Making a Rosé

"The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows."
-- Buddha

There are three (or possibly four) different ways to make a rosé wine, but of these one is likely the truest expression of the style. Allow me to explain...

One approach is simply to blend a finished red wine with a finished white wine. Although some consider this approach a bit dishonest, wine makers in the Champagne region of France have been employing it for eons. Who am I then to say they are wrong? I will say, however, that this approach suffers from one significant disadvantage. The resulting wine isn't a singular expression of fruit, time, and place. Great things can be accomplished through blending, but the expressions of flavor and aroma that can be obtained from a single varietal can be muted or lost.

Another approach involves saignée, a method used to make red wines more bold, intense, and tannic. In saignée a small percentage of juice is bled off once red grapes are crushed. This changes the ratio of juice to skins and other solids (less juice, more solids), but it produces some pink juice as a byproduct. Normally this juice is fermented into a rosé wine. This method suffers from one significant drawback; the desired Brix (sugar level), pH, and acidity at harvest are different for a red and a rosé wine. Typically the desired Brix will be lower and the acid higher for a rosé vs. a red. By harvesting red grapes with numbers desired for a red wine, you end up with a rosé that's a little hot (too much alcohol) and lacking in acidity.

The final approach is the one I chose for the 2016 Laramita Cellars Rosé. The grapes (Mourvèdre in this case) are harvested with the Brix, pH, and acidity exactly where they need to be for a quality rosé. The grapes are then crushed and the juice is allowed to remain on the skins and other solids for a number of hours. This is called maceration. The amount of time allowed to pass before pressing helps to determine the color of the finished wine. Also contributing substantially is the grapes themselves, and these Mourvèdre grapes had a lot of color. The deep color of this rosé was entirely unintentional, but in retrospect it's a bit of serendipity. We're so happy with the resulting wine that we're going to produce the same style in 2017.

I hope you enjoy the 2016 Laramita Cellars Rosé.

Greg Gonnerman
Owner, Laramita Cellars

(P.S. Some consider immediately pressing the grapes (aka direct pressing) to be another method of rosé production, but in my mind it differs from maceration only in the amount of skin contact that's allowed. Rosé wines made using this method are white or blush.)

Posted on 05/10/2017 at 11:00