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First Blush

Gravenstein Grill hosts the strawberries-and-cream of the crop

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If it doesn't feel like spring has arrived by April 18, the team at Gravenstein Grill will darn well bring it when they host 24 Sonoma County wineries for a walk-around tasting of the season's new crop of pink wines.

"When springtime comes, we think about freshness," says Chris Sawyer, sommelier and partner at the Sebastopol restaurant. "And these are our greatest expressions of fresh wines we have." Don't date yourself by thinking rosés are sweet. These are not the simple, dulcet wines of decades past, he says.

Vintners are certainly not bashful about their blush. Hoping for a few representative samples of the April 18 tasting, we received an embarrassment of rosé riches:

Red Car 2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($28) This pale tea-rose-pink sipper treats the nose to a combo of creaminess and fruit that's reminiscent of blanc de noirs—the sparkling wine that is also made with Pinot Noir—or baked strawberries nestled on a vanilla frosting-topped tartlet. The flavors balance the searing acidity. HHHHH

The Larsen Projekt 2017 Grenache Rosé ($20) Also pale pink, but tinted magenta, this is inspired by the Grenache-based rosés of Aix-en-Provence. I smell freeze-dried raspberries at an on-trend resto; I taste apricot, raspberry and vanilla. I like. HHHH

Acorn 2018 Russian River Valley Rosato ($29) Another style, also dry, this deep pink field blend of Sangiovese, Zinfandel and other grapes just crunches with cherry, strawberry, and even chile pepper. HHHH

Quivira 2018 Wine Creek Ranch Rosé ($22) This Rhône-style blend has a nose and a palate of juicy nectarine, that crazy stone fruit with shades of red and yellow fruit. HHHH

Balletto 2018 Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir ($20) From its red cherry perfume to its strawberry-lemonade palate, this is a pleasing quaff. HHHH

Claypool Cellars 2018 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Rosé ($35) Although this is the rosé version of the "Purple Pachyderm," the nose says more about mollusks—sea shells, sea spray, and strawberry aromas. HHH

Friedeman 2018 Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir ($30) Pinot Noir rosé 101: a pale salmon hue; light flavors of raspberry and strawberry. HHH

Talisman 2018 Dawson Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé ($) Fermented with "feral" yeast in neutral oak barrels, this picks up a bit of caramel to accent the strawberries-and-cream flavor.

8050 Bodega Avenue, Sebastopol. Rosé tasting, appetizers and live band, Thursday, April 18, 5:30–7:30pm. $25. www.eventbrite.com/e/roses-of-sonoma-county-tasting-tickets-59422470208.

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