Variations on Pinot Noir Rosé

When you think rosé, most people think of the classic Provence style wines, which are usually made with Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault. However, Pinot Noir is the most prominent grape used to make rosé wines in the U.S. and Germany. This month you’ll try two Pinot Noir based rosés.

Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé $14.00 btl/$151.20 case

Founded in 1756 in the Pfalz region of Germany, the J.L. Wolf estate (now called Villa Wolf) was a successful and highly regarded winery for more than two centuries. It entered an especially glamorous era with the construction of its Italianate estate house and villa in 1843. In the latter years of the 20th century, however, the estate languished, lacking a firm hand to guide its wine production. Ernst Loosen, of the Dr. Loosen Estate, took over the vineyards in 1996, launching a dramatic turnaround in the estate’s quality and reputation. Since 2011, a talented and dedicated young team that previously worked at Dr. Loosen, namely Sumi Gebauer and Patrick Möllendorf, have managed the estate. The duo has brought renewed energy and focus to the viticulture and winemaking at Villa Wolf. The goal at Villa Wolf is to produce wines that express the pure, authentic terroir of the Pfalz. The Pfalz region has a long tradition of going Riesling, along with other grape varieties, allowing Ernst and his team to expand their winemaking palette to include Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Dornfelder. To preserve the naturally high quality of the vineyards, Villa Wolf employs sustainable viticultural practices and emphasizes gentle handling of the fruit through traditional, minimalist winemaking.

A very warm spring kicked off an early growing season in the Pfalz. It was slowed by a bout of frost in April that inhibited shoot growth and made training the vines very difficult. A warm, wet summer promoted rapid fruit development, but also botrytis. Through extensive vineyard work, however, the team was able to harvest a clean, healthy crop in September. In spite of the challenges, the wines have excellent ripeness and bright, refreshing acidity.

The Pfalz is a very warm and sunny region, often called "the Tuscany of Germany," so all of the Pinot varieties do well here. The Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé is a true rosé, made with a brief maceration before pressing to extract the lovely salmon color. It is light and refreshing, with deliciously bright berry and fruit flavors and a clean, zippy finish. It's perfect for holiday meals, especially when ham is involved.

Eric Kent Sonoma Coast Rose 2017 $22btl/$237.60 case

A simple statement and profound truth: great wine is grown in the vineyard. To make it, you must start with outstanding fruit. Sonoma County comprises one of the most diverse and impressive viticultural areas in the world. The vineyards sourced for Eric Kent’s wines are chosen to highlight this diversity, from coastal to inland, high elevation to low, rocky soil to sandy, cool-climate to warm, so that they can showcase this fascinating variety in their vineyard designates, appellation wines and proprietary blends.

Kent Humphry has been a “hyper-enthusiastic” wine geeks since college – writing volumes of tasting notes and spending all of his disposable income on wine – but it wasn’t until age 33 that he worked his first harvest following a career in academics and advertising. He had a single goal in mind: to someday hold up a bottle of world-class wine and say to himself, “I made this.”  These days he’s thrilled to discover that his goal is never-ending… the pursuit of making fine wine goes on forever. Each vintage brings new challenges and triumphs, more discoveries and deeper desires. Palates evolve, knowledge grows, new vineyards beckon, and ideas flow.

Sonoma County suffered a devastating blow in 2017 when the Northern California wildfires struck. Kent had to abandon his car and escape on foot with his family during the night. Their vineyards, winery and warehouse were all safe, but he lost his house, car and office, and his entire neighborhood is completely gone. Fortunately, most vineyards were not damaged, and Sonoma will continue producing amazing wine for years to come.

Eric Kent Sonoma Coast Rosé offers a deliciously atypical rosé experience. Bold in both color and flavor, their house style throws out preconceptions that pink wine is merely a casual sipper.  This rosé is a blend of 77% Pinot Noir, 17% Syrah, and 6% Grenache. This “trio works well together, combining to offer a distinct minerality of crushed rock around complex, curious flavors of cured meat, citrus and strawberry.” (Wine Enthusiast). As the majority component, Pinot brings the perfume while smaller additions of Syrah and Grenache join to add body and structure making for a complex, food-worthy meal companion.


Cover photo via Villa Wolf.

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