Never a mixture of red and white wine
Who hasn’t served a white wine in a glass that has already been used for red? If a few drops are left in the bottom, you get a pretty pink tinge. Is that how rosé is made? A lot of people think so, but mixing white and red wine is called ‘rossi’. It is strictly forbidden in France, but allowed in some other European countries.
Although a ‘rossi’ may be the same colour as a rosé, it neither smells like it – it doesn’t have the fruit aromatics – or tastes like it. To make rosé, you need black grapes. The juice, which starts off white, takes its colour from contact with the skins for a few hours – we will explain the various techniques available in a future episode.
Occasionally black and white grapes
Grapes with white skins can nevertheless be used, but their juice must be mixed with that of black grapes BEFORE fermentation.
Hence, in Bandol rosé wines, Mourvèdre is used primarily as the black grape. This tannic grape variety has the added advantage of slightly extending the wine’s longevity beyond that of a classic rosé – it can last for a few years. This muscular rosé makes an excellent partner for barbecues flavoured with Provence herbs and a good smattering of pepper. But juice from Bourboulenc blanc and Ugni blanc can also be added to the blend, before fermentation.
The Champagne exception
Rosé Champagne is the only French appellation which allows a blend of white and red wine, from Pinot noir or Pinot meunier. But there are reasons for this exception...
Do you sometimes mix white and red wine? What do you drink rosé Bandol with?