On February 16, three Rocklands staff members bottled 160 cases of the fourth vintage of Anna’s Rosé. Last week, I got a chance to catch up with Rocklands winemaker TJ Fleming about this much-beloved wine in anticipation of its early March release.
I learned a lot about this wine and thought I’d pass these findings along as you prepare your picnic baskets, a great pairing with Anna’s Rosé.
A Happy Wine
When I pour wine tastings at farmers markets or in the Rocklands tasting room, I always enjoy watching people taste Anna’s Rosé for the first time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody disappointed by this wine, which explains why it flies off the shelves every year.
I asked TJ why he thinks this is.
"I get a lot of feedback that customers find Anna’s Rosé very interesting, which isn’t always the case for rosés. I also think that generally, our customers prefer dryer wines, so they like that our rosé is off-dry."
There are a lot of things about this wine that make customers happy, but I think one of the happiest parts about it is its name. All Rocklands wines are named after places or things that can be found at the farm. In this case, the rosé was named after Anna Glenn. Bright, happy and sunny, just like the wine, Anna can usually be found with flowers, babies or both in her arms. And she’s got floral notes covered: she’s the one who grows the farm’s flowers to keep it looking happy.
Though this will be the fourth edition of Anna’s Rosé, it’ll be the third time utilizing the saignée production method. The saignée method (French for “bleeding”) uses only red grapes, leaving them to ferment on their skins for a matter of hours before pressing off the skins. This is responsible for that pretty blush color.
This method, TJ explained, has two main things going for it.
1. It makes for an interesting rosé. As he explained:
"You’re having a bunch of different grapes from a bunch of different vineyards all blended together — and you’re getting a little bit of each in every bottle. I like that rosé is a snapshot of the vintage of red grapes that we process throughout the year."
The name is also interesting. As I referenced above, saignée is French for “bleeding,” hence why the process is often described as “bleeding off” the red grapes. When I learned this, my mind went immediately to the ancient practice of blood-letting to treat illnesses and restore bodily balance. I don’t know who invented the saignée production method, but I wonder if they were thinking about the restorative powers of wine when they did!
2. It’s good for the rest of Rocklands’ red wines. This point was more surprising to me, but TJ broke it down in terms I could understand:
"If you’re making lemonade, but use 10 percent less water, you’re left with a stronger, more concentrated lemonade. With red wine, what’s left in the tank after you’ve bled it off will have more contact with the skins, which makes it more tannic and complex."
By taking a percentage of juice from each ton of red grapes he crushes and blending it with the bleed-off from the other reds, TJ is able to actually strengthen the concentration of the red wines and create a unique blend at the same time. With all the new wines Rocklands is always making, each year’s rosé will look a little different.
Once I learned that so much can change in a rosé depending on that year’s red wines, I got to thinking: What will be different about this year’s rosé?
One major difference: It’s totally dry. Not even off-dry; this one has no residual sugar. According to TJ, this year’s rosé was a little more balanced and simply tasted best when fermented dry. The rosé is still crisp like its predecessors and this year, Pinot Noir joins the robust Chambourcin/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot/Merlot lineup of years past.
Special thanks to TJ Fleming for taking time away from the vine to talk with me, and to wine taster Chelsea Custer for first telling me that this wine goes great with a picnic.
Can't get enough of Rocklands wine? Come out to Rocklands to check out the first-ever Maryland Wineries Association “Winemaker Series,” which Rocklands Farm will be participating in on March 19. “The Mystery of the Mix” will feature Rocklands’ own TJ Fleming, joined by Lauren Zimmerman from Port of Leonardtown Winery and Dave Collins of Big Cork Vineyards.