With each summer comes the avalanche of obscure rosés being released all at once from all over the world, ranging in shades of delicate pink to watermelon candy. But with so many rosés in the market, you might miss the small domestic producers that, in a blind tasting, would give some of the best rosés of Provence and Bandol a run for their money.
Winemaker Samantha Sheehan's 2013 Poe rosé, Sonoma, (66% old vine pinot noir and 34% pinot meunier), with only 300 cases produced, is the rosé you should try this summer while you still have a chance ($20).
A delicate shade of pink similar to the color of the inside of a seashell, the wine has faint aromas of fresh Rainier cherries, ocean sand and a distant hint of bubblegum on the nose. Notes on the palate of sea spray, mineral and cherry blossom fall into a lingering citrus on the finish leave your palate clean and quenched. It's the perfect wine for sitting in the sun and cooling off, or a warm evening with food because it's versatile enough to pair with almost any cheese or light meal.
What truly makes this wine unique is the blend. In the case of the pinot noir, it's the age of the vines that gave the fruit that's unique. The older a vine gets the higher the quality is of its fruit, but there is far less of that fruit produced, and the pinot noir vines sourced for this blend were planted in Sonoma's Olcese vineyard in 1970, qualifying them as "old vine."
The other grape added to the cuvee is pinot meunier from the Van der Kamp vineyard, a varietal used primarily for sparkling wine production. (For all you wine geeks out there, the pinot meunier was planted on the Sonoma Mountain vineyard by Andre Tchelistcheff, in 1950.)
As someone who tastes wine for a living, I'm rarely surprised when it comes to domestic rosé, especially rosé from pinot noir. They always look like they're going to be as delicate, lively, complex and refreshing as a rosé from Southern France, but in the end they usually lack acidity and have a certain round, almost flabby feeling on the sides of the palate that makes them easy drinking, but come up short when being paired with food.
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Traditionally, the best rosés every season come from the south of France and are blends of grenache, syrah and mourvedre. They're light and crisp with essence of berries, steely on the palate with notes of mineral and wet stone, and they're versatile enough to go with any lighter food. Until now, I thought them to be the staple of summer rosés, but the 2013 Poe rosé has proven that California has come a long way from the days of white zinfandel.
Poe rosé can be found at Silverlake Wine.