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Jonathan Ziemba
April 14, 2017 | Jonathan Ziemba

Shades of Rosé

Raptor Ridge continues its quarterly educational series on May 7th, when we welcome Chef Paul Bachand of Recipe: A Neighborhood Kitchen (Newberg, OR) and debut the 2016 Bellevue Cross Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir. Our “Shades of Rosé” celebration takes as its theme not a particular grape variety, but a method of making wine. Rosé is tremendously popular this time of year, and we want to take this occasion to learn about the various ways it is produced across the world of wine.

Many rosés are made by the “saignée” method: juice is “bled” (saignée is the past participle of the French verb saigner, meaning “to bleed”) from a red wine maceration, thereby concentrating the red wine and producing a blush juice suitable for rosé production. Others, such as our own are made via direct pressing of red grapes; Raptor Ridge has always made rosé “intentionally” from a single-vineyard site. We farm and harvest the grapes selected for this wine with the singular purpose of making rosé. Usually, this entails harvesting the vineyard earlier than other Pinot Noir sites, to ensure a lower pH and more lively acidity in the finished wine. Once harvested, the grapes are destemmed and allowed to macerate for up to 30 hours, during which period color and flavor is extracted from the skins. Ultimately, it is the varying lengths of maceration that determine a rosés color, and contribute to its overall texture.

Our fleshy style of rosé finds a common European counterpart in the wine of Tavel, a small commune near the mouth of the Rhône river in Southern France. Curiously, Tavel AOC wines must legally be rosé, though their permissible grape varieties may include Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. By and large, Tavel shares with neighboring AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pâpe the hot, humid, and largely flat growing conditions that contribute the characteristic body and texture to its wines.

Legally, Tavel AOC wines must maintain a certain minimum alcohol level (11%), though low alcohol wines are seldom produced in this sunbaked environment! 

Italy also produces a wide variety of rosé wines, with virtually every winemaking region producing a rosé from native grapes. As explained in Vinous by the incomparable Ian D’Agata, the breadth of Italian rosés is apparent in the confusing array of terminology used to describe them. Collectively, Rosato, Cerasuolo, Ramato, Chiaretto, and even the odd German Kretzer, are used to describe rosé wine throughout the Italian peninsula. The principle of shortened or extended maceration remains, however, the most important determining factor of the color of the resulting wine. Italy can perhaps claim to use the widest array of grapes for its rosé production – the great red grapes of the country, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Aglianico, are just a small portion of those used for rosé production. Combined with the difference in climate between south and north, this provides a great diversity of flavor profile in Italian rosé.

For our May 7th event, Spain will be providing a rosé from the Cava producing region of Penedès. Cava must, by law, be produced by two fermentations, the second taking place in bottle. While Cava can be produced in several other wine producing regions around the country, its greatest examples come from the hills outside of Barcelona. The example we are showing on the 7th is made from the rare variety Trepat, an indigenous grape to Northeast Spain that is frequently used in rosé production. Beyond Cava, look for great rosé production coming out of Rioja, largely as a biproduct of red wine production, and lightweight, summery rosés from the northern Basque country. 

We’d love to see you on May 7th for this educational tasting, complimented by Mediterranean fare courtesy of Chef Paul Bachand of Recipe: A Neighborhood Kitchen. Expect flavors typical of France, Spain and Italy – stewed onion and anchovy pissaladière, briny olives, bright tomato, and regional cheeses along with much, much more.

Join us! 



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