Friday, April 14, 2017

This Spring & Summer, Check Out Virginia Rosé

If you’ve perused this blog at all, you know I’m a big supporter of Virginia wines. Are they among my favorite in the world? No. Do they take up a lot of space in my cellar? Not really. But with DC as my adopted home town, Virginia wine country has a very special place in my heart. And more and more producers are turning out all sorts of well-made, delicious, specifically Virginian wine.
Now that the spring is in full swing, you’ll likely see more and more rosé wine on the shelves. I’ve been seriously into wine for about a decade, and one of the most exciting big-picture trends I’ve seen over that time is the growth in popularity, quantity and quality of American dry rosé. Wine-drinkers in the U.S. have embraced dry, crisp, delicious, diverse pink wine as part of their consumption habits.
Wineries across the country can barely keep up with demand, especially in Virginia. I had a hard time finding recent statistics on Virginia rosé, but here’s my anecdotal evidence: There are more (and more very good) Virginia rosés than ever before. Almost all wineries make them, and now through early fall is prime pink wine time. So if you live in the DC-MD-VA area, get out there and find some!
Photo Credit: Frank Morgan - Drink What U Like
I recently tasted through seven different Virginia rosés during an online meetup with VA wine guru Frank Morgan and the winemakers from each of the wineries. It was a good chance to see what’s going in with Virginia pink and chat with the winemakers about how rosé fits into their portfolios.
These wines are all purposefully made into rosé, meaning the vineyards and grapes are managed with rosé production in mind, as opposed to some rosés made with grapes that didn’t fully ripen. A lot of rosé is sold directly to the consumer from tasting rooms (which are popular tourist destinations in the spring and summer months) while others have some small distribution around mid-Atlantic shops and restaurants. If you’re in the area, the best way to experience refreshing VA rosé is to head out to a vineyard and taste for yourself. Virginia wineries are located in some gorgeous country, and a crisp, cool pink on a hot day is a privilege worth seeking out.
Here are my notes on the wines I tasted…
2016 Early Mountain Vineyards Rosé - Virginia, Central Virginia, Madison County
Pale strawberry color. Bright and brisk aromas of white and red flowers, white cherries, strawberries, some green herbs and perfume. Crisp and zesty on the palate with fresh strawberries and tart white cherry notes, a white tea, green herb and baby’s breath notes. A refreshing salinity and minerality. Lots going on here but so lip-smackingly delicious, too.  60% Merlot, 25% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec, alcohol 12.2%, whole-cluster pressed, stainless steel fermented. (89 points)
2016 King Family Vineyards Crosé - Virginia, Central Virginia, Monticello
Rich watermelon color. Nose shows juicy peaches, nectarines and tart white cherries with white pepper, nettle and hyacinth. Bright and zesty palate, very perfumed (white flowers, perfume shop, a mass of honeysuckle, spiced floral tea), and some bright white cherry and watermelon rind fruit. Complex, generous texture, exciting yet straightforward and lively. 85% Merlot with some Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. (87 points)
Color like watermelon Jolly ranchers. Nose of red apple, strawberry jam, rose petals, a note of cut flower stems. Medium-bodied with a fleshy texture and crisp, lip-smacking acid. This is a vibrant and crunchy dry wine with strawberries, juicy cherries and red apples, notes of honey, flowers, chalk dust, minerals and cheese rind. Wow, I am really surprised at how much I like this wine. Intensely fresh but also rich in fruit and flavor, very gluggable but showing solid complexity. All Chambourcin rose from a vineyard planted specifically for rosé. (89 points)
2016 Breaux Vineyards Rosé - Virginia, Northern Virginia, Loudoun County
Pale watermelon color. Nose of McIntosh apple, sour cherry, raspberry leaf and bell pepper. A creamy, smooth, mouth-filling texture but dry and still very fresh. Red apple, strawberry, juicy fruit mixes with honeyed white tea, almond, white pepper, some Southern sweet tea (although tastes dry). Fun stuff. I like the combination of richness and spiciness in this wine. 38% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec and 7% Petit Verdot. (87 points)
2016 Breaux Vineyards Cellar Selection Nebbiolo Rosé - Virginia, Northern Virginia, Loudoun County
Medium copper color. Tons of white pepper and wild green herb aromas, lavender and roses on top of tart white cherry and strawberry fruit. Palate is 14.1% so there’s a creamy and even waxy texture but the acidity is lovely and supports white cherry, tart red plum and apple. Lots of white pepper and wild herbs and flowers, this is surprisingly complex, rich but vibrant, so delicious. All estate-grown Nebbiolo fermented in neutral oak and stainless steel. (90 points)
2014 Hillsborough Vineyards Serefina - Virginia, Northern Virginia
Strawberry jam color. Smells like strawberry jam, Swedish fish candies, watermelon and rose petals. Medium+ bodied with brisk acidity. Flavors of sweet red apple, grapefruit pith, strawberry jam mixes with notes of rosewater, oregano, bitter seaweed and saline. Strange but fun. This is such an odd wine but oddly sort of attractive. Made with 90% Petit Manseng fermented in stainless steel, with 10% Tannat fermented on its skins in old French oak and blended in. (83 points)
2015 Hillsborough Vineyards Serefina - Virginia, Northern Virginia
Dark cherry juice colored. A cider and orange wine-like aspect of wild yeast, candied orange peel. Medium-bodied and crisp with a spritz and a delightfully tangy bite. This is much better than the 2014, it shows more fruit and less austerity and oddities. Lots of cherries and blood orange with a tangy herbal and white pepper element – a sour beer/orange wine aspect to this wine, but it’s also neither of those things. Still perplexing, just a lot more accessible and approachable (and more delicious) than the 2014. Mostly Petit Manseng with some red wine (made from Tannat) blended in. (87 points)

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