According to recent Nielsen-tracked data of off-premise wine sales, Rosé table wines priced above $7.99, were up a tremendous 56.2% over the last 12 months. Rosé wines, both international and domestic are very hot; in fact as a category Rosé’s now outsell Syrahs nationally.

As a wine judge participating in numerous competitions, I noticed that Rosé wines were not getting the recognition they deserved; so back in 2013 I created the first Rosé competition in the United States. Now in it fourth year, Rosé Today—the 2017 competition held at Soda Rock Winery in Healdsburg—was bigger and better than ever. 

The sweet, cheap afterthought rosé wines of the past have been eclipsed by well-crafted, dry, stellar wines. Rosé Today, which, along with the recent Garden Party held at Jaxon Keys winery, celebrates all things rosé.

2017 competition’s Leslie Sbrocco said, “It was my privilege to join the ranks of judges who also share my appreciation for the growing category of Rosé wine. From dry to sweet, domestic to international, we sampled hundreds of wines to bestow honors.”

The competition received 239 Rosé wine entries from nine countries and twelve states.  The countries were the USA, France, Italy, Austria, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia and Morocco.  US states included: Arizona, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. "With a wide variety of pretty pinks to salmon colors, rosé's have the most intriguing wine color variables. Delicious with light summer bbq,” said judge Denise Gill.

Sparkling Rosé With Meal

As for varietals, the most frequent grape used for the entered wines was Pinot Noir, and then Grenache and Sangiovese. Other grape varietals, including Malbec, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cinsault, Nebbiolo, Mission, Pinot Meunier and Aleatico, were utilized. Each winemaker had his or her own style.

Taking home Best of Show—and also Best of Class and Double Gold in Domestic Sparkling—for the second year in a row was Gloria Ferrer 2013 Brut Rosé ($50).  Best of Class Dry (with a Double Gold) was awarded to Bonterra Organic Vineyards 2016 Rosé ($16). Other winners were:

International Dry: Mezzacorona 2016 Rosato ($9.99)
Domestic Sparkling: Gloria Ferrer 2013 Brut Rosé ($50)
International Sparkling: Veuve Ambal NV Marie Ambal Brut Rosé ($25)
Domestic Sweet: Del Rio Vineyards NV Rosé Jolee ($12.99)
International Sweet: Pratsch 2016 Rosé ($13)

Congratulations are in order for all the Best of Class and other winners.  The full list of awards can be found at: “Demand for Rosé is in dramatic growth in the US and rightly so. Many of them are fresh, light, inexpensive and easy drinking. We are honored to be a part of the Rosé Today 2017 Competition and their efforts towards promoting Rosé as an “anytime wine,” said Megan Bainbridge, Director of Marketing and Sales for St. Helena based Apriori Cellar.

After the Competition I had an opportunity to sample some of the wines, and loved the Apriori Sangiacomo Vineyard Rosé ($24). It was like a pale slice of watermelon in a glass. Rosé wines are finally being appreciated for the quality, enjoyment and versatility. They can be appreciated on their own or with various foods (think Sushi or grilled fish or chicken).  “I was impressed by the overall quality and complexity of the entries and see a rosy future for pink wines," quipped Judge Leslie Sbrocco.