The best American rosé

As a category, rosé wine has had to fight for respect. But unlike Rodney Dangerfield, the category has actually gotten respect recently as it has become more popular in the US and the rosés now surpass white wines to be the best sellers in France.

Rosé has been seen as a “not serious” wine primarily because–with few but notable exceptions–it doesn’t age. Just buy the most recent vintage, chill it and toss it back while on the deck, patio, veranda, picnic blanket, or outdoor cafe. And lest I need to clarify, it’s dry rosé that I’m talking about, not white zinfandel or its predecessor, the original white zin, rosé d’Anjou.

Even separating the dry from the sweet, there are still a lot of rosés that don’t cut it for me. Some common faults as I see them are: too high alcohol, too thick, too short a flavor, and too expensive.

So now we arrive at perhaps the most burning August wine discussion: what is the best rosé? And since I usually drink roses from France or Spain, why not add a patriotic twist and try to determine the best American rosé?

Since I am a social scientist by training, I am loath to declare something the best without trying everything in that category. But throwing my traditional methodology to the wind, I’m happy to declare the best two rosés made in the United States: Hamacher, rosé from pinot noir 2007 and Copain, Le Printemps rosé 2007

Eric Hamacher makes his rose using the saignée method, bleeding off some of his pinot noir juice. He then makes it like a white wine, which, until last year, actually meant aging in neutral oak barrels. Since the 2007 vintage, he’s made it in stainless steel and while I lack the historical comparison, this vintage is mighty fine. Light pink in color, with aromas of strawberry, the wine has refreshing acidity on the palate and has moderate alcohol (13.1% on the label). But because I am a skinflint as well as a wine lover, the most pronounced aroma to me is that of a bargain.

Originally on sale at the winery for $15, when I stopped by last week it had been reduced to $10 (find this wine). The helpful staffer with whom I spoke told me that they had a winemaker dinner recently at the winery and offered it at the outrageously low price of $100 a case. If I didn’t live 3,000 miles away, I’d drive over and pick up some more! More American rose producers should price their wines accordingly and watch them fly out the door too.

The Copain rosé is also from Pinot Noir (though there is a touch of Syrah as well) from Mendocino County in California. The wine, pale in color, has a beautiful poise between fruit and acid and an even smoother finish than the Hamacher. The price is pretty right too at under $15 (find this wine) and I can find this one near me.

So this year we have a statistical tie with these two find roses taking home the gold. Next summer, the judges will award major points for degree of difficulty for the first good, American dry rose in a box!

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18 Responses to “The best American rosé”

  1. I rarely encounter a dry rosé I don’t like. I think some of the best have been Pinot Noir (like the one made by Hendry). Bell from California (via South Africa) keeps changing his rosé blend, but one year it was mostly Zinfandel–it was so delicious, but so obviously unmarketable to wine enthusiasts.

    From the orange-tinted Spanish rosados to the lavender French rosés to the spicy Italian rosatos, there’s a ton of affordable and delicious pinks from all over Europe, and they’ll pair with damned near any dish.

    Right now I’ve got a bottle of Tariquet rosé from Gascony chilling in the hotel fridge: Merlot, Syrah, and Tannat of all things. Can’t wait to try it.

  2. hamacher is an amazing producer so I’m not surprised their rosé is amazing. I think another reason why rosé has a bad reputation is because it can be made out of grapes with rotten skins that couldn’t be macerated because of the rotten flavor. …. and on a general level grapes with less overall ripeness.
    here in switzerland all my favorite rosés are made of pinot noir, as well.
    cheerio from zÜrich, caroline

  3. I’m glad you like the Hamacher, Tyler. Personally I like two other roses of Pinot out of Oregon made by___________. Oh wait, if I told ya, everyone would know about it, and that would mean less wine for me.
    But there are some great Roses out there, and part of the fun in drinking them is the pure delight one experiences when you discover a great one.

  4. Love rose. Not a real fan of most US roses as they tend as a group to be too fruity and not really dry the way I like them. Love Domaine Tempier, but they’ve priced them out of the market from my perspective. Two French roses that I love are Commanderie de Peyrassol and Domaine de Figueirasse. Bone dry, food friendly, and quaffable. Great stuff

  5. Hey Benito – I’ve enjoyed the Tariquet SB as a great value in the past; didn’t know about their rose (or Tannat etc for that matter).

