Brosé, Rosé, All Day - Philadelphia, PA

The northeast has been blasted by two separate nor ’easters this winter. (1)  I think we are all ready for the blissful warmth and carefree vibes of summer. What pairs better with those halcyon days than a crisp, refreshing rosé? (2)

The Urban Ambrosia crew is diving deep into the archives on this one. Last year we spent a rooftop weekend debating the merits of the vino. Is it Hampton bourgeoisie or Jersey Shore plebian? Do I feel comfortable drinking it or have the man-romper wearing finance bros coopted and desolated this fine wine style?

Rosé like healthcare is complicated. (3) Rosé sits at the nexus of red and white and comes from many different grapes, geographies, and production methods. In this post we’ll briefly cover the complex viticulture and viniculture. (4)  The meat & potatoes of the article will be our qualitative & quantitative evaluation of commonly found roses under $15. We hope to empower consumers with limited discretionary spending and optimize vino aficiando cost/benefit decisions. (5)   

Rosé History:

Rosé style wines may be the mitochondrial eve of the wine world. (6) The pressing processes to make darker higher tannin red wines did not exist until the Romans invented the first screw presses around the 2nd century AD. (7) Regardless lighter and fruiter styles of wine remained the preferred stock of cellars up to the boom of Bordeaux in the middle ages. Even early champagne was pinkish until the monk Dom Pérignon codified separating white and red grapes and the use of multiple presses to minimize maceration (the skin soaking in the juice).

(1st Century AD Roman relief showing traditional grape treading)

(1st Century AD Roman relief showing traditional grape treading)

After World War II, Rosé regained prominence through its popularity with Portuguese sparkling wine makers and Sutter Home’s 1975 accidental creation of their “white zinfandel” version. (8)  In the following years in the US, “blush” wines tended to describe pale pink wines with higher residual sugars while rosés were marketed as dryer. The semantical distinction has disappeared and rosé is the general overarching category.

Wine Making Process:

There are three major ways for producing a rosé:

·        Maceration

·        Saigneé

·        Blending

In maceration, juice has contact with the grapes for between 12-24 hours. During this time phenolic compounds such as anthocyanins and tannins are leeched from the skin, stems, and seeds. These compounds contribute to color, flavor, and antioxidant content.  Rosés made from this method tend to have more perfumed aromatics and delicate flavors like strawberry or bright cherry.

The Saigneé method is predominantly French. In this process rosé's progenitor juice is “bled” off of red wine juice early in fermentation (makes a more deeper, concentrated red wine). This byproduct can be poured down the drain or used to make rosé. Some wine personalities have been very critical of this style for being “afterthoughts”.  The Saigneé method tends to produce richer, vibrant pink wines with darker flavors like wildberries and jam.

The final method is blending or mixing red wine into white wine (normally 95% white & 5% red). This process can be used for both low and high quality wines. Ruinart’s rosé champagne adds 16% red Pinot Noir back into a blanc du blanc or entirely chardonnay champagne.

Types & Pairings:

Besides process, the type of grape used and location of growing result in a very diversified and complex wine style. Provence rosés are primarily made from the Grenache varietal and end up being dryer and brighter tasting. I love a nice grapefruit Provence rosé with fresh seafood like raw oysters. (9) A syrah based rosé can be heartier due to the grape’s higher tannin concentration. These wines can be smoky, spicy, and mouthwatering (plum/dried cherry) and pair well with stews. Below you can find some charts and graphs analyze color, flavor, and pairings in a deeper depth:

Shout out to the Thomas Jefferson University Nu Sigma Nu coop for hosting!

Shout out to the Thomas Jefferson University Nu Sigma Nu coop for hosting!

Evaluation:

José Maria da Fonseca Twin Vines Vinho Verde – Vinho Verde, Portugal

- $8 – Wine Enthusiast 84 pts.

While not a rosé, this slightly sparkling Portuguese white wine is perfect for the summer. The vinho verde can be made from a couple different white varietals with the alvarinho being our favorite. It does come in a rosé version which is difficult to find in US wine stores.

Tasting notes:

Crisp, light, bright, dry, citrusy, fresh unripened lime

Rating:

Jordan really likes : 8, Nick: 7, Michael: 7, Aaron: 7.5

L’Argentier Rose d’Aramon -  Aramon grape – Languedoc, France - $15 – Wine Enthusiast 85 pts.

Tasting notes:

Dry, crisp but slightly moldy grapefruit, “Tastes like an old person” 

Rating:

Jordan: 4, Nick: 4, Michael: 5, Aaron: 4

Cabriz Colheita Rosé – Dão Portugal - $12 – Robert Parker 84 pts.

Tasting notes:

Dry, light, tart plum, fresh strawberry, coats the mouth

Rating:

Jordan: 7, Nick:7, Michael: 8, Aaron: 7

Michel Chapoutier,  Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rosé– Languedoc-Roussillon France - $13 – Wine Enthusiast 86 pts.  

Tasting notes:

Light, dry lime, “spikey” – Nick aka refreshing, floral/perfumey, strawberry

Rating:

Jordan: 5, Nick: 6, Michael: 7.5, Aaron: 7

Matau Pinot Noir Rosé – Marlborough, New Zealand - $15 – Wine Enthusiast 86 pts.

Tasting notes:

Tangy, tropical, dry, tart and fruit forward, mild white walker pale, strawberry with a bit of cranberry

Rating:

Jordan:6, Nick: 6, Michael: 7, Aaron:6

Conclusion:

Our winner is the Cabriz Colheita Rosé. This Portuguese buxom is very tasty, dry, and a bit crispy. Its flavor profile includes hints of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry. A bottle comes in at $12 and was a pleasant value find. This summer we hope you indulge in rosé brosé weekends, but don’t limit yourself. Branch out and try a food-friendly Czech Grüner Veltlier, dry German Riesling, or bubbly Vinho Verde! (10)

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Footnotes:

1.       A nor’easter is a macro scale cyclone that hits the eastern seaboard. The air mass rotates counter clockwise hence winds that blow northeast to southwest.  They generally occur where cold polar air and warm ocean air converge and end up dumping tons of rain or snow.

2.       The warm tones of the rose color spectrum are definitely going to be on the fashion pallet of summer 2018.

3.       “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated” – His Royal Highness Donald J. Trump

4.       Viticulture is the study of grape cultivation and viniculture is the art of wine making. Shout out the Cheryl Stanley’s Cornell Wines Course and Andrew Schulman (my fraternity brother on a quest to start his own vineyard).

5.       FSFW = Full Stomach, Full Wallet

6.       Mitochondrial eve is the matrilineal most common recent ancestor of modern living humans. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down maternally and can be used in ancestry and human migration studies just like the Y-chromosomal Adam.

7.       The earliest stone wine vats date to 4000 BC in what is now the Vayots Dzor Province of Armenia. Early pressing was done by hands and feet until Egyptians invented the sack press in the 18th dynasty (~1500 BC).

8.       The Zinfandel grape was first bastardized in California in 1869. In 1975 Sutter Home experienced a stuck fermentation for their version. In a stuck fermentation the yeast dies before consuming all the sugar resulting in the well-known, low cost, and very sweet rose style. In recent years the old vine Zinfandel has been making a resurgence and giving the varietal a better street rep.

9.       Had a great one recently in Philadelphia’ Oyster House!

10.     Our friend David Tauber loves a glass of Grüner Veltlier with thai food.