Sunday, October 4, 2009

Griffin or Jackalope?

JackalopeWhat's the difference between a "white pinot noir" and a rosé of pinot noir? It's a difficult question to answer, given that many labeled as white have a pinkish hue and even perform like rosé, and the techniques for making such wines are manifold. And some wineries may simply want to avoid the term rosé for marketing purposes.

The amount of maceration time may be a good place to start. If the juice was macerated with the skins for a few hours, then it's probably a rosé. If the juice was separated as quickly from the skins as possible during pressing, then it's probably safe to call it a white, regardless of its final color.

Of course, I'm not a winemaker and I've surely oversimplified the matter, so anyone who wants to clarify (or complexify) matters should weigh in.

On the other hand, I am a wine drinker, and I can tell you I've never had a rosé of pinot noir that resembled the 2005 Dirler Pinot Noir Cepage Pinot Noir. I cannot find any information about how, exactly, this wine was made, but Dirler is my favorite Alsatian producer* and if they make it, I'll buy it. Still, I was taken aback by this wine's distinctiveness.

It's the color of rose petal-macerated cantaloupe drippings, quite lighter in color than most rosés, and its nose really sets it apart; it reminds me of the more delicate style of skin contact whites such as those made by Paolo Bea. I smell apple skins, dried strawberries, freshly sliced oranges, and fresh tarragon. It's beautifully complex on the palate, with an extremely subtle earthiness that haunts the red fruit, musk melon, apple, herb, and Xmas spice flavors. And if that weren't enough, the Cepage Pinot Noir has a mouthcoating viscosity that's practically weightless, and the finish is fresh, perfectly balanced, subtly mineral, and very, very long.

I wish I knew more about how this wine was made. But if more knowledge would enhance my awe, I'm more than happy to just have the awe.

* Caveat that I've really only tasted from a handful of Alsatian producers


David McDuff said...

Allrighty, I've read about this in a few places now -- the Dirler, that is -- and have still yet to try it. That must be rectified soon....

Come to think of it, I've not tried rose petal-macerated cantaloupe drippings, either. Is that what you've been up to for the last month?

Wicker Parker said...

You've never tried rose petal-macerated cantaloupe drippings? But it's all the rage!