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Trending Rose’


The fact that the popularity of rose’ is rising is not a new trend, it has occurred for over a decade.  The emergence of rose’ is still being discussed by sommeliers in 2016, but the real story is about its evolution.  Today, it has become a priority, not an afterthought for winemakers.  Good, specifically designed rose’ has fueled the market which, in turn, has channeled more energy to create the next best release.

Another trend is that consumers are less discerned with color and are breaking with traditional values toward what types of foods pair with red or white wine.  Rose’ has

Provence vineyards

Provence vineyards

stepped up as a wine that belongs at the dinner table, as well as the patio on a summer afternoon.  Many restaurants now include rose’ on their wine lists year-round, not just the summer months.  Blended from Rhone varietals including syrah, mourvedre and grenache, Spanish tempranillo, Italian sangiovese and California pinot noir, modern rose’ can compliment food from raw oysters and sushi to roasted chicken and pork.  Yesterday’s rose’ wines were sweet and simple.  Today, they are versatile, friendly but complex and readily recommended in tapas bars and most trendy restaurants.

All wine grape juice is clear, generating its color from various degrees of contact with red grape skins.  With rose’, the juice is separated or “bled” away from the skins very early in a process known as the “Saignée method.”  The normal deep ruby color of the fine reds

Chateau Miraval Provence France

Chateau Miraval Provence France

turn to what are known as “pink wines.”  Rose’ is also mostly produced in stainless steel with little or no oak, resulting in higher acidity with crisp, invigorating texture.

Due to its diversity, fine rose’ is now produced in all the world’s wine regions. At the top is Provence, located south of France’s great appellations and north of the classic Spanish blends from Rioja, whose winemakers have focused their production almost exclusively on rose’.  The current rose’ inventory in most fine wine outlets is generally between fifty and seventy percent from Provence. The selections are so vast that a decision could be overwhelming, so, let me recommend a few good ones that are readily available.

With multiple ratings in the nineties, the 2015 Chateau Miraval Cote de Provence Rose’ ($20) first earned recognition when the 2012 vintage was named to Wine

Chateau Miraval 2015

Chateau Miraval 2015

Spectator magazine’s Top 100 wines and became the world’s best rose’ of that year. Produced through a partnership between Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and the Perrin Family of Chateau du Beaucastel in Chateaunef-du-Pape, the current vintage expresses wonderful floral and fruit aromas, soft berry flavors and a nice minerality on the finish. A high quality for the price, the Miraval is available at wine outlets and on-line. Another rose’ from a large

2014 Cotes du Rhone Rose'

2014 Cotes du Rhone Rose’

producer in the Rhone Valley, the 2014 Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose’ is a blend of grenache, syrah and cinsault that make it dry, but fruity.  This vintage has an acidic finish that compliments spicy foods.


Whole cluster grapes at Stolpman Winery

Fine rose’ wines are produced in all California wine regions, from the Santa Ynez Valley in north Santa Barbara County to the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County.  Diversity in varietals and terroir make for a broad palate of selections and new rose’ production is vital across the state.  For example, grapes from the Stolpman Vineyard in Santa Ynez have been sourced to other wineries for decades. They have an impeccable reputation and have begun producing wines under their own label like the 2015 Stolpman Santa Ynez Valley Rose’ ($17), a soft, fruity pink wine from 100% grenache grapes, a portion undergoing the carbonic maceration process that introduces them to a carbon dioxide rich environment prior to crushing. The whole grape begins to ferment while in the skins.  This rose’ can be a nice summer sipper as well as a food wine.

Tablas Creek Winery, a patriarch among the California Rhone Rangers in Paso Robles,

2015 Patelin de Tablas Rose'

2014 Patelin de Tablas Rose’

produce what many believe is the best rose’ in California, the 2014 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rose’ ($20).  A Rhone blend of grenache, mourvedre and counoise, this wine is fresh, floral and balanced, expressing cherries and watermelon throughout a long finish.  To the north, in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation comes the 2015 Luli Central Coast Rose’ ($14),  produced through a partnership between Master Sommelier Sarah Floyd and the Pisoni Family who have contributed to and created many great wines from the region. A distinct blend of pinot noir and grenache, it has balanced flavors that will compliment food very well.  Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm, another patriarch among California Rhone Rangers, has always been willing to push the envelope in finding obscure vineyards to produce rare wines like 2015 Bonny Doon Il Ciliegiolo Rosato ($24) from the Mt. Oso Vineyard in the hills above Tracy, CA in San Joaquin County.  Ciliegiolo is actually a little known Tuscan varietal related to sangiovese. Randall spoke of the grape, “While it can be brilliant as a

2015 Bonny Doon Il Ciliegiolo Rosato

2015 Bonny Doon Il Ciliegiolo Rosato

powerful red, one might argue that it is uniquely well suited to haunt the palate as a fragrant, delicate pink.” It is actually a light red, as opposed to a pink wine and I find it to be the boldest rose’ that I’ve have tasted, one that I would not hesitate to pair with roasted pork.

