When the news broke that Brad and Angie were soon to debut a Chateau Miraval rosé, I was struck by the pale onion skin color, the blush of a virgin, the cuisse de nymphe. As I looked at the oversized, Hollywood-like bottle, I remembered a story about when past Meilleur Sommelier du Monde's, Olivier Poussier was asked to offer a toast to rosé. Instead he delivered an obituary. In front of his Provençal hosts he proclaimed that due to technology, true Provençal rose was a travesty, it no longer existed.
It turns out that this kind of pale pink color doesn't happen with a careful pressing of wines off of the skin (though it can) as the Provençal website would like you to believe, but most often with the help of certain additives, one of them of the clarifying agent, PPVP.
I contacted Marc Perrin, the Miraval winemaker, to find out how much the color was a concern for the product, I've not heard back. In the meantime, I approached enologue (wine consultant), Pierre Sanchez for his personal perspective on the issue.
He wrote, "Provence grapes are harvested relatively ripe and at rather high temperatures. The juices are generally quite colorful in the press but with oxidation and bacteria sometimes colored juices can turn dark or orange. Provençal winemakers therefore use large doses of PVPP (polyvinylpyrrolidone) which removes some of the color, but also much of polyphenols (oxidized or not). This is a shock treatment because it is very powerful. PVPP also removes certain aromas flavoring compounds. PVPP "corrects" bitterness of the smoothing wines. So for the color, they sacrifice some of the wine.
But there's a problem. The clarifier is not allowed by the EU organic laws as they do present some health issues. And so this sent those, wanting to keep organic certification scrambling for an alternative.
Winemakers can still use casein and decolorizing charcoal (as they did before the arrival of the PVPP) for color correction. Pierre continued to write, "They can also use proteins of vegetable origin (weight, lupine, wheat ...) that are part of the new inventions of firms producers eno. They were looking for alternatives to solutions for additives of animal origin (gelatin, albumin) for reasons of labeling (vegetarian) and allergy. "
Pierre summed up the cunundrum: Then they created a problem which never existed before; how to get a clear pink. Then the oenologist came up with an intervention, PVPP. That kind of pink became the norm. Then the Provencal AOC decided it was a pink they really needed. But then came organic. PVPP no longer allowed. "So we seek a replacement at any price (more or less effective and respectful of wine) because we do not know or do without it arises more questions. "
To the rescue is Martin Vialatte and a chemical derived from pea protein.
Think of that the next time you reach for a Provençal rosé. Hopefully, for the spring issue of The Feiring Line, I'll focus on real rosés, in all shades and hues, not definined but a creative director's idea of the color but of a vigneron's work to make a fresh wine no matter of its shade.