June Winestudio: Rosé Sheds Its Blush and Gains Sophistication

The great people at Protocol Wine Studio understand the pulse of the wine community. Because of their knowledge they crafted the perfect June #Winestudio session: Exploring the wonders and joys of Rosé. This spring and summer I have had the great pleasure of sampling many very high quality Rosés. I can tell you Rosé is not a fad, it is high quality, thoughtful wines that are crafted with intention and you need to be drinking it! Here are four more lovely Rosés perfect for your glass today!

June Winestudio Roses

Why did Protocol want to focus on Rosé? Here is why: Building an American rosé culture has been dubious at best. We’ll taste and explore this sometimes controversial wine to establish its place in our habitual wine drinking. Where exactly was rosé born? Some say the Egyptians, others in Provence. Regardless of its origins, today we’re seeing a definite shift in how we perceive, purchase and drink rosé. In fact, when rosé was first introduced to the American public it was sweetened to fit our “unrefined” palates. A true wine culture was never indigenous to America. We’ve adopted other wine cultures from trade, travel and curiosity. Rosé has now become part of the mainstream wine scene. Is this in any way a sign of our impending doom? No. As winemakers become bolder, more experimental or “just because” it makes them happy, so be it. Happiness is serious business.

Protocol Wine Studio“What is #WineStudio? PROTOCOL Wine Studio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers.”

Erezetic Winery, Slovenia
Erezetic Winery, Slovenia

Week 1 – Katy Bendel Daniels Old World Vines Katy is a San Diego wine importer focused solely on wines sourced from the Eastern Mediterranean. Katy walked us through a tasting of the Erzetic Damski Rosé 2013. She explained it was made “specifically from prime Merlot grapes and is one of their top selling wines. It is not an afterthought.” The grapes are immediately destemmed and gently pressed just to get the juice going, it sits on the skins for several hours; every hour they drain off the juice until they get the right color and texture, then the pump all juice out and put in INOX tanks. The color is a result of intention, with sitting on the skins key for color and extracting tannins and texture. Rosés are part of the Slovenian culture and they prefer their Rosés dry so they pair beautifully with a variety of cuisines. All Erzetic’s grapes are hand-picked at harvest; here are the lovely Slovenians who picked this Rosé.

June Winestudio Rose Erezetic wine pickers

June Winestudio ErzeticErzetic Damski Rosé 2013, Slovenia: This wine was crafted of 100% Merlot. This wine poured a lovely soft salmon with pink highlights into the glass and opened with aromas of summer red fruit, soft herbal notes and rose petals. On the palate this crisp Rosé delivered pleasing flavors of soft strawberries and tart cherries with light citrus undertones, followed by savory herbs and a touch of floral notes. It was very clean on the palate with a crisp acidity that I loved and a tart tannic finish. A very nice quality Rosé to add to your summer sipping enjoyment. SRP $24. Purchase direct from Old World Vines using code: Welcome15 for 15% off your purchase.

Week 2 – Samantha Sheehan, owner / winemaker at Poe. Samantha started Poe in 2009 with one purpose: to produce single vineyard wines to show their distinction by picking grapes when flavorful and balanced. Samatha explains on the Poe web site, “The grapes [for the Rosé] were brought into the winery and pressed immediately (this is not a rosé from saignée), we treated it like a white wine and fermented it slowly at 48 degrees for six weeks. Samantha was drawn to Pinot Meunier because she loves how it adds all the red fruit components in Champagne so she decided to blend it with Pinot Noir to craft her Rosé. Samantha shared how important it is to have a good rapport with the vineyard owners to insure good quality. Finally, she shared how lucky she is to be a winemaker; “every day I feel guilty, I should pay someone for allowing me to do my job.” Her love for her work was evident in her beautifully crafted Rosé.

So what is a saignée? The Crushed Grape offered the best explanation:  In short saignée is one of the methods of making rosé wines, along with blending white and red wine (this is the method used to for rosé Champagne), along with a simply macerating (allowing contact with skins to leech out color and flavor) the wine with the skins for a short period of time. The difference between simply macerating the wine and removing the must and saigneé is that the wine left after the bleed-off is oftentimes still being made into a more concentrated red wine, and the rosé is a byproduct, often sold cheap (or was until rosé prices started to rise).

