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Rose wines – pale is interesting

By Julia Jenkins, 12th July 2017

Sunshine and rose, what a great combination. This is especially so now that winemakers are taking rose seriously and making stunning wines with much flavour, style. There are also so many appealing, pretty shades of rosé

There are three main ways to make rosé wines. As the colour of a wine is contained in the grape skins the amount of contact that a fermenting wine has with the skins will determine the depth of colour in the finished wine. The greater the length of time the greater the colour but also the greater the amount of tannin that is extracted at the same time as this is present in the skins too. Thus, it is a delicate balancing act to ensure that there is sufficient colour without too much tannin. The small amount of tannin present in the rosé wine means the wine is soft and delicate in style and can be enjoyed chilled without the presence of mouth-puckering tannins.

Some rosés are made by draining off some of the fermenting must from tanks of fermenting red grapes during the early days of fermentation before much colour is extracted from the skins. In other cases a wine maker may want to concentrate the flavours & colour of his red wine & thus draw off some of the wine. This process called saignee, literally bleeding the tank, creates a light refreshing rose.

The third method, that of blending red and white wine is only allowed in the production of quality rosé sparkling wines by the traditional method as used in Champagne. It is not permitted elsewhere as it produces inferior quality wines that are orange in colour.  In the traditional production of sparkling wines it is the base wines that are blended before secondary fermentation in bottle ensuring full integration of the two styles of wine.

Rose Champagnes can be made wholly or partly from Pinot Noir and in addition to their pretty delicate pink appearance have an elegant slightly drier fruity taste than other Champagnes where the softer roundness is derived from the white grapes in the base wine. The rose wines made in the methode traditionelle from other parts of the world are delicious too – check out those from Franciacorta in Piemonte, Italy such as Ferghettina or Tassy rose fizz from Jansz.

Whether still or sparkling the trend seems to be towards paler pink wines such as the delicate light salmon pink rosés from Provence such as Rimauresq Rose Cru Classe Cotes de Provence for which the region has gained a high reputation, the softer fruity wines of Costieres de Nimes, also the Sancerre roses from Loire Valley. Some Australian winemakers are showing the delicate side of their wines with light dry wines from the Grenache grape such as the Hancock & Hancock in the Barossa Valley. Great with meze starters & fish dishes.

Moving further south warmer climes produce delicious but deeper pink wines such as Spanish roses made from the Garnacha grape have a delicious creamy yet refreshing vibrant strawberry fruit flavour. Lovely, summery aperitifs & also with tapas & paellas.

Many New World roses such as those made from Merlot grapes in Chile eg Norte Chico and Jeremy Borg’s Rosalind Rose from the Pinotage grape in South Africa are elegant yet bursting with ripe berry fruit flavours and are great with food.

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