2012 Stolpman Rose: Bright & Vibrant!

Finishing up the 2012 harvest, it seems like ages ago that we decided to pick Grenache and Sangiovese for Rose. The vineyard looked great and the yields were healthy. We knew that picking a cluster or two off of each Sangiovese vine would make the 2012 Estate Sangiovese darker and more intense. Our Grenache vines also gave us a lot of clusters, especially in our newly grafted Block 3. By picking a little bit of Grenache early, the vines pumped more energy into the remaining fruit, giving the 2012 red wine beautiful, robust fruit similar to the profile of the low yielding 2008 Grenache.
After the consistently warm, sunny Summer, we could taste a bright, vibrant character in the fruit immediately after verasion. The table was set to make great rose!
By the end of August, we had picked 6 tons each of the two varieties and delivered them to the winery. I assumed Sashi would crush the fruit immediately and then wait a set period of time to allow the juice to absorb a nice pink color from the skins, maybe 8-12 hours for a light Salmon color. The Red wine harvest was looming, concrete fermenters were inbound, and I had to take off for a couple East Coast sales trips, so I didn’t circle back with Sashi about the rose. Until today.

We have a visitor named Elias Geiselmann in town who works for our German distributor, Bacchus Vinothek. I wanted to show Elias everything we have brewing. Yesterday, after picking Elias up from LAX, we tried the 2010’s already in bottle that have not yet reached Europe. Today, it was time to head to the winery to catch up on what’s in tank and Barrel. First on my priority list, I wanted to see what ever happened with the 2012 Rose!

It turns out Sashi had no intention on making Rose the traditional way. Surprise, surprise. Instead, Sashi decided not to crush the fruit at all. He transferred the fruit into fermenters, and let the fruit rest in a very natural state. The temperature of the fermenters was set to an even 60°F so fermentation could naturally begin. Three days after picking and with fermentation gradually converting sugar to alcohol, Sashi pressed the whole clusters of Sangiovese and Grenache off of the skins. Both varietals were put into neutral barrels about 3 weeks ago.

And now we taste the results! After checking out the 2012 Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, which both kick ass! we tried the Sangiovese lot of rose. The wine exudes light, spicy strawberry aromas and flavors. The finish delivers big, puckering acid less than a month in barrel. Sashi is allowing the wine to go through secondary fermentation to let the wine become richer, and the lactic acid will mellow the finish.  We then pulled some Grenache out of barrel. Totally different ballgame than the Sangiovese!

The Grenache is opaque and yellow and possesses a thick, pulpy consistency. Very unique, cool stuff. More pineapple notes, fitting for its appearance, with some nice pear notes as well. The acid bumps through the thick texture and fresh fruit flavors, so Sashi will most likely let this lot go through secondary fermentation as well.

One cool common thread on both lots is that neither has been touched with Sulfur Dioxide. Both wines are totally organic, something that is unheard of in the modern world of rose where winemakers are so obsessed with linear, clean, almost sterile wines. I think we are going to have a pretty amazingly unique pink wine on our hands come bottling time in March 2013. Elias had certainly never tried anything like these barrel samples!

& because Baron Von Stolpman waited patiently through the rose tasting, and the early November weather was so nice, we headed to the beach for a swim after leaving the winery. A cold bottle of 2012 rose would have been perfect to watch the sunset!