2013 has been the year of Rosé here at Candid with Lambert’s “Mathilde” made from Cabernet Franc and Scherrer’s “Dry Rosé” made from Grenache and Syrah going out the door fast than ever. To beef up our offering we added the Barra‘s Rosé of Pinot Noir for the first time and direct imported Dominique and Genevieve Pons’ Domaine des Cedres Grenache based Rosé from the southern Rhone. That’s a lot of Rosé for a summer that has yet to begin here in Chicago, but because we are so optimistic and because we love diversity in our pink wines, we’ve just added another: Alex Davis’ 2012 Rosé from Porter Creek Vineyards made from a blend of dry farmed, head pruned, Carignan and Zinfandel.
According to Alex, he never bleeds another tank of red wine to make Rosé. This technique, called “saigneé” in French is fairly common practice when a winemaker wants to concentrate a red wine by bleeding out some of the liquid in the tank while the crushed grapes are still in the tank. Alex prefers to pick specific grapes for his Rosé instead. In 2012, they made a first pass in the Zinfandel vineyard before harvest thinning out some of the clusters that did not look they would ever be fully mature to make a red wine. They then had two bins at harvest time – one for the grapes destined for his Zinfandel and one for the Rose.
A similarly elaborate procedure was followed in Mendocino in the Carignan vineyard, though they made only one pass. This process means that the red wine grapes that are left behind are fully ripe while the grapes that go into the Rosé will not be too powerful or too deeply colored.
Alex whole cluster presses the Zin and Carignan for the Rosé and then ferments them in neutral oak barrels, i.e. barrels that allow the wine access to some oxygen so it can “breathe”, but which no longer impart an oak flavor or tannin to the wine. Alex also likes the oak barrels because they allow fermentation to proceed without overheating. Stainless steel or concrete, in his experience, will starve the wine from oxygen on one hand and sometimes can lead to higher temperatures during fermentation, meaning that the aromas and the mouth-feel of the wine change.
In 2012, Alex tells me that the wine fermented almost all the way to dry, but then stopped at 1% residual sugar come spring time. “I had to break one of my own rules”, Alex related. “and add a touch of yeast to finish the wine correctly. Does this last touch of yeast change the flavor? “If anyone says for sure that they know they are probably guessing” is Alex’s response. “The polyculture of yeasts at the start from the vineyard and the winery are so diverse that it’s hard to say what flavors come from where”, he adds. ‘I’ll let someone else guess as to where each component comes from, but I wanted a dry wine”. Honest enough.
So what does the wine taste like? Alex tells me that is has fruit and mineral without a lot of tannin. Many people will mistake it for a white wine and it pairs with “anything”. After a pause, Alex added, “maybe not steak where you’d want some tannin, but otherwise we drink it with all sorts of seafood, cheese, or just as an aperitif by itself”.
Interested in a taste? Contact a member of our sales team for an appointment.
PS – I mentioned at the start that the vines are “head pruned”. This is a term used to described the way that vines used to be pruned in California (and elsewhere) in vineyards that were not irrigated. Today, the majority of vines are trained along a trellis so that machines and hoses can access each vine in an efficient manner. There is an interesting discussion of the evolution of pruning in California along with “Old” and “young” vines on this page over on Vinobo.