Kailash Gurnani, winemaker, York Winery shares his thoughts with Brinda Gill on the launch of York Sparkling Rosé Brut 2015…
When did you first think of producing a sparkling rosé wine?
We have been keen to produce a sparkling rosé for some time.
The first time we made it was in 2012, when we produced the base for a Chenin Brut and sparkling rosé. The rosé worked out well, however we couldn’t launch two sparkling wines at the same time. So in 2013 and 2014 we concentrated on the Chenin Brut. With the system and protocol for producing a sparkling established, in 2015 we focused on the sparkling rosé.
How did you think of producing the sparkling rosé from Shiraz?
We have produced a rosé from Zinfandel and it has a lovely light flavour. It is not high on extraction, the tannins and colour are mild. For the sparkling rosé we thought of selecting a grape variety that would give us more tannins and structure. When producing a rosé from Shiraz, we don’t need to press the grapes too much for tannins and colour. The aromas and taste are also fruity, deep and rich. So we thought of a 100% Shiraz sparkling wine rosé.
With the grape variety decided what was the next step?
We selected a vineyard for the production of the sparkling rosé. However, we found that the grapes of that vineyard held greater potential for producing a red wine. So we shifted to another vineyard where the grapes were maturing earlier. The grape quality was good; yet, if we used these for a red wine we would not get the colour, intensity and depth required for a red wine. However, the grapes were good for a sparkling rosé. So in 2015 we went ahead with the harvest and used them for a sparkling rosé.
Can you tell us a bit about the process you followed for producing the wine?
Sparkling wines can be made in the oxidative or reductive way. A lot of sparkling wine is made in the oxidative way; however, this technique neutralizes the base wine. The primary characteristics of the wine are subdued and the focus shifts to the secondary characteristics that emerge from the lees. We wanted to retain the primary characteristics as well. So we opted for a semi-oxidative style. The wine was aged in the bottle for 18 months before it was disgorged. We added a small amount, about 4-5% of the total volume, of liqueur d’expedition aged in French oak barrels to the sparkling rosé. The sparkling rosé has a residual sugar of 10 grams per litre which is more than the Chenin Brut as the tannins are greater in this wine.
What role does this addition of oak-aged liqueur d’expedition play?
The oak-aged liqueur d’expedition adds elegance, length and structure to the sparkling. It binds the characteristics of the wine- the primary and secondary flavours and the tannins. It increases its length and finesses. We kept this amount to only about 4-5% of the total volume. Anything more would be too prominent for this wine.
Will the sparkling rosé be an annual feature?
Yes, it certainly will. The launch wine is a vintage wine and we plan on presenting a vintage sparkling rosé each year. We wanted to get the product perfect so waited till July 2017 to present it. We have spared no effort or expense to produce this wine – right from the wine itself to the label and corks. We have produced only about 2,800 bottles. As a winemaker sometimes one gets accustomed to the taste of a wine as one tastes it over the months. But a sparkling rosé is a tough wine to crack. I think it has a unique profile reflective of the terroir. It is darker, deeper and richer than other Indian sparkling rosé wines. I am pleased with the wine and am curious to know what the experts feel.
The York Sparkling Rosé is priced at Rs 1,300 in Maharashtra. The wine is presently available at the Tasting Room of the winery only. It will be launched in Mumbai in about a month followed by Pune.