Rose Wines: To Saignee or Not Saignee..That is the ??

Was reading the latest Wine&Spirits magazine article on rose wines and it got me thinking (always a dangerous thing to do):
There are a great many roses on the market that are made from Saignee juice, as a means of using up a normally wasted by-product. Particularly Grenache/Syrah/PinotNoir. And then there are some (many? few?) that are made from grapes that are specifically harvested to make a rose only and then the skins discarded as a waste by-product after a few days of contact w/ the fermenting must.
So I pose the following question: **Which process makes for a better rose wine…saignee or no-saignee??**Or does anyone really give a rat’s a$$ because rose wines are not serious/ageable wines.
I will, of course, give my definitive opinion on the subject in a few days. :slight_smile:

I think the difference would be subtle, and of course dependent on fruit quality, winemaker ability, vintage, etc. However, I would have to think that if your goal from a specific vineyard lot is solely to make a Rose’, that would typically make the best Rose’. In that case, you would be looking for specific numbers and flavor profiles for an ideal Rose’. When you saignee, you are trying to make the best Grenache (e.g.), and you just happen to have enough saignee to bottle some good Rose’.

That being said, the only Rose’s I’ve ever made have been from saignee.

Bingo, Eric. Exactly my thoughts on the subject. One of the best roses to my palate is SteveEdmunds Bone-Jolly Rose which he harvests
specifically to make that rose. OTOH, I’ve had plenty of saignee roses that I thought were absolutely deelish.

I can’t find anything to argue with so far in this thread. But it is an opportunity to ask something I’ve been wondering about after a conversation I had with a winemaker earlier this year. It seems like fruit in a lot of areas would be too expensive to dedicate to a rosé that you have to sell well below what you could get for the corresponding red. How often are dedicated rosés coming from inferior blocks? And how much does that matter for a rosé? How often are winemakers going ahead and taking a hit on the price because they are interested in making a dedicated rosé?

Great question, Brian. If your making PinotNoir in the RRV, it would seem foolish to make a dedicated Rose of PinotNoir. Unless, perhaps, you harvested
early to avoid threating harvest rains. Look forward to some definitive answers from winemakers.

I think the key is, as the non-bleeders profess, the actual preharvest num-…

$#¡+, Tom Hill, you led me into a trap

Tom Hill, read Wine and Spirits magazine’s August 2014 issue:

"Intentional Rosé" by Ms Elaine Chukan Brown (P 48)

Pretty much gave up on CA rosé due to QPR. I find I can drink great French rosés for much less than what the CA winemaker’s have to charge to make a profit.

That is a great counterpoint. A great example would be my 2012 Georges III. The crop was very large that year. I always bleed off somewhere in the neighborhood of 8%. I bumped it up slightly that year so I could make a barrel of Rose’. It was mostly just to experiment, but also to prevent wasting quality juice. It turned out to be very good IMO. But nobody in their right mind would use that fruit solely for Rose’!

From the standpoint of the consumer, the big difference (broadly speaking) is that saignee roses are typically harvested at a higher Brix, in order to have the desired ripeness for a red wine. A non-saignee rose is typically harvested earlier and at a lower Brix.

Someone in the business can correct my guess/estimate here, but I think non-saignee rose grapes are typically harvested in the 19-23 Brix range, whereas your average producer making red wines in the same or similar vineyards would be harvesting in the 23-27 Brix range.

The result is that non-Saignee roses tend to be lighter in color, leaner, sharper, more acidic, and lower in alcohol. That is certainly what I have observed as a customer, in a general / overall sense. Of course, there are exceptions.

And I don’t say that as though it makes one good and the other bad. I love some examples of both kinds. Dehlinger has bottled a saignee pinot noir rose a few times that is amazingly good. I also like County Line Pinot Noir Rose from the Anderson Valley, a non-saignee rose that is quite pale, brisk and sharp.

At ZM, we harvest grenache for direct-pressed rosé at about 21 brix, IIRC. The resulting wine is much as you describe.

As mentioned elsewhere above, fruit costs can be prohibitive to making rosé unless if not by saignee. For that reason we limit production, even though it’s a growing category.

Yep. Some saignee can have the backbone and vibrancy to be excellent, and some purpose made early picked roses can be quite austere. I’ve had excellent examples both ways. If you’re picking 23-24 brix for your reds, a saignee might be great. At 27 brix, probably not.

