A diversity of rosé styles exists through out the world. They’re made from a variety of grapes in a rainbow of shades and styles. Rosé comes in mass-produced and boutique quantities, the later of which are more difficult to find. Both are good, but it’s the obscure rosé that excites me.
Skimming The Rosé Surface – Intentional or Saignée Method
Last year Master of Wine Elizabeth Gabay released Rosé – Understanding the Pink Wine Revolution. In it she discusses questions related to making rosé. Two of these are whether to farm grapes specifically for rosé production (intentional) or produce it via the saignée method. I’ll explain that below…
When a decision is made to make rosé, grapevines are planted in a location and farmed for rosé. Along with this choice there are other location considerations: altitude, site exposure and soils. When harvested, the grapes are directly pressed and all the juice is used to produce the wine.
The saignée method is different; grapes are grown for red wine. When crushed, a bit of juice is drained off in the process. That juice makes rosé. While this sounds simple, it requires important decisions too.
Is There A Better Method?
When writing about the Italian rosé Chiaretto di Bardolino, I had an email exchange with wine expert Elaine Chukan Brown. She shared the following regarding the two methods
“With the increase of intentional rosé there has been a lot of prejudice against saignée, treating it as automatically lesser quality or less desirable. In actuality there are quite a few very good saignée-method rosés out there, and a long tradition of it in parts of France and Italy to admirable results. In some cases the later ripening of saignée actually means the wine has more to offer on the palate.”
Both methods can produce great rosé, and both can produce bathwater.
A Variety of French Rosé
How a rosé ends up tasting depends a lot on the producer in terms of quality and style. And also the grapes. For example, a rosé from Provence commonly made with some blend of varieties – Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mouvedré, Tibouren and Carignan – tastes different than rosé from Bordeaux where Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carménère and Petit Verdot are used. And that’s different from the French Basque area Irouleguy where rosé is made mainly of Tannat and both Cabernets. Yes grapes differentiate the wine but also elements of an area like vegetation, geography, climatic influences and people. What this means for consumers is an ocean of possibilities to discover your favorites.
If you want to dig beyond the surface, here are a few to try. Thankfully in the US, importers like Coeur Wine Co., Zev Rovine Selections, and The Source Imports are making it easier to find different, lesser-known rosé by seeking them from smaller producers. Kermit Lynch too; he’s not small anymore but does have an amazing portfolio.
Wines Worth the Search
Domaine Les Serrals 2017 Pimprenelle – Faugères AOP
Just need to say I’m excited about these two and their wines! Chloé Barthet and Frédéric Almazur started this 5-hectare estate in the Faugères appellation of Languedoc-Roussillon 3 ½ years ago. Wine is made in the vineyard for this couple. They choose preserving the soil’s life and promoting biodiversity by farming organically (biodynamic by the 2018 harvest). A variety of natural grasses grow between vine rows throughout 80% of their vineyards. Hands do most vineyard work!
This past year essential orange oil was carefully used to dry mildew in vines. Caution is taken as it can be harmful to bees.
In the winery they’re preserving what the grapes offer, wanting to obtain a balance of terroir expression. The Grenache, Mourvedré and Cinsault grapes for the rosé go straight to the ‘horizontal pneumatic’ press then into stainless vats. Grenache clusters for their primary red wine are pressed of which 20% is drained off (saignée) and added to the stainless vat with the other Grenache, Mourvedré and Cinsault juice. They ferment using indigenous yeasts and minimal intervention. Just prior to harvest, Chloé picks grapes specifically for fermentation purposes. She stomps them, heats them to 25 celcius until fermentation starts and lets the mixture go until fermentation is well underway. She adds them to the juice mixture in vat to start fermentation. Once complete the juice is aged on lees in refrigerated stainless vats below 17 celcius for 4-months.
An elegant medium bodied blend of Grenache Noire, Mourvedré and Cinsault; rosy-peach; wild strawberry, raspberry and earthy spice; dry with pronounced acidity; rich and fresh palate of red berries, a brush of white pepper; fresh minty-menthol finish I sometimes get with Mourvedré. After the wine sat we detected a bit of salinity too. Domaine Les Serrals
“What is most important is what you do with your soil.” Frederic Almazur
Clos de L’Ours L’Accent – Côtes de Provence AOP
This is a favorite since discovering it last year. The winery is newer; the current owners opened their doors in 2012 and farm organically. They’re located in the village of Cotignac, in the northern part of Coteaux Varois in Provence. Read about their 2016 Rosé here. The grapes are grown specifically for rosé.
Rosé de Carsin, Château Carsin – Bordeaux
Located in Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux, Nea Bergland is doing some cool stuff at this Château! She recently started a second label – Charivari Wines. This is her traditional rosé, a delight for aperitif and sipping anytime, or with any foods – fresh and fruity. At just under €10, “cheap and cheerful” according to Nea. A blend of Merlot 43%, Malbec 37%, Cabernet Franc 20%. A subset of vines from these three vineyards are harvested specifically for rosé production. Note: They ship anywhere!
Beaujolais Rosé, Château des Pertonnieres, Beaujolais
Ghislaine Dupeuble makes red, white, and rosé in southern Beaujolais. Beaujolais rosé isn’t common and I’m not sure why because the Gamay grape imparts red fruits and tart cherries that will make any day better. I tasted this 100% Gamay last year. Here’s an article about Ghislaine’s “Elle et Beaujolais” group. Her wines are available through Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants.
The French #winophiles have a lot of rosé for you this month!
Join us on Twitter July 21st at 11 a.m. EDT for a chat using the hashtag #winophiles.
Depending on what you’re looking for there’s a rosé for everyone and every budget. Our July #winophiles host Lauren from The Swirling Dervish invites you to join us here. Below are several articles that should tempt your wine palate and persuade you to cook. Heck, you might even decide to hop on a plane to visit France and find your own favorite rosé!
Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles shares her vision of Côtes de Provence through Rosé Filled Glasses.
Michelle from Rockin’ Red Blog will be Celebrating the Provençal Lifestyle with Three Rosés.
Gwendolyn from Wine Predator gives us a two-part treat: #RoséAllDay with Grilled Cheese Gourmet for #Winophiles and It’s Summer! Time for Rosé Wine from Provence, France and Seafood Pasta.
Jill from L’Occasion explains Why Rosé Matters, According to French Culture.
Liz from What’s In That Bottle advises us to Live a More Rosé Life.
Payal from Keep the Peas will share Rosé: The Original Red Wine.
Lauren from The Swirling Dervish, shares “Celebrating Our New Home with an Old Friend: Rosé from Provence”
And here on Savor the Harvest you’ll find “Obscure French Rosé to Look for Today”.