We’re having an insanely good lunch at the Hospice du Rhone on the last day of April – duck confit, goat cheese, roasted veggies (food was catered by The Girl and The Fig, of Sonoma, California), and it’s the rosé lunch, partly sponsored by the Synidcat de Tavel, where they make some of the world’s greatest dry rosés. Every table had five Tavels to share.
So what does Jason Haas, general manager of Tablas Creek Winery, go around and do? Plops down random bottles of the Tablas Creek 2009 rosé. Thank you, Jason. Was that good stuff! And given that we had the best of an entire region to compare it to, it compared quite favorably. We can’t say that any one of the wines was better than the others because they were all fabulous.
Anne then got out her trusty voice recorder and caught Haas sitting down for a chat about making rosé. As he noted, it’s a pretty simple process.
One of the nice things about the rosés is that they’re very straight forward to make,” Haas said. “You make your decision as to which lots you want to use. You bleed ’em off. You stick them in stainless steel and they’re done three weeks later.”
Well, actually, there are two ways to go. Keeping in mind that most grape juice is white, red wines and rosés get their color from the grape skins. Red wines are fermented with the grape skins and the juice. Juice that becomes rosé sits on the skins for only a day or two. Then, if that particular batch of wine is only going to be rosé, the grapes are pressed and the pink juice is made into wine. Or, if the winemaker wants to punch up some of the fruit flavors in a more typical red wine, some of the juice is bled off after a day or two and either tossed (feh) or made into rosé.
So which way do they do it at Tablas Creek?
“It’s actually half and half,” Haas said. “We have a section of the vineyard that we dedicate to making the rosé. We co-harvest and co-ferment about four rows of mourvedre, grenache and counoise. And use that as the base of the rosé. It’s actually our original nursery block that we planted to get more vines to plant the rest of the vineyard. So that’s the base of the rosé, and then we supplement that with mourvedre and grenache saignées from other lots of the vineyard. [Saignées are]bleed offs from the fermentation.”
The bleeding off, however, is not about the reds, Haas said, “Because we really like rosé. It would honestly make our lives a lot easier if we didn’t have to do it. But we love the rosé so much that we always scour the cellar for lots that we feel like we can bleed a little bit of wine off without making them too intense.”
The result was yummy. Stay tuned for tasting notes to come.