Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rose Vs White Zinfandel: 

what is the difference and which one should I drink???

As a wine agent I often get asked, what is the difference between Rose wine and White Zinfandel?? To most people, it’s just a name difference. However, the difference is very large. When I conduct sampling I get two general type of reaction. First, I love Rose. The second reaction is "YUK!", that sweet, jammy, candy like liquid they call wine. What this second group typically expresses is their dislike of White Zinfandel. What is a wine agent to do?? Here is my attempt to clarify.

A bit of background. Rose wines have been made in Europe for over 2000 years. White Zinfandel, since 1973 as a result of a surplus of juice that a producer wanted to turn into cash.

What is the difference?

The short answer, is that while both wines are made in much the same way; White Zinfandel is sweeter and pinker than most roses which tend to be dry and range in color from onion skin to deep-salmon to candy apple red. This sweetness explain in part the popularity of this wine in North American. At the time, the American palette was favorable to sweeter beverages.

The long answer: Rose wines have been made in France for centuries. Wine Writer Tom Stevenson postulates in the Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia that Rose has been made for more than 2600 years. The best come from Tavel in the Rhone Valley and Bandol in Provence. Rose is made from many different old world grapes, but some of the most commonly used grapes in French Rose are Grenache, Mouvedre, Syrah and Cinsault.

The White Zinfandel Story

White Zinfandel, which was first made in California by Bob Trinchero of Sutter Home Winery, was the result of a fortuitous accident. And, as the name clearly states, is made from Zinfandel grapes. In an effort to create a richer Zinfandel from his vineyards in Amador County, Trinchero removed 550 gallons of juice from the fermenting tank to allow a higher skin to juice ratio. The theory was that this would make the resultant Zinfandel wine “richer” (Think Kool-Aid here…the less water to powder…the richer the flavor).

But Trinchero had a problem, he now had 550 gallons of white juice on his hands and no place to put it. So he made wine and sold it in 1973 and 1974 under the name White Zinfandel; while the wine had its trademark pink color it was also dry. In 1975, a “stuck fermentation” (the fortuitous accident) resulted in a higher than normal amount of residual sugar being left in the wine, and the rest is history. It is estimated more than 10 million cases of White Zinfandel are sold each year. While it has been somewhat vilified by wine snobs, (Adult Soda Pop) it should be remembered that many wine drinkers today first started with White Zinfandel and graduated to more complex varietal wines. I personally make a habit of shaking the hand of any White Zinfandel drinker…after all that means they are not drinking beer or spirits! In addition, the creation of White Zinfandel help to save many of California’s oldest Zinfandel vineyards from being re-planted.

The rest of the long answer: 

The best Rose’s are dry, and range in color from a very pale vin gris color to deep red. They are made in three ways:

1. Bleeding: Black grapes are allowed to press themselves under their own weight. The resulting juice is fermented and results in a very fresh flavored, fruity rich wine.

2. Pressing: Black grapes are pressed just long enough for the juice to take on the color of rose. The result is not as rich as bleeding.

3. Limited Maceration: Made in the same way as red wines, but the skin contact with the juice is cut short to create the appropriate color and flavor profile.

This year has seen an explosion of Rose wine made in the Okanagan Valley with many different styles are being expressed and all wine lovers (including men) should find something to their liking in these hot days of summer. C.C. Jentsch Cellar, a new winery on the Golden Mile in Oliver, just release its first rose wine called “The Dance”. The name was coined by owner Chris Jentsch (pronounce with a “Y” not a “J”) who was sampling the maturing wine and simply said, “every time I taste it, I just want to dance”. The wine is a Bordeaux style rose, it is crisp, dry, with a pronounced fruity aromas produced from the 5 classic grapes that makes a classic Bordeaux blend. The tasting notes from the winery are as follow:

The Dance 2013 (Rosé)

Cabernet Franc 26%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20%, Malbec 2%, Merlot 50%, Petit Verdot 2%

Crafted through the Saignée method, small portions of each varietal were bled from cold-soaked musts and combined to create this rare and complex 5 varietal Bordeaux-style blend. Intense aromas of passion fruit, guava and wild cherry burst from the glass and are echoed on the palate with a savoury element from the extended lees contact, making this a dry rosé from our boldest reds.

Alcohol 13.9% Acid 5.8g/L Residual Sugar 0.1 g/L

C.C. Jentsch Cellars wines can be found in many of the valley’s wine stores, if not, request it, you will not be disappointed. Other wines from C.C. Jentsch Cellars are, a 2012 Viognier, a 2012 Bordeaux style blend called “The Chase”, a 2013 Gewurztraminer and a 2012 Syrah. In its short history the winery is already garnering accolades both abroad and in the valley. To know more visit, or next time you are travelling in the south Okanagan look for the Rabbit and the Tiger on the side of the road.

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