Celebrate the start of rosé season with our educational guide to rosé production
The daffodils are out, lambs are bleating and every tenth Londoner you see on a Saturday has inappropriately and preemptively, donned a pair of flip-flops. Yes Spring is upon us.
What better way to celebrate the arrival of rosé season than with a summery glass of wine or three? Hopefully learning about how your glass was made will enhance your enjoyment.
Interestingly blending red and white grapes together is not the usual method for making rosé; and indeed this method is frowned upon (read: banned) by all AOC French producers. Rather, two slightly different methods, in which rosé is extracted from red grapes are employed.
[For those that don’t know AOC, or ‘Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, refers to wines that are produced within strict geographical regions. You’ve probably heard that sparkling wines that aren’t made in the ‘Champagne’ region of France, cannot be called ‘Champagne; well the same goes for other styles of wine too, with each wine production and vineyard management method having to adhere to strict guidelines for their appellation; if the wine-maker is to earn their desired wine title (Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy etc...).]
The first rosé production method is the saigée, or ‘bleeding’, technique. After red grapes are harvested, they are crushed and pumped into a temperature-controlled vat for maceration. After a short time, the skins and juice begin to separate; with the skins rising to the top of the vat. At this point in production the winemakers must decide whether they would like to produce a red or a rosé wine.
If they opt for a red wine, the next step is to continually re-submerge the skins into the juice, thereby increasing its colour intensity as the skins release their pigment. However, if it’s a rosé they are making, the winemakers do not re-submerge the skins, rather they ‘bleed off’ the juice from them, retaining that lovely, blush colour.
The colour depth and consequently, taste of the rosé is thus highly dependent on how long the skins and juice are left to macerate, with times usually ranging from 2 – 24 hours. If the skins and juice are left in contact for too long then the tannins from the grape skin will diminish the rosé’s elegance, hence production is a delicately controlled process. From here, the process is more akin to the white wine process than red, with no grape skin contact during the barrel fermentation phase. Retaining more of the red grape’s characteristics, saigée rosés tend to have a lot more structure and back-bone and hence, go exceptionally well with food, like our wonderful Mas Amiel Plaisirs Rosé 2012.
The other rosé production method involves an immediate pressing of the grapes in a wine pressoir
, yielding a much paler coloured wine, due to the relatively short skin-juice contact time. Again the wine is fermented in steel or oak barrels for several weeks. In both cases, the winemaker analyses the wine’s taste, aroma, colour, clarity and fluidity to ensure the rosé is precisely as intended. For a taste of a rosé of this style, try our beautifully delicate, pale Domaine de Landreau Rosé d’Anjou 2012
that is ideal as a Spring-time aperitif.
I hope you’ve learnt a little more about rosé wine and what better way to reward your scholarly efforts than with a bottle? Indulge before 16th April and you'll get 20% off any order of these rosé wines over £75 and free delivery
Felicity, The Perfect Cellar Team
P.S. Look out for ‘Part 2’ of my educational guide to rosé, in which you’ll learn exactly which shade of pink you should be looking for to get a rosé perfectly suited to your taste (yes it does correlate!).