But, some of the best roses I’ve had have had both. Some early picked juice maybe 19-21 brix for more vertical, citric and structural elements, and some 23-24 or so brix to add some breadth and berry fruit sort of character. Get a good balance of those playing together and you have something…

Saignee roses are generally not as good as real rose. But the economics for real rose don’t really exist in the US, so, you’re stuck with what works for the wineries. They’re not running charities.

But having spent much of the last few days drinking roses in their native turf - US wineries can’t compete qualitatively with French wineries that are selling their roses at or above the price for their non-reserve red.

Chris Seiber makes one of 2 important points, that being that saignée Rosé is a byproduct of red wine, the grapes being farmed and picked with red wine in mind, generally meaning higher brix tahn if it had been farmed for Rosé from the start.

The other important point not yet made is that Rosé ferments like white wine, not like red. This means that the conversion of sugar to alcohol is more efficient than in a red. For instance in our winery, the same grapes that would yield a 13.5% red would produce a 14.3% rosé (or white).

And in regions like Provence, where Rosé accounts for 85+% of the production, the grapes are not grown in second rate sites, though what constitutes a good site for rosé may well be different from a site that is great for red.

I think this sums up my thoughts pretty well. I am yet to try a saignée rose that I enjoyed, mainly because the ones I have had tend to be on the sweeter side and not what I am looking for at all.
As Jeremy says, there is a lot of French rose around at a really competitive price, even where I am. Our local stuff doesn’t have the same price pressures that somewhere like California and we get a real mixed bag, but very little of it can match the French stuff on QPR.

I certainly don’t blame the wineries for making it, and it probably sells a truckload in the right circles.

A hint of RS as I recall. [pillow-fight.gif] [wink.gif]

Having worked with a lot of roses over the last six years, I think the biggest question is about intent. If you’re picking for rose, whether you produce by saignee or direct press is immaterial. If it’s a byproduct to your other red wine production, it’s probably not going to be that good and it would do to examine your reasons for making that wine. Why would you make a wine you’re not committed to doing at a high level?

For background, the first roses we made were saignee byproduct, but I was never very happy with the wines and we weren’t very successful with them. We’ve since moved to picking specific (rocky) vineyards especially for rose, and we’ve been doubling production every year and selling out in a few months regardless. We do make saignee rose every year and do blending trials. Sometimes the final rose blend is 2-3% saignee, sometimes none at all, but that’s a decision made on the blending table, not in the business plan.

FWIW, our rose generally hits the shelves at around $19 and is mostly Mourvedre, with some Grenache and Cinsault.

Well, just ask Sutter Home how they make their White Zinfandel !

The enologist Cristiano Garella, who makes some wonderful rosés from Nebbiolo in Northern Piedmont*, once told me that he very much prefers direct press over saignée, because (as has been mentioned above) the grapes are picked in order to give the best rosé, not the best red wine. Given that the moment of harvest is one of the most important decisions in winemaking, this is a strong argument for direct pressing.

  • formerly winemaker of Sella, now working with a number of producers including Boniperti and Le Pianelle

I have made both types - and been quite happy with both types as well.

When I started making my own wine, I could not justify the costs of buying grapes just for rose - and very few folks in my area were doing this as well. The key to me, though, was to make sure that when I made my saignee, I did so with a final product in mind. If you are picking Grenache at 25 brix for a red wine, you will definitely have to add water and acid to ensure that the finished product is not too high in alcohol and has a good acid level. Some might ‘scoff’ at this, but the reality is that with saignee roses, this is a necessity unless you want 14-15% alcohol roses . . .

I now purchase grapes specifically chosen for rose. I work with Mourvedre because, to me, it makes a more ‘interesting’ rose than other varieties - even with just an hour of skin contact, I am able to achieve a very light color but great aromatics and wonderful texture, more than one might think when looking at the wine. I usually bring these grapes in around 22 brix because I want a rose that has at least 12 - 12.5% alcohol - I find many of the roses that are under 12% just have enough body to me.

As far as costing goes, I only make one wine out of the grapes I pick for Rose rather than the 2 that I would make via saignee - but I’m also purchasing grapes knowing that the finished wine will be on the market months after making the wine, allowing me to recoup my costs pretty quickly relative to the other wines that I make.

All said and done, I think it’s possible to make world class wines either way - but you need to ‘do more stuff’ to the saignee juice to get there than with the direct-to-press method - and the flavors and texture will be slightly different either way.

Not sure that answers your question, Tom - but I tried :slight_smile: