Review of the 2016 Rosés: Focus on Pinot Noir

Rose GlassesDelicious, crisp rosés are already on the shelves waiting for consumers to welcome the coming hot summer with a chilled glass. In this, our annual rosé review, we review 60 rosés made from different grape varieties grown around the world. However, we put a special focus on rosés made from the Pinot Noir grape. We include reviews of Pinot Noir rosés coming from several regions, the majority of them from Oregon, the American winegrowing region most strongly identified with the Pinot Noir grape. While a bit pricier than some other rosés, in our opinion Pinot Noir rosés offer a very attractive balance of fresh fruit and bright acidity with a round, full mouth feel accompanied, of course, by gorgeous scents and flavors of red cherry and pomegranate and savory herbal notes.

All the Pinot Noir rosés reviewed here are made using direct press rather than bleeding (saignée) free run juice off grapes being macerated to make red wines. Direct pressing allows winemakers to harvest red grapes earlier than they would for a red wine with resulting lower sugar, lower alcohol, and higher acidity, often resulting in a rosé of exceptional lightness and elegance.

Of course, excellent rosés are also made from other varieties and from saignée as well as direct press winemaking. Our favorite, still rosés made from all varieties for the 2016 vintage  are listed below. Full reviews of the 60 2016 rosé wines that we tasted for this report follow .

Top Rated Rosés for 2017

  • Clos Solène 2016 La Rose Paso Robles 93
  • Chateau Gassier 2016 Esprit Gassier Côtes de Provence 92
  • Domaine Michel Thomas & Fils 2016 Rosé Sancerre 92
  • Elizabeth Chambers Cellar 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 92
  • Etude 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé Grace Benoist Ranch Carneros 92
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards 2016 Estate Rosé Willamette Valley 91+
  • Analemma 2015 Atavus Rosé of Pinot Noir Columbia Gorge 91
  • Beckham Estate Vineyard 2016 Olivia’s Pinot Noir Rosé Chehalem Mountain 91
  • Chateau Gassier 2016 Le Pas du Moine Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire 91
  • Daou Vineyards 2016 Rosé Adelaida District 91
  • Domaine Andre Neveu 2016 Rosé Sancerre 91
  • Iris Vineyards 2016 Chalice Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 91
  • Jean Reverdy 2016 Les Villots Rosé Sancerre 91
  • Lauverjat 2016 Moulin des Vrillères Rosé Sancerre 91
  • Niner Wine Estates 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé Edna Valley   91
  • Renwood Winery 2016 Zinfandel Rosé Amador County (Shenandoah) 91
  • Soter Vineyards 2016 North Valley Pinot Noir Rosé Willamette Valley 91
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards 2016 Whole Cluster Rosé of Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 91

Wine Reviews

Adelaida Cellars 2016 Estate Rosé Adelaida District ($20) 90 Copper tinged pink in color, the 2016 Estate Rosé offers aromas and flavors of mandarin, pomegranate, and strawberry. It’s clean and focused with good acidity and weighty extract on the finish. A blend of 43% dry-farmed Grenache, 18% Cinsault, 19% Counoise, 12% Syrah, and 9% Mourvedre. Alc 12.9%

Adelsheim 2016 Rosé Willamette Valley ($25) 90 Revealing floral fragrances of rose petals accompanied by ripe watermelon and strawberry, this is flavorful, full-bodied, ripe fruited rosé that finishes very long with good extract. Try with salmon or grilled vegetables.

Airlie 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($20) 89 Medium dark pink. Showing suggestions of dried herbs and ripe cherry, this is a rosé with the weight and presence of a red wine and best drunk with dishes like salmon, chicken and grilled vegetables. The fruit is destemmed and directly pressed; all the fruit is from the Dunn Forest estate vineyard.

