Finger Lakes Wine of the Week: Kelby James Russell Dry Rosé 2017

The spectrum of rosé wines is seemingly as vast as all the plants and flowers that will soon blossom in the Cornell Botanic Garden.
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Photo provided by Richy Petrina

By Richy Petrina of Ithaca Wine Ventures

The spectrum of rosé wines is seemingly as vast as all the plants and flowers that will soon blossom in the Cornell Botanic Garden. From pale and delicate pink wines evoking Sakura flowers to more powerful and expressive examples rich in color and body, a well-crafted rosé can really be the ultimate crowd-pleaser.

The Kelby James Russell Dry Rosé, eponymously named for its winemaker, is one of these wines. Kelby, who is recognized for his collaborative efforts in the region, also leads the winemaking efforts at Red Newt Cellars on the Southeast side of Seneca Lake. Under that label you can find exemplary single-vineyard wines which we’ll soon cover in the future. 

But I digress… back to the rosé! This bottle, with a bit more aging than normal—it is a 2017, after all – is a prime example of how a rosé can be both a serious wine and an effortlessly enjoyable afternoon glass of summer water. 2018 and 2019 vintages are available, but I am absolutely loving the extra age.

Its rich color reminds me of rose gold, salmon, and copper. The nose is full of strawberries and raspberries, the typical red fruits of Cabernet Franc, as well as some citrusy red grapefruit. When you finally take a sip you find a really nice refreshing minerality, a signature of our Finger Lakes terroir. It’s like a smartly-dressed Provencal rosé.

I’ve had this rosé before on various occasions, and always found it to be a terrific example – day or night – with or without food. This week’s temperatures inspired a craving for a summertime barbeque, so to pair with the wine I broiled bbq chicken thighs, blistered shishito peppers, twice-baked potatoes, and caramelized broccoli. It’s not as good as being outside with friends around the grill, but these days it will have to do! 

There were only 810 cases produced of this wine, and fine wine shops usually carry it. At RedNewt.com you can purchase the more recently released vintages, but this 2017 is a steal: While supplies last, a case of 12 bottles is priced at $120, with shipping included. Hello springtime! And summer, for that matter. Cheers!

Richy Petrina founded Ithaca Wine Ventures in June of 2019 to elevate and amplify the region and its exceptional producers. The startup’s latest project, WINEcsa.org, is a wine club from the Finger Lakes featuring a different winery each month, with local drop-offs and nationwide shipping.

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