Why Oregon Wineries Look Pink

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Producers already known for Burgundy-style Pinot Noir make things easier with roses made from the same grape.

You probably know Oregon for its world-class Pinot Noir wines, which attracts many Burgundy drinkers (and also a few producers from there). But too late, the state has also entered the scene with a lighter version of the grape that produces multidimensional roses that deliver both freshness and complexity.

“Oregon Pinot Noir is a unique candidate for rosé [as it] lends itself incredibly well to a subtle but lively fruit characteristic [and] vibrant brighter red berry aromas, ”says Vince Vidrine, winemaker at Irvine & Roberts Vineyard in Ashland. He recognized its second dimension, adding that the grape “tends to contribute fascinating salts and earth notes.”

The first Pinot Noir was planted in the Willamette Valley in 1965; today with nine sub-designations and 23,525 planted acres, it is the largest of the state’s AVAs. It remains a solid support in winemaking.

“Oregon’s Willamette Valley produces some of the best Pinot Noirs in the world. It was a natural progression to produce a Pinot Noir rosé that would just be considered, ”says Melissa Burr, vice president of winemaking at Stoller Family Estate in the Dundee Hills American Viticultural Area (AVA), a sub-region of the valley.

Burr is not alone in his statement of pride. Nate Klostermann, winemaker at Argyle in Dundee, the valley calls “a great place” for rosé, where Pinot Noir “develops wonderfully complex, floral and spicy aromas and highlights its well-defined core and energetic length.”

Drink the lighter versions throughout the summer, and with their ground notes, many can be enjoyed with a variety of dishes from barbecue to pasta and well into the fall. Look for these recommendations for your dog drinking days or your early fall folds.

Shallow sea rosé 2020, Willamette Valley. So named after the ancient former ocean floor in the underlying geology (they say you can see petrified shells and shark teeth in the vineyard soils). Light copper in color, tight and lean, it shows sour strawberries and fresh watermelon notes. A little menthol and salty notes on the nose accompany the palate. “Produced and bottled by real beautiful winemakers” is written on the label. I agree!

Sotor winery “Origin Series” Pinot Noir rosé 2020, Willamette Valley. A surprising example of storage in French oak for five months on its load, which gives it a certain lushness but still gives a crisp and tasty wine. Red summer fruits jump out of the glass and meet their citrus-y saline solutions. Derived from three vineyards, organically farmed.

Irvine & Roberts 2020 rosé of Pinot Noir, Rogue Valley. Wild strawberry and tangelo with hints of shortbread, tropical kiwi fruit. A juicy palate with clear acidity ends on a high note of honeydew and lemon peel (supplied by Vince Vidrine).

Raptor Ridge rosé from Pinot Noir 2019, Willamette Valley. Fewer than 700 boxes are made, this is more tasty than fruity, more garden goose (sour rhubarb with a little cranberry and currant) than orchard. Some nice charred complexity here. My taste notes say BACON in all caps – did I mean it had smoky notes or drank this one with bacon? Either way, enjoy it.

Domaine Divio rosé from Pinot Noir 2020, Willamette Valley. Bright Jolly Rancher strawberry pink. Fans of strawberry shaving pie will like the interplay between pie and sweet, ripe fruit. Not too complex and very good with pizza.

Domaine Serene, Multivintage ‘r’ rosé v. XIII, Oregon. Light conch-shell pink in color underpins the complexity of the glass. A more lush sumptuous style with both tropical fruits and berries, blood oranges and blossoms with a sour acid streak running through.

Yamhill Valley Vineyards rosé from Pinot Noir 2019, McMinnville AVA. From one of Oregon’s many property-grown, family-owned wineries. Darker wild salmon in color and expressive for pink grapefruit, raspberries and baby wild strawberries. True Pinot echo with its light brambly, earthy aspect.

Domaine de Broglie Pinot Noir rosé 2020, Dundee Hills. Francis Ford Coppola’s venture in Oregon, named after physicist Louis de Broglie and then reflected on the bottle label with sound waves. Light, fresh, super-pure color with just a touch of pink. Medium-bodied driven by creamy raspberries and a lovely citric acid.

Underwood rosé 2019 (multi AVAs). Light pink in color, this delivers a raspberry and grapefruit splash with lychee, kiwi tropical fruit tones. Clean and fresh. Easy to open bottle with screw cap lets you take it on the go.

Gochau cellars “GC” Pinot Noir rosé 2020, Amity. Wild salmon shade. Pure, raspberry directly with a little dusty cherries. Good with Indian food. A sister sparkling wine, “Joyride”(2020) showed a little more fruit depth with freshly picked wild strawberries. Good alone or with light seafood dishes such as shrimp on pasta.

Dobbes Family Estate rosé 2020, Willamette Valley. Cherries all the way with ripe raspberries for the ride in this Pinot Noir, Syrah and Grenache blend from Rogue Valley. Great with barbecue or consider Thanksgiving.

Chehalem winery rosé 2020, Willamette Valley. Exciting acidity, super dry and fresh with pink grapefruit grove and baby strawberries. Zesty, snappy, excited and very well made.

Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir rosé 2020, Dundee Hills. Grapefruit goodness and pie currants. Fresh and refreshing! Dingy, fun and flowery (a word composed just to describe this wine!) Without being flowery or airy. Super zippy – did I mention that already?

Acclara sparkling rosé, Willamette Valley. Dry, pet-night style that expresses delicate dried strawberries. Light on your feet, this is a “three B” wine all day: for the beach, a baby or bridal shower.

Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir rosé 2020, Willamette Valley. Multidimensional fruit bowl: orchard (red apple skin), pink pink grapefruit and tropical fruit (guava). Nice interplay between sweet and sour, driven by strong acid streak.

Acrobat rosé 2020, Oregon (multi AVA), Blended from the Willamette Valley, Umpqua Valley and Rogue Valley AVAs, this very dry wine expresses ripe, tropical fruit that gives a perception of light sweetness subdued by the acidity of young red berries. A little more weight on the palate requires some light snacks with this wine.

Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster rosé from Pinot Noir 2020. Dry and full of bright summer fruits: think of the farmers market strawberries and watermelon. Balanced by white flowers and slightly creamy. A good match with charcuterie.

30A rosé 2020, Willamette Valley. Confusingly named after Florida Coastal Highway 30A, this is marine + salt water all the way. Breezy, fresh strawberries, watermelon, a little salty and creamy. Good food wine: I had this with a shrimp composite salad.

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