Alphonse Mellot 2015 La Moussière Rosé Sancerre 90 Attractive pale pink salmon color. This is a pleasant, lightly flavored, nicely balanced rosé made from Pinot Noir that’s sourced from the 35 hectare, biodynamically farmed La Moussière vineyard with chalky clay soil. It’s fresh and does exactly what one wants a rosé to do. Importer: Elite Wines

Analemma 2012 Atavus Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Columbia Gorge ($59) 91 Pale platinum gold. This dry-farmed single vineyard, single varietal, single vintage sparkling wine reveals scents of brioche , pear, dried lemon, and hazelnut that carry over to a very lively, superbly balanced palate with bright acidity and layered richness. With its prominent leesy, autolytic notes, it is more reminiscent of an aged Champagne than it is an American sparkling rosé. Made from nearly 50 year old vines. Most definitely, this is a food wine to have with white meats like roast chicken or pork roast. 100% Pinot Noir from the Atavus Vineyard. Aged sur lie for 40 months and disgorged August 2016.

Analemma 2015 Atavus Rosé of Pinot Noir Columbia Gorge ($28) 91 Copper-tinged platinum color. Showing a melange of herbs and light fruit with nuances of earth and toast, this is a uniquely delicious rosé. It’s packed with flavor, has excellent balance, bright acidity, and a long, richly extracted finish. This is a very serious rosé, layered and complex, and it requires food–grilled chicken, fish and vegetables–to show its best. Whole cluster pressed, barrel fermented and briefly aged on the lees in neutral oak. 100% Pinot Noir (Marifeld clone) from the dry-farmed Atavus vineyard.

Austin Hope Winery 2014 Love and Hope Rosé Paso Robles ($20) 88 Medium salmon rose color. This pleasing blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre reveals ripe strawberry aromas with moderate acidity and intensity of flavor. Serve well chilled.

Beckham Estate Vineyard 2016 Olivia’s Pinot Noir Rosé Chehalem Mountain ($22) 91 Medium salmon pink. Showing fragrance of red cherry skin and rose petals, this is a mouth filling rose with brisk natural acidity and super fresh nuances of pomegranate and red cherry on the palate. Shows superb balance and precision. Direct pressed, fermented and aged in neutral barrel.

Bodegas Iranzo 2016 Tartantas Rosé Utiel Requena ($12) 88 This is a Bobal based rosé that evokes freshly picked red berries and a bit of ripe watermelon. The wine is bright and merry and dry and packed with upfront fruit, fading towards the finish. Well priced, too! US importer: Natural Merchants

BVC Bodegas 2016 Toro Loco Rosé Utiel Requena ($) 89 Dark pink. A vivacious, fruit forward rosé that evokes rose petals, raspberry, maraschino cherry and bubblegum. The aromas and flavors are exuberant, and the palate shows good acidity, fullness and length. Best served well chilled. 100% Bobal made by owner and winemaker Benoit Calvet.

Calcu 2016 Rosé Reserva Especial Colchagua ($13) 88 The Calcu Rosé has an herbal nose with floral and red fruit notes. It’s a very dry with bracing acidity and flavors of tart red berries, finishing with good length. A blend of 90% Malbec and 10% Petit Verdot. Importer: Global Vineyard Importers Berkeley, CA

Cass Winery 2016 Oasis Rosé ($24) 89 This medium pink colored blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre reveals an enticing red berry nose. It has a soft attack with good acidity and bright cranberry notes on the palate. Made direct press.

Chateau Gassier 2016 Esprit Gassier Côtes de Provence 92 Pale copper tinged pink and showng minerals, rose petals and strawberry scents, As always, the Esprit Gassier is a delight to drink, but the 2016 vintage is a step above the norm. Beautifully balanced with bright acidity married to light red berry fruit, a hint of tangerine, and a hint of wet river stones. Great by itself or with seafood or fowl.   Importer: Wilson Daniels Ltd. St. Helena, CA

