Saturday, June 4, 2011

A bit frustrated by Rosés

Textbooks report there are three methods for production of a rosé wine.

Rosé de Pressée, also known as the white wine method or skin contact method, sees the grapes crushed first and then the must (pulp and juice slurry) left to macerate for some amount of time before being pressed.  The color is determined by the length of skin contact.  

Rose Saignée translates to "bleeding the vats," and is also known as the red wine method.  Here there is no pressing.  The macerating must is just bled off early as free run juice.  Often, only a small portion is made into rosé and the rest is kept for a more concentrated red.  If you find Rosé of Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley, there is a good chance that it is just a byproduct of trying to get a more intense pinot noir.  

Some texts have a third method based on the time of skin contact before pressing off or free running.  In Bordeaux, for example, there is an AOC Bordeaux Clairet (not to be confused with Claret or the grape called Clairette) that they call a semi-red.  The two methods seem pretty damn close to me.  The difference is just the machine used to extract the must after contact.  And in one case, they might not take all of it.

The third method is simply adding some red juice or wine to white juice or wine.  It's illegal almost everywhere in the old world, with the exception of Champagne where it's traditionally used as a dosage to make rosé.  There was a movement to allow this method in Provence, but it failed.  As for the new world, I cannot say with certainty how and where it is used.  I haven't researched enough yet.

My problem is with the differences between Pressée and Saignée.  All textbooks make a distinction, but what is the difference in flavor?  Several hours of trolling through the interwebs have uncovered only a handful or producers who even disclose their method.  absent some source to explain the taste difference to me, I need a few dozen examples of each to figure it out for myself.  I need that many to control for about a million other variables like terroir, year, house style, grape, et cetera.  This one is tough.  If anyone has leads, please do contact me.  Otherwise, I feel a tasting coming to my house in the near future!

photo credit:

1 comment:

  1. hey nick,

    i've been trying to post on your blog for the past week, and it's making me sign in to do so. i sign in with my google account and it keeps spinning me back to sign in again. sucks. i'm trying to answer your rose question, but on you site,

    in any case, you asked about rose, here ya go

    I have struggled with this question myself, but the answer lies in the aging potential of the rose. Rose de presse produces lighter colored roses like the 3 roses on the left pictured above, the juice from the grapes receives no more than 4 hours of skin contact, which produces a wine meant to be consumed between 1-3 years. the rose de saignee method produces a wine meant to be consumed within 2-4 years after a spring bottling. Clairet receives the same basic winemaking regimen as traditional red wine production except that it receives a longer maceration period, somewhere between 24-36 hours. Both rose de saignee and clairet are made by bleeding the tank of grape juice before fermentation begins. but as stated before the difference between all three techniques is time juice spends in contact with skin, thereby giving wines intended for immediate consumption or wines meant to last a few more years. hope this helps!