Rosé may have a reputation of being a fun drink with little sophistication but a new wave of winemakers are bucking the trend by using various methods to add complexity to the wine. We consider the five styles on the market today. By Elizabeth Gabay MW
Rosé wine is always fresh, crisp, with little complexity and lots of fun appeal – right? Dismissed as a non-serious wine, it has nevertheless soared ahead in sales because it is so easily appreciated by a younger, less-knowledgeable market, with gimmicks such as Frosé and Brosé keeping it fun.
Up until now, any move to make this wine more serious has hit a few marketing challenges, but, the time is right to look at different rosé styles.
A small quantity of interesting and complex range of rosés are emerging, as the need for a gastronomic or ‘wine-rosé’ to accompany a meal, rather than an aperitif-style, has encouraged producers to try different styles.
This is not simply ageing a rosé in oak, which has often resulted in a rosé that is out of balance, with the oak dominating the attractive fruity charm, and given oaked rosés a bad reputation, but looking afresh from the beginning at making rosé. The key is to have a wine-rosé with the weight, complexity and ageing potential to deal with the oak.
This is often achieved by using older vines, lower yields and vinification methods, resulting in more complex wines. When these wine-rosés are introduced to oak, we start to see exciting new styles emerge. Paul Chevalier, of Shaw-Ross, American distributor for Château d’Esclans, says the key to marketing oaked rosés is to recognise that the wine is different in style and quality to most commercial rosés, and has a unique identity.
Nicholas Paris MW and sommelier, says he looks for the, “red fruits and freshness normally found in unoaked versions, but with a little more spice and exotic aromas on the nose and greater body, structure and complexity on the palate. Oaked rosés can stand up to, and complement, well-seasoned or spicier dishes.” He is not alone, and feels sommeliers on the whole get more, “excited about oaked rosés, not excessively oaky rosés, but those with greater complexity, broader characteristics and tertiary notes too”.
These rosés also show an ability to age better and to develop even more complex characters. It becomes apparent with tastings of rosés that are vinified and/or aged in oak, that there is no single oaked rosé style.
Winemaking is important, but there is plenty of variation and experimentation with old or young barrels, type of wood, size, fermentation, lees stirring or just ageing.
Five general styles emerge:
• Rosés with invisible oak
• Rosé with overt oak character
• Rosés in a light red-wine style
• Traditional rosés
• Modern rosés in a traditional style