    Hi Caroline – Glad you like Hamacher too! And thanks for keeping an eye on the blog from Zurich!

    Bill – I’m glad you thing the power of the comments section on this thread will sell out your two fave OR rose producers–Robert Parker be warned! Roses are hugely food-friendly.

    Gary – I tried to load up on some Peyrassol at a sale last week ($12!) but they we were already sold out. I got some Loire rose instead. I’ve really liked several 07 Chinons. But I did score a bottle of Tempier for $33! Have you tried the Lopez de Heredia rosado? Beautiful with 10 years of age on it.

  6. At the pinot fest in late may in Anderson Valley with a group of ten or so of us:

    Although many enjoyed the Copain, the overwhelming favorite was Mary Elke’s rose of pinot, maybe a little pricier than it should have been was just plain delicious and seemed more balanced than the copain. Another favorite was the Toulouse rose.

  7. Have not had the Lopez de Heredia. Will see if I can find in Chicago. All websites locating the wine are not in Illinois and of course no shipping anymore.

  8. @ Cyrus – thanks for letting us know. I sat next to Mary Elke at a lunch at the IPNC but non of her wines were available to taste. She bought my book though at the book signing–very nice!

    @ Gary – yes, that shipping ban to Illinois must really chafe. Do you find that retailers are adhering to the ban? Oh, maybe you can’t answer that…But the Lopez de heredia wines are in the chicago market so maybe check with a retailer who stocks them and ask if they can special order the rose? It’s between $22 – $30 in NYC but has 11 years of age on it. Definitely not your fresh 07 Provencal rose but still worth seeking out in my view.

  9. I love Folie a Deux – Menage a Trois rose. yum!

  10. Sparkling rose. From J, Gloria Ferrer, Domaine Carneros, Mumm Napa, or (best of all, although certainly not cheap) l’Hermitage Rose from Roederer Estate.

  11. Having just come back from Napa, I will throw the Peju Provence in there as one of the best ones out there. Great blend of both red and white grapes (amounts and varietals change each vintage) modeled after the Rose of the Provence. Lots of good fruit, but very well balanced. Could pair it nicely with some light summer BBQ (grilled chicken or fish) or have it on it’s own chilled.

  12. Any release of the Cabernet Franc Rose from Chinook winery out of Prosser, WA. It’s summer in a bottle.

  13. Almost everywhere I shop for wine unfortunately has a very poor selection of rose wines. What they do carry is usually in the too sweet white Zinfandel family…

    I will make it a point to look for these wines – but am not hopeful…

  14. It’s not just that my name is Lucy- I vote for Lucia Vineyards Lucy rose. Lucy rose is also made out of pinot noir grapes and last year Wine Enthusiast ranked it the #1 US made rose. Personally I like this year’s even more. It’s summer in a glass and $1 of every bottle sold goes to support breast cancer research.

  15. I do like Hamacher’s rose but I love the following dry roses with their salmon hues: Elk Cove’s, J.K. Carriere’s “Glass”, and Robert Sinskey’s Vin Gris de Pinot Noir.

    Not sure if you had a chance to dry any of the “white” pinot noirs while at the IPNC. A handful of winemakers have been making these over the last couple of years in the Willamette Valley. Domaine Serene’s Coeur Blanc is probably the most well known. Carlo & Julian also make one, a hidden jewel. I prefer the Carlo & Julian over the Coeur Blanc.

  16. I have to agree with Lucy on the Lucia vineyards Lucy rose — 100% pinot noir and just teriffic. As for that Illinois shipping ban: you can as an indvidual order directly from a vineyard for personal use. What can’t happen is for liquor stores to order from other liquor stores or directly from wineries that are out of state. All wine coming in for re-sale has to come in through a distributor. The the law was written (and paid for) by the distributors to give themselves a bigger cut of the wine market pie (what a surprise!) Illinois politics at its ugliest.

  17. […] was reading a post on rosé wine (”The best American rosé“) in the Dr. Vino’s Wine Blog and realized that I cannot remember the last time I saw a […]

  18. […] to go with the tuna and outdoor dining; maybe a 2008 from Oregon? Maybe even a nice rosé, such as Hamacher or Copain? And for the steak, even though it is a state dinner, outside trumps high-octane and […]


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