold floral notes on the nose (rose petal, lavender), and fruit funky flavors in the mouth (lychee, kiwi, alpine strawberry). Pair worthy with paella or rustic pâtés.
Taste of Italy in Sonoma
Alexander Valley Vineyards 2017 Dry Rosé of Sangiovese — Unscrew summer with Alexander Valley Vineyards’ rosé. A bright and lush wine, its nose is filled with lush strawberry, raspberry and honeysuckle with tiny touches of bubblegum and sweet berry in the mouth. It will please the palate of both dry rosé and sweet rosé lovers, with its nice balance. At $16, it’s friendly on the wallet, too.
Passaggio Wines 2017 Tempranillo Rosé, Heringer Estate Vineyards, Clarksburg — This rosé is not for the newbie. A fruity, funky gem, it’s made from tempranillo — an Italian grape used to craft full-bodied red wines. Passaggio’s owner-winemaker Cynthia Cosco creates a unique rosé that will be the talk of the table when you pull it out of the fridge. It’s mouthwatering, with plentiful notes of cherry, lychee and a bit of currant. Wine nerds: get your hands on this before it’s gone.
Old World inspired
La Pitchoune 2017 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast — La Pitchoune has been gaining its footing as one of the most-coveted producers in Sonoma County with their unapologetic wines that are reminiscent of the kind of farmhouse wines you’d find throughout Burgundy, France. Their rosé is a bright and bold sipper with an elegant floral nose and a plentiful mouthful of melon and blood orange. We couldn’t agree more with the winery’s suggested pairing with a game of bocce — just don’t forget a plate of oysters.
Claypool Cellars Pachyderm 2017 Sonoma Coast Rosé — A labor of love by acclaimed musician Les Claypool and his partner-in-crime, Chaney Smith Claypool, this rosé is a juicy, crisp wine inspired by the wines of Marsannay, a region in the Côte de Nuits area of Burgundy known for age-worthy pinks. Its notes of raspberry, peach and nectarine are lush upon taste, making it a wine able of standing up to buttery fish and lobster or, better yet, it is delicious on its own as you dance around the house to your favorite summertime record.
Russian River rosé
MacRostie 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé, Russian River Valley — MacRostie has been named one of the best tasting rooms to visit by Sonoma Magazine, and it’s not just because of how cool their indoor-outdoor tasting room is — they also make some tasty vino, including their rosé. Rose petal and raspberry, watermelon and strawberry, all the classic notes that make rosé so yummy comprise this wine. Bonus points for the screw cap, which makes access easy when the mood strikes.
Dutton Goldfield 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Green Valley of Russian River Valley — Dutton Goldfield doesn’t mess around. This rosé uses grapes from two of the most coveted vineyards in Sonoma County, Dutton Ranch and Fox Den, where pinot thrives with hot days and cool nights. The tall, skinny bottle is chock full of bright berry, cherries and pomegranate with touches of apricot and strawberry. To put it simply: it’s a fruity, very tasty wine that will quench your thirst.
Acorn 2017 Alegría Vineyards Rosato — Zinfandel fanatics will recognize Alegría as one of the most-coveted zin-producing vineyards in the country. Acorn owns and operates the vineyard, where they share a selection of their bounty with a few lucky winemakers and keep the rest of their fruit for themselves, creating lush wines, like this rosé. A blend of zinfandel, cab franc, sanvgiovese, syrah, petite sirah and more, it’s chock full of lemon flower, cranberry and dried cherry. It calls out for pairing with whatever you’ve got to grill.
Adobe Road Winery 2017 Rosé — A fun and funky blend of pinot noir, syrah, grenache, zinfandel and petite sirah, Adobe Road’s rosé features grapes grown in the newly designated Petaluma Gap AVA. The elegant bottle and deep pink color makes this wine a head turner, and what really matters (the wine inside) will please too. It’s acidic and easy to drink, with bold notes of cherry, strawberry and nectarine.
Get outta town
Educated Guess 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Napa Valley — One of the few Napa Valley rosés to make the cut, this wine by Educated Guess — best known for their pocketbook friendly cabernets — was a nice surprise on the palate. It’s a mellow, bone dry wine with delicate berry notes reminiscence of gulp-worthy Provençe-style rosés. Even better, it’s only 12 percent ABV and has a screw cap, meaning you’ll be filling the kiddie pool up with ice to sip the day away with this wine in no time.
Lazy Creek Vineyards 2017 Anderson Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir — As if the name “Lazy Creek” didn’t call out for lazy summer days sipping rosé, right? Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley is known for killer pinot noir, and this rosé makes good use of Lazy Creek’s sustainably farmed pinot. Notes of pink grapefruit, orange peel and honeysuckle make it an elegant wine to pair with brunch-friendly foods (who needs mimosas when you have rosé?) and game meats.