Rosé is the wine of choice for a growing number of Americans and with good reason. This beautiful, bright wine has a lovely, summery taste, plus who can resist that fashion favorite color pink? With good reason, rosé is the new darling of Rogue Valley wine drinkers and celebrity wine fanciers alike.
While rosé usually only represents about 1.5% of US sales, sales increased nearly 40% in 2017, according to Nielsen reports, and there’s no indication that number will dip anytime soon. This trending wine is typically chilled to 45 degrees, doesn’t need to breathe and can be served upon opening. Vogue Magazine credits millennials’ use of social media for the pink wine’s popularity and a quick review of Instagram’s rosewine hashtags show rosé in tumblers, jars, boxes, bottles and even slushy machines. Photos of men and women, often young and casually dressed abound holding glasses of pink wine with ice and straws. Rosé is hip. Rosé is delicious.
Here in Southern Oregon, rosé wine has come of age and three wineries, Del Rio Vineyards, Red Lily Vineyards and Irvine & Roberts Vineyards, are among those producing very different and exceptionally enjoyable rosés. These wines are made with thought and intention.
Del Rio Vineyards in Gold Hill crafted Rose Jolee as a low-alcohol, American-style, sparkling semi-sweet rosé. It’s a blend of Del Rio estate Muscat, Riesling and Cabernet Franc producing a wine with notes of peach and tangerine. As a sparkling wine, Rose Jolee pairs well with fruits, desserts and sautéed foods, making the wine a good selection for brunch and lunch. The 2016 Rose Jolee won a Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle competition and Best of Class in Experience Rosé’s Domestic Sweet competition and costs around$15 a bottle.
With the success of Rose Jolee, Del Rio’s French winemakers, Jean-Michel Jussiaume and Aurelien Labrosse, wanted to produce a more traditional European-style rosé. Their 2017 Grenache Rosé is a classical Provence-style dry rosé. With notes of strawberry, peach, grapefruit and a mineral finish that amplifies the fruit flavors, the 2017 Grenache Rosé refreshes in the heat of the day and pairs well with salads of mixed greens, light pasta, rice dishes and summer seafood. Del Rio’s 2017 Grenache Rosé won a Gold in the 2018 Experience Rosé’s Domestic Dry category and is priced at $17.
Red Lily’s Lily Girl Rosé was first produced in 2009 as a 100% Tempranillo rosé but winemaker Rachael Martin wasn’t satisfied. She knew Tempranillo’s strengths and weaknesses very well and wanted a more aromatic, balanced and slightly acidic rosé. Today, Lily Girl is a delightful blend of winemaker Rachael Martin’s favorite Spanish varietals: Tempranillo brings fruit forward cherry flavors that blend with crisp Grenache aromatics and temper the acidity of Graciano. Lily Girl is a fuller-bodied rosé that suits summer suppers of gazpacho, lighter pasta dishes, grilled chicken and seafood. At $16 a bottle, the 2016 Lily Girl Rosé won a Silver at the 2017 Oregon Wine Experience.
Irvine & Roberts Vineyard is known for their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines and so the 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir is a perfect wine for that winery. The rosé is beautifully aromatic with floral notes that fill the nose, followed by fruit flavors of citrus and berries; there’s a mouthwatering acidity to the finish. Quaff this rosé by the glass or pair it with oysters, fresh goat cheese and salads but do give it a try with a steak or burger also. Irvine & Roberts’s 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir won a Gold at Sunset Magazine’s 2017 wine competition and sells for $28 a bottle.
Cucumber Rosé Cooler
Summer rosé wine spritzers refresh and hydrate thanks to their lower alcohol content. They are also a great way to stretch a wine budget. Fill a Collins or wine glass about half way with the rosé of your choice, add ice, top off with club soda and serve with a straw. Delicious and refreshing!
For the more adventurous palate, try a Cucumber Rosé Cooler cocktail concocted by Peerless Restaurant’s mixologist, Blake Satie. He made this cocktail using Irvine & Roberts Vineyard’s Rosé of Pinot Noir.
1 ounce rosé wine
¾ ounce cucumber infused vodka (see below)
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
¾ ounce Aperol Aperitif
Layer ingredients, carefully add ice, top with soda water and run the rim with a cucumber wheel. Appreciate the beauty of layered shades of pink and red, then mix to blend the flavors. You can buy cucumber infused vodka or infuse your own by peeling and cubing one English cucumber and covering it with 750ml. of vodka. Seal the jar and leave at room temperature for 24-48 hours before straining out the cucumber.
The Cucumber Rosé Cooler is fresh, balanced and bright tasting of flowers, rhubarb, citrus and a hint of cucumber with a slight herbal finish that offsets the simple sugar.