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New York rosé wines – Diversity and character

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With spring in full bloom and summer just around the corner, this is when we start feeling the rosé vibes – a yearning for the bottles that will be perfect companions at a garden party, a lazy afternoon by the pool or a picnic. The days of boring pink pours are, however, long gone, with winemakers increasingly investing their expertise and passion to produce wines that are as food friendly and complex as they are drinkable. Leading the rosé revolution are regions not traditionally regarded as top rosé destinations – not least New York, a place experiencing a wine revolution of its own.

Although informal dining and relaxed celebration define the spirit of the months to come, rosé wines – and certainly those hailing from New York state – should not be underestimated. Producers are firmly exploring the potential of a wide aromatic array and of deep textural appeal, delivering rosés with endless food pairing potential (which in turn makes the case for drinking them all year round!). No style is judged as hard for its colour than rosé – but the myth of ‘pale is better’ has long been dispelled with the array of hues now seen on shelves as an indication of character, personality and point of difference.

Channing Daughters, Long Island

The small selection below perfectly showcases this diversity and sense of exploration, as well as the personality of the producers behind them. Among them is Long Island’s Channing Daughters, an estate known for their single-varietal, vineyard-designated rosé programme. Winemaker Christopher Tracy believes rosé ‘is a versatile and rewarding wine on its own and at the table. […] We want to celebrate Rosé, especially with the bounty of the ocean, the bays, and the land where we grow our grapes and make our wine.’ And by honing in on different varieties and sites, Channing has been able to elevate the character and distinctiveness to be found across the pink range, underscored by Tracy’s trademark low-intervention, texture-driven winemaking philosophy. He has, however, also delivered classical Provençal elegance in a rosé commissioned by André Balazs for his East Coast venues.

This evocative maritime appeal of Long Island is a recurring theme across the region’s producers. Always with a point of difference though, adding intrigue, complexity and personality. Such as the subtle touch of oak ageing in Wölffer Estate’s Grandioso; it gives the wine a beautiful Burgundian poise and also hints at its cellaring potential.

Stylistically, rosé wines offer a unique understanding of the character of a given grape, terroir, and even vintage. A perfect example of this is Kelby James Russell’s Cab Franc Rosé, part of his new eponymous range. The latest recipient of the Phyllis Feder Unity Award from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, Russell has crafted a pink wine that speaks as much of its variety, as of the Finger Lakes landscape and the 2021 – challenging – harvest. ‘We do a three-day cold soak for this wine, which is pretty extended skin contact for a rosé,’ says Russell. ‘But the light salmon colour you see is a really beautiful expression of what the vintage delivered. 2021 was a lighter bodied vintage, so instead of the bright cherry colour we can get through this process in other vintages, we have a fresher, lighter version. Still, it doesn’t lack structure on the mid-palate, which is key to what makes this wine such fun to make.’ It’s precisely this structure and subtle tannic presence that makes the wine such a great food companion, with drinkability balanced by a very savoury appeal.

Be it vins de soif or serious food wines, New York is delivering rosé wines with such different stories to tell; many shades of pink for all the summer days to come.

Five NY rosés to try:

Tasted and scored by the Decanter team

Kelby James Russell, Cab Franc Rosé 2021
93 points
100% Cabernet Franc
A delicious expression of Cabernet Franc, with blood orange and glazed orange zestiness, around a core of red apple peel, cranberry, wild strawberry and raspberry. Lovely expressiveness and drive. A quintessential food rosé, with subtle salinity and a delicious hint of spice. Alc 12.5%

Channing Daughters, Rosato di Sculpture Garden 2022
92 points
91% Merlot, 6% Teroldego, 3% Blaufränkisch
One of the deepest coloured wines in Channing Daughter’s rosé collection, this deserves a place at the table alongside spring salads, grilled poultry or salt-baked fish. The varieties were harvested and fermented together, with the deep black fruit enlivened by dried herbs and savoury spice. Firm, refreshing acidity. Alc 12.5%

Weis, Dry Rosé 2021
91 points
Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Blaufränkisch
Beautiful softness and vibrancy. Soft, wild red fruit – wild strawberry, cranberry, pomegranate – with a zesty lining of clementine and tangerine peel. Crunchy core of pear and melon. Good structure and acidity. Alc 12%

Wölffer Estate, Grandioso Rosé, Long Island 2021
90 points
55% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 17% Chardonnay, 4.5% Pinot Gris, 1.5% Riesling
The coppery hue hints at the subtle use of oak, which underscores the soft tannic grip and nutty notes of fresh almonds and walnuts. Sophisticated yet extremely inviting, with delicious orchard fruit supported by subtle minerality. Alc 12%

Lakewood Vineyards, Bubbly Catawba 2021
89 points
100% Catawba
Fun and unpretentious, this is garden party material in all its joy. Approachable in its gentle sweetness, but with enough flesh to drink with the food sizzling in the barbecue. Strawberry jam, sweet cherries and raspberry, with the pétillance adding freshness and drive. Alc 10.4%

Discover more about New York State wines and producers

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