What is a darker-hued Rosé Wine and how is it made?

What is a darker-hued Rosé Wine and how is it made?

As our days turn into hot, hot summer, we’re all fantasizing about a nice glass of wine to quench our thirst. Of course, there are several options in terms of refreshing, light wines for hot weather—but ultimately, rosé really is the quintessential beverage for BBQ’s, picnics, pool-sides, and patios.

When many people think of rosé, they may think light pink, pale and sweet rosé, but by sticking to this style, you’re missing out on a world of wine, which is why you need to give the darker-hued rosés a try.

You don’t have to worry about real rosé wines being sweet – which in my experience is why people tend to shy away from them. A darker rosé can have some intense fruity notes, but are mostly dry. Next time you want a rosé I challenge you to try one of the darker-hued rosé wines. Why do they have a darker color? It has to do partly with which grapes are being used, (Syrah, Grenache) as well as, how long the grape juice is left in contact with the skins. It is in the skins, in fact, that color and tannin are to be found—a rosé wine is made by allowing a short period of skin contact (also called “maceration”), followed by pressing off the juice.

Southern French winemakers are proud of their darker rosé wines, and refer to them as rosé d’assiette, meaning “wine for eating”. This is because darker rosés typically have more structure and complexity and are rich, savory, food-friendly wines. These rosés are typically a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah. These are all grapes that thrive in sunny climates often with spicy notes. Doesn’t that sound perfect for making rosé?

As an experienced winemaker I certainly think so! Cedar Creek’s Vineyards have existed in the Sierra Foothills town of Mount Aukum for 23 years. The Ranch Vineyards are in a unique microclimate, nestled between the California Delta and the Sierra Nevadan Mountains, which separate California from my home state of Nevada. This microclimate of steady sea breeze by day and cool refreshing mountain air by night gives our wines great advantage in color and aromatics. Being a chef as well, I call our 2019 berry-hued rosé wine a “gastronomy rosé, with lots of color, fruity and fresh, complex and structured with minerality like the sea.”  I made the 2019 Rosé by directly pressing our single vineyard French Rhone Syrah and Viognier grapes, co-fermenting the two and bottling that juice.

Cedar Creek’s rosé is a darker, top-quality rosé, food friendly and delicious. “I would only make the rosé wine in certain vintages when superb conditions for making rosé exist.” This 2019 Rosé has an ideal balance of minerality and fruitiness that makes one want to drink glass after glass. And, it is excellent with almost any food!


Karen J. Wood