Monday, July 02, 2012

Drink Pink at Patton Valley Vineyard; Redeeming American Rosé

From know-how to science and from marketing to defining a new world style, California has benefited the wines, winemakers and wine drinkers of the Northwest. In many and perhaps most cases it has been Californians who came here looking for new frontiers in American wine.  Looking for different terroir, different varietal possibilities and different styles than the Golden State can produce. The fact is that we owe California an enormous debt of gratitude; the Northwest stands on the shoulders of giants whose feet rest in California. There is, however, perhaps one exception. Rosé.

For all of that both Oregon and Washington have learned from the California wine industry, if there's a place to part ways, it's when it comes to the Golden State's pink wine.  Known to American wine drinkers as White Zinfandel, rather than advance the cause of pink wine, California and its sickly sweet syrup has set back the importance and deep traditions of rosé here in the states tremendously.

Lucky for everyone involved, the Willamette Valley has come to the rescue of American Rosé. The Valley has come to be known as one of the world's finest producers of Pinot Noir.  In recent years, brilliant bottlings of Rosé of Pinot Noir have arrived on restaurant tables and wine shop shelves on a mission to redeem American Rosé, and anyone who's tried them knows that this endeavor has been successful. If American pink wine can come back from the abyss it will come back on the strength of wines like these. Beautiful and undoubtedly serious, with bold aromatics, zingy acidity and great flavors.

In an effort to celebrate this brilliance, both literally and figuratively, the Drink Pink Rosé Festival kicks off on July 14th at Patton Valley Vineyard. They and 16 of their fellow Rosé producers have teamed up with Portland's Crown Paella - it is a perfect food wine, after all.  Attendees will get to taste Rosé from some of the Valley's newer producers like Colene Clemens as well as some highly regarded stalwarts like Elk Cove, Bergstrom and Penner-Ash. Patton Valley plays host and in addition to a bucolic setting and top notch food and drink, expect music from the big band; Calamity Jazz. (If you're not familiar with Patton Valley this event should a fantastic introduction, their wines continue to impress me and with efforts like the Pinot and now this Rosé I've tried, it will not be long before they're mentioned among some of the Valley's must-try producers. I've also heard great things about the Chardonnay.)

Tickets to the event are limited, they're $45 and available here.

2011 Patton Valley Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé.  An outstanding example of the kind of serious wine that Rosé can be.  Patton Valley farms one block of their vineyard for this wine each year. They've selected the Dijon clone 113 of their Pinot for the rosé bottling. Red berry and bubble gum aromas lead to a palate of deep strawberry flavors with a great backing zing of acidity and a hint of effervescence. The wine is done completely in stainless steel but the fermenting on lees gives it great depth of flavor and softens the mouth-feel just a touch. $16 

2011 Elk Cove Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir. Beautiful color, hovering gracefully between pink and salmon.  Aromatics are fresh flowers and bubble gum.  The flavors and acidity of this wine are absolutely fantastic, watermelon sherbert and raspberry flavors in a dry, crisp and bright package perfect for summer. The acidity also makes it a fantastic compliment to food. This rosé is crafted from both young and older vines.  Initially the wine is gently pressed and allowed some time in contact with the grape skins. After a stainless steel fermentation some Pinot Noir is blended in for color and texture. (The wine is sold out at the winery. I cannot communicate to you how sad it is; the wine is brilliant.)

2011 Bergstrom  Rosé. Light salmon in color offset against a beautifully done label with accents of pink.  Aromatics of sweet strawberries and orange zest. This Rosé is done with both neutral oak and stainless lots blended together, and that technique contributes resoundingly to the palate. The wine is bright and balanced with great flavors of strawberry and watermelon. Traditionally crafted from Pinot Noir chosen specifically with this rosé in mind. The neutral oak fermentation gives it a bit more nuance and depth. $19

These wines were provided as samples.


Robert Sinskey's Rosé (Vin Gris)is a fantastic pink wine from the Golden State. (If you can find it.)

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