The Pink Ladies Rule the Rosé School

rosemoneyshotWith almost two weeks of summer behind us, we’re well into one of the most important seasons of the year–Rosé Season. This past Monday, a bevy of lively pink wine-loving ladies convened at elegant gal-about-town Bette Sinclair’s airy West Hills perch to conduct a thorough tasting of six vibrant Oregon rosés, complete with triple créme Bries and strawberry tartlets, tales of the Bradley Cooper that got away, and a mass pass-out, er, nap.

Tasting panelists included Bette, of B. Sinclair Advertising and Public Relations, Portland Culinary Alliance Executive Director Andrea Slonecker, Travel Portland Media Relations Coordinator Lila Martin, Pacific Pie Company co-owner Sarah Curtis-Fawley, Olympic Provisions co-owner Michelle Cairo, and myself. Our qualifications? Well, none of us have tastevins, but we love rosé with a deep pink passion. That’s all you need to quaff pink wine with us.

As everyone arrived at Bette’s bearing deliciousness like La Tur cheese from Pastaworks, Olympic Provisions charcuterie, and Little T American Baker baguettes, we amassed quite a spread.

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Bette’s sideboard was heaped with cheese, salami, tropical salsa, and rosé friendly snacks like the always-addictive Castelvetrano olives, sweet Rainier cherries, and marcona almonds.

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For dessert, Lila made gorgeous, delicate strawberry tartlets topped with dollops of creamy chevre and lemon verbena leaves.

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The tasting rules were simple: bring a bottle of Oregon Rosé To Rule Them All. We intended to judge the best rosé or perhaps the top three, but in the end, we found that all six in attendance were quite recommendable in their own right, so we just gave them all fun prize titles, sort of like how you hand out diplomatically homogenous prizes at a kindergarten birthday party.

This taste test was by no means conducted objectively or with strict protocol–rosé identities weren’t masked with paper bags and spitting to maintain clarity wasn’t an option, so if professional wine advice is what you seek, you’ll want to read Matt Kramer’s wine reviews.

Without further ado, here are our six Oregon rosé recommendations for your summer sipping pleasure, along with a few tasting notes, some of which are lucid, some which aren’t. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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THE  LIKE DRINKING A FLAMENCO DANCE ROSE´

roseabacela1First, we uncorked the 2009 Abacela Grenache Rosé, a Spanish-style rosé that the winery site describes this way: “The beautiful color, fresh aromas, and bright acidity are the result of brief skin contact and a slow, cold fermentation. Aromas of fresh strawberries, melon, and grapefruit with flavors of cherries, spice, and raspberries belie the fact that this wine is dry. This rosé/rosado pairs well with traditional tapas, and is great on a warm summer afternoon.”

Alcohol: 13.2%   Price: $14

Tasting Notes: Tasters were just warming up with this wine. “It’s such a gorgeous color,” someone said, while someone else, perhaps me, blurted out, “I smell strawberries,” which is about the extent of my wine aroma savvy. “I can imagine drinking this at a little sidewalk table in Barcelona,” one panelist sighed, while another, caught up in the Spanish theme, said, “It’s a little spicy, like drinking a flamenco dance.” The dryness and bright, clean flavors of the wine were complimented, and it was agreed that this was a lovely example of a pink summer sipper.

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THE WE ARE MISSING THE BACHELORETTE RIGHT NOW ROSE´

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The next rosé was a 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé by indie winemaker Marcus Goodfellow of Matello Winery in Ribbon Ridge, one of the smallest wineries in Oregon and a foodie favorite.

Alcohol: Unknown Price: $16

Tasting notes: Panel members spoke of tasting”fermented fruit” and “overripe banana,” praised the “subtlety” of the wine, and claimed to detect “a funkiness.” Then panel members veered off topic into a discussion of The Bachelorette, which all of us were missing to conduct this tasting. One panel member in a bright yellow frock, displaying a premature belligerence usually not exhibited before her fourth bottle of wine, drained her glass and demanded that the third wine be opened, then spit a cherry pit at the tasting notes taker and viciously pinched her leg for no apparent reason.

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THE I’M THE COOLEST KID AT THE TASTING ROSE´

rosetastingschoneschlucht3The third bottle was brought by Michelle, who was, interestingly enough, wearing a bright yellow frock. Michelle humbly referred to her wine as “the coolest wine here.” Having cheated slightly by enlisting the help of Olympic Provisions wine goddess Carly Laws and demanding “I want to have the coolest wine at the tasting!” Michelle brought an admittedly excellent, and cool, bottle of 2009 Schöne Schlucht Chehelam Mountains Rosé by Teutonic Wine Company. Teutonic is based in Alsea, Oregon, and makes food-friendly Alsatian and German-style wines. This 100% Pinot Noir rosé is Teutonic’s first, and they describe it as “Clean and fresh with heaps of depth and complexity. 100% Pinot Noir aged in neutral oak and fermented with wild yeast. This wine is perfect for a warm spring afternoon and should only improve for years.”

