In the last few years we have seen a huge increase in the number and quality of Rosé (pronounced roe-zay) wines available. Part of this increase has been created by the extraordinary growth of this wine style in Europe, the UK and USA. More wines being produced for these markets means more of these wines being available on the New Zealand market.
Rosé is not a grape variety but rather a genre of wine produced from a wide range of grape varieties.
The principle varieties are Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsaut, Pinot Noir and Merlot, but really any red grape variety can be used. In New Zealand we are also seeing a small addition of Pinot Gris (a white wine grape) to the blend.
The colour of Rosé can vary from very pale onion skin blush through to a very light red. While it incorporates some of the colour from red skinned grapes, it cannot be dark enough that it would be classified as a red wine.
The two main methods of making Rosé are “short skin contact maturation” and the “Saignée method”.
Red wine grapes normally have white or clear juice, it’s the contact with the crushed grape skins that allows the colour to bleed out of the skins and colour the fermenting juice. The longer the skins have contact with the fermenting juice the darker the colour. So removing the juice after a short contact with the skins produces a light red/pink colour, which is termed “short skin contact maturation”.
In the Saignée method, after crushing the red wine grapes, some of the juice is removed which creates the finished red wine with a greater skin to juice ratio, which produces more colour and flavour. The juice that has been removed, which has some colour, is then fermented and used to produce Rosé.
The aromas of Rosé are strawberries, raspberries, cherry fruit and floral notes like violets.
These are summer in a glass, perfect with a picnic, BBQ or summer foods. While some will age gracefully, the real appeal of Rosé is as an immediately approachable wine.