Pinot noir comes of age as a pink wine


While it is now something we enjoy year-round, good rose’ is still associated with the arrival of Spring.  In recent years, many of its stereotypes have been put aside as rose’ has become more of a pink designer wine and not an afterthought use for the remaining, less desirable juice.

Statistics show that women drink more rose’ but the gender pendulum is shifting as the complex flavors casts an image that is less threatening to men.  Many are adopting a “real men drink pink” attitude. 

Although rose’ has its own identity, it reflects the characteristics of the grape varietals used.  While pinot noir is one of my favorite

2018 Gran Moraine Rose’ of Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton, 2018 Copain Tous Ensemble Rose’ of Pinot Noir, 2018 La Crema Pinot Noir Rose’

wines, it has taken some time for me to warm up to rose’ of pinot noir, especially when it is too dry and the acidity overpowers the true flavors and aromas. 

The pinot noir grape is thin-skinned and temperamental, but proper care before and after harvest can result in unmatched finesse and elegance.  In rose’, pinot noir is crisp and dry with a firm acidity, but with time I have found releases that also express a true flavor profile of the grape with limited skin contact.

One such wine, the readily available 2018 La Crema Pinot Noir Rose’ ($25) from Monterey County expresses balanced flavors of watermelon, strawberry and grapefruit with mineral elements and a vibrant acidity.

Aside from the brief maceration (contact with the skins), most rose’ of pinot noir come from grapes that are generally picked early, then slow-pressed and cold fermented in stainless steel tanks.  Some are pressed whole-cluster and others fermented on the lees.  Old stereotypes are diminished by this new diversity in style.

Most of the finest rose’ of pinot noir comes from the same appellations in California, Oregon and France’s Burgundy region that produces pinot noir.  Two acclaimed exceptions originate from South America and the Pfalz region in Germany.

Vineyards in the Pfalz region of Germany

Rising temperatures have enabled Pfalz a region in western Germany to successfully produce spätburgunder (pinot noir), known as the “heartbreak grape” because of its delicate temperament. Founded in 1849, Reichsrat von Buhl is one of the oldest and largest wine estates in Germany, specializing in Riesling, sekt (sparkling wine) and now, spätburgunder.  The 2016 Reichsrat von Buhl “Bone Dry” Spätburgunder Rosé Pfalz($17), available online and at various local outlets, has distinguished, subtle cherry aromas and spice on the palate.

Well-balance with intense aromas define the Bodega Garzon Uruguay Reserve Pinot Noir Rose 2018 ($18) from South America’s fourth largest wine region. While awarding this pink wine 91-points, James Suckling described “Rose petals, watermelon, strawberries

Bodega Garzon Uruguay Reserve Pinot Noir Rose’ 2018

and cream.  Bright and fresh on the palate with razor-sharp acidity and a fresh finish.”

Made from a variety of estate-grown fruit in Burgundy, France, the 2005 Bourgogne Pinot Noir Rosé, Chateau de Puligny Montrachet ($17)is a good value, available locally, and provides an opportunity to enjoy a true wine from the region that gave birth to pinot noir.

Warmer temperatures in Oregon’s Willamette Valley allowed the grapes to fully ripen, resulting in a nice balance of brix (sugar) and acidity in the whole-cluster pressed 2018 Gran Moraine Rose’ of Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton ($28). Very pale salmon in color with floral and pineapple aromas, the flavors are well-integrated and the mouthfeel is both dry and creamy.

The Tous Ensemble is a series of approachable, everyday releases from Sonoma County’s Copain Wines.  A cooler growing season in Mendocino County to the north allowed the harvest to occur over a time, resulting in a diversity of ripeness and flavor development in the 2018 Copain Tous Ensemble Rose’ of Pinot Noir

($20). I found a vibrant nose combining floral notes with hints of grapefruit.  The crisp, dry mouthfeel delivered flavors of melon and cherry with a spice element on the finish.

Eugenia Rose’ of Pinot Noir “The Motley” 2018 from Ernest Vineyards

Utilizing fruit from five vineyards within the cooler Sonoma Coast appellation, Ernest Vineyards produced the Rose’ of Pinot Noir 2018 “The Motley” ($18) in the saignée method that, after limited skin contact, “bleeds off” some juice before the rest goes through complete maceration and fermentation.  Released under their Eugenia label, this rose’ has herbal notes that go with traditional flavors and a vibrant acidity.

When the rain stops and the sun emerges, rose’ of pinot noir belongs on your patio table aside those made from Rhone varietals like syrah and grenache.  

About Lyle W. Norton

Lyle is a freelance writer who specializes in “lifestyle” issues like wine, food, travel, music, film and memoir. He currently writes “On The Vine,” a weekly wine column for the San Francisco Examiner. View all posts by Lyle W. Norton

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