Northwest Wine

Northwest Wine: Field of rosé continues to grow in delicious patterns

Courtesy Richard Duval Images

During these dog days of summer, a beautifully crisp sip of rosé can be a wine lover’s best friend.

Fortunately, most of the Pacific Northwest’s top producers now craft at least one example of rosé. The increased thirst for this style of wine has prompted some winemakers to offer multiple expressions from the same vintage. It’s a delicious trend that we hope never ends.

This summer, the Cascadia International Wine Competition helped to identify some of the best rosés made in our region, and there were more entries in that category than ever. Each was crafted to be food-friendly and thirst-quenching, but there were a variety of grapes used, ranging from Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris to Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Sangiovese and yes, even Cabernet Sauvignon.

Look for these wines at your grocer and/or order directly from the producer. Don’t hesitate to buy a case, not only because it often will come with a discount price, but also the popularity of these wines means small lots will be drained by Labor Day — if not earlier.

And don’t fret if this winter you find a bottle or two still left in that case from the 2019 vintage. There’s no expiration date on a bright rosé. Rather, the structure and flavor profile of an expertly crafted rosé will make it quite worthy of opening for several years, particularly with poultry or fish.

Here are five of the top rosés entered into the eighth Cascadia International, which included submissions from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and Montana. Find the full results at Ask for these wines at your favorite wine shop or contact the wineries directly.

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The SMAK Wines 2019 Spring Rosé earned a gold medal at the 2020 Cascadia International Wine Competition in Lewiston, Idaho. Courtesy Richard Duval Images

SMAK Wines 2019 Spring Rosé, Walla Walla Valley, $18: Winemaker/sommelier Fiona Mak grew up in Hong Kong and graduated from Syracuse in hospitality management and worked in the restaurant trade until her passion for wine led her to Walla Walla Community College’s famed winemaking school. She now works at vaunted Artifex Wine Co., which allows her to moonlight on her own brand, which is dedicated to rosé. Spring is one of her three releases, and regardless of spring rains or sunny days, you’ll find this wine to show off floral aromas of apricot and honeysuckle flowers with hints of lavender and melon. Red cherry and red currant enter the palate with crisp acidity and meld into tropical fruit flavors. A truly delicate example featuring Sangiovese, this wine finishes clean with pleasing minerality and lingering red cherry. Suggested pairings include oysters, ramen and sushi as well as spicy and fried fare.

Winescape 2019 Sangiovese Rosé, Red Mountain $22: Phillip and Patricia Butterfield in Spokane have dedicated their professional lives to the field of medicine and helping others. From their young wine project on the Lilac City’s South Hill comes this beautiful rosé that offers an attractive salmon color and enticing aromas of fresh-cut apricots, white peach and floral notes. On the palate, there are more hints of stone fruit, a fascinating fleck of minerality and just the right amount of acidity.

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The Chicken Dinner Wine 2019 Rosé earned a gold medal at the 2020 Cascadia International Wine Competition in Lewiston, Idaho. Courtesy Richard Duval Images

Chicken Dinner Wines 2019 Rosé, Washington State, $19: Gregg Alger of Huston Vineyards in Idaho goes beyond his native Snake River Valley and into Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills for these Mourvèrdre grapes off Alder Ridge. This gem of a rosé, features a pretty coral color and aromas of red cherry and currant, kiwi fruits and pink grapefruit. On the palate you’ll love the crisp juicy acidity with strawberry, pie cherry and red currant. This medium-bodied rosé has a long clean and creamy finish.

Roaming Dog 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Columbia Valley, $13: Tri-City winemaker Joshua Maloney earned a pair of double gold medals for the Aquilini family via the Cascadia for his work with rosé from Cabernet Sauvignon. This example, which almost beat out Maloney’s slightly more expensive Be Human for Best Rosé at the Cascadia, entices with very pronounced and pretty aromatics of strawberry, passionfruit and honey. The color is a pleasant light rose, not too pink and not salmon. Its lighter structure solidly fills the mouth with flavors of berries, red plum and florals. It concludes with refreshingly delicious crispness.

Bayernmoor Cellars 2019 Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, $15: The Harris family has hired one of the Northwest’s most respected winemakers, Brian Carter, to produce their wines. The Woodinville vintner once again displays his talent for blending wines with this even split of Rhône varieties Grenache and Mourvèdre. It delivers perfumed wild strawberry, passionfruit and warm earth. The bright acid wakes up the taste buds and encompasses myriad fruit sensations including berries, tropical fruit and bright citrus. The finale comes with zest.

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue operate Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning media company. Learn more about wine at

This story was originally published July 21, 2020 5:53 PM.

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