Rosés have long been a favorite wine style in France and in many European countries and it is a growing category in the wine business. I would assume that European growth began when vacationers tasted Rosé wines during their summer vacation on the Riviera or in the Languedoc and slowly started to drink it back at home to remember their fond summer days at the beach.
Domestically the growth in Rosé is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Rosé upward trend was slow to start in the USA possibly due to the lingering stigma of White Zinfandel which too often has been viewed as a low-brow, sweet wine by some in the trade (never mind it brought so many new consumers to the wine category). Recently the growth of the category has been outpacing any other and everyone wants a piece of the booming Rosé market; apparently, the White Zinfandel stigma is all but forgotten. Contrarily to the European wine market where the growth in Rosé sales has been at the expense of white wine sales, the Rosé trend in the USA has so far not cannibalized white wine sales.
So here we stand witnessing a rapidly growing Rosé segment enticing producers and retailers alike to play catch up by trying to expand their offering. The Rosé gold rush is confusing as the trade is not very knowledgeable about this category. Indeed, they are many different Rosés just as there are many different red or white wines: dry or sweet, aromatic grapes or neutral, new oak or none, long extraction or short ones – this is a multi-faceted category that really needs some clear labeling to avoid missing out on the Rosé opportunity by confusing consumers.
At Pacific Rim and Company, we make four types of Rosé and, as a case in point, they are quite different and reflect what I see as the 3 main styles that knowledgeable consumers should have in mind when buying:
– Unparalleled Provence Rosé is a classic direct press Rosé which means it is made from red grapes primarily that are pressed with minimal skin contact. The result is a lightly colored wine (onion skin to pale pink) that is fermented dry. This is the gold standard of high quality Rosés in the world. We make this wine with a family estate in the South of France because they know how to make a luxurious Rosé and because it fits our Unparalleled line perfectly (marquee region, classic style & family estate relationship). As is common in the region, this is a blend of Grenache and Syrah (95% red grapes) with a touch of Rolle (aka Vermentino).
– Rainstorm Pinot Noir Rosé from Oregon is also a direct press wine with a touch (10% or so) of saignée juice. Saignée or bleeding, is a technique where the juice is put in contact with the skin for a short period of time (24 hours is common) in a tank and colored juice is withdrawn out of the tank. Many view the saignée technique as less qualitative especially when it is a byproduct of red winemaking and when the winemaker attempts to lower the juice to skin ration of his red fermenters (more skin and less juice resulting in concentrating the red wine). Rainstorm is a little deeper in color than Unparalleled from the saignée and more fruity (red fruit). This type of Rosé is common in Burgundy and in Sancerre.
– Eufloria by Pacific Rim Rosé is a blend of aromatic white grapes (the four nobles of Alsace: Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer) that is “pinked” with a little red wine. The wine has a slight residual sugar. The “pinking” method is common in the new world and in Champagne. This is a nice way to produce an aromatic Rosé with a bright pink color. We also make Sweet Bliss Pink in the same manner though Sweet Bliss Pink is more Riesling based than Eufloria and much sweeter (5 times as sweet precisely).
As you can read the 4 Rosés we make are all different and have different uses. From the luxurious and dry Provence style to the steely and dry Rainstorm Pinot Noir Rosé to the off-dry aromatic Eufloria to the lusciously sweet Sweet Bliss Pink, there is a Rosé for every occasion and every taste profile. No doubt this is a fun category to make and to explore.