Winemaking Techniques & Varieties - Part 2
Rosé wines are made from a wide variety of grapes (both white and red). In Australia it is very common for Rosé to be single variety wines made from Shiraz, Pinot Noir or Grenache. In 2006 while working in the historical home of Rosé in the South East of France, winemakers tended to blend multiple grape varieties like; Cinsault, Mourvédre (Mataro), Gamay and Carignan to create drier, elegant, softer wines than their sweeter and fruitier Australian counterparts.
There are three major ways to produce Rosé wine and the process plays an important part in the resultant wine; the depth or shade of colour and the flavour and mouthfeel of the wine. The first way being Skin Contact with or without Carbonic Maceration; the second being Saignée (Bleeding Off Juice); and the third being blending white and red varieties together.
Many people don’t realise that the flesh and hence juice of Vitis Vinera grapes (the majority of wines grapes) is clear and that the colour resides in the skin of the berry.
1) Skin Contact with or without Carbonic Maceration
Simply crushing red grapes and leaving the juice in contact with the skins (Skin Contact) will leach the red colour from the skins. The depth of colour in the resultant wine is a factor of how long the juice is left in contact with the skins. Once the desired colour and flavour (palate weight, phenolics and tannins) have been extracted, the skins are pressed and the resultant juice is fermented and handled as if it was a white wine.
To enhance the flavour of the wine and create a low tannin Rosé, whole grapes can be stored in a tank prior to crushing in an effort to extend Skin Contact. This allows the grapes to perspire carbon dioxide creating a low oxygen highly acidic environment. The juice inside the berry starts to ‘ferment naturally’ resulting in a fruity wine very low in tannins. This anaerobic (no oxygen) fermentation is known as Carbonic Maceration.
2) Saignée (Bleeding Off Juice)
Saignée or the ‘bleeding’ method is when you make a Rosé as a by-product of making a premium red wine. Red grapes are picked and crushed into a fermentation tank where the free run juice is drained or ‘bled’ away into a separate tank. This process concentrates the remaining must (skins and juice) by increasing the portion of skins to juice. The leftover juice is then fermented and bottled as a Rosé. This winemaking technique results in bolder, darker coloured premium red wines.
3) Blending White and Red wines together
This method is as simple as it sounds. You make a dry white wine and add red wine to the finished product prior to bottling to get the desired colour. If it needs to be sweeter you simply add concentrate made from grape juice back to achieve the desired sweetness level. This is quite a crude method and the result of lazy winemaking which often unfortunately results in disjointed simple Rosé wines that line the world’s supermarket aisles for under $15 per bottle.
Sweetness in Rosé
Any Rosé wine can be produced in a sweet style by simply not fermenting all the sugar into alcohol. It isn’t as easy as it sounds; - stopping a raging ferment on a dime is a difficult thing and comes with many sleepless nights. You only get one shot and the difficulty comes from targeting a flavour / sweetness / acid balance in the future once you have successfully killed the yeast. However the resultant wine has an integrated balanced sweetness and no ripe or oxidated flavours that can be associated with using grape concentrate.
I look forward to sharing the varieties and winemaking techniques that I employed to make my new 2017 Enfant Terrible Rosé with you.
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