Importance of rosé wines leads to judging

By on February 28, 2015
Sales of rosé wine continue to rise.

Sales of rosé wine continue to rise. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

One of the most important growing categories in American wine is rosé.

In the Pacific Northwest, more than 100 rosés – primarily dry – are being produced, and there seems to be no sign of them slowing down. Consumers love them for their dry, refreshing flavors and versatile food-pairing capabilities.

Now, a wine competition devoted solely to rosés will be taking place for North American rosés.

Bob Ecker, a wine writer and judge from the Napa, Calif., region is conducting the Rosé Competition, which he will stage March 25 at Simi Winery in Sonoma County. A public tasting is scheduled for May 30 at the winery.

Ecker held a California-only rosé judging in 2013 that drew nearly 100 entries. For this edition, he said he believes he will draw about 200 entries from both coasts.

“It’s one of the fastest-growing segments in the industry,” Ecker told Great Northwest Wine.

He pointed out that rosé production is catching on even on the East Coast, noting that one winery on New York’s Long Island is producing six rosés – and that’s it.

Northwest wineries making great rosés

Barnard Griffin Winery's Rosé of Sangiovese has won gold medal or better nine times in 10 years.

The Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese has won a gold medal or better nine times in the past 10 years at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

One of the best rosés in the country is made in Washington. Barnard Griffin in Richland has been making rosé for more than 10 years. Winemaker Rob Griffin’s Rosé of Sangiovese has won gold or better for nine of the past 10 years at the giant San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. In that span, he has increased production from a few hundred cases to 11,400 cases of the 2014 edition, which was released just before Valentine’s Day.

Even with that dramatic increase in production, Barnard Griffin’s rosé likely will sell out by August.

Dai Crisp, owner of Lumos Wine Co. in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, agreed that rosé is an extremely important wine nationwide. He produces a Pinot Noir rosé that is among the best in the Pacific Northwest. On a sales trip two years ago to New York, he got an idea of just how big of a deal it was.

“New York and other cities on the East Coast are serious about drinking rosé,” he said. “As soon as it warms up, it is rosé season.”

He recounted chatting with one owner of a small New York City wine shop, who said he will typically go through as many as 600 cases of rosé each spring and summer.

Provence, the region in southern France that makes some of the world’s best rosés, has enjoyed annual double-digit growth in rosé exports to the United States. In 2012 and 2013, growth topped 40 percent, while last year, it remained strong at 20 percent.

According to Nielsen, sales of imported premium rosé was up 55 percent in the United States.

For those wineries interested in entering the Rosé Competition, the fee to enter is $50, and the deadline to receive wines is March 20.

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is founding partner of Great Northwest Wine LLC and a longtime wine columnist. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books.

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