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Wine of the Week for week ending 11 January 2004
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Amisfield Saignée Rosé 2003
Central Otago, New Zealand

The bottle of Rosé arrived. It had missed my Rosé tasting (see Wine of the Week ending 7th December) so I popped it in the fridge. Well with this heatwave-like weather we've been having it was far too tempting to open. And so we did. We were not disappointed.

Amisfield Saignée Rosé 2003 is a kind of ruby pink, translucent and gemmy, made from Pinot Noir but much darker than all the other Rosé's I've seen from this grape and with much more structure, a light pinot noir, a dry wine, ever so tasty and refreshing. It smelt spicy, floral and fragrant and filled the mouth with flavours of spiced strawberries, fresh cherries and summer plums – the ones that come out around Christmas time that you shake the tree to make them fall off and eat as fresh as fresh can be. Dry but with terrific balance and with a finish that was long. The red berries and subtle spice with perhaps even a hint of thyme flower and rose petal, lingered for ages – or at least until you took the next sip. It's a wine to share but before you know it the bottle will be gone.

At $25 it's not a cheap Rosé, but its worth it if you want something that looks trendy for the season and is not frivolous in its taste. It's simply a great alternative to pungent sauvignon blanc and racy riesling on a hot summers day and it takes chilling well though it tastes great at slightly warmer temperatures too. Just keep it out of the sun on these hot summer days. Bury it in the sand if you’re taking it to the beach, just remember to mark the spot. Just don't do this at a beach where the sand has been heated by geothermal acitivity, such as Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel!

The Pinot Noir fruit for this wine was grown at the Amisfield vineyard just north of Lowburn - which is on the road from Cromwell to Wanaka. The wine carries 2 grams per litre of residual sugar, 13.5% alcohol by volume and the clear bottle is sealed with a screwcap.

The back label tells us that Saignée is an age-old technique. By draining a small portion of free run juice off the skins immediately after crushing they capture the fresh, ripe summer berry aromas keeping the palate soft, dry and silky. The aromatic juice has all the hallmarks of a classic Rosé but the ripeness and concentration of serious Pinot Noir. Amisfield sees this as a win-win situation as it improves both wines.

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© Sue Courtney
4 January 2004

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