Rosé is the art of indication, there is everything in it but not in their complete form, only as shadows or reflections.
As Paul Verlaine in Art Poétique ushered everything out of the poem that was heavy, factual and obvious, as the Impressionists putting up their canvases outdoors were more interested in the change, the trailing of the light, capturing the colour of the half-shadow than the forms themselves, rosé is also the genre of the evanescent impressions and subtle implications weightlessly soaring. A rosé is sliding, there should be no struggling or fluttering of wings in it – it leaves itself open to the currents of air and surfs on the waves of the wind.
Others would happily put up with success, money and fame. Rosé has reached all of this and now it wishes to be taken seriously. Looking at the roaring success of Whispering Angel and the colourful medley of followers, it’s hard to believe that the concept of premium rosé was only created a decade and a half ago. Alongside the cheap, pleasant, dark and slightly sweetish rosés, the first barely pink, strictly dry, aristocratically sophisticated rosés started appearing in Provence around 2005. Adding bottles that remind us of perfume, the Cote d’Azur vibe and prices that suggest exclusivity, these have been pulling the rosé train with a forever accelerating speed ever since. Others started envying the success of the rosés: the first to hop on the bandwagon were the wine regions of the South of France, then Spain, and in the last two years, Italy. Now, it’s seemingly our turn.
To make good rosé is surprisingly difficult. It is necessary to create a composition with only a few brushstrokes – if it doesn’t work out at the first attempt, then there’s no chance to correct it. As consumers have tended to presume that the pale colour is a sign of quality over the last couple of years and the majority of winemakers don’t dare ignore this expectation, making good rosé doesn’t simply resemble a rope dance but rather one with the hands tied at the back. The flavour and aroma compounds of the skins need to be extracted in a way that in the meantime the dissolution of colour and tannins is avoided.
From a technological standpoint, there are three main approaches. The most widespread version, which has also been taken on by Hungarian winemakers, is that the juice is bled off, which means that during the first phase of red wine making the upper, lighter weight part of the tanks is drawn off and the rosé is made from this looser, paler juice.
In the case of premium rosés, the grapes are grown specifically for making rosé from them, thus they choose the harvest date accordingly. Winemaking is based on the technology of white wine making – gentle pressing, the exclusion of oxygen and temperature-controlled fermentation are the main components.
The third method also involves a few months of barrel ageing, with keeping the wine on the lees increasingly frequent. Denser, fuller bodied, structurally more stable wines can be made without sacrificing the fruit in this way. Nevertheless, the winemaker has to be very careful with oak ageing because the aromas and tannins coming from the wood can tip past the fragile balance in a second. And nothing can stick out from a rosé.