Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Gris Rosé Turns My World Upside Down

Rosé made from Pinot Gris may prompt you to ask the question, “What Is rosé after all?”

The Nature Of Rosé

On certain things, I know it all, or as my wife reminds me, I think I know it all. Take rosé, for example. Any buffoon knows that rosé is made from red grapes left in short contact with the skins. Or so I thought.

I picked up a bottle of rosé for a recent Zoom session to celebrate International Rosé Day (not to be confused with National Rosé Day). I’m not John D. Rockefeller, so I didn’t want to blow a lot of money on a 40-minute Zoom session. After all, I had already invested in a bottle for National Rosé Day.

The bottle I selected was Band of Roses Rosé 2019, Washington State, by Charles Smith, a Washington State winemaker known for producing some rocking wines for very reasonable prices. In this case, it was $11.99.

As the online session began, each participant was asked to share a bit about their wine, including the grape used. As I checked the back of the bottle, I was a bit flummoxed. It said Pinot Gris, a white grape. The moderator of the session, the executive director of a distinguished international wine group, said, “That sounds like a nice wine, David, but I don’t know that I would consider it rosé.”

I reflected back on our recent visit to Smithfield Cellars in North Carolina. While there we tasted their rosé since it was blistering hot out. I looked at the bottle and it mentioned it was made with Pinot Gris. At the time I brushed it off as a typo on the label because everyone knew that rosé is only made with red grapes…

It turns out that Pinot Gris grapes are actually a reddish, copper color. With most rosé, the winemaker lets the red grapes sit in contact with the juice for only minutes to hours. With the Pinot Gris, the grapes are allowed to be in contact with the juice for three days or so.

In the case of the Band of Roses, the color is a beautiful copper, a contrast to the pink salmon colors of Provence rosé. The flavors were delicious, with tropical fruits, silky peach, and apricot. To me, it was a perfectly delightful rosé. In fact, it appears that Pinot Gris rosé is a trend. We recently tried a bottle of Gris Blanc Rosé by Gerard Bertrand, the well-known French winemaker.

Rosé, it’s not just for red grapes anymore!

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