A beginners guide to Saignée Rosé

August 26, 2017

While I understand their appeal, I’ve never been particularly partial to rosé wines. It’s true that a rosé can be refreshing and is a great complement to a warm summer's day. Personally though, I tend to gravitate towards the more robust end of the wine tasting spectrum. Fortunately, as is often the case in the world of wines, there is a rosé variety that perfectly appeals to my desire for a refreshing wine that also features a bold flavor profile. I’m referring, of course, to Saignée rosé.

 

Saignee-glasses

Only about 10% of rosé wines are categorised as Saignée making it an extremely rare option. Despite the scarcity, it’s worth seeking out, particularly for those who looking for a rosé with a bit more punch that normal.

Method

There are four methods for producing rosé wines: Maceration, Vin Gris, Blending, and Saignée. Maceration involves letting the pressed grapes sit with the skins for a period of time before separating them. For regular red wine production, maceration lasts throughout the fermentation process. However, in the case of rosé wines, the liquid and skins are seperated early to prevent the wine from becoming too dark and strong.

 

Saignee-pour

Similar to Maceration, the Vin Gris method is based on the amount of time the grapes are in contact with the skins after pressing. While maceration can last about 24 hours, Vin Gris is considerably shorter and results in extremely light — almost white — rosé wines.

Blending is a fairly uncommon process in the production of non-sparkling rosé. As the name suggests, Blending involves adding red wine to white wine to create the pink hue of rosé.

Finally we have Saignée which results in a richer and more flavor Rosé than the previous three methods. Saignée translates to “to bleed” and involves bleeding off a portion of the macerated red wine juice and fermenting it on its own.

Flavor profile

Thanks to its processing method, you can expect Saignée rosé wines have a more pronounced red wine flavor than other options. The overall taste will largely depend on the grapes used and the production region but there are certain notes to look out for.

 

Saignee-table

Saignée wines are fairly light bodied, but some can be fairly close to medium bodied wines. Saignée wines are fairly tangy with strong savoury notes as well as delightful fruity quality. Drinkers can expect notes of strawberry, liquorice, cherry, raspberry, and pink peppercorn,

Food pairing

As anyone who has dabbled with rosé knows, these wines are fairly versatile when it comes to food pairings, and Saignée bottles are no exception.

 

Saignee-pairing

Saignée wines pair extremely well with all kinds of chicken dishes. Try having a glass with Asian options like Teriyaki chicken, orange chicken, or a Thai green chicken curry. The savoury notes in Saignée also pair well with salty bacon and pork belly as well as various cured meats like salami and prosciutto.

Wines to try

As the process is fairly rare and bottles are not often labeled as such, it can be a little tricky to find Saignée. Here are a few options

Black Cat Rosé de Saignée ($22)

Deliciously flavorful and fruity, this is a great option if you want something as close to actual red wine as possible.

Clos Pegase Rosé ($25)

Complex and vibrant, this particular bottle is worth seeking out.

Byington "Saignee" Rosé ($27)

Bright, fruity, and full-bodied. This is a great tasting bottle.

 

James Aitchison