With the Rosé Revolution going strong, this pink drink is finding a permanent place in people’s palates.
While rosé can be made by blending red and white wines until the winemaker achieves desired color and flavor, generally rosé is made with red grapes that have brief skin contact to give it a pale pink color. A winemaker may do a saignée (sohn-yay; French for “to bleed”) where some red grape juice is bled off to make a more intense red wine; excess juice is fermented into rosé with the rest made into red wine.
Others make rosé intentionally: “I pick grapes early for the correct components to create a bright, fresh wine,” says Bruce Freeman, grape grower and winemaker at Clos Des Amis in Santa Paula. “I press them immediately, bottle them early and capture that liveliness that makes a rosé so fun to drink.”
Any red grape, or combination of grapes, can be made into rosé. Rhone varietals such as grenache are very popular, because they pair so well with food — from brunch through lunch to dinner. While rosé is fine ice-cold, it’s also enjoyable as it warms to ambient temperatures, making it perfect for picnics. Use special glasses, or try a rosé of pinot noir in a pinot noir glass or a Rhone rosé in a syrah glass. Because part of the fun is color and aroma, highlight these qualities or try a clear jar!
Many wineries make rosé from Ventura and Santa Barbara grapes using different methods. Consider one or more of these wines this summer or for a Rosé Day toast on Saturday, June 8.
2018 The Ojai Vineyard Rosé
$28; Tasting Room: 109 S. Montgomery Ave, Ojai
The Ojai Vineyard is a landmark and winemaker Adam Tolmach a pioneer in the region. He has done saignée but today his rosé is intentional and made like his whites. In 2018, the blend of 51 percent syrah, 21 percent carignan, 19 percent grenache and 9 percent riesling comes from vineyards in Santa Barbara and Ojai that are whole-cluster pressed, barrel fermented and aged for five months in neutral French oak. This rosé gold wine offers stone fruit, citrus flower and minerality on the nose with balanced, refreshing acidity and tart citrus on the palate with a pleasant lingering finish. Pair with truffle cheeses or chicken salad.
2018 Clos des Amis Rosé
$17; The Cave: 4435 McGrath St., suite 301, Ventura
Ventura College art teacher Bruce Freeman began winemaking in his garage, worked with Tolmach and now grows grapes in Ventura County where he makes wine in a solar-powered winery above Santa Paula. His rosé reflects his French roots and local South Mountain terroir, and blends almost 50/50 grenache and mourvedre with a dash of syrah in the mix. In color, Cecil Brunner rose, with rose on the nose as well as melon and cherry. The palate is pleasantly round yet bright with fruit and herbal qualities reminiscent of a walk through the chaparral on marine soils. This wine handles spice: Try fish tacos or a habanero mango gouda for a “wow” moment.
NV Plan B Rosé
$24; Tasting Room: 3520 Arundell #107, Ventura
A blend of three grapes, two vintages, two methods: Winemaker Marlow Barger was driving the Santa Barbara mourvedre back to the winery when he realized it would make a great rosé. The current release adds saignée grenache (27 percent) and syrah (8 percent). In color, orange/pink, with jackfruit and minty herbs on the nose and cherry, lemon and more herbal minty notes on the palate. Pair with tamales with mole sauce, roast chicken or salami.
Ventura College writing instructor Gwendolyn Alley blogs at Wine Predator where you’ll find lots more rosé recommendations and pairings!