Just because it is pretty in pink it doesn’t mean rosé wines aren’t serious wines and in recent years we have seen some outstanding examples being produced, not only in this region but from all around New Zealand. It wasn’t so long ago that rosé wines were regarded by some as a ‘ladies sweet lunchtime fun wine’ and you wouldn’t see a bloke within 100 meters of a bottle but how times have changed. As consumers are being a little more adventurous and winemakers have refined the art of making rosés that are seriously good with food and not just a bit of frivolous fun, the style is growing in popularity. In fact I reckon this summer we are going to see a lot more rosé being consumed than ever before.
The deep red colour in red wine comes from the skins of the grape and rosé wines are made by lightly pressing these so there is minimal colour extraction and good rosé wines are made from fruit harvested for the purpose. Yes they are the same grapes that normal pinot noir or merlot wines are made from but they are harvested at a different time and treated quite differently in the winery.
Slightly earlier harvesting means a little more acidity in the wine adding some nice summer freshness while minimal pressing means a lot less tannin. Gentle lees stirring and secondary malo fermentation add a creamy texture and often a sweet whipped cream flavour. Reduce the percentage of malo fermentation and you have a wine that appears much drier in style.
Now here is the warning, there are a few winemakers who have some red wine grapes they don’t need and think they can just lightly squeeze the fruit and bottle it as a rosé. How wrong they are; like any fine wine rosé needs to be crafted and not treated as an afterthought. Fortunately for consumers there are some fine rosés to choose from. A few that have been sent to me for sampling and are well worth searching for are the delicious Neudorf Pinot Rosé 2011 ($22.90 at the cellar door) dry, rich in style with flavours of raspberry and a touch of whipped cream. A long dry finish makes this a perfect food wine. Try it with some pork terrine from Philippe the butcher in Montgomery Square.
Another beauty is the deep raspberry red Pinot Rosé from Waimea Estates (RRP $21) that is bursting with berry fruit flavours woven with a touch of minerality and a dash of creamy vanilla. Another rosé that is perfect with food and the winemaker recommends matching it with Christmas ham.
Finally from Gladstone Vineyard in the Wairarapa comes a Cabernet Franc Rosé (RRP $25). We know about the quality of pinot noir produced in this region so it is no surprise Gladstone have delivered a luscious salmon pink rosé that is simply charming. Elegant sweet fruit with a touch of creaminess and a long mouth watering finish. Just enjoy it by itself late on a Saturday afternoon, maybe with some pate and cheese.
There are plenty of very good rosé wines being produced and you will find a great selection on the shelves of your favourite wine shop so guys, be brave and buy pink!
I have been drinking
Gladstone Vineyard Reserve Sophie’s Choice 2010 – RRP$36
This limited release barrel fermented and barrel aged sauvignon blanc from this boutique Wairarapa vineyard deserves both its reserve status and price tag. A seductive textural weight in the mouth with soft toasted nut and passionfruit flavours, a touch of oak spice and just enough ripe acidity to make your mouth water for more this is a wine that will make you smile.
Saint Clair Family Estate Sawcut Vineyard 2009 Chardonnay – RRP$30.50
While this barrel aged wine has had the full oak and malo treatment it is elegant and refined. Spiced stonefruit aromas of peach and nutmeg are reflected in the flavours along with firm acidity and a dash of chalky minerality. This creamy textured wine is perfect with roasted pork or chicken.