Chateau Gassier 2016 Le Pas du Moine Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire ($25) 91 Star bright light pink. Scents of red cherry and apple blossoms show on the nose of this blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Rolle, and Ugni Blanc. The palate is perfumed in character with light but intense red berry and cherry flavors. Overall, a delicious, elegant rosé that serves as an excellent aperitif. Importer: Wilson Daniels Ltd. St. Helena, CA

Château Ollieux Romanis 2016 Cuvée Classique Corbières ($17) 89 Gorgeous pale pink in color, the Grenache Gris/Cinsault rosé blend is lightly fragrant of red apple with nuances of rhubarb and fresh thyme. It’s a very refreshing wine, vivacious and subtly but pleasantly flavored with a clean, crisp finish that persists on the palate. A blend of 60% Grenache Gris and 40% Cinsault from vines aged 30-50 years. The grapes are lightly pressed after a pre-fermentation maceration of 3-6 hours. Importer: Langdon Shiverick Inc.

Clos Solène 2016 La Rose Paso Robles ($40) 93 Pale salmon. Showing light red berries, this Paso Robles rosé is vibrant and super-fresh with excellent balance and prominent minerality. It’s a blend of 56% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 14% Syrah. It’s 60% saignée and 40% whole cluster pressed and steel barrel fermented.

Copain 2015 Tous Ensemble Rosé of Pinot Noir Mendocino ($20) 90 Medium orange copper. This well balanced rosé of Pinot Noir shows light scents and flavors of blood orange and watermelon. It’s juicy on the palate with just the right amount of racy acidity.

Daou Vineyards 2016 Rosé Adelaida District 91 Platinum gold color. This 100% Grenache rosé is lightly (0.8 bars) direct pressed and given daily battonage. It reveals peach flowers and sun warmed strawberries on the nose and has a beautifully balanced, round and full, creamy palate with a long delicately flavored finish. This delicate yet full flavored wine is one to sip and savor.

Dobbes 2016 Joe Rosé of Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($14) 88 Light pink. With lively aromas and flavors suggestive of strawberry and rhubarb, this is an easy drinking rosé, perfect for sipping by itself with just a touch of sweetness.

Domaine Andre Neveu 2016 Rosé Sancerre ($18) 91 This is a terrific salmon-colored rose with a perfumed aroma of red berries and peaches. It is ripe and flavorful on the palate and richly endowed with freshness and crisp acidity. Importer: Wines of France

Domaine Michel Thomas & Fils 2016 Rosé Sancerre 92 One of our favorite rosés in our 2017 annual rosé review, the Michel Thomas Sancerre is a complete wine. Pale salmon in color with a red cherry skin scent, the wine is full in the mouth with clean red cherry flavors. It has good balancing acidity and a lingering, rich finish. Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd Winchester, VA

Domaine Paul Thomas 2016 Chavignol Rosé Sancerre ($25) 90 Light red berry fruit and chalky minerals permeate this wine from beginning to end. It’s very pleasant, easy drinking with good acidity and pure flavors. A small estate with 9 ha of vineyards on the slopes of Les Mont Damnés now managed by Raphael Thomas. The wine is fermented at low temperature with a short time on the fine lees. 12.5 Alc. Importer: Langdon Shiverick Inc.

Elizabeth Chambers Cellar 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($28) 92 Medium copper salmon color. This rosé shows finesse and elegance form its fine, light red berry and cherry fruit scents to its perfectly balanced palate and long, pure finish. The palate is ethereal, filling the mouth with perfumed fruit and finishing with excellent length and focus. Handpicked grapes were destemmed, allowed to spend six hours on the skins, and then fermented three weeks at low temperatures, thus preserving the delicate aromas and flavors that permeate the wine.

Etude 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé Grace Benoist Ranch Carneros 92 Pale salmon. A very serious Pnot Noir rosé with stony minerals, vibrant acidity, and light flavors of tart red cherry and garden fresh red raspberry. Superb focus and length. This rosé has had a consistent style over the years we’ve been tasting it, but the 2016 has an additional, very attractive mineral element.

