This is my first installment of Wine Shop Wandering Wednesday. Every Wednesday, I will visit a local wine shop and browse around. Living in Rocky Point, I am close to two very nice, well stocked shops. While browsing, I will be looking for new releases of local wines. I will also look for obscure and unusual wines from regions I have never tasted or names that strike my interest. So today, I found a 2008 Rosé of Merlot ($14.99) from Raphael Vineyard. The price was the wine shop price.
Raphael Vineyard is located in Peconic on Route 25. You cannot miss this vineyard the design and setting is beautiful. Raphael focus is on Merlot, and to some, Merlot is the wine of Long Island. I remember visiting Raphael when they first opened. Their old world, Renaissance style tasting room was jaw dropping and I was very impressed. I have visited them numerous times, but have not been there for about 3 years.
Since it is summer and my palate has shifted and started to wines other than red, I was very eager to try this rosé but more importantly because it was from Raphael. Rosé is starting to come on strong. The dryer the better. I have had a couple of very nice rosé from across the island and this is one that will be added to the list.
I had a conversation via Facebook with Melissa Martin at Raphael about this wine. It was released just a short time ago. She informed me this, the 2008 Rosé of Merlot, is made of 100% Merlot (Clones 314 and 3) The grapes are hand harvested, crushed and pressed immediately. It is fermented in 100% stainless at 50 F.
Some of you may wonder about the name. Raphael used to have a rosé wine called Saignee. According to Melissa and Richard Olsen-Harbich, Raphael’s winemaker, “The Saignee was bled from the juice of red wine tanks. It is an older process and the wines were much darker and contained higher alcohol levels.”
They continue, “the change over from Saignee to Rosé occurred with the 2007 vintage. This was more than just a name change but was a style change.”
They go on, “Now, we produce Rosé of Merlot, which is made from Merlot grapes picked earlier and pressed immediately. The grapes are specifically grown for Rosé. The result is a more delicate, crisper wine.”
In my opinion the changeover was a smart one, due to the fact the the 2007 vintages of wines will be some of the best yet. So to go to 100% Merlot, a grape that grows well on Long Island, and to start the new process with a vintage that well could be the benchmark, is a smart thing. Now mind you, I did not try the 2007 Rosé of Merlot, and have no idea what it tastes like, but will try it soon.
Now on to this tasting. Upon open, there is a very strong aroma of strawberry, some citrus, and hint of peach. The color is a light pink. My first taste of the wine was great. Dry, nice amount acid, with a hint of strawberry. The mouth feel was light body and the finish was crisp and clean. My second taste about 30 minuets later was different, I kept it in a chiller, and it was tight, very acidic, but crisp; the strawberry flavor was gone. So I let it sit for a while in my glass. I took another taste about 15 minuets later…and there it was…beautiful strawberry and slight floral aroma. The balanced was perfect between the flavors and the acidity. I had this wine with pizza and it was great, it totally cleansed my palate. The wine did not change much as the night went on, the hint of strawberry and some citrus was there and slight floral elements remained, it stayed dry and crisp all night long. A well balanced rosé.
I would recommend this rosé to anyone looking to go on a picnic on the beach or out in a park. It is the perfect wine with pizza or a salad with grilled chicken breast. It totally quenched my thurst on this muggy sticky night. It would be great by it self, sitting around with some friends. Go out and get this, you will not be disappointed. This is not your mother’s rosé…it’s mine!