Wine of the Week: Two Rosé of Pinot Noir

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Wine of the Week: Two Rosé of Pinot Noir

What can you expect from a rosé of Pinot Noir? Should it always appear as the palest of pink wines, a mere crepuscular shade of pink, the dawning of a midwinter's day? Is there one true and authentic version of Pinot Noir rosé, all others being gauche pretenders?

Where it concerns Sonoma County rosé of Pinot Noir, as with all other rosés, the answers are—from last to first—no, no, and let's taste some wines and find out!

The hue and savor of a Pinot Noir rosé depends upon a lot of factors: the timing of the picking, for one; perhaps more importantly, the amount of time that the juice lingers on the skins of the crushed grapes before being pressed. The vintage, of course, and the growing region also play some role.

Red Car 2015 Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir ($28)

If the grapes for this very pale rosé weren't grown in the cool Sonoma Coast appellation, they may not have been ripe enough to pick at a low 21 degrees Brix (a percentage of sugar content basically equivalent to 21 percent of the grape's juice). After whole-cluster pressing, which limits the color that the skins may impart to the wine, Red Car was able to make a tart, yet fleshy wine without 'green' overtones. Instead, this wine hits the palate cool and fruity, like strawberry ice cream and frozen nectarine, with delicate flavors of orange raspberry and an aromatic note of chalk dust. Pale and pleasing at just 12.9 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).

La Crema 2015 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Rosé ($30)

More classified about their production methods—only allowing that this rosé is made in the 'French style,' which can mean a lot of things—La Crema has made an electric pink Pinot with upfront fruit, to be sure. Is the slightly warmer—generally speaking—Russian River Valley appellation responsible for the crunchy, maraschino cherry fruit and candied red fruit aroma? Not so fast—remember our Fort Ross Vineyard 2014 Fort Ross-Seaview Rosé of Pinot Noir from last year's rosé roundup, which shared similar qualities. A little heartier at 13.5 ABV.

The La Crema is a fun wine, for sure—a nice aperitif for when you're in the mood for a red wine, but a rosé like this might better pair with one of our warm, Sonoma County Indian summer evenings. But hang on to the Red Car for crab cake season.

Read more about Sonoma County wineries & wine

James Knight