Fullerton Wines 2016 Three Otters Pinot Noir Rosé Willamette Valley ($18) 88+ This flavorful rosé is a 50/50 mix of barrel fermented saignée and whole cluster, tank fermented direct press. Medium copper-pink in color, the wine is fruity and a tad off-dry, needing a good chill to show its best. Only 640 cases made.

Gran Moraine 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton 90 Showing uplifting fragrances of red berry with a tangerine accent, this is a nicely balanced rosé with light red fruit flavors evoking crisp red apples and pomegranate. Finishes clean and bright.

Herdade de Rocim 2016 Mariana Vinho Rosé Vinho Regional Alentejano ($15) 90 Medium bronze tinged pink. Nuances of strawberry shortcake and orange zest show on the nose. It’s mouthfilling with good balancing acidity and pure, ripe flavors linger on the finish. A blend of organically cultivated Touriga Nacional and Aragonez (Tempranillo) grown on sandy soil in the southern Alentejo. Cold fermented for 14 days with ambient yeast. Superb value! Importer: Langdon Shiverick Inc.

Iris Vineyards 2016 Chalice Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($20) 91 Showing cherry pie aromas and ripe red raspberry flavors, the Chalice Rosé is a bit darker in color and more densely fruited than most Pinot Noir rosés, so it can hold up to more substantial fare. The wine is beautifully balanced with rich flavors, good acidity, and bright freshness. Alc. 12.3%

Jean Reverdy 2016 Les Villots Rosé Sancerre ($24) 91 A mix of 90% direct press and 10% saignée, the Reverdy Les Villots is a beautifully balanced rosé with vivacious acidity, very good balance, and enticing aromas and flavors of juicy red berries and pomegranate with excellent underlying minerality. This wine is consistently delicious, year after year. Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd Winchester, VA

King Estate 2016 Mountain Blocks Rosé of Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 90 Suggestions of pomegranate, dark cherry, and watermelon show on the nose of this light red-pink rosé made from biodynamically cultivated, high altitude blocks of the King Estate Vineyard, located at 800-1200′ elevation. The palate shows ripe red fruit with nice mineral touches and a tannins showing on a dry, medium long finish.

Laroche 2016 Mas La Chevalière Rosé de la Chevalière IGP Pays d’Oc ($14) 88 Medium pink. This is an easy drinking rosé, soft and full and revealing coaxing aromas and flavors of strawberry, red cherry, and fresh orange zest. It has good balancing acidity. Importer: Wilson Daniels Ltd. St. Helena, CA

Lauverjat 2016 Moulin des Vrillères Rosé Sancerre ($) 91 Medium copper-tinged pink. A very clean mineral-like nose shows light red berry and herbal scents. The wine is mouthfilling yet precise with clean red cherry furit and bright acidity. A delicious, clean and fresh wine. Importer: Elite Wines

Lemelson Vineyards 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé Willamette Valley ($22) 90 Pale salmon. Clean and pure with mineral, rose petal, and watermelon nuances, this is a softly textured rosé that lingers on the palate. Well made. delicious, and priced right.

m2 wines 2016 Rose of Carignane Mule Plane Vineyard Lodi (Mokelumne River District) ($18) 89 Pale pink. Made from old vine Carignan planted aorund 1928, this rosé has a clean, mineral like nose with light watermelon and berry notes. It’s soft on the attack and full on the palate with nuances of red cherry skin, earth and herbs, finishing long and clean. Well done!

Matakana Estate 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé Marlborough ($17) 89 This New Zealand rosé makes its entrance with an inviting, gorgeous copper salmon color in the glass. followed by scents of berries, rhubarb and savory herbs that are mirrored on a creamy palate. With moderate acidity, full flavor, and complex aromas and flavors, this is a wine-like rosé that would pair well with salmon or chicken. Made from fruit grown in Marlborough’s Wairu Valley. Excellent value! Importer: Artisans & Vines

Monksgate 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton ($21) 89 Made of all estate fruit, 100% Pommard clone, gently and directly pressed, the very pale pink Monksgate rosé is chalky minerals with hints of watermelon, pomegranate, and herbs. It’s a clean, precise lightly flavored rosé best served with seafood.