St. Supery Vineyards and Winery in Napa Valley produces mostly estate grown and sustainably-farmed Bordeaux varietals from vineyards on the valley floor.  With a darker color, the 2015 St. Supery Estate Rose’ Wine Napa Valley ($18) is all about fresh berry aromas and flavors.  It is a merlot-dominant Bordeaux blend that also includes cabernet sauvignon, malbec, cabernet franc and petit

2015 St. Supery Napa Valley Rose'

2015 St. Supery Napa Valley Rose’

verdot, blended after fermentation. It exudes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and watermelon throughout and, at under twenty dollars, is an exceptional value. Another winery using cool-climate pinot noir from Sonoma Coast vineyards and a significant percentage from a biodynamically-farmed vineyard outside of Sebastopol, CA, the 2013 Red Car Rose’ of Pinot Noir 2014($22) is fermented without any contact with the skins, creating what the winemaker calls, “A pale melon pink wine.”  It is bone dry, zesty, very aromatic with herbal and berry flavors.  Referring to the finish,

2013 Red Car Pinot Noir Rose'

2013 Red Car Pinot Noir Rose’

Antonio Galloni of Vinous says this wine, “Smoothly plays power off finesse and finishes with resonating florality.” It is a suitable pair with sushi or grilled salmon.

Carol Shelton has made her own wines since 2000, mostly zinfandel sourced from some of the finest Sonoma County vineyards. She also creates limited amounts of pinot noir, petit sirah, cabernet sauvignon and carignane, a varietal that dominates the Carol Shelton 2015 Wild Thing Rendezvous

Carol Shelton Wild Thing Rendezvous Rose'

Carol Shelton Wild Thing Rendezvous Rose’

Rose’ ($15), a crisp, dry wine from Mendocino County expressing strawberry-watermelon aromas and flavors with mineral hints on the finish.  Half of the pink juice is bled off after brief contact with the carignane skins, resulting in the color of a light pinot noir.  Consistently rated in the 90s, the “Rendezvous” has the complexity necessary to accompany any food, from sushi to BBQ ribs.

Very good rose’ wines can be found throughout Oregon and Washington State as well as South Africa, South America, Australia and New Zealand where the 2015 Elephant Hill Tempranillo Rose’ Hawkes Bay ($29) originates. As with many red varietals, the warm climate of wine regions below the equator accentuates the flavors of tempranillo.  This dry, zesty small-production wine, consisting of 92% tempranillo and eight percent syrah is citric, fruit-forward and spicy with a very clear

Elephant Hill Winery New Zealand

Elephant Hill Winery New Zealand

minerality on the finish

The end of summer no longer breeds disappointment among rose’ fans.  Today, it is a year-round alternative when serving appetizers, a three-course dinner or enjoying a glass with friends.  Rose’ has emerged and will continue to evolve as it renews the spirit of winemakers everywhere to commit to exploring the potential of pink wines.  Maybe there is a rose’ wine on this list for you.

Tablas Creek Winery


There are many reasons to like the Tablas Creek Winery other than the high quality of the wines they produce. As a patriarch that introduced Rhone varietals to the region, they continue to lead with sustainable farming and viticulture resulting in an acclaimed palate of wines and a commitment to the community.

When east coast wine importer Robert Haas combined a long-time friendship with the Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel and a desire to move west to produce Rhone varietals, he eventually discovered a 120-acre site in the hills west of Paso Robles with the same terroir as Chateaunef-du-Pape, in the heart of the Rhone Valley.  A few years prior, the two families

Tablas Creek Winery

Tablas Creek Winery

formed a partnership and began the arduous task of importing traditional Rhone vines of mourvedre, syrah, grenache, quarantined while they passed multi-year testing by the USDA.

Those familiar with this area realize that as growing season days can be hot, the nights can be significantly cooler and, speaking to local winemakers, one understands their commitment to the rugged, limestone-laden vineyards.  This is the terroir of the Rhone.

Easy to say now, but this partnership took on the risk and the challenge to pioneer the finest region for Rhone varietals anywhere outside of France and the second Tablas Creek generation intends to search for the perfect blend through organic, biodynamic farming and the finest stock they can obtain.  Tablas Creek obtained organic certification for their 120-acre estate vineyard in 2003, began farming 20 acres Biodynamically in 2010 and is progressively converting the entire operation that way.

Jason Haas

Jason Haas

Last month I sat down with Jason Haas, son of the founder, whose first summer job was working for Chateau de Beacastel in France.  By comparison, mine was at IHOP.  These early experiences led to an advanced degree from Cornell, a management stint with a tech company and, eventually, back to the vineyards where he is involved in many facets of the Tablas Creek Winery operation.

Looking quite different since my last visit, the winery site now has a new, contemporary tasting room facility with outdoor porch, solar panels, alpacas and sheep surrounded by those rugged, limestone-laden vineyards.

Tablas Creek blends basically fit into three brands, Espirit de Beaucastel, Cotes de Tablas and Patelin de Tablas, each with a red and white, as well as other Rose’, single varietals and some elite, small productions blends.  Among many impressive wines, it was reviews of the Espirit de Beaucastel in various periodicals that peaked my interest, including numerous Top 100 lists.

