Blush and Beyond

People have come to expect more from wines whose colors range from light salmon to bright cherry. Whereas a lack of interest once prevailed when the word rosé was mentioned among wine buffs, genuine enthusiasm is now the immediate reaction.

More than ever before, high quality Oregon Pinot Noir grapes are being fermented for a shorter time on the skins in an effort to create a compelling rosé style.

In fact, the results from limited skin contact are so diverse that examples in this tasting ranged from wines that appeared light red to ones with a hint of color, bordering on blanc.

Regardless of the degree of pink pigmentation, when care is taken to do it right, the evidence is in that rosé is well on its way to taking a prominent place in the spectrum of Oregon wines.

White blends can also claim an upswing in interest. Winemakers test their abilities to mix and match more than one variety to achieve a pleasing balance among the attributes of each.

It’s particularly satisfying for this panel to uncover some of these inexpensive gems that reflect skillful winemaking. Here are this month’s blind finds in Oregon pink and white wines.

AlexEli 2011 Bubela’s Blend,Willamette Valley  •  $15  (224 cases)
Burnt sugar and spice, and everything nice may not be a wine saying but those flavor notes add intriguing elements to a clean, bright, nicely balanced blend of mostly Chardonnay topped off with Riesling and Müller-Thurgau. Apple and pear round out this palate pleaser. 

Daedalus 2011 Jezebel Blanc Oregon White Wine  •  $14 (590 cases)
Forward aromas of cinnamon and coriander lead into crisp, lively flavors featuring citrusy grapefruit and freshly mown grass. A well-balanced blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris with a small amount (3 percent) of Muscat. 

TeSóAria 2012 Bella Bianca  •  $19 (150 cases)
Bella to this bianca for hitting all the high notes with what they’re dubbing a “mysterious” five-grape blend. It’s not that they won’t say, but it can be a challenge to guess which combination brought about fresh but creamy, apple, honey, orange blossom, mineral and stone fruit flavors. 

Anne Amie 2012 Cuvée A Amrita, Willamette Valley  •  $15 (1,705 cases)
A fresh, zesty wine with a slice of lime, a section of grapefruit, lively acidity and a hint of spritz. Just goes to show that a blend of Viognier, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer won’t necessarily give you a “sink”ing feeling.

Elk Cove 2012 Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley $16  •  (2,500 cases)
The byword for this wine is balance; so much so that it begs to be paired with an appropriate dish where its character will best show through. Its dry tartness is perfectly offset by lively acidity with the piquant flavor of ripe strawberries flowing throughout. 

Brigadoon 2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley  •  $18 (75 cases)
If a quintessential rosé aroma could be patented, this would be it. Kiss of apple, just-baked peach pie and the freshness of all outdoors. Light as a feather, pretty as a picture. No cliché will get in the way of elucidating this delight. 

Left Coast 2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley  •  $18 (275 cases)
A gorgeous pink hue and lots of fun with flavors mark this wine. Conjure up olfactory and gustatory images of succulent strawberry and orange essence wrapped in a viscous robe. 

Omero 2012 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Ribbon Ridge  •  $25 (80 cases)
Rose, not rosé, on the nose introduces clean, fresh flavors combining watermelon, strawberry and plum. Weightiness in the mouth borders on red robustness but is belied by brightness. An across-the-board favorite. 

R. Stuart 2012 Big Fire Dry Rosé, Oregon  •  $16 (382 cases)
Elegance is not a term often applied to rosé, but it seems appropriate here. Stylish notes of wild rose, strawberry, cranberry and tropical fruit, backed by bright acidity, play on the palate. 

St. Innocent 2012 Oeil de Perdrix Temperance Hill Vineyard  •  $18 (217 cases)
For those who don’t parlez Francais, the above phrase translates to “Eye of the Partridge.” Caymus Vineyards of Napa Valley first used it, with considerable success, in the early 1970s on what they called a Pinot Noir Blanc. This faintly orange-tinged version is delicately sweet and decidedly delicious with an appealing, floral aroma and savory mineral notes. 

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