As winter turns to spring, the inky merlots and jammy cabernets in our glasses start to seem a bit heavy when we begin our meals with seasonal light salads, crunchy veggies, fruit soup or grilled fish… It’s time to lighten up! For wine lovers, spring heralds the beginning of the lovely pink rosé season. Sometimes people choose such a wine for the Pesach Seder or Yom Tov meals. (For wine recommendations of all types as well as ranked Top 25 wines by price and Top 10 varietal wine lists, please feel free to refer to the 2022 Jewish Link Wine Guide, available at jlinkwineguide.com or by mail upon request.*)
Rosé wines are generally most enjoyed chilled and young, soon after bottling. Despite any marketing pleas to the contrary, it’s our group’s opinion that one should give 2020 pink vintages a pass at this point. This type of wine is generally not designed for stowing away for later. The fruit notes, aromas and the delicate balance of sweetness and acidity tend to break down as the wine reaches its first birthday.
In spring of 2022, the Jewish Link Wine Guide team was looking for rosés made from grapes harvested in fall 2021. With shipping and logistics delays worldwide for all manner of products, wines are no exception, so we were only able to acquire 26 wines before the Pesach holiday, with more expected by Shavuot, particularly the very light pink French wines from Provence, which tend to be very enjoyable. But we were able to come up with a few standouts and some real surprises on the basis of our annual blind tasting. We made notes on the wines and discussed them before taking off their coverings, to ensure that any preconceived notions about the brand or bottle would not affect our description of it. I also re-tasted several of the wines later in an effort to describe them most effectively.
I would also note that there were a fair few rosés in our tasting that are seen as well-regarded annual players in the kosher rosé space, but as these wines do change radically in flavor and character from year to year, I believe the blind tasting was very useful in this regard. Based on the results, the tasting this year seems to have favored and benefited lesser-known producers whose wines exhibited a pleasing balance of acidity and sweetness, often with notes of fruit like strawberry, citrus or melon. The eight wines below were of particular note.
Dalton Alma Rosé 2021
We have come to expect that an Israeli Dalton wine appears in our rosé list annually. This year is no exception, despite the fact that the often very good Dalton Estate Rosé 2021 was not available to us yet. We instead tried the Dalton Alma Rosé, which was made of a 50-50 blend of hand picked grenache noir and pinot gris. We found it fruity, dry and enjoyable, with a stewed fruit finish. This was the best-liked wine overall of the tasting. $22.00
Yaffo Rosé 2021
This wine by Yaffo Winery from Israel was one of the biggest surprises of the tasting. From a winery that wasn’t really on our radar before last year, Yaffo Winery—a micro winery that uses exclusive distribution through KosherWine.com—has exceeded our expectations in every tasting. This wine had a bit of candy-like sweetness, but was also balanced and likable, with citrus acidity. Made from 75% merlot and 25% grenache, the wine was easy going down and pleasant. $21.99
Mony Tale of Rosé 2021
An Israeli rosé wine with a lighter salmon hue, a nose of strawberry, lemon and lime, the Mony Tale of Rosé had a pleasant, more bracing acidity than others in our tasting, with a sustained and fruity finish. This rosé was made with cabernet sauvignon grapes from the Soreq Valley near Beit Shemesh. $29.99.
Viña Memorias Rosé 2021
This Spanish wine, made with 100% Bobal grapes, an old vine bush grape that I doubt has often (or ever) been made into a kosher rosé before this winery’s establishment in 2016, was citrusy with an aroma of ripe strawberries, and was balanced with sweetness, acidity and a lovely finish. This label is a cult favorite in Israel, and has just now begun importing to the U.S. $24.99.
Contessa Annalisa Rosé 2021
This inexpensive Italian rosé is made from merlot grapes. It is light with some sweetness, with a refreshing and crisp taste with notes of strawberries and peach. Some candy essences. Very easy going down. $13.99.
Twin Suns Reserve Rosé Willamette Valley 2021
This is one of two Willamette Valley, Oregon kosher wines that have been released so far this season. In addition to kosher wines coming out of Walla Walla, Washington as well this year, these wines are driving a new interest in wines from the U.S Pacific Northwest. Made from pinot noir grapes, this rosé was unique and punchy, with a nose of cotton candy and bubblegum, in a good way (for most of our tasters). Ever so slightly effervescent when we tasted it, this wine had strong red fruit on the nose and on first taste, with a bracing citrus finish. Still a little hot with some excess alcohol, which will likely calm down in the next weeks and months as the wine settles. $24.99.
Eola Hills Pinot Noir Rosé Willamette Valley 2021
The second of two wines from this region available in kosher this year, the Eola Hills Rosé was exciting to taste and opened up with strong notes of fresh and cooked raspberry and strawberry, only after being very well chilled. This had a very light viscosity, almost like a sauvignon blanc, but with berry notes rather than citrus. Some alcohol is still on the finish, same as above. This wine did not show as well the warmer it got, so keep it chilled. Exclusive to KosherWine.com. $24.99.
Festa D’Estate Rosé 2021
This is again a very well-balanced Italian wine like the Contessa with a little sweetness, and from a winery that wasn’t really on our radar screens a year ago. At $11.99 and likely the most affordable wine in our tasting, it beat out wines that were three and four times as expensive. While it is listed as a blend with no specific varietals noted, for its price it can’t be beat. Also a KosherWine.com exclusive.
*For mailed copies of the 2022 Jewish Link Wine Guide, please email [email protected].
By Elizabeth Kratz