The Top Ten Oregon Rosés of Summer
Temperatures are rising and all enophile eyes are on rosé, the quintessential quaffer for these doggiest of days. What better beverage for a porch rendezvous, spontaneous picnic, or some solo spa time with your feet in the backyard paddling pool?
With this in mind, we asked three Portland sommeliers—Brent Braun, beverage director at OK Omens and owner of Post Familiar wine company; Lisa Nguyen, manager at Ardor Natural Wines and co-owner of Chausse Selection Distribution; and Andy Fortgang, co-owner and wine director at Le Pigeon and Canard and co-owner of Flor Wines—for their Oregon rosé recommendations.
Once we got to ten top wines, our trusty edit team had no option but to gather and sample each and every one, offering our own tasting notes. From peach to personality (big!), coral to creaminess, funky to fingernails (for realz), read on for the lowdown on the ten Oregon pinks (occasionally veering into oranges) for delicious summer sips.
The Marigny Pinot Noir Rosé
“A naturally made pinot noir that hits all the things you want from rosé, but kicks up the acid times five,” says Braun of this bottle from small Willamette Valley winery The Marigny, which focuses on natural wine. “So you’re getting something that’s really refreshing, with a good citrusy minerality that’s moving towards a touch creamy.”
Our Portland Monthly tasters were fans of this wine’s soft, light color and strawberry brightness on the palate. “I do very much like the bottles,” added art director Mike Novak, who pays attention to such things. We found an interesting acidity that was balanced by creaminess. “Like a cream scone!” said deputy editor Julia Silverman.
Cutter Cascadia “Strawberry Mullet”
“100 percent zinfandel, picked early for a very fresh salmon-pink color,” says Braun of this rosé from the Columbia Gorge-based Cutter Cascadia. “Classic and refreshing, but has a bit more of an edge than your grocery store rosé.”
This bottle also got top marks for label, with a note that good packaging goes a long way to sell a wine. “What else would I buy it based on?” asked Novak. The color, described as “fingernail pink” by Silverman or “sunset clouds” by deputy art director Katie Leimbach, was soft and appealing, and when we finally took a sip? Very easy to drink, was the verdict.
Bow and Arrow Rosé
This deep-colored wine from Scott Frank’s Southeast Portland-based Bow and Arrow winery was a pick for Braun, who described it as “an OG Oregon natural wine.” The selling point? “Gamay noir that's a deeper, more saturated pink than you might expect. It tastes exactly like watermelon Jolly Ranchers!”
Our edit team found smokiness and strawberry here, with some grassy notes, and compared it to everything from Mezcal (in a good way, said editorial intern Shannon Daehnke) to Voodoo Doughnuts.
Post Familiar Rosé
Braun’s final pick comes from his own winery, Post Familiar, which he chose for “’maximum chuggability,” describing it as a “sparkling pét-nat rosé of pinot noir that’s blended with cider, which means it has the low alcohol (10 percent) and lightness of cider, but tastes mostly like delicious rosé with a hint of funky apple.”
Our edit team described this as “very appley” and “good for fall” with an addition that you could “drink a lot of it.” The verdict? “It’s way better than cider.”
Monument Wine, Jenny
This delicious wine from indie winemaker Monument was the edit staff’s top pick of the ten. “Not your basic rosé by the pool,” is how Nguyen describes Jenny, the sweet, simple label of which boasts a picture of winemaker Tyler Magyar’s mother. “It’s fifty-fifty syrah and skin-contact muscat—which lightens the wine. Because it's not all red fruit, it's very peachy with a nice coral color.”
Our team loved the bold personality of this wine, which comprises half rosé of syrah and and half skin-contact muscat. “It’s got personality,” said digital engagement editor Dalila Brent.
Buona Notte, Rosa
“This one’s alive right now, it’s having a party. Italian grapes—dolcetto and sangiovese—grown in the Columbia Gorge,” says Nguyen of Cascade Locks-based Buona Notte’s Rosa. “It’s a darker rosé with a wild, beautiful ruby-red color and taste—think blood orange, basil, citrus, and dark berry flavors.”
Our edit team noted the acidic first sip which gives way to a mellow finish. We found gunmetal and cranberry among the flavors, and admired what one editor described as “a kind of yummy brightness” in the finish.
Maloof, Where Ya PJs At?
Maloof, a husband and wife team based in Forest Grove, call this “rosé-ish,” in part because its made from pinot gris and riesling. “It’s a rosé that’s not really rosé, but reads rosé: pinot gris is a shapeshifter of a grape,” says Nguyen. "When vinified naturally, it can produce a pink wine—with no red fruit.”
Our team loved the acidity and tartness of this wine, with citrus and strawberry: summer in a bottle.
JK Carriere, Glass
This Newberg winery has been on the go for more than two decades now, and winemaker Jim Prosser clearly knows what he’s doing. “It’s got a real complex texture,” says Forgtang. “It’s dry and crisp, it has a nice creaminess on the palette, and a broad stretch of flavors from orange to floral to strawberry to red fruits.”
This wine was described by our team as “an adult wine,” feeling more sophisticated and refined than its maybe hipper, definitely funkier counterparts. “The orange/strawberry thing is not a flavor combination I would have thought of,” pointed out editorial intern Matt Trueherz, who knows a thing or two about flavors after several years working in some of the city’s best-known restaurants.
“I might buy that one again,” said Silverman.
Division, Division-Villages L’Avoiron Gamay Noir Rosé
“I love this wine because of its electric brightness, it’s got great gummy fruit but really bright, super vibrant acidity,” said Fortgang of this bottle from winemakers Kate Norris and Thomas Monroe.
Made from Yakima valley Gamay Noir, the edit team loved the strawberry nose and lingering caramel of this wine. “You can feel it in your whole mouth,” said former Portland Monthly video producer Monica Salazar.
Eyrie Vineyards, Spark
This effervescent delight from McMinnville’s Eyrie Vineyards brought our tasting to a bright and bubbly end. “It’s inexpensive but it’s got a serious grip to it,” said Fortgang. “On a hot day, you don’t really want to drink red wine, but you can sit down and drink that with something off the grill.”
Our team of tasters enjoyed how savory this sparkling number landed, noting the balance of light, party vibes underpinned with some serious, robust notes. “I’d be very happy with this one in a restaurant if somebody brought it my way,” said Silverman.