Rosé wines are indeed associated with summertime. Just think, even though the northern hemisphere is entering the winter solstice, it just means it is going to be summer somewhere else!
Rosé wines are produced widely from red grape variety. In fact blending white wine and red to make a rosé is forbidden by law, and only the champagne region has the right to do so, as long as both wines are made within the champagne area.
Making rosé has much of the same start as red wine making. During the process of de-stemming (removing the wooden part that holds the fruit together as a bunch), the berries will also be slightly broken or burst. The juicy grapes are directly pumped to a thermo-regulated tank (no wastage here) where the weight will finish the crushing process leaving the juice to run freely.
Next, comes the maceration time, where the colouring particles and component are located primarily on the fruit skin, and thus the juice and the skin stay in contact. Under a controlled temperature the wine-maker will extract the components required and deliver the colour desired, taking into account the grape variety itself and the specific colouring capacity; a Syrah, for example, has more colour component than Pinot Noir.
So for rosé, it is a matter of timing and wine-maker decides that rosé wine has reached the desired colour at which point he will run off the juice, splitting the solid and the liquid and running the juice into another wine vat to finish it’s alcoholic fermentation and become wine.
It is the combination of grapes and wine-maker that gives us so much variation in colour and style of rosé. Nevertheless, the region of production has a great bearing on the grape varieties available to the wine producer. Rosé d’Anjou, made in the Loire valley of France is made with Cabernet Franc, whereas a Marsannay –la-côte (1st village of the Côte de Nuits in Burgundy) has an AOC for Rosé production with 100% Pinot Noir and Sylvain Pataille; it is master at this style!
Nevertheless, the south of France with AOC’s such as Côtes de Provence dominates in rosé production, with half of all rosé coming from this region. You can extend your thinking to places like Bandol and Cassis in France. The varieties used in these regions, are more Mediterranean with Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre or even Cinsault grapes- often blended together to give more fruity body to the wine. Once again, with such varieties the maceration will have to be relatively short as the colouring components of those given varieties is high!
Chateau de Rimauresq in the Côtes de Provence has a light-onion skin colour to it and delivers a good balance. The Chateau –Sainté- Anne in the Bandol mainly incorporates a Mourvedre grape giving a deeper in colour with more a very light ruby tone to it.
I also have a favourite in the USA; Bonny Doon vineyard in the Santa Cruz Area of California. It is run by Randall Grahm- a Rhone ranger –alternatively and affectionately known as a bunch of so called “crazy” innovative winemakers. In the 1980’s whilst everyone was planting and singing about Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, the Rhone Rangers were planting classic white and red varietals of the Rhone valley. Watch the Rhone Rangers wine tasting now.
Grahm makes an expression of Chateauneuf –du- Pape with a twist; cigare vollant, from the Santa Cruz mountains, and from this cuvee Grahm extracts a rosé called Rosé de Cigare! The Vintage 2009 it has a clear lightly salmon hue to it with red and black berries notes on the nose with also some flowery touch. The palate is lively, brought up with texture of ripe fruit and some spices; a great balance which is vibrant and long on the palette. The expression is superbly tuned to refresh as well as offer a good depth of flavours.
Why not enjoy Randall Grahm exploring new concepts now.
A “summer” treat whether you have the summer or winter weather and don’t forget to take your handy WineWeaver wine aerator to those wine tastings my thoughts have inspired you to attend.