The BSFW blog offers a periodic airing of our staff's observations and musings about things we find in our market and, frankly, can't live without. This is not a dispensing of erudite information from high on the mount; this is us sharing with you the aspects of the fine wine, craft brew and gourmet worlds that pique our interest.
This congenial approach is something we take seriously - so please feel free to comment! Afterall,it's our customers that inspire us to do what we love to do - and do it even better than before at every opportunity.
You've heard me harping on the unique pleasures of sipping a charming dry rosé in these summeriest of summer months. What I haven't discussed much is the actual process of making rosé. There are three generally accepted methods of making pink wine pink:
The first and most common among the types of rosé we like is the saignée method. Literally meaning a "bleeding", this process is a by-product of red wine production. A red wine gains its color through extended contact with the grape skins, which also impart flavor compounds, healthy anti-oxidants and tannins. To maximize concentration of a red wine, a winemaker can "bleed off" some of the juice early in the process to increase the ratio of must (the fermenting juice) to grape skin, thus increasing the concentration of the red wine. The liquid, which is drained into a separate tank to continue fermenting, is a very light red or pink color. It retains some of the flavor complexities of its parent red wine but is a much lighter and fruitier version. A dry rosé is born!
Method two is less common, and perhaps displays even more dedication to the world of pink wine. This also entails the removing of juice from the skins of fermenting red grapes. But, that's where the process ends! No red wine is created and the skins are discarded. I've only encountered a few of these - and they're usually made by a producer who has to realize their bread and butter is making pink wine. The moment of truth comes when they have to judge the exact time to drain the juice from the skins. They literally stand on a latter at the top of an open tank and observe the color saturation until it is just the perfect hue, a matter of hours. When you've got 10 tanks going this can get tricky!
Lastly and leastly is the blending method. Simply take some white wine and add tiny amounts of red wine to it until the color and flavor profile you seek is reached. I shouldn't disparage; many fine rosés are produced this way, particularly in Champagne. But...
This brings us to our actual topic for today: The "Anti-Rosé". Denis Jamain, a producer in the Loire valley, makes a wine made from the "white" grape Pinot Gris that has the appearance of, and is commonly reffered to as, a rosé (Reuilly Pinot Gris 2009, $18.99). The trick is that the Pinot Gris (grey) grape is actually a blue-ish/grey-ish hue. In its common white wine form, the must does not see extended contact with the grape skins such that the appearance of the wine is clear to pale yellow. However, Jamain gives his Pinot Gris an extended maceration (soak on the skins). This imparts a yellowish, orangey pink color to the wine. So what you have is a delicious "rosé" that is not a rosé at all! It comes from the completely opposite direction. This unusual process gives the wine a richly textured, full-flavored character that is like no other. Ripe pears are accented by a touch of cran/cherry zip with beautiful minerality and refreshing acids.
This is a wine that never fails to elicit a "wow" from those who you pour it for. You can further impress them by telling the gripping, sordid tale of the "Anti-Rose"!
Do the details of wine production methods interest you or are you happy just to consume the final product?
It was the last official Tuesday at the Tasting Station of the summer this week. We're shuttin' 'er down to focus on our list of pet projects and the day to day operations of a wine shop in the hazy, lazy days of July and August. We'll pick it back up in September when we jump in head first to the fall "tasting season". With temps in the triple digits its not surprising that some of our vendors chose not to cart around wines to taste so the load was light. Check out the score card below.
Still, one topic that arose while tasting with Kathryn from Ruby was that of wine labeling and the difficulties consumers can have communicatiing the specific wine they are seeking. She was tasting us on the Huber "Obere Steigen" Gruner Veltliner from Austria. Now, imagine that you and yours just had that beauty at a restaurant over the weekend and have decided that you liked it so much you'd like to order a case.
You stroll into BSFW to get a price quote. If you told me that I want to order this wine called "Gruner" I'd have to explain that there are hundreds of examples of that grape type in our marketplace. If you could pull up the name Huber that would be a step in the right direction but Huber makes five different Gruner Veltliner (!), which one? The chances of you remembering the Obere Steigen bit are dubious at best.
The solution? The smart folks at Huber, realizing the tongue-twisting nature of their wines, created a peel away portion of the back label that allows you to take all of the essential information pertaining to that wine home with you. In the wallet or purse it goes and the only thing left to remember was how good the Creme Brulee was.
Hopefully other wineries will follow suit and make life easier for consumers and wine buyers alike.
Did you know about these peel away labels? Have you ever taken advantage of the tool before?