Many Northwest wineries are crafting dry, crisp rosés. Some of the best are coming from Oregon and its signature grape, Pinot Noir.
Making a great rosé is not a simple task, said Dai Crisp, owner and winemaker of Lumos Wine Co. in Philomath.
"There's a lot that can go wrong fast," he said. "Pinot Noir is tricky to grow and make into a beautiful wine. It is difficult to make an expressive rosé that is clean with no microbial problems. It can reveal winemaking faults (more than red wines)."
The number of rosés is astonishing and surprising, though not so to Crisp. This spring, he made a sales trip to New York City and learned about the power of pink.
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"New York and other cities on the East Coast are serious about drinking rosé," he said. "As soon as it warms up, it's rosé season."
Crisp said one small New York City wine shop owner told Crisp that he typically will sell as many as 600 cases of rosé each spring and summer.
The quality of these rosés also are a harbinger of the quality of Oregon's 2012 vintage. The red wines from 2012 likely will begin hitting store shelves in another year.
Meanwhile, here are several top-rated Oregon Pinot Noir rosés to enjoy this summer.
Left Coast Cellars 2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $18: This wine comes from the Willamette Valley town of Rickreall not far from Salem. It opens with alluring aromas of light cherry, peach and spice, followed by flavors of pink grapefruit, strawberry and cherry, all backed with just a hint of sweetness. It's a gorgeous wine for enjoying on a sunny Northwest summer day.
Lumos Wine Co. 2012 Chiquita Pinot Noir Rosé, Oregon, $20: This is just the second rosé made by Crisp. It's a stunner with aromas of Honeycrisp apple, strawberry, pomegranate and raspberry. On the palate, it offers flavors of honeysuckle, peach, minerality and white pepper. The length left us in awe. This is seriously great wine.
Elk Cove Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, $16: Second-generation winemaker Adam Campbell crafts some of Oregon's finest Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, and he shows off his prowess with pink wines as well. This opens with stunning aromas of strawberry, pomegranate, apricot and cinnamon, followed by loads of flavors, including cranberry, pink grapefruit and cherry.
Patton Valley Vineyard 2012 Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, $18: It begins with aromas of apricot, raspberry, slate and clove, while the flavors include blood orange, Meyer Lemon and cherry. We thought this would be perfect with teriyaki chicken or an egg salad sandwich.
Raptor Ridge Winery 2012 Rosé, Willamette Valley, $20: Owner/winemaker Scott Shull made this primarily from Pinot Noir, though he added a bit of old vine Gewrztraminer. It's a superb dry wine with aromas of strawberry, pomegranate, clove and orange oil, followed by flavors of raspberry, ripe strawberry and fresh cranberry.
Ponzi Vineyards 2012 Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, $20: This Oregon Pinot Noir pioneer continues to produce some superb wines, and this rosé by second-generation winemaker Luisa Ponzi is brilliant, with inviting aromas of cherry, red currant and raspberry, backed by beautiful flavors of Benton cherry, peach and raspberry. This is a perfect wine to enjoy with grilled or baked salmon.
Mt. Hood Winery 2012 Pinot Noir Rosé, Columbia Gorge, $17: This is a head-turning pink wine from a Hood River, Ore., winery. It produces inviting aromas of fresh raspberry, apple and cotton candy, then transitions into a drink of cherry and strawberry flavors. It has a touch of sweetness, thanks to 1.9 percent residual sugar, making this a perfect wine to pair with a comfortable chair and a summer sunset.
-- Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine; greatnorthwestwine.com.