2016 Rosé




Is the Finger Lakes rosé revolution foundering?

It seems hard to believe. The “think pink" movement began just a few years ago, after all.  

Yet, wines from the 2016 vintage are hardly reassuring.

Too many of these wines lack the signature qualities of dry rosé — vibrant fruit, thirst quenching acidity, and the ability to work with food.

Too many of these wines are soft and sweet, even though the label may say “Dry Rosé."

Too many of these wines have unjustifiably hefty price tags, now sometimes exceeding $20.  On the whole, France, Italy, Spain and Washington State offer more compelling value.

So, what happened?

The vintage was certainly very warm, which resulted in wines that tend toward more alcohol than usual.  In some cases, softness and sweetness may have been due to an inability to pick the grapes in a timely manner. In short, weather and logistical difficulties are to blame.  

I hope this is true, but some very capable producers made softly sweet wines this year; it's a bit difficult to believe they slipped up. Are these wineries simply yielding to their customers’ sweet tooths? 

The best wines in this survey are dry, refreshing and well-priced. Standout wines include those from Kelby James Russell, Fox Run, Wagner Vineyards and Atwater Vineyards. Pricier wines from Barnstormer, Bellwether and Silver Thread are also very good.

As usual, I recommend purchasing bottles rated “very good” or better, but drinkers looking for a sweeter rosé might consider the offerings of Red Tail Ridge and Kemmeter.

Initially, there were 15 wines in this survey.  The number has since expanded to 25.  Upping the number has not ameliorated my disappointment with this vintage’s wines.  Looking backward, 2016 is the weakest vintage since 2013.  The 2014 vintage gets my nod as the best ever.

A few wines from very good producers have not been released or reviewed.  Let’s hope they brighten the picture.

Here’s to 2017….

© Douglas Hillstrom 2014