It’s about time for another winemaking post. After all that was the raison d’être of my blog. I know it seems I get sidetracked, what with writing about worms, Johnny Cash and guns, but that doesn’t mean winemaking has stopped here at Two Terrier Vineyards. Even though we got everything in oak barrels months ago and the vines are just starting to emerge from winter dormancy, there is still winemaking stuff to do and things to learn.

Today’s wine lesson, Class, is about Rosé. You may ask what qualifications I have for teaching this course. Absolutely NONE. Seeing as we are still fumbling through our self-taught-learn-through-your-mistakes course in making Rhone style reds. But by some convergence of Serendipity and Providence, we downloaded instructions for making Rosé off the Internet, set to it, and –SURPRISE — produced what may be a world-class or at least a damned respectable Rosé. More on that quality thing later.

No, today’s lesson is about how Rosé is made. Well, actually I covered a lot of how it was made in earlier posts. Such as this one where we discussed the saignee or bleeding method, where we “bleed” juice off the fermenting red grapes after a few hours (or in our case, a day) after the crush. Yes, it’s that short contact with the skins that gives Rosé just a bit of color. In contrast, you’ll remember from other earlier posts, that our red wines sit on the skins for a week or two. You’ll also remember from that Rosé post how, once we syphoned off the juice, we put it immediately into a steel tank and shoved a glycol chiller into it. That immediately dropped the temperature to about 35 degrees, incidentally dropping all the solids and impurities right to the bottom of the tank. At this stage, we had only to add yeast, let it ferment a bit, then syphon that nascent wine into a clean tank and away from the impurities. One more racking (syphoning to another tank and leaving behind the solids/dead yeast/impurities that had dropped to the bottom) and our Rosé was ready to sit and become excellent. Or at least that’s what the “How to Make Rosé” instructions we downloaded from a Google search said.

Our recipe can’t be said to be exact. Especially with the heavy use of hoses and pumps. It devolved to something akin to “Well, I guess that’s enough Grenache. Shut off the pump.”

Fast forward to about a month ago when repeated barrel tastings were showing, unbelievably, that we had one hell of a Rosé. Let me interject that we may be clueless about MAKING Rosé, but we are completely informed about drinking it. I trust all of you are evolved enough not to recognize the dreaded “blush” wine or the detestable Mateus as anything even close to Rosé other than the fact that each is vaguely pink. No, true Rosé — as in the Bandol produced in Provence — where, if not invented, Rosé reaches its Platonic Ideal — is seldom sweet, but dry and with a lovely floral nose. And furthermore, proper Rosé is not made with Zinfandel, despite the successfully marketed “White Zinfandel”. It is made with Rhone grapes such as Grenache, Mourvedre and a few pinches of some of the traditional blending grapes. Luckily, those happen to be just the grapes we’re growing! So our “recipe” was a Grenache/Mourvedre blend that approximated the grape mixture listed on the label of our favorite Bandol Rosé. Or, rather, as close to the equation as we could get given we were using hoses and pumps to syphon out juice. Not quite an exact science.

We find it vastly improves the wine to have highly educated help. John brought his Ivy League credentials to his stint as free labor.

However, our Yalie is just demonstrating how bottles are washed and sterilized with sulfite solution. This is usually my job.

Any process involving men and machinery seems to devolve into lots of musing on fine mechanical points. And the washing up is left to the women.

But back to that taste. Our Rosé was just tasting better and better and better to the point where we thought we’d better bottle it immediately, if only to have some proof that we’d actually made something so good.

So now Class, we’ll segue-way into a brief pictorial lesson on how wine is bottled. Well, how wine is bottled in a Mom and Pop and terrier winery such as Two Terrier Vineyards.

That machine the guys are tinkering with above. It’s a bottler.

In the reservoir, it’s even got one of those thingys like in your toilet tank.

Our Rosé is good to the last drop. Here’s the last of it being syphoned out of the tank and into the bottler.

Ever wondered how they get the corks in the bottles? Especially since it’s sometimes so difficult to get the corks OUT of the bottles. Observe:

Enter the corking machine.

It compresses that cork to half its size.

Then this metal rod shoves it in the bottle, where it expands back to fill the opening tightly.

Now to that taste thing. I hope you don’t think it’s only our prejudiced palates that are declaring this a Rosé for the ages. We called in our friend, Keith, who is a Professional Drinker. By that, I mean, he has spent thirty years in what he, with British understatement, calls “The Drinks Business”. He’s been the marketing force behind most of the high-end brands of spirits, liquors, wines and beers that you know.

We set Keith up with a competitive tasting of our Rosé and some of the best from both sides of the Atlantic.

In color, clarity and taste, Keith found ours to be on par or surpassing some of the best known Rosés. And I should add, he doesn’t have to say that just because he’s our friend. You see, he and my husband are British. And the British never EVER feel compelled to say anything nice to each other. In fact, the more they like you, the more they insult you. So high praise from Keith was high praise indeed.

In closing, here is a glass of our Rosé on the left, standing proudly next to its forefather, a Tablas Creek Rosé.

Our vines are cuttings from Tablas Creek vines, which in turn are cuttings from one of the most famous French vineyards in the Rhone.

Yes, we have a winner. If only for the small fact that someone hasn’t gotten in gear and secured us bonding to actually sell wine. I’ll get right on that.

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