On Friday, April 21, Lynn and I hosted the PAWS (Perfectly Aged Wine Sippers) tasting group for a sampling of Rosés currently available in the Walla Walla Valley. Because when it comes to Rosés preferences depend mostly on personal tastes, participants were not asked to rank wines in order of preference or to score them. The tasting was solely for the purpose of finding one's own favorites.
As a guide to the varied types of Rosé wines tasted, I have compiled a list of the following categories, with brief stylistic descriptions, together with the months in which they were reviewed in the Review of Washington Wines.
Provence Style Rosés
This is the most popular category of Rosés, generally produced from Grenache, Mourvédre, Syrah, Cinsault, and or Counoise, or combinations thereof. Here are the ones we tasted.
2016 Tranche Cellars "Pink Pape" Rose, Yakima Valley, Blackrock Vineyard $20 - (47% Grenache, 27% Counoise, 26% Cinsault) - Pale salmon colored, this was made in a lighter, fresh style, with notes of tangerine, Rainier cherry and light spice. Reviewed May.
2016 Ardor Cellars Rosé, Yakima Valley, Painted Hills Vineyard $19 - (63% Mourvédre, 37% Grenache) - Pink salmon colored, with moderate extraction and hints of white smoke and spice, finishing dry. Reviewed May.
2016 L'Ecole No. 41 Grenache Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, Alder Ridge Vineyard $22 - Medium pink colored, this was the most extracted Rosé in this category. It had attractive notes of raspberry and cherry, with a lively finish. Reviewed May.
2016 Browne Family Vineyards Grenache Rosé, Columbia Valley $18 - Pale pink colored, with notes of strawberry and tangerine, and good structure, this was the most Provençal-like Rosé tasted. Reviewed April.
2016 Balboa Rosé of Grenache, Walla Walla Valley $20 - Also Provençal-like, this one was pleasingly aromatic and fruited, with a dry, minerals finish. To be reviewed in the June issue.
2016 Gramercy Cellars Olsen Vineyard Rosé, Columbia Valley $25 - (52% Cinsault, 24% Grenache, 24% Syrah) - Pale pink colored, with aromas and flavors of raspberry and tangerine and nicely extracted. The herb and lavender scents give it a Provençal like character. To be reviewed June.
Rhone Style Rosés
These are made with the Syrah grape, sometimes with some white Viognier grapes.
2016 Waters Rosé, Washington State $18 (60% Syrah, 40% Viognier co-ferment) - Made in a lightly extracted (straight from the press) style, this showed a pale salmon color and attractive fragrance (from the Viognier) along with peach and grape fruits. Reviewed May.
2016 Waters Patina Vineyard Rosé, Walla Walla Valley $22 (100% Syrah) - From LeaAnn Hughes' vineyard, this showed a salmon color and light, yet distinct extracts (again, straight from press) with a bit of spice and Patina gravel. Reviewed May.
Cabernet Franc Rosés
These are modeled after the Cabernet Franc Rosés of Bordeaux and the Loire Valley.
2016 Seven Hills Dry Rosé, Columbia Valley $18 (Cabernet Franc with bits of Malbec and Petit Verdot) - In the manner of a Bordeaux "Clairette" (what the Bordelais call Rosé), this pale pink-salmon colored wine offered an amiable lighter style, with touches of cherry and raspberry. Reviewed April.
2016 Sleight of Hand Cellars "Magician's Assistant" Rose of Cabernet Franc, Blackrock Vineyard $18 - This resembles a Loire Rosé with a pale pink color and fresh, lively cherry and raspberry fruits and a dry finish. Reviewed May.
These are wines made from specific varietals or combinations.
2016 College Cellars Rosé of Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, Reed Vineyard $16 - This is made from Pinot Gris grapes given longer hang time on the vines, giving the wine a copper color. This one showed a peach and apricot nose and fruity flavors with moderate extract and acid. Reviewed March.
2016 Vital Wines Rosé, Walla Walla Valley $18 - (100% Sangiovese, Seven Hills Vineyard) - Here, Ashley Trout has turned out a pale pink colored Rosé with floral scents and fresh, appealing light fruits that finish crisp and dry. Reviewed April.
2016 Tertulia Cellars Tempranillo Rosé, Walla Walla Valley $18 - From a variety originating in Spain, this showed a pale pink color and floral aromas and notes of cherry and tangerine, finishing dry. Reviewed May.
2016 Saviah Cellars Rosé, Walla Walla Valley $18 - (56% Sangiovese, 44% Barbera) - Light copper-pink colored, with attractive aromas and flavors of strawberry and cherry, with moderate extraction and hints of spice. To be reviewed in the June issue.