Niner Wine Estates 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé Edna Valley   91 Orange-tinged, medium pink. Made with direct press, this completely dry, pure rosé reveals effusive juicy strawberry on the nose and dense flavors of red cherry and berry on the palate.

O’Neill Vintners 2016 Day Owl Rosé 88+ This Barbera-based rosé offers red berries with citrus nuances. Barbera’s high acidity gives this wine an uplifting freshness that lingers on the palate. A great pick-me-up on a hot day.

Ochoa 2016 Calendas Garnacha Rosé Navarra ($11) 88 Medium dark pink. The Ochoa Rosé has a lovely nose evoking freshly picked ripe strawberries still warm from the sun. The wine is straightforward with a lively palate, bright acidity, and good extract on the finish. Importer: Frontier Wine Imports Dover, NJ

ONX 2016 Indie Rosé Templeton Gap ($19) 90 This pale pink rosé of Tempranillo provides everything one wants in a first rate rosé: effusive fresh red berry scents, bright acidity, and just the right amount of bright fruit on the palate. Sourced from the Templeton Gap and made by direct press. Founded by Steve Olson, this boutique winery is located in Paso Robles’ Tin City. Having previously been winemaker at Napa’s Trefethen and Vineyard 29, UC Davis grad Brian Brown is the full time winemaker at ONX.

Pomar Junction 2016 Côtes de Pomar Rosé El Pomar District ($24) 89 Medium pink in color, the Côtes de Pomar Rosé shows notes of watermelon, plum and ripe red berries. It’s a fruit forward, full flavored rosé that’s soft on the attack and bright on the palate. 83% Syrah, 12% Mourvedre, and 5% Viognier.

Presqu’Ile 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley ($20) 90+ This lovely light salmon-colored Rose of Pinot Noir offers pleasant cherry aromas and is crisp and flavorful on the palate. Harvested in August from the winery’s own estate, It is crafted by direct press for only 90 minutes on the skin and aged 6 months in stainless steel. Made from clones 777, 667 and Pommard from the estate vineyard in Santa Maria.

Renwood Winery 2016 Zinfandel Rosé Amador County (Shenandoah) 91 Pale salmon pink. Showing a lively perfume of red berry fruit and an effusively flavored palate of strawberry and blood orange that seemingly explodes in the mouth. All Zinfandel, picked at 21 Brix, lightly whole cluster pressed at 1.4 bars and fermented for 30 days in stainless steel to total dryness. Available only directly from the winery.

Robert Hall 2016 Rosé de Robles Paso Robles ($13) 90 This blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Counoise is harvested cool, destemmed and crushed with three hours skin contact. It shows light red cherry and raspberry on the nose and light red berry fruit on the palate. It has bright acidity and finishes clean and long.

Saget La Perrière 2015 La Petite Perrière Rosé Vin de France ($14) 89 Pale pink salmon in color, this is a crisp and fresh, delicate 100% Pinot Noir rosé showing subtle aromas and flavors of red cherry and red raspberry. Made by direct press, the fruit is sourced from estate vineyards in Touraine and contracted vineyards in Languedoc. Phillipe Reculet and Laurent Saget have overall responsibility for the winemaking. Very good wine and excellent value! Importer: Esprit Du Vin

Sanford 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir Santa Barbara ($18) 88 This rose displays a light orange color with aromas of ripe cherries and strawberries. It is mouth filling with ripe red berry flavors, good acidity and a clean crisp finish.

Soter Vineyards 2016 North Valley Pinot Noir Rosé Willamette Valley ($25) 91 A delightful and distinctive Pinot Noir rosé showing abundant pomegranate and strawberry and just a hint of honeyed oak. Excellent balance, rich fruit, and an infused floral character. Aged 40% in neutral barrels and 60% in stainless steel for four months.

