I think Rosé describes the best type of wine to enjoy during the summer months. Something about Rosé wine speaks to warm weather, days filled with sunshine, outdoor eating, and barbecues. Perhaps its refreshing crispness or the flavors of summer fruits like strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, and stone fruits like peaches, apricots, and nectarines help define Rosé. Let’s not forget those Rosés from Provence where often one gets a whiff of the South of France and the Mediterranean Sea as we savor the aromas.
Winemakers utilize one of four methods in creating Rosé wine.
Maceration Method: Here, the red grapes are left with skins to soak in their juice for a period of time. Often with the maceration process, the grapes are grown specifically for Rosé wine.
Direct Press: This process is similar to making white wine. The grapes are pressed right away, and the skins removed just like white wine. Because the pigment lies in the skin, a tinge of color remains in the juice. This method typically produces the lightest colored Rosé.
Saignée Method: This method is also known as the bled off technique. During the process of making red wine, some of the juice is bled off to make Rosé wine.
Blending Method: A small portion of red grapes are added to white wine. This is typically used in Champagne.
Although I love traditional Rosé, I like to find Rosé wine where the winemaker thinks outside the box and creates something different perhaps using varieties not typically associated with Rosé
Here are some of my favorite Rosé wine I discovered this summer. Some are traditional in style and others more unusual in the winemakers’ interpretation for making this type of wine.
Unique and Different Rosé Wine:
Clos Pegase 2016 Rosé Napa Valley: Topping my list of the most interesting Rosés, I would call this Rosé one where the winemaker, Robin Akhurst, thought outside the box. Creative in its delivery, the wine combines primarily Zinfandel with Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Sirah.
Robin says she selected these methods because “The Zinfandel and Malbec were selected for direct-to-press because they both suit early picking and both varietals produce large grapes, meaning the skin to juice ratio was low. This allowed us to control the pre-fermentation extraction of anthocyanins in the press cycle, delivering a juice that was high acid, low alcohol, and aromatic but without the heavier tannins that these grapes can give to red winemaking. The other six varietals were picked a little later and produced using the saignée method. These varieties were chosen because it produces wines with more body, texture, and tannin. The varietals used were all picked a little later, giving us higher alcohol and lower acidity.”
Robin goes on to say, “Where the direct to press Zinfandel and Malbec gave us the core character of the wine, the other 6 varietals were blended around this, expanding the flavor profile, adding to the mouthfeel and altering the tannins (essential to producing a crisp, clean finish on good rose) to produce the complex and delicious vintage Rosé.”
The wine is definitely complex compared to most Rosé wine. I found wonderful perfumes and floral aromas of roses and cherries. The wine is vibrant with flavors of raspberries and strawberries and uniquely different then most Rosés.
Theopolis Vineyards Rosé of Petit Sirah 2014: Unique because of the variety chosen. This Rosé displays one of the most gorgeous ruby colors. You almost think you are drinking a very light red wine, but the refreshing crisp textures of Rosé come through. One finds aromas of cinnamon and roses with flavors of cranberry, peach, nectarine, and apple. This is a luscious Rosé.
Traditional Rosé Wines:
Ascension Cellars 2016 Siren: Always a favorite this Rosé signals love. Grenache and Mourvédre form the basis for a refreshing wine. I found a sweet yet savory wine with flavors of citrus, stone fruit, and strawberry.
Transcendence 2016 Rose of Grenache: The grapes for this wine come from Vogelzang Vineyard in Happy Canyon. The winemaking process begins with foot-stomping. After a period of skin contact with the juice, the wine is moved to neutral oak barrels for fermentation and then transferred to stainless steel. The nice acidity gives the wine spunk, yet at the same time, fresh flavors of strawberries make this Rosé very appealing.
Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Rosé 2016: Looking for a vibrant French Rosé, combining Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault, this Ferraton Pére & Fils fits the bill. From the northern Rhone region, one finds lots of acidity and spice with a fresh, lively minerality. The aromas and flavors are predominately raspberries.
Any one of these Rosés would be pleasing to the palate. Although I am talking about summer wines in this article, most can be savored at any time of the year. Let us lift our glasses and marvel at the colors Rosé presents to us along with its crisp, refreshing flavors.