Wine Culture Magazine

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Pretty in pink, and delicious, too

Rosé lovers quiver with excitement when liquor store shelves blossom with pink hues ranging from the delicate blush of ballet slippers to rich, ripe, raspberry red. Spring has sprung, flowers are blooming, and rosé season is launched. Rosé is a joyful wine category gaining momentum and is the perfect wine for sunshine and backyard BBQs.

Rosé wine is made by three main methods: maceration, blending and saignée (pronounced son-yay).

Maceration, or skin contact, is used when crafting a rosé wine is the primary objective. Skins of black-skinned grapes stay in contact with the juice anywhere from two to 24 hours to achieve the desired colour and flavour profile. Think Provence rosé.

Another approach, mostly practised in Champagne, is blending. This is when a small amount (usually five to seven per cent) of red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Meunier, is added to white wine for colour before bottling.

Saignée is the third method. It translates to “bleeding” in French, and can be a contentious topic as some consider this style of rosé merely a byproduct of producing concentrated red wines. Others maintain that these rosés burst with character and depth.

In this method, grapes are picked to produce red wine and are put into a tank with skins and juice. After a short amount of time, 10 to 15 per cent of the juice is pumped out or “bled off” to another tank to make rosé wine. The saignée rosé is left to finish fermenting on its own and is sometimes aged in oak barrels.

The colour profile of saignée rosé can reach dark magenta or pale purple hues if Syrah or Tempranillo varieties are used. Do explore the colour wheel and don’t be afraid to venture beyond pale pink rosés. The saignée method started to gain popularity in North America, specifically California, during the 1970s. It is also practised in Champagne with excellent results.

If you are looking for a rosé with a generous depth of colour and a robust flavour profile that pairs remarkably well with food, consider exploring some delicious saignée rosés.

Five saignée rosés to try

Culmina Saignée Rosé 2019
(Golden Mile Bench, B.C., $24) Creamy mouthfeel, plum jam, fresh raspberries.

Hillside Winery Rosé 2019
(Naramata Bench, B.C., $24) Partial saignée; fresh red cherries, field berries.

Podere Ruggeri Corsini “Rosin” Rosato
(Langhe, Italy, $25) Lifted acidity, bold nectarine flavours.

Champagne Laherte Frères “Les Beaudiers” Extra Brut Rosé de Saignée
(Chavot, Champagne, France, $110) Complex, richly textured, deep berry.

Larmandier-Bernier Rosé de Saignée Ultra Brut
(Vertus, Champagne, France, $135) Crisp, refreshing, balanced and delicious.

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