By all accounts, the 2015 vintage in Northern California was exceptional, but what it wasn’t? Abundant. It produced nowhere near what 2012 and 2013 did. And 2014 was a triple streak of quality and quantity in California wine.
The good news? We still have plenty of great wine to look forward to. The not-so-great news? The amount of 2015 vintage rosé floating around might be tight, as there just simply weren’t enough grapes to go around. And for the Pinot Noir houses that often make some of our favorite rosés? Those grapes needed to go into more lucrative bottles of Pinot, not rosé.
This is a sad state of affairs which got me thinking… If rosé is going to be limited, with the first of the 2015s just starting to trickle in, whose rosés should we be hoping for in anticipation of this scarce vintage? These standout producers are among those worth looking for.
Matt Iaconis doesn’t make a lot of wine, but of his Napa line-up of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the rosé is a consistently succulent and inviting quaff. The 2014 is made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in two unlikely places in the Napa Valley: Foss Valley, near Atlas Peak and Spring Mountain. This light-hued wine is incredibly delicious and vibrantly crisp, with notes of grapefruit rind, earthy cranberry and raspberry. With the slightest salinity on the back palate, it’s thirst quenching and memorable from start to finish. A 2015 is right on its heels and is equally gulpable. $22.
This Russian River Valley stalwart is making some of the best, most consistent wines of its lifetime, pulling back on alcohol and oak to let its incredible fruit sources shine, buoyed by acidity. Case in point, the 2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir. It’s light and refreshing, yet a complex combination of fresh-cut grapefruit and watermelon. With a suggestion of apricot and cranberry in the wings, this wine is stellar in every way. Fermented in both stainless steel and neutral oak, it provides a textured acidity that gives it balance and just enough weight, finishing with a taste of wet stone. $28.
Winemaker Kathleen Inman created a bona fide hit with her Endless Crush Rosé after first being released years ago. Alongside this, her OGV Estate Brut Rosé was a hit. The 2014 is a knockout, made from a single-vineyard source of Pinot Noir grapes from her OGV Estate on Olivet Lane. This lovely pinkish-red wine is a celebration of wild strawberry. Dry, crisp and refreshing, it offers a twist of citrus on the finish and a floral backbone of honeysuckle. $25.
John and Nancy’s going concern in the heart of the Sonoma Valley is mostly about Rhone varieties. The 2014 Enjoué Rosé showcases this, putting together 70% Syrah, 19% Grenache and 11% Mourvèdre for a pinkish-orange wine that’s spritzy and alive, waxy in plum and cherry flavors, with an earthiness to boot. Medium in build and weight, it stands well on its own but will find happy companionship on the table as well. It finishes dry and crisp. $28.
A small producer that also makes several vineyard-designated Zinfandels, the Ousterhout 2014 Wood Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley is seductively tart in lemon pith, cranberry and pomegranate, making for a refreshing, light-bodied drink that is infinitely enjoyable, both on its own and at the table. It continues to expand on the palate into an increasing array of fresh flavors, finishing in cherry and orange. $29.
The Sonoma Coast-focused Red Car is a devotee of high-acidity, low-alcohol wines, with a focus on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah from sites dotted along the true Sonoma Coast, where coolness and challenging growing conditions are no joke. Both its 2013 and 2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir are deliciously light and bright, super fresh in zingy acidity and juicy flavors of grapefruit, strawberry and lime. The acidity buoys the experience from first sip to last, backed by enough body to remain in balance. Red Car ferments its rosé like a white wine, without skin or seed contact. $28.
And now for something completely different. A brother-and-sister winemaking team based in the Napa Valley, this small producer’s 2014 rosé is made from 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Pinot Noir, an interesting and fulfilling combination that ultimately finds a robustness on the palate. Pinkish-orange in color, it’s both tangy and weighty, finishing dry in orange zest. $35.