This past weekend, a few Houston Area wine writers and professionals came over and helped me taste through this year’s crop of American True Rosés. There are, essentially, two ways to make a still rosé wine, which I have outlined on my “Terms” page, accessible through the menu at the top of the page:
The saignée method: A rosé wine that is made by “bleeding” off some of the juice of a red wine after only a short period of contact with the skins. The remaining juice would then have a more concentrated maceration with the skins, creating a more complex and flavorful red wine. This saignée (which means “bled” in French) juice used to be discarded, but is now often fermented separately and sold as a rosé wine. Saignée rosés, therefore, are a by-product of red wine production.
True Rosé: Often called “pressed”, “intentional”, or “dedicated” a “True Rosé” is one that was intended to be pink from the onset, as opposed to a saignée (see above). The fruit is grown, harvested, and fermented all with the intention of making a rosé.
[There is, I guess, a third way to make a rosé: Perhaps the least complicated (and, to my knowledge, rarely employed) is to blend white and red wines, a practice that is fairly common with champagne and other sparkling wine, but is otherwise rarely practiced.]
A few years ago, I realized that, in general, there is a difference between the two methods and that the latter (again, in general) tended to produce better wines. In my opinion, “True Rosé” wines, in my opinion, not only taste better, but also had the ability to age, at least in the short-term.
So why the term “True Rosé”? Well, unlike the “saignée method” there is no agreed upon term to describe the “better” process. While some take umbrage with my use of the word “true” since they think that it implies that all other rosés are therefore “false.” While I admit that there is some inherent judgment in the use of the word “true” I am using the word in the sense of “sincere” or “reflecting the essential character” (dictionary.com).
Is it perfect? Decidedly not, but I am a firm believer that knowing how a wine is made is a key component to its enjoyment–few think twice about wanting to know how a sparkling wine is made, for example.
So in the next couple of weeks, I will publish my notes on the 54 wines that we tried on Sunday as well as the top wines from the others in attendance. Generally speaking, this year, the wines were overall of notably higher quality than the two previous iterations of the tasting.