2010 Tablas Creek "Espirit de Beaucastel"

2010 Tablas Creek “Espirit de Beaucastel”

The mourvedre-based Espirit de Beaucastel 2010 ($55) is Tablas Creek’s, highly praised, flagship wine, consistently reviewed in the mid-90 point range.  In addition to the richness, mourvedre, in this vintage, contributes the meaty, savory flavors while fruit is expressively delivered by Grenache and syrah, comprising half of the blend, along with a touch of counoise to tame the syrah, a traditional Rhone role.

Both mourvedre and counoise grapes are native to Spain and were imported to the Chateaunef-du-Pape region in the 12th Century, when the papacy was in Avignon.  The Espirit de Beaucastel 2010 from Paso Robles will be a pleasant introduction to anyone seeking to discover why Rhone blends have been coveted for centuries.

While flavors of honey are indicative to roussanne-based white blends, I found a nice minerality on the nose through the long finish with the 2010 Espirit de Beaucastel Blanc ($40), directly attributed to the limestone in the vineyard soils.  Once the roussanne/grenache blanc blend opened up in the glass, the tropical and orchard fruits emerged on the nose and palate. The Grilled Scallops with Grilled Apples and Honey Drizzle, a recipe found on the Tablas Creek Winery website, served as a perfect pair with my bottle.

In the shadow of the Espirit de Beaucastel for years, the

Cotes de Tablas 2009 shared the spotlight when named to the Wine Spectator magazine’s Top 100 Wines of 2011.  As we walked through the 120-acre certified organic vineyard on a cold morning last month, Jason pointed out a slight amount of late season frost damage to the new, delicate leaves. A late-season frost in 2011 ultimately resulted in lower yield and,

2011 Cote de Tablas

2011 Cote de Tablas

according to staff, produced the Grenache dominant Cotes de Tablas 2011 ($30), a wine that rivals the 2009 vintage in richness and the expression of fruit and spice. With over 75% of the blend comprised from Grenache (49%) and syrah (28%), the flavors of deeply ripened fruit and sweet spice were present when my first glass opened up.  This wine reminds me why I prefer Grenache-dominant blends.

Nearly equal parts viognier. Grenache blanc, roussanne and marsanne, Cotes de Tablas Blanc 2011 ($27) benefits from all grapes with a floral nose, rich orchard fruit flavors and a nice minerality throughout, courtesy of the latter two grapes.  Fermentation in stainless steel tanks adds crispness to its complexity.

The winery’s new Patelin de Tablas series surfaced in 2010 with the goal to produce high-quality, value-priced wines based from syrah and Grenache blanc by sourcing some grapes from as many as 15 other local vineyards.  Priced at $20 each, the 2011 Patelin de Tablas ($20) and 2011 Patelin de Tablas Blanc ($20) are both nicely structured, fruit forward wines that have been recognized through the “bang for your buck” they deliver.

2012 Tablas Creek "Dianthus" Rose'

2012 Tablas Creek “Dianthus” Rose’

Not respected for years, the age of new, complex rose’ is well upon us.  The mourvedre-grenache-counoise blend, 2012 Dianthus Rose’ ($27) has a wonderfully complex nose but the vibrant flavors of wild berries, pomegranate and citrus are extraordinary, awarded 90 points by Wine Spectator.

The remainder of the Tablas Creek palate includes special varietal specific wines and low production blends that are both rare and eminent including 2011 Petit Manseng ($35), 2011 Picpoul Blanc ($27), 2010 Counoise ($35) and a premier blend, the

2010 Tablas Creek Petit Manseng

2010 Tablas Creek Petit Manseng

2010 Panoplie ($95) featuring the best, hand selected mourvedre, Grenache and syrah aged together in one 1,200-gallon oak cask to produce 600 cases.  They are all astounding wines, but rarely available to those outside of their Vinsider Wine Club

members who have committed to in-depth exploration

The single varietal that we recently tasted was the 2010 Tannat, a grape predominate in the Pyrenees Mountains of Basque country that is also used with Bordeaux blenders like cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.

2010 Tablas Creek Tannat

2010 Tablas Creek Tannat

A carnivore’s delight, the 2010 Tannat ($36), at first glance looks deep and dark, like it belongs in a large glass next to your favorite steak.  Expect some tannins, anticipate the full berry flavors, but focus on those earthy, smoked nuances that balances and give identity to the wine.  My next bottle will be given a year to evolve.

The Paso Rhone Rangers offer a great story, bringing old World wines from southern France literally to our doorstep.  There in the beginning, leading for the future, Tablas Creek Winery is continuously striving to achieve success by doing it the right way.

Located deep into the Westside foothills on Adelaida Road, the tasting room is open from 10am-5pm daily and should definitely be a scheduled stop on your next journey to the Paso Robles region.

Tablas Creek Tasting Room on Adelaida Road

Tablas Creek Tasting Room on Adelaida Road