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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Please get on that bonding thing! We are standing by prepared to be your first interstate legitimate customer! Congratulations on your success!
I’m in line to be the second! Or, I will trade for a very barky, wonk-eared Smooth Fox Terrier — then you can be Three Terrier Vineyards! 😉 Or – some fresh Michigan produce? 😉
Funny, Andy was just saying the other day, “Wouldn’t it be fun to have another terrier.” I’m saying that would be one terrier too many. We’re just holding the line here. One more bark machine and they would truly be running the place.
The Rose sounds wonderful…too bad you can’t ship it to Virginia
Very cool post. I know essentially nothing about winemaking, but I found this informative and fun to read!
Great post Lisa. All I know about wine making is from one of those kit’s, which are at best a dismal failure. Drinking wine on the other hand, I’m very good at. I used to belong to the Sunday Times Wine club & used to get a case of wine every month from them which would be there monthly ‘pick’. One of those ‘civilized’ details I miss about emigrating from UK. Both of us up here in Oregon are also ready for your interstate wine when you secure your bond.