Say “Yes Way Rosé” with 7 Budget Friendly Blush Wines


Say "Yes Way Rosé" with these 7 Budget Friendly Blush WinesWe are helping you rethink the pink! Rosé all day, every day, with these wallet friendly rosé wines.

Now in its fifth year, and growing along with the popularity of its rosey-hued focal point, the 2018 Experience Rosé Competition, produced by Wine Competitions Management & Productions, was held on April 18 at Soda Rock Winery in the heart of Healdsburg’s Alexander Valley.

With well over 300 entries, the competition pulled in an outstanding breadth of rosés in every possible hue, from the faintest hint of pink, to cherry red runway lipstick. They hailed from across the nation and around the world.

Say "Yes Way Rosé" with these 7 Budget Friendly Blush Wines

Cathy Vicini and Bernadette Byrne judging the 2018 Experience Rosé Competition

Pale salmon chiffon pretties from Provence, cherry bursts of sweetness from Canada, a bevvy of dashing Chambourcins from Illinois and Virginia, a gorgeous Grenache rosé from Abacela in the Umpqua Valley of Oregon, a spritely Frontenac Gris sparkling from Black Star Farms called “Delighted,” from the Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan, an impressive Pinotage from Tiny House Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast and a fetchingly dessicating Bobal sparkling from Spain. We tasted things we’d never before experienced, and found ourselves appreciating the greatness of America, from shore to shore.

Paso Robles trotted out an impressive lot of Rhone editions, and Livermore fired on all cylinders with primarily Bordeaux and Grenache-based beauties, with nearly all their entries winning Gold, including Garré, Las Positas, McGrail and Steven Kent, with Concannon bringing in silver. Anderson Valley proved its proverbial pink prowess with Golds for Handley Cellars, Lazy Creek, Domaine Anderson and Castle Rock. Good showing!

Five Best of Show awards, ten Best of Class designations, 15 double gold and 79 gold medals were bestowed upon this year’s entries. What is most remarkable are the price points for the Best of Show winners, all but one of which came in under $20. This is certainly a boon for those who intend to live up to the competition’s motto of “Because every day pairs better with rosé.” Wallet-friendly wines pair best of all.

Best of Show and Best Domestic Dry: 2017 Draxton Pinot Meunier Rosé, Napa Valley, $18

Tasting Notes: Alluring tea rose notes comingled with cherry pie and fresh strawberries, showing a deft texture and full-on silky light on its feet experience from one end of the palate to the other. Flows like a ballroom dancer. Definitely could drink this all day. Awarded 100 points.

Best Domestic Sparkling: NV Domaine Laurier Brut Rosé, California, Method Champenoise, $12.99

Tasting Notes: Solidly-made, finely-bubbled sparkler with a cran-pom core and plenty of uplift. From Bronco Wine Company.

Best Domestic Sweet: NV Penns Woods Winery Moscato Rosé, Pennsylvania, $24

Tasting Notes: This tastes like a summer day at your favorite county fair, brimming over with sweet strawberries, cotton candy and pink raspberry lemonade, with that bubbly personality of Moscato, and a touch of Merlot (10%) to give it a summer pink hue.

Best International Dry: 2017 Marquis de Goulaine Rosé d’Anjou, $11.99

Tasting Notes: What you dream about in a Provence rosé: floral and light as a spring morning, showing fresh fruit but lots of savory notes. Dry, with a complexity that adds length. Made from 60% Cabernet Franc, 20% Grolleau and 20% Gamay.

Best International Sparkling: NV Tarantas Sparkling Rosé, Valencia DO, $10.99

Tasting Notes: Super dry with galvanizing citrus notes along with dried strawberries and red currants. Made from organically grown Bobal grapes.

Among my personal favorites was a wild-ass and utterly captivating blend of Chardonnay, Marechal Foch, Traminette, Gewurztraminer and Frontenac Gris that my panel awarded 97 points. It was a tad sweet, with driving flavors of watermelon and cinnamon spice that reminded me of Good Earth tea. It’s nice to relive those memories from the 1980s.

We also went gaga over the 2017 Nichelini Family Winery Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, which was really cool mix of herbs and cherry candy, showing grilled plum and olive tapenade on the palate, with good weight and a memorably classy delivery. It was awarded 98 points and Best of Class, Napa Valley.

Another solid performer from our panel was the 2017 Castle Rock Rosé of Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley ($13) that reeked of cherry pie and cherry candy, with a nice balanced delivery of pomegranate and cherry pop tart, along with a hint of umami that led us all to conclude it would be great with Asian food. It received 97 points and a Best of Class.

It’s a good time to stock up on what is fast becoming America’s pink obsession. There’s plenty of bang for the buck in this category! Because every day pairs better with rosé, the organizers of the Experience Rosé Competition are holding a celebratory event at the CIA at COPIA on Saturday, June 16, 11-4pm.

To see a complete list of winners, visit


Laura NessLaura Ness, aka “Her VineNess,” is an accomplished wine journalist and wine critic whose passion for wine was ignited by a visit to France, where she had the unmatched pleasure of tasting Sancerre in the medieval town of Sancerre – splendid!— and then a Saumur, after visiting the Chateau de Saumur in Chinon. The concept of terroir came alive in those incandescent moments. She regularly judges wine competitions and serves on the tasting panels of the Pinot, Cabernet and Chardonnay Shootouts. She was instrumental in helping define the unique sub-regions of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA in concert with Appellation America. You can usually find her sipping and smiling in Mendocino, Livermore, the Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Cruz Mountains and Paso Robles. Laura writes extensively for many industry and consumer publications, and has weekly wine columns in several Bay Area newspapers. She blogs, irreverently and sporadically, at

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