A Summer Drinking Guide to Rosé

June 16, 2015

You may have noticed that the wine world is currently seeing everything through rose coloured glasses these days. Yes, rosé is very much the wine du jour across the globe. But how much do we actually know about it, apart from the fact that it’s a pretty pink drink?


It’s time for further inspection, we here at Lazenne have decided!


What is it?

Pink is the third colour of wine, which, until recently, has not been taken very seriously (and in some critic’s quarter’s there is arguably still work to do). Rosé is made from red grape varieties, although some white grape varieties are used in smaller amounts as well.


From where does it get its colour?

From the grape’s skins, which is why rosé must be made from red wine grapes!


How is it made?

Not by blending red and white wine as you may think!*


As a general rule, you can make rosé like a white wine (known as direct press) and like a red wine (the saignée method).

Direct press does what the name says, carefully pressing the juice from the grapes. As the juice comes into contact with the skins, a light amount of colour is extracted. This process usually takes around 3-4 hours. Once finished, the juice is ready to be sent to fermentation tanks. A few hours, all that’s needed to give rose that delightful pink colour we all find hard to resist!


Saignée method, on the other hand, involves treating the grapes as if you were intending to make red wine from them. The juice is not separated from the grapes; instead left in contact with the skins (techy term: maceration) to extract colour and tannin. Winemakers may choose to 'bleed off' some of the juice after 12-24 hours to make rosé, and leave the rest of the wine macerating for a few more weeks to also make a red wine from it.


*There is one notable exception, however. Rosé Champagne may be a blend of red and white base wine.


Where is it made?

Around the world, although the spiritual home is undoubtedly Provence in Southern France.


Is there just one shade of rosé?

There are more than 50 shades of rosé, which is what makes it so wonderful. The colour can range from so light it's almost white wine to deep, dark, ruby rosé. Why? It depends on the grape varieties used and the length of maceration.


What grape varieties are used to make rosé?

In Provence, Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the magic ingredients whilst in Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon is unsurprisingly king. The Californians have mastered (?) the sweeter and more confusingly named White Zinfandel. The Spanish make their rosé from Tempranillo.


What does it taste like?

Rosé can cover an array of styles, from bone dry and crisp to medium dry with some residual sugar. As a general rule, rosé is characterised by refreshing acidity and a light to medium body with no tannins. Flavours can range from red fruits to floral hints to citrus, especially grapefruit. It is a wine best drunk young whilst the fresh fruity flavours are at their best.


What can I drink it with?

Rosé is a perfect match to hot summer afternoons on the Mediterranean coast. If that’s not possible, a dry, Provence-style rosé works a treat with seafood, goat’s cheese and any sort of grilled vegetables whilst the sweeter styles can be matched to spicy foods, salads, or even with sugary desserts.


What producers should I be looking out for?

The days of Mateus rosé having the monopoly of your supermarket shelves are long gone and today some very fine examples can be enjoyed. Winemakers are experimenting in the production room with oak, resulting in some of the finest examples being confused for fine white Burgundy when tasted blind. Leading the rise of the prestige rosé category is Provence’s Château d’Esclans, who can currently claim the world’s most expensive rosé with their cuvée Garrus, priced around the 100€ mark. Much more affordable, and still delicious, is their entry level Whispering Angel.


Photo credits: Robert Brand & Nadia & Massimo


Chrissie McClatchie is an Australian freelance writer and wine specialist who has been living in France since 2008. You can follow her on Twitter @RivieraGrape as she explores the wines of the French Riviera and Italy's Liguria. 

Also in Lazenne Blog

Native Grapes of Catalunya

August 18, 2017 0 Comments

Catalunya vineyards

If you look around the world of wine today, you'll notice that most wine is made with the same grape varieties. Pretty much every 'New World' country produces wines made from grapes native to France; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot... the list goes on. This is no bad thing as stylistically, all the above varieties can be drastically different depending upon climate, soil, viticulture and vinification. The vast majority of glossy, bold Shiraz from Australia is, literally and figuratively, a world away from the savoury, peppery wines of the Northern Rhone, for example. However, in the last 10 years the fashion has been to move away from seeking out the 'best' examples of these well known varieties and instead to look for unique expressions, typically from grapes native to specific countries and regions. This has seen the emergence of some new stars in the world of wine, from the austere, mineral wines of Mount Etna in Sicily to the powerful, racy Assyrtiko of Santorini in Greece. Austria has re-modelled its vinous reputation with the versatile Grüner Veltliner and even as afar as South America, Bonarda and Pais are resurging on both sides of the Andes, in Argentina and Chile respectively.

However, no country has been rediscovered in quite the same way as Spain. There are somewhere in the region of 600 grape varieties on the Iberian Peninsula, the vast majority of them indigenous and regionally specific in production. Despite this, Spain was for decades synonymous with oaky, extracted wines from Rioja, and to a lesser extent Ribera del Duero, with Tempranillo the only celebrated indigenous grape hailing from the country. Short-sighted producers ripped up their old, unfashionable vineyards and replanted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and anything that was currently selling, not realising that in doing so they were giving up their major point of difference on the international market-place. However, this wasn't true for all producers and quietly, many went about their business as they had done for centuries; cultivating their families vineyards and producing wines of distinction and style, as their vines slowly became older, sturdier and produced better quality fruit. To look at the market now compared to 20 years ago is staggering. Shops in Barcelona are awash with local Catalan wines, Galician field-blends are appearing in top restaurants across the world and even Sherry is making a come-back! To cover the entirety of this resurgence would take a strong liver and a lot of time, but I'd like to share a few exciting varieties from my own little corner of Spain, the fiercely independent Catalunya:

View full article →

3 ways to destroy your wine before you pop the cork

July 03, 2017 0 Comments

why wine has bad odour

Wine is a fussy product. Starting from its very beginnings as embryonic genetic material located on the buds of vines, to its moment of glory in your glass, there are countless chemical reactions, pitfalls and opportunities to be navigated and controlled in order to create a good bottle of wine. The vast majority of these is, fortunately, taken care of by the time we actually buy a bottle of wine, as the vigneron has spent the entire year wrestling against nature, ensuring the right balance of sugars, acids and flavour compounds, before handing over the baton to the wine-maker. This is where the grapes will be converted into wine through the magical process of fermentation, possibly aged and then bottled with care being taken to ensure biological stability. Then depending on where the wine is to be sold, it will go through a long or short supply route, potentially crossing oceans, continents and all sorts of checks before it finally appears on a shop shelf or restaurant list somewhere in the world. 

Enter us; the consumer. We purchase the wine with the intention of one day drinking it, whether that be within minutes of the purchase, or 20 years down the line, after extended storage to allow for it to evolve within the bottle. Assuming the bottle has been purchased close to home and you intend to drink it in the near future, this is all well and good as any issues of storage are very much the responsibility of the retailer/restaurant and bottles can be returned for a refund. However, if you're buying the wine far from home, possibly, abroad, we run into some potential issues quite quickly.

View full article →

Best wine stores around Etna in Eastern Sicily

April 14, 2017 0 Comments

Wine Stores around Etna in eastern Sicily

Having just come back from a two week trip to the Mount Etna region of eastern Sicily we thought we'd share some of the best wine stores we came across travelling in the region. I must say I love the "enoteca" concept in Italy, where you can come for an aperitivo, taste local wines by the glass with some food, and then purchase bottles that you've tasted and liked. We loved visiting and tasting wines directly at the wineries of course, but the experience of tasting different producers side by side, and the ability to try older vintages can only be done at an enoteca.

View full article →