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2018 Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir

Toad Hollow

Sonoma County

Alcohol: 11.5%

Suggested Retail Price: $13.99

“We enjoy rosé wines. Sure, many that we encounter are relatively undistinguished, but this one is not. We love it.

“Earlier this week we tasted the just-released Toad Hollow Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir from the 2018 harvest (the bottle shot above indicates the 2017 vintage, now being eclipsed by the 2018 on which our review is based). While all rosés are made from grapes, identification of which grapes is seldom an issue. It’s difficult to find much varietal character in most rosés and, after all, many wines in this category are frivolous beverages, just a little bit sweet and primarily made for quenching thirst on a warm day—quaffers, as they are somewhat dismissively described.

“Only Pinot Noir grapes go into this wine and their provenance is interesting. They’re mostly from California’s Carneros region, a growing area that spans southern reaches of both Sonoma and Napa Counties. The area is known for producing high-quality Pinot Noir. These grapes were grown with sparkling wines in mind. They were harvested very early, meaning higher acidity and lower sugar development. The alcohol level of the resultant wine is very low by current California standards (11.5%), but there is good flavor development, as well as the expected ‘bright fruit’ quality that the higher acidity at time of picking normally achieves.

“In truth, we’re not sure that we would have immediately identified the aroma as Pinot Noir had we not known that was the grape source, but what reached our nose was definitely positive. On the palate, as wine writers are wont to say, the Toad Hollow rosé was bright and crisp—refreshing, but not just thirst-quenching. There was real flavor. We found taste qualities reminiscent of melon, strawberry, raspberry and maybe even some pear. Beyond these descriptors, we found personality that didn’t lend itself to precise definition, but definitely was positive. ‘The Fine Art of Fun’ is a phrase Toad Hollow incorporates into its promotional material. Their 2018 Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir is a serious wine within the  rosé category—more like a good-quality French example from Provence, than a typical California rosé. There’s no reason you couldn’t have fun pouring it with dinner, as well as quaffing it out by the pool.”

Wine Affinity: “We enjoyed the post-serious-tasting-and-analysis portion of this bottle with chicken cordon bleu. It was a very acceptable pairing, but we’d like to try this wine with salmon. We think it would stand up to a poached or simply grilled salmon filet.”

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