Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rosé done right

With summer in full swing, many wine lovers are proudly popping the corks on one of wine's most neglected styles: Rosé. Almost every year as the days get longer and the temperature warms up, pinks wines get all sorts of press in the wine media for being a perfect summer wine. Don't get me wrong, I think rosé wine is a great wine to sip during the summer, but it is also a wine to be enjoyed all the time. Pink wine has its own style and characteristics that make it much easier to pair with a variety of foods than many white and red wines. Classically, rosé wines are thought to come from the Provence and Rhône Valley regions of southern France. Pink wines are made in most wine regions in the world and from many different grape varieties. But rosé's versatility and quality is often overlooked by most wine consumers.

Over on Wineberskers.com, a few months ago a discussion on the merits of of still rosé highlighted the prevailing thought amongst some wine lovers that rosé doesn't merit the status of world-class wine. Sure, a lot of rosé is plonk, but so is most white and red wine. Why can't pink wine be considered amongst the best wines in the world?

Some people argue over the process, but the process of white and red wine productions is also much debated. Rosé can be made in three ways. The first and least refined is by simply blending white and red wine to make the color pink. This is how most pink sparkling wine is made. The second technique sounds interesting and complicated, but some people argue that it is not pure to the idea of rosé. Saignée is a technique used by winemakers to concentrate the color and tannin of red wine by bleeding less dense pink wine that rises to the top of the tank or barrel. This by-product can then fermented and blended separately to make rosé. Lots of fantastic rosés are made in this way.

Finally, when rosé is the primary goal of a winemaker, pink wine can be made by intentionally allowing the juice of crushed red grape to remain in contact with their skins for a short amount of time. Generally anywhere from a few hours to a few days does the trick. Even better is if the grapes are specifically harvested and selected for this process. When a winemaker makes a conscious effort to make pink wine I think pink wines can be considered world-class.

With the recent record heat here in Colorado, I decided to open an intriguing bottle of California rosé made by an ex-Coloradan now living Napa Valley. A mother and daughter are the team behind Lorenza Rosé. Daughter Michèle's face graces the label, but it is what is inside the bottle that is special. A blend of grenache, mourvèdre, carignan, and cinsaut was handpicked, fermented and mixed, with creating a perfect pink wine as the ultimate goal. We can make some wonderful pink wines here in Colorado, but I urge all of our local winemakers that make, or want to make, rosé to pick up a bottle of this to see how a great pink wine tastes.

2011 Lorenza Rosé, California

This beautiful pale pink colored wine is an example of what rosé can be. The cool 2011 vintage was great for making bright and acidic pink wines. The nose is full of rose petal, cranberries and a bit of saltiness and spice. With the exceptional heat we were facing here in Colorado, sipping this wine made me feel like I was sitting on a beach in central California (with a bit of the Mediterranean thrown in). Tart strawberries, cranberries and cherries flavors are complement by lovely hint of salty jamón ibérico. Overall, this fun wine is beautifully subtle, refreshing and tasty. 11.8% abv Sample $20. Very Good


  1. I agree! I love a great Rose, but it is definitely unappreciated. Have you tried Pink Girl's Rose Syrah? I was pleasantly surprised by the complexity of this wine.

  2. Jasmine - I have not had Pink Girl's rose yet. It is too bad that rose is underappreciated and often an afterthought for winemakers. Makes the great ones even that more special!