I can think of no more suitable environment for sipping pink wine than Long Island’s East End, where rosé has become the commodity of cool. But not all vintages are made alike. Given the variables inherent in winemaking—precipitation, heat, cold, and disease, for instance—how did last year’s grapes measure up? Can we expect great things from Long Island’s 2018 rosés?
Many winemakers described the 2018 vintage and harvest as difficult, the result of a rainy fall that made winemaking unpredictable. But was excellent wine able to prevail, in the face of dynamic weather? To find out, I reached out to some of Long Island’s most respected winemakers. Here is what they had to say about the current release.
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“Last year, the vintage worked out amazingly well. We are completely happy with the vintage, despite a tricky year with a fair amount of rainfall. We worked hard in the vineyard and threw ourselves at it. It worked out really well. Regarding the new release, it’s always such a big milestone when the new rosé comes out. It’s our weapon against the cold weather. I think people are excited. We’re very proud. The rosés came out very well.” –Roman Roth, Winemaker, Wölffer Estate Vineyard
“[The rosé] is made from the Merlot clones 1 and 181. We let these grapes ripen an extra week on the vine, as compared to our Rose Hill Rosé bottling. The Merlot grapes were hand-harvested, de-stemmed, and the juice and skins were allowed to macerate together for 12 hours. This gave the resulting wine added texture and darker color, while retaining its natural acidity and freshness on the palate. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks without the addition of sulfur dioxide. After the completion of primary fermentation, the wine cold-settled in tank outside during the winter months before bottling. This rosé might be suggestive of watermelon, cherry pit, and Chantilly cream. Our dark rosé is a great wine in the fall time, as the wine’s elements have had time to develop even more with short-term ageing.” –Patrick Caserta, Winemaker, Shinn Estate Vineyards
“2018 was quite a successful vintage for rosé at Pellegrini. We had really good flavor development, with bright, natural acidity, providing structure and balance. The Pellegrini Rosé is a field blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. We employ minimal skin contact and press very lightly in order to allow the ripe fruit to shine. The juice then undergoes a long cold fermentation, which helps to preserve its delicate bouquet. A true taste of spring, the Pellegrini Vineyards 2018 Rosé [was] released at the end of March.” –Zander Hargrave, Winemaker, Pellegrini Vineyards
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There may not be sun today… but there is Rosé! Summer has officially started, and our own @alieshaper is pouring our whole collection of rosés at @danstasteofsummer #RoséSoirée – yum…. @bklynoenology @asifwines @saltbirdcellars #longislandwine #northfork #licharacter #roséallday #peconic #eastend #northforksummer #drinkpink
“2018 will be the year of North Fork Rosé! With cool weather delaying the ripening of the 2018 red grapes, many winemakers made the decision to forgo the normal red wine production and focus on high quality rosé. Look for a wider selection of more esoteric rosés in the tasting rooms and cellar doors across the North Fork this coming summer, 2019! Stop and smell the rosé.” –Robin Epperson-McCarthy, Winemaker, Saltbird Cellars, co-owner, Peconic Cellar Door; and Alie Shaper, Winemaker, Brooklyn Oenology, As If Wines, Haywater Cove, co-owner, Peconic Cellar Door
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“Quality is very high, and [the] wines are magnificent. Yields were very low, but the care that my wife and her team took on the vineyard, combined with our commitment to highest quality and the credibility that goes with lower yields in more challenging years has, like 2011, resulted in an excellent vintage for us. I am proud to relay that this rosé is what we consider to be our best ever! Reminiscent of the pretty wines of Provence, France, our rosé is delicate and in balance, with its pale salmon hue and floral aromatics. Ripe wild strawberry, white peach, white cherry, and pink grapefruit flavors flow onto the palate and are met with a flinty minerality and bright, natural acidity with a meaningful, crisp, refreshing finish. Perfect for standing up to food or sitting down for a picnic! There is no residual sugar and we are a Certified Sustainable Vineyard. Everything was done by hand. This wine shows that rosé should not be reserved solely for a hot summer day. This wine is very versatile, perfectly paired with our magnificent local seafood and crops, white meats, stinky, decadent cheese, or with absolutely nothing else.” –Mark A. Tobin, Winemaker and Proprietor, Mattebella Vineyards