Toad Hollow Vineyards 2016 Eye of the Toad Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir Sonoma County 89 Light salmon. Showing fresh red berries and cherries on the nose, this rosé is full in the mouth with bracing acidity and red cherry skin flavors. It finishes clean with a slightly hard edge.

Tres Palacios 2016 Rosé Cabernet Franc Reserva Maipo 88 This Cabernet Franc based rosé is soft and perfumed with enough weight and flavor density to pair with chicken or seafood. The fruit shows aromas and flavors of red plum and ripe strawberry. Made from estate fruit grown in the Valle de Cholquí. Importer: William Skurnik

Van Duzer 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé Willamette Valley ($20) 89 Ripe strawberry and red plum scents introduce a juicy, full flavored palate revealing medium acidity in a  balanced Pinot Noir rosé. The mature, ripe flavors of this wine would pair well with grilled sausages.

Villa San-Juliette 2016 Rosé Paso Robles ($20) 90 This medium copper salmon rosé is a blend of cofermented Grenache and Petite Sirah made direct press and Zinfandel and Syrah made saignée. It reveals notes of cherry skin and light red berry with an orange zest accent. It has nice clean flavor and good acidity.

Vina Robles 2016 Rosé Paso Robles ($15) 89 This is a saignée Syrah with an effusive bouquet and flavorful palate of strawberry and watermelon with mediu acidity and a hint of sweetness. Fairly high in alcohol for a rosé (14.5%). Well done.

Vins Clémentine 2016 Coeur Clémentine Côtes de Provence 89 This easy-drinking blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Tibouiren. is pale pink in color with coaxing aromas of pomegranate and subtle red fruit flavors on a refreshing, clean palate. Made at the 93 year old Saint-Sidoine copperative, which has 800 ha of vineyards, in Puget-Ville, Var, by winemaker, Jean Christophe Audéoud. Importer: V2 Wine Group

Vins Clémentine NV Coeur Clémentine La Petillante Brut Rosé Côtes de Provence 90 Revealing hints of tangerine and rose petal fragrances, this Brut Rosé is an attractive aperitif drink. The palate is lively and subtly flavored with notes of watermelon and red plum and a hint of garrigue. A 100% Grenache sourced from three vineyards in Var, Provence. RS 12 g/l Alc 11.6%. Importer: V2 Wine Group

Viticultores de San Juan 2016 Bobal de San Juan Rosé Utiel Requena 90+  This is a serious rosé. Direct pressed and fermented in raw concrete, it has a structure lacking in many rosés as well as superb freshness and length. The aromas and flavors tend to red raspberry and cherry skin. Importer: Monsieur Touton Selection New York, NY

Wente 2015 Small Lot Pinot Noir Rosé Arroyo Seco ($28) 88  The Small Lot Rosé is the perfect summer aperitif wine. It has a soft attack with lingering aromas and flavors of red berries and pomegranate. There’s refreshing acidity, a light savory accent and a chalky finish. Fermented and then aged two months in stainless steel.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2016 Estate Rosé Willamette Valley ($24) 91+ Medium pink. Revealing suggestions of fresh red cherry and minerals with the addition of tangerine citrus. Exceptionally well balanced with full flavor and delightful freshness on a silky palate. Fruit from the Elton and Tualatin Estate Vineyards is picked, destemmed and left with skin contact for 48 hours, then pressed and fermented in stainless steel with a six week long, cold ferment using a Rhone yeast strain that contributes to mouth feel.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2016 Whole Cluster Rosé of Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($18) 91 Pretty pink hue. Vivacious red cherry with a hint of cinnamon show on the nose. The palate also has a perfumed character with intense red raspberries on a very nicely balanced and very fresh palate. Very well done and outstanding value! Hand harvested, then the whole clusters are chilled and gently gravity pressed; after 24 hours the juice is bled off and cold fermented in stainless steel with 1/3 of the wine kept on its lees.

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