Even though this winter has kept us shackled indoors with her wet and icy grip for what feels like an eternity, it only took 48 hours of light and warmth and, kapow – holy pink delight Batman, we are ready for Rosé season. Nothing says happiness to us like a sizzling BBQ plate full of local seafood, some great friends, views across the paddocks to the ocean and some beautifully chilled, Cape Jaffa Wines Rosé!
Now we’re not talking about your Grandmother’s pink, sugary mess but dry, crisp, ballsy Rosé. The kind that makes you smack your lips together and look to the sky in thanks.
To help you get up to scratch with this ‘on trend’ glass filler we thought we’d share some of our knowledge with you so that you too can join the pink army and banish pink prejudice forever.
Five Rosé Myths Busted
1. Rosé is a girl’s drink. FALSE. Real men have no issue wearing pink nor should they about drinking pink. Brad Pitt owns a vineyard in France that released a great Rosé. He called it Miraval. It made the top 100 wines in the world, sold out in five hours and Brad Pitt looks like a real man to us. In the Basque region of Spain, there is a “guys only” tradition called Poteo. The male-bonding ritual of Poteo involves bar-hopping for an extended period of time, indulging in a glass of rosé at each establishment. So there are two great myth busters: Real men drink pink – join the Brosé revolution!
2. Rosé is a just a mix of red and white wine. FALSE. Whilst you can blend a small amount of red wine with white wine to create what looks like rose (and we’ve all tried it) rosés are produced using red grape varieties. The juice inside the grapes is white — the skins are the part of the grape that impart the colour. The juice and skins macerate (mingle together) for a very short period just long enough to extract some of the colour and character of the skins. The juice is then separated from the skins and seeds, then fermented into wine.
3. All Rosés are sweet. FALSE. Like all good wines Rosé comes in a variety of sweetness however the really serious ones are dryer in nature making them a great all-rounder. You might find hints of strawberry or watermelon but how sweet the wine is depends on the technique not the colour.
4. Rosé is cheap therefore low in quality. FALSE. Yes, we admit, there are plenty of cheap Rosés on the market however you can also find plenty of dirt cheap red and white wines on the shelves. When you are next at the bottle-o take a moment to look across the mid to high range, you’ll find plenty of Rose’s in that section too.
5. Rosé is purely for slamming down. FALSE. Rosé's charm is in its simplicity. It is a wine to drink not to savour and although preferred on a balmy summers evening, a glass in front of a warm fire with a special friend can be very romantic. One of the great things about Rosé is that it makes for great drinking with a wide range of foods. A drier style like ours can even handle a red meat dish more commonly served with red wine. Sweeter styles compliment Asian cuisine.
Serving Rosé: Now that you feel comfortable that Rosé is in fact a great wine and possibly even a ‘little bit classy’ you can now think pink to your hearts-desire. Quash your unnecessary embarrassment and take your favourite bottle to a fancy pants dinner party, be pink loud, be pink proud!
Rosé, unlike red wine and Brad Pitt, does not improve over the years — so don’t get any ideas about hoarding it (or Brad for that matter, even though he is freshly single) in your cellar. Rosé is made to drink right now so something from this year is best, the year before at a pinch, unless you want to indulge in some age worthy ones from some regions of France but they are not so easy to come by.
Rosé should be served at around 10-15 degrees so a few hours in the fridge or 30 minutes in the freezer will do the trick. If it’s a really hot day you’ll need an ice bucket but if it’s mild let the bottle sweat on the table after you pour the first glass, this allows the characteristics and aromas to develop.
Enjoying Rosé: Rosé is made to be enjoyed with friends. Escape the wine snobbery of tasting notes and vintages and just pour yourself a long cool glass. To quote the great American novelist Gertrude Stein:
‘A rosé is a rosé is a rosé – and everyone can enjoy it’
There’s a global melting pot of skilled labour at Cape Jaffa Wines (CJW) this vintage and with eyelash batting and stolen glances rife under clear, star filled skies a little bit of ‘World Peace’ may just be bottled with every 2016 wine…
From backgrounds as diverse as professional beer brewing to chemical engineering they followed their nose and travelled to the very edge of the Limestone Coast, South Australia to work with Derek and Anna Hooper. Some read an article and became intrigued about biodynamic processes, some were referred by six degrees of ‘Pip’ separation, some just answered a job vacancy advertisement online. A gypsy-like approach to travelling the world, chasing vintage work and a love of great food and even better wine resonating with them all.
