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My thoughts on a rose wine.

August 14, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s time to think pink! The Galil Mountain Winery puts out a rose each year and I find it to be a great value in the world of rose. But what exactly is rose wine? It ain’t White Zinfandel, any more, Toto!

Ok, so maybe I overspoke a minute ago. White Zinfandel is technically a rose wine, but in terms of the popular rose style, it is a very different style from the norm. But I digress…

Rose wines are, like the name suggests, a pink-hued wine that is nether red nor white, but shares aspects of both at the same time. Almost all grapes give off white juice when pressed (there are a handful of exceptions like the Concord grape); what makes red wine red, then, is contact with red grape skins. So, to differentiate a red wine from a rose, all you need to do is limit the time that the fermenting juice has in contact with the red grape skins.

There are multiple ways to make a wine “rose.” The first method is called the “sanginee” method, whereby you “bleed off” some of the fermenting juice so that the remaining juice can have a stronger interaction with the red skins (thus getting “more” red). The rose wine is a happy byproduct of this method.

The second method is to literally remove the grape skins from the vat of juice after a given period of time (sometimes as little as a couple of hours!). In this case, the entire vat is intended for use as rose wine. There is a third method, though rarely used, of blending white and red wine so that your final product is pink; the problem with this method is that it usually gives you an inferior product.

Stylistically, rose wines have fill a variety of niches, from light to full-bodied, from fruity to herbaceous. But they usually have a common theme of being higher in acidity, to varying degrees. In Provence, home to some of the world’s most coveted rose wines, they tend to lean towards light-bodied, very tart wines. This gives you a similar effect that lemonade would give you in the middle of the summer: cooling, refreshing and all-in-all delicious.

For the most part, rose wines are not age-worthy items (a notable, albeit non-kosher, exception is the Rioja house Marques de Heredia, which tends to age their roses for upwards of a decade before releasing them! And they are still delicious).  Usually, you will want to find roses that are of the current vintage (the previous year). Occasionally you might be able to find a rose from the Southern hemisphere from the current year because they harvest and vinify their products in February – April.

The particular wine I am discussing today exhibits this last point all too well. The Galil Mountain rose, 2009. Galil Mountain is a cooperative project between Kibbutz Yiron and the Golan Heights Winery (of Yarden fame, see my post on their Odem Chardonnay). By and large, I have been impressed with the Galil Mountain line of products as being good for the price.

However, the 2009 rose, which I tasted in 2011, fell short. I don’t think that this was any fault of the winery or the winemaking process, but rather, that this wine had outlived its better time. See, there’s a common misconception that all wines continue to improve with age. This maxim is only true for a handful of wines nowadays and even then, after a certain point, even these wines will begin to degrade; the tannins and acid disappear from the wine, the flavors tend to be more muted and the wine is just generally uninteresting.

To put it in terms of a human development span, a baby can’t do as much (and thus “not matured”_ as a toddler, who can’t do as much as a child who is not as matured as a teenager to young adult to middle age to “the golden years” to old age and finally death. Somewhere along that path of development (and this point is different for every individual), any given person is considered “over the hill” and is unable to do as much as he/she was able to do previously.

Perhaps this last analogy was a bit coarse, but all the same the effect is there. All of this falls true for the Galil Mountain 2009 Rose. This was probably a spectacular wine last year, but this year there was no acidic structure, the fruits were not vibrant and the wine just generally tasted inspid. Sad, considering the $18 price tag it’s carrying. I imagine that if I had my hands on the 2010 vintage, that it would have been a very fun and interesting wine.  It’s a prime case of a wine that is past its prime.

 

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