As the weather grows warmer, our minds turn to lighter-bodied wines that pair well with meals cooked on the grill, including barbequed meats and vegetables, as well as light fare like salads, or merely a wine to enjoy while sitting on the porch, or in the yard. Rosé wines always come to mind, because they fit the bill beautifully.
Grape juice from wine grapes is nearly always clear, except for a few rare examples of grapes where the flesh is colored. Wine gets its red or rosé color when the juice has had contact with the grape skins. The deepness of the color of red wines comes from the level of phenolic compounds in the skins, how much juice-to-skin ratio you had in your tank. and how long you left the skins in contact with the juice.
There are three ways of making rosé wine. The first method is called saignée, the second is called direct press, and the third is to mix a little red in with white, yielding a pink-colored wine. All three methods can produce lovely wines, capable of beautifully accompanying your meal, or providing a lovely wine to sip while relaxing.
Saignée is a French term that means “to bleed.” This means the removal (“bleeding”) of juice from a tank of wine destined to be red wine, within the first hours, or day or two. The removed juice would be light in pigment, not having been in contact with the skins for a long period of time. Also, because the wine may or may not have started to ferment yet, the juice would have little to no tannins, as tannins can only be extracted from the skins in the presence of alcohol. The remaining red wine in this tank would pick up more pigment since after bleeding there is a high proportion of skins-to-juice.
A wine that has been made via the saignée method is the Carol Shelton Wines Wild Thing Dry Rendezvous Rosé 2018. This wine is a blend of 62 percent Carignane, 36 percent Zinfandel, and 2 percent Petite Sirah, and is light cranberry color, with aromas of strawberry and watermelon, with a hint of fresh spring flower, and on the palate, orange, strawberry, with creamy tartness. From the winemaker notes, “cold maceration for 2.5 days on skins to winemaker’s discretion, then approximately 40 percent of juice was bled off, then cold-settled and cold fermented.” The juice was in contact with the skins for 2.5 days, in a chilled environment, at which time 40 percent of the juice was removed to make this wine. The juice was then allowed to settle, meaning that any residual skins or seeds or other materials settled to the bottom, and then the juice was removed from the top, leaving any particulates behind. Then the juice was fermented at a cold temperature to keep the wine fresh, and to retain the fruitiness.
The second method of production of rosé is called “direct press.” Direct press is a term used to describe when winemakers harvest grapes to make rosé only, unlike saignée, where the rosé is a byproduct of making a red wine. Harvesting grapes for rosé specifically means that the grapes are picked earlier than for red wine. The earlier the grapes are picked, the higher the acidity in the grapes and the lower the sugar. Lower sugar means lower alcohol levels, which is desirable in a rosé. Red wines have higher alcohol levels to balance with the phenolics, tannins, and barrel aging textures and flavors. For direct press rosés, the only contact between the juice and the skins is while the juice is being pushed out of the skins in the press, which is the machine or tool to separate juice from skins.
For a wine made via direct press, we journey to the Provence region of southeastern France, for the Les Vignobles Gueissard Méditerranée Le Petit Gueissard Rosé 2018. Provencal rosé can only be made via direct press, by law. This one is made from 35 percent Grenache, 35 percent Syrah, and 30 percent Cinsault. Each grape can be fermented separately and blended after fermentation or blended and then fermented together, depending on winemaker preference and when each grape is harvested, in relation to the others. The wine is light coral in color, and has aromas of grapefruit, strawberry, wildflowers, and wet slate. Flavors of strawberry, raspberry, pink grapefruit, and hints of flowers culminate in a clean and citrus-bright zip on the palate.
Our final method of rosé production is the mixing of a little bit of red wine into a white wine. This is the method that is used to make rosé Champagne, despite its usually strict laws. This method of making rosé is not legal in Provence, but it is legal in Champagne and in many, many regions around the globe. This method of production allows the winemaker to dictate the shade of the final wine, as the wine is blended usually after fermentation had been completed.
For this final method, City Vino presents the Orchard Lane Rose 2018, from Marlborough New Zealand. This wine is 92 percent Sauvignon Blanc, blended with 8 percent Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir adds a bit of strawberry-and-cream notes to the zippy, juicy, citrusy notes. This wine has five ram/liter of sweetness, so the wine is off-dry, with just a hint of sweetness.
If you want to compare the three rosé wines, let us know, and we will gladly put them together for you to pick-up via curbside delivery, or shipped to your home.