On a glorious day, the last of Winter for 2013 the TWD community congregated to discover Rosé, Rosato, Rosado, Rosewein, Blush, Taché. Whatever you call it! The order of the day was busting the myths and introducing the world of real Rosé: Delicate, dry, savoury, textural and so drinkable. By looking at Rosé in its different forms as well as different production methods and the results they contribute, we finally understood what all the fuss is about and love Rosé more than ever.
What is it?
The juice of almost all wine grapes is colourless. Red wine attains its colour from the skins by leaving the juice and skins in contact for an extended time (it can range into multiple weeks). The skin contact also picks up tannins/phenolics from the skins which often requires a maturing process to make them softer and more palatable. Rosé is essentially a white wine made from red grapes. But it is so much more. I will acknowledge here that there is sweet Rosé and it is quite popular. There is nothing wrong with it, but the best Rosés in the world do not feature large residual sugar. A little bit can help balance the wine, but when it becomes cloying it masks the charm and appeal of what Rosé is for me.
What do I do with it?
Drink it! The best Rosé are delicate, textural and clean. They should have good acidity and a silky mouthfeel and should only leave a haunting perfume once you’ve swallowed. This means they are remarkably good to drink on their own. They also pair well with lighter canapés, all sorts of fish, spicy foods, Japanese dishes, even some meaty pasta, and almost anything savoury. Try it out, the breadth of style available within the Rosé category means you could do a whole dinner with just Rosé.
Important Note On Service Of Rosé
The colder you serve a wine the more subdued the flavours and textures are. If you serve good Rosé icy cold you will mask everything that is great about Rosé. Cool room temperature (16 degrees or so) is perfect. Sparkling Rosé is best served from the fridge.
There is no legal definition of Rosé, it is more just a vibe. Rosé can be made from a combination of grapes (red or white) and the colours can range from almost clear, onion skin, pink to red. Some can even appear fluorescent. Don’t let the colour fool you though. Barrel aging can occur but is not essential and the same can be said of lees contact, malolactic fermentation and many more winemaking ‘tricks’. As I said, it is a vibe.
The most famous varieties used for Rosés include Pinot Noir, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cabernet and Tempranillo.
Purpose made – Arguably the way that gets the best results. The producer sets aside an area of vineyards and every decision they make is with Rosé in mind. This usually means skin contact for a few hours, somewhere in the vicinity of 12 – 24. But frequent tasting and observation is the ultimate decider on when to take the juice off the skins. A sub style of this is Vin Gris which sees red grapes pressed and no skin contact is given. You get quite a pale Rosé.
Saignée – Translates as ‘to bleed’. The winemaker runs juice off a red wine macerating on skins to concentrate the skin to juice ratio. The run off is often quite good quality and so you have some instant Rosé. After this point it is treated as the wines mentioned above. Some winemakers refuse to do this believing the saignée portion is in fact the best quality part and it can also raise the pH of the red wine left behind which can have a negative impact.
Blending/Taché – Some producers blend finished red and white wines together to get Rosé. This can have mixed results and is the least preferred method. Most Champagne producers add a dash of still Pinot Noir to attain a taché (stained) effect. Due to the production methods employed this is often the best way to guarantee a consistent colour result.
Rosé is made everywhere wine is made. While there is no one place to get great Rosé there is a great concentration of great examples in the south of France: Tavel in the Rhone, Provence, Bandol, Languedoc, Roussillon to name but a few.The one thing I will say is that if you find a producer making great Rosé, the rest of the wine range will almost always be equally great.
The line up was as follows. Click on the names to go through to more detail and purchasing options. If you use the coupon ‘Mystical’ you will receive 15% off all Rosé until the end of September.
Dominique Portet L.D Yarra Valley NV The Portet family have a strong history in winemaking. Dominique made his fame at Taltarni before setting up his own Yarra Valley based winery. Everything the family produces is great, but their Sauvignon and Rosé wines are certainly a cut above most in Australia. A blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. It is very floral with red berry and a savoury, creamy mouthfeel.
Tarrawarra Estate Rosé Yarra Valley 2012 This is from a patch of vines designated and tended for the sole purpose of making Rosé. This shows in the final product that is more onion skin than pink with a savoury. mineral/flinty/smokey streak, clean finish and rose petal and strawberry aromas. Grab an oyster or 12 and a friend or two and you’ve got a wonderful afternoon.
Poggerino Aurora Rosé Tuscany IGT 2011 Made from Sangiovese using the Saignée method (running off juice to make a higher skin to juice ratio). The other parts of this juice makes some of the best Chianti Classico you will taste. This is delicate, perfumed and savoury with typical Sangio cherries and earth with some nice tannin and acid to keep the drive. Delicate floral aromas are present too. This is the most wine like, with the seamless mouthfeel, body and structure. Classy stuff.
Domaine de Triennes Rosé Provence 2012 This is an organic farm in the East of Aix en Provence in the south of France. Growing varieties that have a long history of quality in the area, they speak of the region first and foremost and personality of producer is left to other avenues. Rosé is a classic style of Provence, blending Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Merlot. All elegance, roundness, harmony and pleasing characters. One of my favs of the day for sure.
Torres Rosé de Casta Catalunya 2012 This is a round, fruity, floral and vibrant style with plenty of character and appeal. The finish is dry but the core of red fruits and floral aromas remain long after you swallow the wine. How they do this wine so cheap I will never know. But I will heartily enjoy it! Made from Garnacha (Grenache) which adds fruit and floral notes and Cariñena (Carignan) which is what gives the weight and savoury edge. Party time! Would be excellent chilled and shamelessly guzzled.
Vieille Ferme Rosé Cotes-du-Ventoux 2012 Vieille Ferme is owned by the Perrin family that hold some of the best estates in the Rhone Valley, especially down south. They make quite a modern, clean, fresh style of Ventoux wine. This has all the hallmarks of great Southern Rhone Rosé. Dry, savoury, clean and crisp with lovely red berry and floral notes and some great texture. Made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault.
Dominique Portet Fontaine Yarra Valley 2013 Crafted from Merlot Shiraz Cabernet and emulating (if not exceeding) the classic Southern France style of rich fruits, silky palate and savoury, clean and fresh finish. Great drinking and consistently the best Rosé in Australia.
Langmeil Bella Rouge Barossa Valley 2013 Channelling the Loire Valley this Cabernet Rosé gives the elegance and freshness of the variety in spades. Being from the Barossa it is more robust and full flavoured than some Rosé but they’ve kept it restrained and a hint of chinotto like bitterness cleans it all up. Amazing value here too.