Some Thoughts on 2021 East Coast Rosé
There is a lot left to do, but here are some initial impressions from the first-annual Press Fraction East Coast Rosé Panel Tasting
Well, that was a lot of fun!
I still have quite a bit of re-tasting and analysis to do over the next week-plus but Carlo DeVito (East Coast Wineries), Gibson Campbell (Macari Wines), and I tasted through cases of East Coast rosé on Saturday (unfortunately, our fourth panelist, Shelby Vittek from Modern Farmer, wasn’t able to join us.) And, to get the perspective of some less-geeky wine lovers, we even invited some friends who were in and out of the house throughout the day to taste a handful of the wines.
I’m planning to re-taste as many of the wines as I can over the next couple of weeks and I have a lot of analysis to do, but my first reaction is how I started this post — that was a lot of fun. But there is still a lot of work to do before I publish the full 2021 Rosé Report later this month.
I did want to share five thoughts just a couple of days removed from the main part of the tasting, though:
There Were Very Few Undrinkable Wines
As a wine drinker, I’m pretty easygoing when it comes to rosé. Is it refreshing? Is it free from faults? Is it at least lightly fruity? I’m probably perfectly happy drinking it. Do I prefer that there is a hint of savoriness and complexity to go along with that fruitiness — usually in the form of herbs or spice or salinity? Sure, but that’s next-level and more what I’m looking for as a wine critic.
As a wine drinker, I would happily drink at least 90% of what we tasted either as an accompaniment to lighter summer foods or in place of a cocktail on my deck, by the pool, or at the beach.
There were only a handful of wines that I’d label as undrinkable. One tasted like kombucha but worse. Another tasted like kettle corn drizzled with fake strawberry syrup. Luckily, these wines were the rare exceptions.
May Was Probably Too Early For This Tasting
There were a lot of very delicate wines. Some were clearly shooting for the light and refreshing Provencal style. Others, I suspect were still in bottle shock. With bottle and label shortages this year, bottling was delayed up and down the coast and I think it may have been better for me to taste these wines in June or even July.
I suspect that many (maybe even most) of the wines we tasted will taste better mid-summer than they did in late April. This leads to…
I’m Not Going to Publish Reviews for Every Wine
Exactly how many or which bottles were in bottle shock? I have no idea. As such, I don’t feel it’s fair for me to publish lesser reviews for wines that maybe were just tasted too soon after going into the bottle. I’m still going to write about a lot of the wines, of course, but what I end up writing will be more of an East Coast rosé buying guide. I’ll highlight the wines we loved the most across all of the regions (while naming our favorites from each as well).
There is a Lot of Grape Diversity in East Coast Rosé
I think we all know that wineries use a variety of different grapes to make their rosé, but tasting so many at once the diversity stood out. There was a lot of cabernet franc in play (some of it quite thin and underripe) but also wines that blended various Bordeaux varieties together. Others used syrah or barbera or were really white wines colored with a little red wine.
Some didn’t even taste like what they were labeled — one cabernet franc-labeled wine smelled and tasted distinctly of cayuga or under-ripe vidal blanc. Another tasted so much like barely-ripe sauvignon blanc, we wondered if it was from New Zealand.
Still, outliers aside, it’s remarkable how similar the finished wines end up being regardless of the starting materials. I think I’ll dive more into that in the coming weeks.
That’s it for now. Much more rosé-related content to come!
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Thank You to Founding Members
I hope to have a little news about the first bit of Founding Member merch soon, but to start the year, I just want to thank them here in the newsletter. Thank you:
Deji Abraham, The Wine Club Site
John Cifelli, Unionville Vineyards
Liz Stamp, Lakewood Vineyards