August 17, 2021

When Life Gives You Lemons- Make a Rosé

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Goodness. How many times have we heard this cliché? I guess we have heard it so many times because it is true. The first time I thought about making a Cabernet Sauvignon rosé was several years ago. A hurricane, or at least its remnants, was bearing down on us and the only grape still on the vine was the Cabernet Sauvignon. I did some quick research and discovered the French AOC Cabernet d’Anjou. I tried to find one to taste, without success. Based on its name alone, I blindly tried to make a rosé out of my Cabernet Sauvignon that year. It failed for several reasons. Too little wine in a big tank made it hard to manage the floating lid allowing oxidation. Good ol’ neglect played a role, too. As in all failures, I learned.

This began a period of more studying and research. I found a Tavel. For that matter, it was THE wine I rewarded myself with after passing my CSW. I had dear friends that knew my quest for a good rosé. They invited me to join them for an International rosé tasting that included one from Lebanon’s famous winery, Chateau Musar, along with rosé’s from Provence, California, and Virginia. I began narrowing down what I like and didn’t like in a dry or off-dry rosé. In short, I discovered what I didn’t like was lack of balance. They were either too sweet or too acidic. Few I tried had the balance I prefer.

In 2020, a lemon of a year, I tried again to make a rosé. Of course, 2020 for me was the year to try new things. All the ‘normal’ do’s and don’ts didn’t apply. I boldly decided all of my 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon would be made into a rosé. We picked early in an attempt to retain acidity. I stored the grapes in our walk-in cooler for 3-4 days before I crushed them. The plan was to leave them in the press on the skins for several hours to add color before pressing out the juice. It is always good to have a plan, yet this rosé was like a good dancer and took the lead. The juice from the free run was already a beautiful color, so like a good dance partner, I followed its lead and quickly scrapped the plan and direct pressed it.

I had quality juice with a beautiful color that tasted great. At this stage, I could see my lemonade. It was within my grasp. I had enough volume that the lid was not an issue. That neglect in the first attempt was gone. It became a joke between Donald and I. “Have you checked on the rosé? Did you check the lid? Come help me rack the rosé.” This went on all fall and winter. By late winter we were discussing bottling. The rosé was tasting great and I insisted we bottle it as soon as possible before all the other wines! In early taste tests, I thought I had my illusive lemonade.

Of course, I knew I liked it and was pleased with it. Yet, would you like it? I needed some feedback. On International Rosé Day 2021, I held a private tasting for a small group of Hickory Hill fans. We talked about the rosé’s of the Loire Valley- Cabernet d’Anjou AOC, Rosé d’Anjou, and Rosé de Loire. All my original inspiration many years ago. I nervously poured my Rosé, the 2020 Hickory Hill Rosé from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon using the direct press method. The response was unanimous. I succeeded in making my lemonade. I hope you enjoy this wine as much as I enjoyed making, and researching it!

The 2020 Hickory Hill Rosé will be released as a Wine Club Only wine in our first Wine Club release scheduled for late August 2021. We invite you to join our Wine Club and be one of the founding members of the new Hickory Hill Wine Club! The inaugural Wine Pickup Party for wine club members is scheduled for September.