Illahe Tempranillo Rosé 2022

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Brought to us by: Potomac Selections, Inc

Regular: $24.99 TWS Sale: $19.99

Illahe is easy to love. From juicy-yet-linear Alsatian style Pinot Gris to buoyant-yet-angelic Viognier, to textured, structured Pinot Noir (with one vineyard block and bottling named for their Percheron draft horses, now retired to meander and snack in the fields), and even some thirst quenching fizzy wine, owners Brad and Bethany Ford and their team have found a way to thread the needle between unique, small production and low-key approachability. Expressive of place, willingness to experiment, and attention to detail but also brimming with crowd pleasing appeal, their lineup is nothing short of charming.

It is no surprise then, that their annual rosé release is a ripe, bright, food-friendly bottling… and also 100% Tempranillo. A little quirky, a lot delicious, the 2022 Illahe Tempranillo Rosé is produced from grapes sourced from 3 vineyards in the Willamette Valley, including Illahe’s 1 acre of Tempranillo vines at their estate in the Mount Pisgah, Polk County, Oregon AVA. This AVA just received its status last year, and the soil features marine sediments on top of ancient siletz rock (at one point in time Mount Pisgah was an underwater volcano). Slightly higher elevation here as well as the Van Duzer winds provide cooling influences for the south facing slopes, and Tempranillo grapes are picked on the early side – this means a noticeable retention of acidity and freshness.

Grapes are pressed quickly after harvest, 100% whole cluster with a gentle basket press, and juice is fermented 20% in oak (Acacia and French oak) and 80% stainless steel tank. The resultant wine is zingy and refreshing, with bright, juicy strawberry, rhubarb, lemon, mint, orange peel, a gentle touch of whipped cream, subtle clove, white flowers, and brûléed pink grapefruit. Pair with softshell crabs, soft goat cheese and honey, and a little more time on the porch before the sun sets.

-Lauren Loeffler

Raza Vinho Verde Rosé 2022

Vinho Verde, Portugal

Brought to us by: Free Run Wine Merchants

Regular: $12.99 TWS Sale: $9.99

For my rosé selection, I have chosen Raza Vinho Verde. Vinho Verde is a Portuguese D.O.C. ( controlled wine-growing region) located in Northern Portugal. Vinho Verde (pronounced VEE-NYO-VAIRD...the end rhymes with SQUARED not AIR-DAY!) translates as "Green Wine." The origin of the Vinho Verde name refers to the natural characteristics of the region, which produce dense green foliage and also contribute freshness and lightness to the wine's profile. It is this youthfulness that the wine is named after (not unlike the saying "someone is green," or new - the wine is generally released 3-6 months after harvest). In other words, the wine itself is never actually green.

Most of the production in the region is white wine, with a small amount of red and rosé wines. Vinho Verde almost always has a slight effervescence. In the early years, this was due to secondary fermentations taking place in the bottle - usually considered a wine fault - but Vinho Verde producers discovered that most consumers actually liked the slightly fizzy nature of these wines and today most producers add a slight sparkle through artificial carbonation.

The Raza Vinho Verde rosé is really a delight to drink. It is fizzy and just slightly off-dry. With aromas and flavors of red fruits, it has a very chug-able quality! Chill it for a perfect sipper for the porch, pool, or beach. It makes an ideal aperitif and also pairs nicely with lighter dishes such as salads, shellfish and quiches

-Dan Zetlmeisl

Le Grand Bouqueteau Chinon Rosé 2022

Loire Valley, France

Brought to us by: Voila! Collection | Oslo Enterprises

Regular: $19.99 TWS Sale: $15.99

Routinely undervalued, Chinon sits in Western Touraine, Loire Valley, where the influence of the Atlantic Ocean still stretches up the river and inland. For Le Grand Bouqueteau Chinon Rosé, we place ourselves within the Chateau of Coudray-Montpensier anchored by a 15th century castle and 30 hectares of vines. This producer operates with a very no-frills touch to the rosé by using 100% Cabernet Franc and a direct press method because, as their spec sheet hints, “this is enough to get the rosé we want”. With a cool fermentation, the wine remains bright and lean. 

In the glass, this Chinon rosé pours a brilliant salmon and bursts with flavors of summer berries, green apple, apricot, white pepper and a touch of oregano. The wine boasts a medium body and acidity. Altogether, this strikes a Mary Poppins-like balance of structure for me. AKA, it’s practically perfect and pairable in nearly every way (as most varietal Cab Francs are, if you ask me).

-Callie Cinque

Torremilanos Ojo Gallo 2021

Ribera del Duero, Spain

Brought to us by: Salveto Imports | Passion Distributing

Regular: $29.99 TWS Sale: $23.99

I am going to stretch the category of rosé for my current selection, which is a “Clarete” style from Ribeira del Duero. What is a Clarete (or Claret, or Clarette, or Clairet, or Clairette depending on how it is spelled [or isn’t spelled]), you may ask? Not being an "official" wine term, I don’t think there is a very simple and precise answer that I can give you, but nevertheless let's take a moment to examine this interesting evolution of language!

The British dubbed red wine from Bordeaux “Claret” so, in that sense, “Claret” just colloquially refers to a red wine from Bordeaux. Yet in Bordeaux, one may find a wine labeled “Clairet,” which would signal that it is a very pale ruby red wine made from red grapes with the slightest recognition of tannin. You may see these spellings or other iterations (like Clarete) used in other growing regions to describe wines that are similar in style to the “Clairet” wines of Bordeaux. These wines are often made from red grapes, but are occasionally produced by co-fermenting white and red grapes, as is the case with Torremilanos' Ojo Gallo. So, my pick can be viewed as a deep rosé or a super light red wine depending on who you ask or what type of mood they are in. Within the context of my current mood, the weather outside, and for the sake of this newsletter, I am going to be calling this wine a deep, rich, rosé.