June Winestudio Poe Sonoma RosePoe 2014 Rosé Sonoma County: This wine was crafted from 66% old vine (1974) Pinot Noir from Olcese Vineyard Sonoma and 34% old vine (1953) Pinot Meunier from Van der Kamp Vineyard on Sonoma Mountain. It poured a vibrant candied salmon into the glass and opened with inviting aromas of fresh red summer fruit and a touch of stone fruit with herbal notes. The mouthwatering dry Rosé delivered flavors of sour cherries, strawberries, watermelon and white peaches and orange blossoms with some fresh herbal notes that are much softer on the palate than on the nose. It was a very palate pleasing Rosé that had a mouth coating texture and a lingering dry finish. Delightful! SRP $22. Order direct from the Poe web site.

Week 3– Cushing Donelan, co-owner / operator Donelan. “The Donelan family believes that site trumps all other variables when making good wine.” Joe Nielson, winemaker at Donelan Wine joined us for session three. Joe first started making Rosé because it 1) makes red wine more concentrated and 2) he needed something refreshing for the heat. The grapes that make up the 2014 Donelan Rosé are nicknamed by their terroir driven personalities: Syrah, aka Prince; Pinot Noir, aka David Lee Roth; and Grenache, aka Bon Jovi. Awesome! A Man After My Own Heart!!!Joe went on to explain the 2014 Donelan Rosé.  The 2014 Donelan Rosé is a saignée. Joe explained this means “basically as the fruit is put into tank, juice is pulled after short skin contact, 1 hour up to 24 hours. This juice represents anywhere from 5-20% of the total volume.” The Prince grapes (Syrah) were from the Bennett Valley vineyard and pressed specifically for the Rosé, the rest of the grapes was processed in the saignée method. Joe was certainly correct when he said “Pink can be serious, it’s a matter of thinking.” Joe preferred neutral oak over concrete vats or stainless steel because it “helps with micro-ox which keeps Rhone wine from stinkin.”

June Winestudio DonelanDonelan 2014 Rosé Sonoma County: This wine was crafted of 55% Syrah, 29% Grenache and 16% Pinot Noir. This wine poured a soft pink (the color of my petunias) into the glass and opened with vibrant aromas of red summer fruit, tropical fruit, floral notes and soft herbal notes. On the palate this Rosé had lovely flavors of white peaches, soft strawberries, lime zest and a touch of oregano   It had a round acidity juxtaposing its creamy texture creating a rich and balanced mouth feel. Another lovely dry Rosé. It contained 13.3% alcohol. SRP $25. Order direct from Donelan web site.

Week 4: Yann Rousseau, owner / winemaker Y. Rousseau. “Yannic was born in Gascony, in the SW of France, known for the French Paradox. His goal is to produce food-friendly wines with personality.” Yannic began producing his Tannat Rosé in 2012 because he was inspired by the grapes “amazing natural acidity and fruit.” Yannic does not believe in following wine trends; rather, he makes “wine of conviction. I make wine I want to enjoy myself.” His wine making philosophy is simple: “Yannick believes, “It takes unique terroir and people of character to create wines of distinction.” His essential goal is to make food-friendly wines with great personality. As a family-owned winery, we seek a healthy, balanced lifestyle around family and friends, integrating good wines and good food…all that is the ‘Joie de Vivre’!” In the argument of “intentional” versus saignée Rosé Yannic has created an “intentional” rose that was crafted of 25% saignée; a best of both worlds Rosé!

June Winestudio Y RousseauY Rousseau 2014 Rosé of Tannat Russian River Valley, Sonoma County: This wine was crafted of 100% Tannat. It poured a delicate salmon into the glass and opened with aromas of summer red fruit, citrus and a touch of savory herbs. On the palate this dry Rosé offered palate pleasing flavors of strawberries, watermelon, grapefruit, and lime zest. It was a medium body wine with a mouth coating acidity that left a lingering finish on the palate. SRP $24. 13.5% alcohol. This Rosé was 75% pressed and 25% Saignee and fermented in stainless steel barrels then aged for 5 months on the lees with no stirring. This is a “one of a kind” first ever dry “Rosé of Tannat” produced in the US and will make a great addition to your summer wine enjoyment. Order direct from Y. Rousseau web site.

My Song Selection: Each of these Rosés were very high quality and delicious because each of these winemakers loves their jobs and craft their wines with passion. I am pairing these four distinctively different Rosés with “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen because it is a fun and light song that reminds me of summer and because it describes how each of these winemakers approaches their wines.

Get your own bottles of each of these outstanding Rosés direct from the winery or importer or order your own collection featuring the California Rosés from Le Metro Wines Everyday Rosé Collection, then let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!

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