An Impromptu Rosé Wine Tasting


On Sunday, September 30, 2018, a group of us got together and had an impromptu blind Rosé tasting. Rosé has become so common during the warm weather we sometimes lose track of what we have had, what we have liked or disliked. It raised the question: have we really evaluated the varietal lately?

We quickly went through those we tasted over the summer from South Africa, Italy, Spain, and France. As a departure from the normal Côtes de Provence, Rhone we selected three California Rosés, all with very distinct profiles. The following were tasted blind.

2010 Principe Vineyard Rosé of Cabernet


100% Cabernet Sauvignon 

This is a wine from the Malibu California AVA. Yes, Malibu! This is a real AVA and a hidden gem in Southern California. (See my article on our interview with the winemakers and our tastings in Malibu) The Chaparral in the canyons adds unique characteristics to the wine in this area. Each canyon is almost its own microclimate.

Principe Vineyards are located in the serene setting of Hidden Valley, California. The valley is cooled by the Pacific Ocean breeze, morning fog, and is warmed by the California sun.  

There are distinct notes of stone fruit, melon, and strawberry on the nose. On the palate, it is acidic with strawberry, red grapefruit rind, and cherry, A very long finish for a Rosé. The acidity helps with food. This is not your Provence Rose and more of a Cabernet drinkers rose. Rick Principe said it is a Rosé… “that once tasted by men, has them hooked on Rose.” Full-bodied, it is a nice alternative to French Rosé.

2014 Patland Estate Vineyards “Lilla in Fiore” Rosé


65% Syrah 35% Malbec

Made from the Grapes from Stagecoach Vineyards in Napa by Jay Buoncristiani, also the winemaker at Buoncristiani Family wines.

The Krupp family started developing Stagecoach Vineyard in 1995 with the help of a few longtime friends. With over 500 acres planted, it is the largest contiguous mountain planting in the Napa Valley. Stretching from the westernmost regions of Atlas Peak all the way to the east overlooking Oakville, this 1,200+ acres of rocky, volcanic terroir graces the southern edge of Pritchard Hill.

Reclaimed from chaparral and sagebrush, over a half million tons of rock excavated, and water found where no geologist could divine, modern-day Stagecoach Vineyard is truly a gem in the rough and highly sought after grapes.

A very fruit forward wine with concentrated strawberry, raspberry and a little cherry Jolly Rancher on the nose. On the palate, it is an elegant wine with a dry minerality, notes of strawberry, plum and cherry with a well balanced and short finish. Another Rose for a red wine drinker.  The blend made it a distinct difference from the Principe. Not as full bodied but more elegant and can be enjoyed without food.

2016 Buoncristiani Napa Valley Rosato

Rosé blend of Syrah and Malbec

Located in the Stags Leap district of Napa, California.

At the age of 24, Jay and his brother Matt started Buoncristiani Family Winery.  Starting in 2005 Jay’s winemaking skills have been directed toward his role as Winemaker at Buoncristiani as well as being the hands-on Consulting Winemaker for a select few additional wineries (Krupp Brothers, Hollywood Classic, JKL, Remridg, and Patland).  Jay’s wines have earned high regards from the wine industry’s foremost critics, garnering a multitude of wine scores in the 90s and great achievements such as being named “Rising Star of Napa Cabernet” by the Wine Spectator, #25 in the Top 100 wines of the world from Wine Enthusiast, and a 97-point rated wine from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate where Parker called Jay’s wine “truly fruit profile of ripe raspberry, floral perfume, exotic spices, and black cherry.

 On the nose, there is a distinct jammy strawberry with hints of oak, red fruits, floral perfume & river rock. On the palate, strawberry dominates and it is very crisp and dry with minerality, raspberry notes and a touch of spice on the finish.

While all the wines were very good, the Patland was the clear winner while the other two were divided equally by the group for the second and third. Clearly, everyone enjoyed the departure from France and the attributes of a more full-bodied Rosé. Debbie Dussault, one of our group and writer for this blog, brought an incredible Heirloom and Burrata cheese tart. This paired with all the wines and clearly brought out the flavors of each one.

For those who love Rosé but have never ventured from France, try some of these and experience the difference and draw your own conclusions.

The Three Rosés
The Three Rosés


Richard R.
Richard R.
Richard is a Sommelier who, along with his wife Jarlene, is a regular visitor to California's many wine regions, including those you've never heard of! He's also an aficionado of wines that are off the beaten path.


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