“This region of the world is unique”, Scotty (England) says, rather than competing with each other (the Mount Benson wineries) are working together to promote the region as a whole, it’s a refreshing change in a highly competitive industry”. After being told there was ‘no relocation package’ Chris (New Zealand) finished University and drove his car the length of New Zealand to be able to get it home and catch his flight to Australia, arriving at CJW and being thrown into an earlier than normal start to Vintage. “I think Cape Jaffa is unique in that you can learn about conventional, organic and biodynamic techniques all in the same place”, he says, “there’s a lot more to learn, a lot more to understand”. Pip (New Zealand) agrees, “I’ve been here for two seasons now, we get to experiment. Anna loves fresh thinking. Pretty much any idea that’s remotely valid is OK, in fact the crazier the better. Nothing is out of the ball park, if the idea fails then we all learn something”.
Paul (New Zealand) says “I’d worked with Pip seasonally in New Zealand for sex (six) years. I thought I was coming to Cape Jaffa Wines to drive a little fork lift around, she didn’t mention that it was actually seven and a half tonnes. Now that the season is finished I’ve nearly got the hang of it!” The joke is not lost on the group, they all agree that if you are going to chase vintage work the only expectation you should have is to have no expectations. Scotty says “Paul and myself were picked up from Naracoorte by Anna and within half an hour of arriving at Cape Jaffa we had dropped our bags off, got changed and were scraping out tanks!”
Tom (New South Wales) agrees with the surprise factor. “I was used to a fairly structured working day at the Brewery, and from the moment I arrived that was completely blown out of the water. Long shifts back to back, I had no idea what was going on for the first couple of weeks, so for me it really has been quite the experience, there’s a lot to learn”.
Petra (Finland) met Pip at a harvest in Bordeaux, France last year. With a masters in Chemical Engineering she is still perplexed by the Australian ‘small town’ syndrome. “Everyone knows everyone”, she smirks, “it’s strange but as long as it’s not a shit job, then I’m happy to keep working out here”. So what constitutes a ‘shit’ job for Petra? “If I don’t like it then it’s a shit job”…simple, honest and a masters, this young lady is one to look out for.
To employers looking to jump onto the ‘global influx of vintage staff wagon’ the answer to one final question may surprise you. We asked them all, ‘Do you plan to hang around after vintage?’. Chorus like, their answer was not related to better conditions, higher pay or promotional possibilities it was much, much simpler than that. They will stay as long as they continue to learn, once there is no more to learn they will look for the next mentor. With Derek and Anna Hooper at the helm this group of travellers certainly have a plethora of possibilities available to them. As a group of young, good looking, well-travelled, food and wine loving adults they also have plenty in common to keep the sparks flying for a little while yet.
I’ll remember 2016 as the year that Mother Nature gave us our best crop in 10 years and then came back and took it away. At home we had 30 mLs rain at the critical stage and another 20mLs a couple of weeks later. Unfortunately the rains did not magically drain directly into our rainwater tanks; instead it covered the land as is the natural order of things. The effect was loss of berries from split, particularly in the better sections where berries were riper at the time. Tough skinned varieties like Cabernet were less affected than Shiraz.
Early bud burst (there were traces in June!!), early flowering and early veraison provided unheeded clues about when harvest would start. Despite many of the vintage staff being yet to arrive, we ended up having almost finished processing whites before end of February - and yes I know we had an extra day, but still….
Further inland, the Limestone Coast regions such as Wrattonbully missed out on the rain that fell across much of this state and enjoyed an excellent vintage. Shiraz’s looks particularly nice and flavours are well balanced in spite of the warmer season. Yields were on the low side which contributed to the excellent quality, particularly with reds.
On the coast, crop levels weren’t quite what we were initially hoping for either. And, quality-wise 2016 was not the cracking vintage that 2015 was, but it was still very much above average. The young wines display bright and elegant characters reminiscent of a cooler growing season with very nice intensity and colour.
So, the 2016 vintage again reminds us that we are but simple farmers. We are at the mercy of Mother nature, of the tide, the wind, the sun and the unpredictability of life here out on the edge. We have no choice but to embrace each season, after all, as Chuck Tanner once wrote ‘you can have money piled to the ceiling but the size of your funeral will still depend on the weather’.