Rosé and Valentine’s Day

There are many different styles of rosé, ranging from full bodied tannic rosés to ones that taste a little more like candies from the local store. Some of these stylistic differences come from the way the rosé is made, some from the varieties used and some from the part of the world in which they are made.

There are three main ways to produce rosé wines; through skin contact; Saignée method; blending.

The first is most commonly used when the aim from the start to the finish is to make rosé. Red skinned grapes are picked, then crushed and the skin and juice are left together for a short period of time. After this the skins are pressed and then discarded prior to the fermentation. In red wine production, the skins would remain with the juice until after fermentation. The resulting colour of the rosé depends on how long the skins and juice have been in contact. This method of producing rosé usually results in wines with tannin and a reasonable amount of colour.

The second method, Saignée (or bleeding), is a technique whereby rosé is made as a secondary product to red wine production. This method of production involves removing some of the pink juices from the initial crushing of the red grapes. This juice is then fermented, and a rosé produced. By doing this the red wine being produced has more tannin and colour. This style of production results in very light, fruity rosé.

The third method is blending. This is where red and white wines are blended to produce a rosé wine. This method is not as common as the first two and is in fact banned in Europe, except in Champagne, where some rosé champagne is made this way, predominantly with chardonnay and a little pinot noir added.

For me, a great rosé will have an attractive aromatic nose and pretty florals, with a touch of herbal spice. On the palate, there will be fresh fruit, a lively acidity and a full mid palate with plenty of texture and interest. The finish needs to tend towards dry and be very refreshing.

Recommended rosé for this summer;
Château Léoube Rosé and Secret de Léoube are two of my favourites.  The Léoube Estate was bought by the current owners in 1997. Seduced by Léoube’s history and beauty, they set out to make wines with character that were true to their terroir, while remaining respectful of nature. Following a back-to-basics philosophy, they believe in strengthening the land’s biodiversity and natural defences by employing traditional growing methods and using only natural, non-toxic treatments. Therefore, the grapes are all harvested by hand, in tune with the seasonal and lunar cycles. Their belief is that if you respect the balance of the plant then you will get the most balanced fruit in return, and the flourishing of the vines (and olive trees) at Léoube stand as testimony to this approach.

Sticking with France for one more recommendation (the list could be quite long), Château Puech-Haut is a recent newcomer to New ealand and is already making waves. Gérard Bru, owner of the Puech-Haut Estate, is a man of great personal resources. An industrialist who decided to go into wine production, he returned to his oldest passion: working on the land.  His habit is to think big! For him, half-measures will never do. He knows where he’s going and how to get there. From his years in industry, he has honed the skills of management and development. He is a man of the “land” and he has always been someone who insists on concrete results and not just talk. While some dream and plan, he is a doer. Starting with a land devoid of any grapes, he has built what is now one of the largest vineyards in the region, and at its heart was born the “Château Puech-Haut”, built from the stones of the old Prefecture of Montpellier. This was originally a bourgeois residence built in Italian style between the 17th and 18th centuries, and it was slated for demolition.

Grape varieties that were originally chosen for the vineyard were Grenache and Syrah. After that, Gérard Bru bought some neighbouring lands with old Carignans (50 to 60 years old) and planted some hectares with the three white varieties of the Rhône – Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. Today the vineyard stretches across 184 hectares, including 92 in Saint Drézéry and 19 in Pic Saint Loup. Their appellation is Coteaux du Languedoc - Saint Drézéry, which is the name of the community and the smallest of the “terroirs” of Languedoc.

Turning to New Zealand, hottest up-and-coming rosé specialist Waiana Estate released three distinctive rosé blends in 2018, as they continue to evolve New Zealand rosé as a category in both domestic and international markets. All their rosé blends are made from sustainably grown grapes and are based on a dry, Provençal style. In addition to their existing rosé blend, Indian Summer, they have released Summer Sault - a unique blend incorporating the Provençal grape Cinsault, the first time this variety has been blended in a New Zealand rosé, and also their limited release, barrel aged rosé named Indian Summer Private Blend. Waiana Estate regard their new blends as an amalgamation of the very best of what the new and old worlds can offer rosé. Both Summer Sault and Indian Summer Private Blend will be released in February. Waiana Estate is a boutique family-owned rosé specialist based lying adjacent to the Tukituki River in the beautiful Tukituki Valley, Hawke’s Bay, and was acquired by the Plowman family in 1993. In total, the estate comprises 70 acres which have been extensively planted in woodland areas almost from the day the land was purchased. The vineyards were subsequently established and planted in 2000, with initial plantings of merlot and malbec grapes. These vines are now well established and produce outstanding fruit. More land was acquired in 2006 and subsequent plantings have included both grenache and cinsault, with the production and specialisation of rosé blends in mind.

And from Central Otago, Terra Sancta’s rosé is my favourite. Terra Sancta, which translates to 'sacred earth' or a 'special place', is located in Bannockburn, Central Otago. The team and owners at Terra Sancta not only aim to create 'thrilling and memorable' wines, but also providing people with a great experience. After all, as Terra Sancta puts it, "wine is a part of life, not separate from it".

By: , Wine with Liz Wheadon, Glengarry

Issue 95 February 2019