One contribution the California wine industry and UC Davis Oenology have made to modern rose production is the cold soaking of grapes in a maceration at temperatures under 20 degrees centigrade. This practice benefits aromas through ester formation and flavors by limiting microbial and oxidative actions in the fermentation process. Roses from California, like many of their reds and whites, are light, fresh, and forward. Cold soaking maceration has proven so successful it is now practiced in Europe and worldwide.
Traditionally rose has been made in three ways:
1. The Saignee (bleeding) method uses the weight of the grapes in the tank to crush those at the bottom and that free run juice is used to make a pale rose. 99% of all grape juice is clear-to-gray. This juice would just barely be pink.
2. The historic pressing method uses pressure to crush the grapes followed by up to three days of maceration. The color of the juice is darker in this rose and that is the winemaker's marker for moving forward with fermentation.
3. The blending method utilizes both red and white wines to make a rose. This practice is not common in Europe except in Champagne where even Rose Champagnes include white wine. In the new world White Zinfandel and other blushes often include Gewurztraminer, Riesling, or Muscat in small amounts.
Grenache (or Garnacha) is the historic great grape of rose in Europe. The finest French rose comes from the Cotes du Rhone; the finest Spanish is from Navarre. In both countries the Grenache grape is usually blended with the traditional companion blending grapes of its region with the end result being Grenache-based.
The premier rose of Europe is the Rhone's Tavel Rose with Provence, a much larger region dedicated to rose, being a close second. Both regions require 60% Grenache in their blends. The relative bargain in Rhone roses is from Lirac just north of Tavel. The bargains in Spain, which may be producing the best roses in the world, are everywhere.
Tonight, Tuesday June 4th, from 5:30 to 7pm Jon Allen with Georgia Crown Distributing joins us for a tasting of Cabernets and Zinfandels from California. We will taste Rockpile and Maggie's single vineyard Zinfandels from Rosenbloom and Sterling Reserve and Hewitt Napa Cabernets. The wines range in price from $50 to $150/btl. We ask for a $25 fee per person for this event which is applicable toward a $100 purchase. On Friday of this week we will have our regular weekly tasting from 5 to 7pm. One week later on June 14th, Henry Leung of Hemispheres Global Wines joins with his usual array of superior imported and domestic finery. Please join us.
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