What a great opportunity! While we were at the Wine Bloggers Conference last fall, we were part of a group that got to go to dinner at Martin Ray Vineyards and Winery. We got off the bus and were handed a glass of their signature dryé rosé, and, even better, ran across their winemaker Lindsey Haughton.
What deep frustration when we realized our photos didn’t come out. We blame our lousy mobile phones and the utterly delicious rosé. Sometimes you just have to go with what you’ve got.
“You’re not supposed to have a favorite child,” Haughton said about the rosé we were all sipping. “But that’s my favorite child.”
It was a rosé made from pinot noir grapes (clone 828, if you care about that sort of thing). Haughton said that shortly after she joined the winery, rosé, particularly dry rosé, was becoming popular. As happens when something gets popular, there was a lot of rosé out there that was off dry – Haughton called it Kool-Aid. Most of the rest of us call it white zinfandel.
That being said, Anne couldn’t resist asking if Haughton thought it would be possible to make a good, dry rosé from zinfandel grapes.
“Absolutely,” Haughton said.
Making the dry rosé
Haughton explained that she uses both of the most common processes to make her rosé. About 30 percent of hers is made by saignée, or bleeding off some of the juice from grapes being used to make regular red pinot noir. The other 70 percent is made from grapes that are picked and pressed right away, or dedicated to the rosé.
“A lot of it is just familiarity with the vineyards,” she said about which grapes go to the dedicated part of the rosé and which she bleeds from.
She likes using dedicated grapes rather than all saignée because she likes what gets extracted when the grapes are pressed.
“It’s got a lot more of the character of the skins,” she said. She does not like ultra-pale rosés that look more like the almost orange wines from Provence, France. “I want my rosé to look like rosé. I just feel like California should stop trying to mimic it. We’re not French. It should be a California wine.”
As in more fruit-driven than the dryer European style.
Of course, Haughton also puts out some very lovely pinot noirs and the dinner was quite tasty. But if they have to have a favorite child, we’re glad it’s the rosé. That was really good.