Showing posts with label Rosato. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rosato. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Pinot Gris You Never Knew

Pinot Gris is often thought of as the grape next door - commonplace, approachable, and pleasant. Originating from France, Pinot Gris is mostly used to make a dry white wine that is zesty with notes of stone fruit. The grape is also known as Pinot Grigio in Italy, where the style of wine made tends to be lighter and livelier with higher acidity. Either expression of the white wine makes for easy sipping in the summer but not something that wows the palate.

Grayish-pink Pinot Gris by Reinhold Möller

It’s Not Really White

What you may not know is that Pinot Gris is not even a white grape. In fact, it is a mutation of Pinot Noir, where one of the two cell layers responsible for berry color is missing anthocyanins. It is crazy to think that both grapes are genetically identical except that the skin of Pinot Gris is grayish-pink (“gris” is gray in French) while the skin of Pinot Noir is deep dark red (“noir” is black in French).

Anthocyanins by Bruna Branco on Unsplash

Anthocyanins are color pigments found in many blue, red, and purple fruits and vegetables. Although anthocyanins by themselves are odorless and nearly flavorless, they do interact with aroma substances during the vinification process to enhance the flavor of the completed wine. Because of its lower level of anthocyanins, Pinot Gris is seldom made into a red wine. 

You Say Rosato

In recent years, I have seen more Pinot Gris being made into rosé (or rosato in Italy). That was actually how I found out that Pinot Gris is not a white grape. SMAK, a woman-owned winery in Walla Walla that makes rosés exclusively, has a summer blush that is 100% Pinot Gris. Depending on the vintage, the color ranges from light copper to pink hue. But it is always crisp, with notes of peaches and melons as well as delicious minerality. I have since tasted other pink Pinot Gris and generally prefer it to the dry white expression.

SMAK Summer Ro

I Say Ramato

Last year, I had a taste of the 2020 Holocene Pinot Gris that blew my mind away. It had a beautiful deep orange-red hue and the aroma was a juxtaposition of smoke, cigar, and stone fruit all at once. On the palate, it was vibrant yet smoky and complex with notes of whiskey.

Is this a red, pink or orange wine? As I savored the wine, I knew this much - that was not a white wine! I would have pegged it as an orange wine except that it was not made with white grapes. Holocene website describes their Pinot Gris as a “great balance between a ramato-style orange wine and a rosé.” 

2020 Holocene Pinot Gris
So what exactly is ramato? Wine scholar Lynn Gowdy of Savor the Harvest described it best when she wrote “(o)range wines are made from white grapes, rosé from red grapes, and ramato only from Pinot Grigio.” Ramato style of Pinot Grigio originated from the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region of Italy. It was the traditional way of making Pinot Grigio till the 1960s when white Pinot Grigio was popularized and exported.

Because Pinot Gris (or Grigio) is technically a red grape, one could argue that ramato is closer to a rosé or rosato than a traditional orange wine. However, the length of skin contact for a ramato sits somewhere between that of a pink wine and an orange wine. Depending on the winemaker’s style, maceration may last from 24 hours to two weeks and hence the wine develops the kind of complexity that is more commonly found in an orange wine than a pink wine.

My Verdict: Why limit yourself to dry white Pinot Gris? In my opinion, Pinot Gris blush and ramato are far more interesting and delicious. Give it a try this summer and prepare to be wowed. The grape next door does not always have to be plain. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Bonjour, Mon Rosé!

Rosé is a wine of celebration!

Provençal Rosé with fresh spring salad
After a long dreary winter, it is always a joy to welcome sunshine and warmth with a bottle of Rosé. I especially love a dry Provençal or Provence-style Rosé, slightly chilled and shared with friends on the patio, or on the beach. Being light and fruity in palate, Rosés go well with most summer fare - cantalope slices wrapped with prosciutto, spring mix salad with a light mustard vinaigrette, and cheeses. Or if you want to be totally Provençal, pair it with your favorite vegetables and shellfish dipped in rich garlicky aioli.

Rosé is a French term for pink wine, that is well beloved in the States. In Italy, it is called Rosato; and in Spain, it is called Rosado. In a London bistro, I would order a bottle of Blush.

Contrary to some belief, Rosé is not made by blending white and red wines, except in the case of a pink Champagne. But a still pink wine is made using black grapes (or grapes that typically produce red wine) with a much shorter skin contact than one would for making red wine. That way, it significantly reduces the extraction of anthocyanins, or color pigments from the skin, rendering it pink.

To be technical, there are different ways to make Rosés, and they are rather nuanced.
Provence-Style Rosé from Brady Cellars

  • Short Maceration - This is the way to make Rosés with the sole goal of making Rosés, instead of a by-product. In this case, the winemaker crushes the black grapes and macerates them for a period of time. When the desired level of color and flavor is achieved, the juice is drained off from the crushed grapes and continues to ferment.
  • Vin d'une Nuit - This is French for "wine of a night." A simple short maceration approach, it means the juice is drained from the crushed grapes after a night. 
  • Saignée - Derived from the French word that means "bled," this is method is used when the winemaker is trying to kill two birds with one stone. After a short maceration period, the pink juice will be drained out, leaving the remaining juice to continue macerating with a higher ratio of skin contact. The pink juice is then made into a Rosé. The remaining juice will have a deeper color and flavor by the time it is made into a still red wine. This is well-practiced in the States as the Rosé will be released early to bring cash flow to the winery while the remaining red wine continues to mature and age.
  • Doble Pasta - This yummy-sounding approach comes from Spain although it is hardly intuitive. This is similar to Saignée in that a red wine and a pink wine will be produced. The difference is that two vats are used in this case. One vat is used to make a pink wine, and the skins will be transferred to the vat that is used to make the red.
My Verdict: There are different types of pink wine in the market. Pick something and try it. I tend to like a dry Grenache-based Rosé, hence my preference for a Provençal or Provence-style Rosé. And if your favorite small winery for red wine makes a nice Rosé, know that you are helping it by buying a bottle of the pink as well. Santé!