Said to be the wine of choice for writer and man’s man Ernest Hemingway, Rosé when crafted well is a sophisticated and versatile wine that is just at home on the patio as it is in the dining room. Regrettably sometimes confused with white Zinfandel, Rosé was in decades past, also the wine of choice for the Royal houses of Europe and the aristocracy. One of the oldest known types of wine, dating back to 600 BC, Rosé is the most straightforward wine style to produce as it is typically made with skin contact from red grapes. The pretty pink hue of a traditional Rosé varies in the intensity of its colour based on the time the grape skin stays in contact with the juice.
Rosé can actually be crafted in several ways. The traditional French method of Provence is made from red grapes, as it is the natural pigment of the grape skins that gives both red and Rosé wines their colour and tannic structure. The Center for Rosé Research, located in Provence, has actually found 139 different hues! Each grape variety imparts a different colour and of course flavour and aroma profile. Thus for example, the lightest coloured Rosés usually come from Provence, which typically are made with Grenache grapes, are fermented to dry, and have bright, fruit flavours. Syrah on the other hand produces a dark reddish-pink colour and is a heartier Rosé with flavours most notable of purple fruit.
For Rosé winemaking, the process is somewhat similar to how white wine is made, but with an additional “maceration” time added. This sees the grapes crushed and then left to “macerate” (the time the skins are in contact with the juice) for typically from 2-20 hours at low temperatures, which produces a fresher more fruit forward style of juice. While in red winemaking, maceration usually lasts throughout the fermentation, for Rosé, the juice is separated from the skins before it gets too dark.
Other approaches are for “vin gris” style wines, which unlike the maceration method gives some, albeit very brief, time for the juice to be in contact with the skins. It is made from the immediate pressing of red grapes without any maceration time, and the resulting juice is very pale pink, nearly white in colour.
Finally, the “saignée method”, is a by-product of red winemaking and involves some juice taken from a traditional style red ferment part way through the process. This “bleeding off” of the juice after limited skin contact, typically produces a darker coloured Rosé.
The 2017 vintage of our Rosé is being released Mother's Day at our Langley and Naramata Bench wineries. It is crafted from several red varietals to bring additional flavours and layers to our classic style including: Cabernet Franc from Oliver, Merlot grown on our Naramata Estate, Pinot Noir from Kelowna, with Malbec and Petit Verdot added for complexity. The Merlot was treated in two different ways. Some of the grapes were sent directly to press resulting in a fresher more fruit forward juice. A very small portion of the Merlot was processed in the saignée method, this gives the wine more structure without adding a lot of drying tannins. The Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Malbec and Petit Verdot were sent directly to press which added stone fruit, lilac and minerality to the blend
Our Rosé pairs brilliantly with a variety of dishes from traditional Mediterranean, to spicy Asian, to informal alfresco entertaining. It is truly a taste of summer all year long!