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Uncorked: Devotion to quality matters for fine rosé

Melissa Burr made rosé way before it was cool. 

The veteran Willamette Valley winemaker tried to crack the rosé code when it came to the production of a refreshing, food-friendly wine with unlimited potential, long before consumers embraced its charms.

A part of the Stoller portfolio since 2005, the Stoller Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Rosé 2019 ($28) was whole cluster press and farmed like a white wine in the vineyard. It’s a level of intentionality that Burr said will help keep the wine from getting lost in the shuffle as the number of rosés on shelves could cause lesser wines to blend and become white noise. 

“We keep true to the course,” said Burr, whose wine had flavors of grapefruit, peach and wet stone minerality. “We’ve got these components that don’t come and go due to fads, we have site-driven wines. We farm for high quality and work to keep improving it. We are fortunate that it took a handful of years to see what works best. There’s a tsunami of rosé that’s not very good, just pink water out there.” 

The following wines all are worth a glass to be enjoyed on the back porch, near the pool, with a wide array of brunch, lunch or dinners or anytime a glass of refreshing wine is needed. 

At Clif Family Winery in Napa Valley, there was a celebration of the wine’s release on Valentine’s Day. The Clif Family Rosé of Grenache 2019 ($26) has watermelon, peach and tropical fruit flavors. When it’s safe to travel again, the winery’s Bruschetteria food truck and patio should be on the itinerary of every Napa Valley visit. 

Jesús Artajona remembered a time when rosé was such an afterthought it would be made from lower quality white and red wine grapes. At Enate, a Spanish winery where modern art is deftly incorporated into the labeling and in an art collection at the estate, Artajona crafted a fuller-bodied rosé with flavors of ripe raspberry, cranberry and spice rack from cabernet sauvignon. 

“We accept the challenge of elaborating a rosé wine with varieties of cabernet sauvignon grapes, selecting excellent quality raw material,” Artajona said. “The result is a vibrant wine, with a red strawberry color and very fresh to the mouth, since the volume of alcohol is balanced with its acidity. This is due to the region where Enate is located, Somontano, where the terroir, together with the difference in temperatures between night and day during the summer, allow slow maturation.”

On the lighter side of the rosé spectrum is Frescobaldi's Tenuta Ammiraglia Alìe Rosé 2018 ($18.99) with floral aromas and flavors of honeydew melon and grapefruit. Winemaker Livia Le Divelec waxed poetic about how and when it is best enjoyed.  

“Alìe rosé is pure sensuality enclosed in a glass,” Le Divelec said. “Once you approach a glass of Alìe rosé, you are imbued by a magic sea breeze, by a perfumed nose of peach and flowers, and last, but not least, by an indisputable elegance. Its versatility is impressive; perfect as an aperitif, but I love also the match with some seafood and seafood salad. I love it with friends on the shoreline watching the typical Tuscan kaleidoscope sunset.”

The late harvest and long hang time allow for flavor development in the red and white wines from Monterey County, California. Because the grapes don’t ripen quickly with the windy conditions and cold nights, La Crema winemaker Craig McAllister can capture grapefruit, strawberries and orange rind flavors, yet preserve acidity and keep the wine snappy and fresh.

“The pinot noir for this wine is grown with the intention of making rosé,” McAllister said. “We tend the vineyards in a way that allows the grapes ample time to develop expressive, concentrated flavors while retaining their natural acidity. The cool climate of the Monterey appellation, and its proximity to the ocean, imparts an almost saline-like quality to the fruit, giving our rosé an incredible mineral backbone to support the abundant fruit and citrus flavors.” 

At Justin, winemaker Scott Shirley was inspired by the Provençal style; some of the best rosé on the market comes from the south of France. With white cherry, strawberry and melon flavors, the Justin Rose 2019 ($20) has a bright acidity that makes it a chef’s best friend for ease in pairing. 

“I would recommend pairing with either a Cobb salad or roasted chicken seasoned with garlic, thyme and lemon,” Shirley said. “It can also be drunk just on its own as an aperitif, and is a wine that is meant to be enjoyed in the summer either at the dining room table, poolside, beach-side, outside with friends and family members.”

There’s still plenty of time to enjoy summer, and there are plenty of excellent rosés to discover.

• James Nokes has been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Email him at

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