ONCE CONSIDERED A LIGHTWEIGHT in the battle for consumer favor, rosé wines were habitually placed in the “casual summer wine” niche and taken about as seriously as sangria. In truth, however, the rich flavor profiles of many rosés pair well with a wide range of dishes—from lobster to grilled summer vegetables, even light beef and lamb dishes. These hot pink wines are quite capable of skirting what has generally been considered red-wine territory.
As their popularity has grown, so has interest in local production. Tousey Winery, in Germantown (Columbia County), produces Rebellion Rosé, a popular, robust rosé that approaches a Pinot Noir profile. From Benmarl’s Fjord Vineyards in Marlboro (Ulster County) comes a dry, balanced Cabernet Franc rosé, and nearby Glorie Farm Winery just entered the rosé world with its own Cab Franc rosé.
Closer to the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County, Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery, in Gardiner, offers Dry Rosé (a Gamay Noir, Cayuga and Vidal Blanc blend). The clean, simple and straightforward rosé is a crowd pleaser with its melon and lemon-citrus overtones; it pairs well with a variety of summer dishes, including complex summer salads.
A lot of time and capital has gone into the development of Whitecliff’s newest rosé. Six years ago, the winery planted Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir and Cabernet Franc on a new, six-acre vineyard bordering the Hudson River just below Olana, Frederic Edwin Church’s historic home and studio in Columbia County. The site, chosen because of its slope, soil and proximity to the river, has yielded its first vintage.
A 2017 rosé of Pinot Noir (9 percent Pinot Noir; 3 percent Cab Franc) is the first estate wine from the new vineyard. A 2017 Cab Franc and a 2017 Gamay Noir commemorate not only the new vineyard but also Whitecliff’s twentieth anniversary.
The Pinot rosé, with its floral nose and deep citrus flavor, pairs well with grilled meats—pork, lamb and sausage—as well as harvest salads. It joins Whitecliff’s other rosés—Island Rosé (Cab Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah) with its hints of currant, berry and exotic fruit (try it with lobster or fish and salsa) and a cooler-weather Barrel Rosé (an estate blend of Pinot Noir and Cab Franc), aged in oak and good with a creamy pasta or even steak.
If you haven’t yet tried any Hudson Valley rosés, or if you avoid rosés in general out of habit, you may be in for a surprise. They’re quite comfortable on either a dining or picnic table, and they pair well with the bounty of local meats and vegetables available from now into autumn.