Alcohol: 13%    Price: $14

Tasting Notes: “It has this weird effervesence,” one taster noted, while another said it was “super dry” and had “a little bit of bitterness.” Someone noted that it was the only rosé in attendance to be bottled in a Gewurztraminer bottle. “It has a nice acidic feel to it, which I love in a wine,” someone gushed, while another taster declared it “unexpected,” and yet another praised it for “not trying to be an ordinary rosé.” Feeling satisfied that she’d cleaned everyone’s rosé clock at this point, Michelle leaned back in her chair and told a long-winded story about the Sonoma Wine Festival, where she is notorious for once falling asleep amid a heap of discarded empty wine bottles.

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THE THIS IS WHAT I THINK ABOUT WHEN I THINK ABOUT ROSE´ ROSE´

roseappoloniThe fourth bottle was the Italian-style 2008 Appoloni Pinot Noir Rosé, which the vineyard’s website describes as such: “This fresh, crisp and fruitful rosé opens with bright strawberry, tropical fruit and floral aromas and holds your attention with citrus finish.  This perfect summer wine, crisp and fresh with a little more substance, is perfect with chicken, fish or just on its own.”

Alcohol: 13.7%    Price: $14

Tasting Notes: By now, panelists were becoming increasingly emotional about rosé. “That gets the prettiest color award,” sighed one taster dreamily, while another enthused “It’s just…it’s just delicious.” Another struggled to find the words to describe the wine–”I taste…” she faltered. “ALCOHOL,” Michelle interjected, snickering. “It has the most heft,” said the always-dignified Bette, “And lots of acid.” “This is what I think about when I think about rosé,” Sarah said solemnly. “It’s dry, it’s minerally, it has a nice weight on the palate.” Well said.

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THE I DON’T GET CAT PEE AT ALL ROSE´

roseatozNext up was the A to Z 2009 Rosé. A to Z describes themselves as makers of “Aristocratic Wines at Democratic Prices,” and this rosé is flaunted on their website as Oregon’s only 100% Sangiovese rosé and “a beautiful, vibrant classic Rosé color of Versailles brilliance with aromas and flavors of wild strawberries, watermelon, ruby red grapefruit, rosewater and hibiscus. The attack is juicy with a profusion of red fruit flavors and refreshing acidity. Bright and rich, this wine lingers on and finishes crisp.”

Alcohol: 13.3%   Price: $12

Tasting Notes: Labeled by one taster as the “most fruity wine of the night,” the A to Z was said to have “a big nose,” “fruity sweetness,” and a “banana strawberry milkshake” aroma. “The screw top makes it ideal for a picnic,” I pointed out. “In case you always seem to forget your wine opener.” “This is darker and more brilliant than the others,” someone said, and comments about the wine’s “ruby” hue flew around the room. “Tropical fruit is what I get,” one taster commented. ”I totally get cat pee,” someone else said, “in a good way,” to which Michelle declared, “I don’t get cat pee AT ALL,” then drank deeply from the bottle. “It’s so easy to drink,”  someone said wistfully. “Almost too easy.” Everyone nodded.

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THE NEENER NEENER I DATED BRADLEY COOPER IN HIGH SCHOOL AND YOU DIDN’T ROSE´

roseelkcoveAnd with that, the final bottle, or what we thought would be the final bottle, emerged from the refrigerator, the Elk Cove 2009 Pinot Noir Rosé Willamette Valley. Winery notes are, “Produced entirely from Pinot Noir, Oregon’s flagship varietal, this is our interpretation of a “pink” wine! Our Pinot Noir fruit is hand-harvested very ripe from both young and old vines and gently whole bunch pressed with limited skin contact, which makes it virtually a “white Pinot Noir”. It is fermented cool in stainless steel tanks and then hand selected lots of fermented red Pinot Noir juice is blended back for color and texture. This wine is finished completely dry.”

Alcohol: Unknown  Price: $15

Tasting Notes: By this time, Sarah was regaling an enthralled audience with tales of how she dated Bradley Cooper when she was 15, THE Bradley Cooper, and frankly the tasting note taker, who has a bit of a crush on Bradley Cooper, wasn’t paying all that close attention to the wine notes. A few snippets of conversation included “It’s so satisfying,” and “I really like that,” but whether these were in reference to the rosé or Bradley Cooper, I do not know. “What a nice rosé to end on,” Andrea said sagely, and everyone agreed that the Elk Cove was indeed a very nice rosé, all-around.

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The aftermath.

With six bottles of rosé under our collective belts and an unspoken ‘let no drop of rosé go undrunk’ policy in effect, the group was getting philosophical. As the Greek poet Alcaeus once said, ““Ἐν οἴνῳ ἀλήθεια” or, “In (six bottles of) wine, there is truth (random drunken philosophizing).” The note taker tried in vain to transcribe all the wisdom flowing forth, as heads began to nod.

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“Rosé is very proletariat,” the still-somewhat alert Sarah declared, swishing and sniffing a glass of a French rosé which had been pulled from the refrigerator along with an Italian rosé “for comparison’s sake.” (We are a very thorough panel.) “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good rosé.” This is true, most of the bottles on our list hover around the $15 mark.

“We like our pink wine dry, rich, accessible, and not too demanding,” Bette purred, “Just like our men.”

“CHEERS!” the group shouted.

And with that, everyone passed out soundly took a little nap, very much like at the end of a kindergarten birthday party.

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Stay tuned for our August champagne tasting!