Thank you for your patience with my babblings of loosely regulated wine vernacular; I will now be concise and technical as to what is in this clear glass bottle of wine with a blue label!

Ojo Gallo from Torremilanos consists of a hand-picked field blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Bobal, Monastrell, Viura, Abillo, and Malvasia from their Demeter certified vineyards in village of Fuentenebro. The grapes are co-fermented in concrete tanks with indigenous yeast and then aged for 8 months in neutral oak before bottling.

The aroma of Ojo Gallo consists of dark cherries, bramble, basil, rosemary, and a hint of pleasantly inviting funkiness. Light, barely-there tannins and medium acid characterize the wine. On the palate, complex fruit notes of black cherry, raspberry, and strawberry are complemented by a mineral, iron-like quality as well as subtle notes of resinous herb and menthol. I would enjoy this wine with a light chill, perhaps placed on the top of my cooler - laid across the ice, but not buried. Ojo Gallo is an easy enough wine to enjoy on its own, but versatile enough to enjoy with anything from light fare, cheese and charcuterie, to barbecue. Salud!

-Matthew Supik

Domaine Migot Vin Gris 2022

Côtes de Toul, France

Brought to us by: Vom Boden | Potomac Selections, Inc.

Regular: $29.99 TWS Sale: $23.99

Have you ever wondered why rosé wines from the warmest, sunniest, southernmost regions of France are somehow so refreshingly acidic and crisp? Well, you’re not alone. Far be it from me to start naming names and casting aspersions, but perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that some inventive cellar chemistry may be involved in some of the most famous labels. Needless to say, some parts of this process may not be entirely "natural" or tamper-free. So what is one to do if they want a refreshing and crisp French rosé that isn’t tampered with? Enter Vin Gris from Côtes de Toul.

Côtes de Toul is one of the northernmost French wine appellations, situated on the western bank of the Moselle (aka, Mosel) river. Once a thriving viticultural commune that contributed greatly to the production of Champagne, Côtes de Toul (and the greater Lorraine region) was ravaged by French wine law minutiae, the Industrial Revolution, Phylloxera, and a couple World Wars. Thankfully though, there are a handful of producers of note trying to revive the region, and Domaine Migot may be the most visible and influential.

Domaine Migot is philosophically in concert with the natural wine movement. Only hand-harvested, certified-organic grapes are used. Fermentation uses naturally occurring yeasts. No chaptalization. No acidification. No multi-million dollar refrigerated fermentation vessels. Just. Wine. And it shows! Wild strawberries, blood orange, grapefruit zest, and a hit of candied rhubarb. A lively and exciting pulse of acidity courses through this wine, and keeps the finish light, bright, and beautiful. A truly delicious bottling, this wine provides a welcome respite from the deluge of industrially produced rosés.

-Andrew Sayers

Forlorn Hope Dragone Ramato 2020

Calaveras County, California

Brought to us by: Free Run Wine Merchants

Regular: $39.99 TWS Sale: $31.99

Anything worth getting passionate about should defy categorization, wine included. Rosé is a prime example of the ambiguity that is wine. As with orange wine, rosé is a spectrum dependent upon countless factors. The line between a light red and a dark rose is an arbitrary one, and, though the ultra-gentle Provencal style is still most popular, some of the very best and most forgotten rosés exist in this zone of ambiguous style.

For those eager to explore the blurred boundaries between rosé and red, a very tasty example is the Ramato from Forlorn Hope. Dragone melds the strengths of both red and white: tart, fresh, and electrically crisp yet fruity and round with a teasing, tannic grip. A vibrant cranberry hue hints at the flavors within: red plum, red currant, violets, red berries, dusty sassafras and rhubarb.


Perhaps no grape family defies categorization more than Pinots, and Pinot Gris is itself a grape of spectrum and ambiguity. The berries can range in color from almost white to a dark blue, even on the same vine. (It was only in the 1960s that Pinot Gris/Grigio was first used to make clear white wines). The 100% Pinot Gris used for the Ramato is sourced from Forlorn Hope's vineyards, high in the limestone peaks of California's Sierra Nevada.

Whether you are curious to experience an utterly new expression of Pinot Gris, taste a complex version of an fascinating style, or just drink a beautiful and rare rosé, try Forlorn Hope's Dragone Ramato.

-Kasimir Bujak

Clos Lentiscus Rosé Brut Nature 2018

Penedes, Spain

Brought to us by: Genin Selections

Regular: $29.99 TWS Sale: $23.99

You know a sparkling bottle of wine is good when the disgorgement date is on the back label.  

Clos Lentiscus is a very respected and niche sparkling wine producer from the Penedes.  Lentiscus is run by “Mr. Bubble Man,” Manel, who started the winery with his brother Joan.  Lentiscus is fully biodynamic, planting and harvesting during the phases of the moon, avoiding pesticides and herbicides, and even using their own honey from their own bees to create the secondary fermentation needed to give the wine its sparkle.   

This fantastic respect for nature allows for the creation of a fantastic bottle of wine.  Made from Ull de Llebre, Sumol, and a bit of Syrah, this rose tastes like spiced blood orange, wild strawberries, and sea sprayed apricots, and smells like freshly turned barnyard soil. 

-Andrew Thorp