For the last two years, we've been making two rosés. If that sounds nuts, it kind of is. But it's in keeping with using our wines to try to express something fundamental about the grapes that go into them. The first of our rosés, which we've been making since 1999 under one name or another, is the Dianthus. It's designed to showcase the richer, more substantial side of dry rosé, and it's based on Mourvedre and spends 24-48 hours on the skins, giving it a darker pomegranate color and a bit of bite. Think Tavel and you won't be too far off.
The second rosé we make debuted in the 2012 vintage, and is called the Patelin de Tablas Rosé. It is an homage to the higher-toned rosés of Provence and like those rosés is based on Grenache. It is largely direct-pressed, which means that the grapes are picked, destemmed, and pumped directly into the press, where they're pressed before they can leech much color or flavor out of the skins. [I took a cool video of this process last year.] This base is later given a smaller addition of Mourvedre and Counoise that has spent about 24 hours on the skins, giving a pale salmon color.
Of course, right now, neither is the color it will be when it's clear, but the 2013 vintage of both rosés is dry and we're at the point where we're starting to assess their progress. I love this photo of Assistant Winemaker Chelsea Franchi holding up a glass of each, Dianthus on the left and Patelin Rosé on the right:
The cloudiness of the wines is typical at this point; those lees will drop to the bottom of the tanks over the next month or so and leave the color we want. It should be similar to what we saw in 2012:
We were worried last year that adding a second rosé to our portfolio might result in each selling half as well. But we found that they sold in different places and didn't compete with each other. The Dianthus has always been a little too expensive for restaurants to pour by the glass, and so we typically sold most of it in our tasting room. We released the Patelin Rosé at a slightly lower price, and it found a very receptive audience, mostly in restaurants, to the point that we sold out of our 1000-case national release in mid-July. And the Dianthus didn't suffer; as usual we sent it to our VINsider wine club members in March. The other 500 cases were gone from our tasting room in August, the fastest sell-out ever.
I think that the growing acceptance of dry rosés is one of the happiest developments in the American wine market. These are generally great food wines, quite inexpensive in the grand scheme of things, and not easily conducive to pretense or overworked, overblown styles. And producers love rosé; if you bring one to a party in wine country, you can watch the winemakers make a beeline toward it. Here at Tablas Creek, it's my mom who deserves the credit for having encouraged us to make a little rosé back in 1999 -- to drink ourselves, if nothing else -- because of how essential a part of the culture of Provence dry rosé is, and because of how well suited these Rhone grapes we grow are for it.
That first year, we made two barrels, or 50 cases of rosé.
This year, we're making 2700 cases.
If that's not progress, I don't know what is.