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I’m going to tell you guys something you don’t know that may blow your mind. Or you may already know about it, in which case, well on you! Ready for that knowledge?
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris isn’t actually a white grape at all. It’s actually what ampelographers call a “Gray grape.” (This actually makes sense if you know French, as “gris” is the word for gray… let alone German, which calls it “Grauburgunder” up front with Teutonic forthrightness.) A gray grape is a grape which has a, well, grayish, appearance. This is due to some red pigments in the skins, but not enough to make a red wine. (See the photo at the end of this review for what I’m talking about.) Therefore, most winemakers choose to make white wines exclusively from these grapes… but you can make a Rosé from them, either purposely (or accidentally). This is a style that you can occasionally find in Alsace or parts of Italy. The folks at Passion Cellars did a Pinot Grigio this way in 2014, when creating the Second Love Rosé.
The Wine: The Second Love Rosé was made from fruit sourced from Dragoon Mountain Vineyard, in the Willcox AVA. The grapes were crushed and destemmed, and then pressed with a basket press. Fermented (and aged) in stainless steel, the intent was to create a white wine, but things didn’t quite go as planned. Previous vintages made of Pinot Grigio by the winemaker had lost their pinkish tint during fining and filtering, but the color remained this time around, so it was decided to bottle it as a Rosé in the Alsatian style. The Winemaker was Jason Domanico; I was present on the crush pad when these grapes arrived. A little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon from Fort Bowie was added to the blend (less than five percent) to increase acidity and keep the color stable. This wine was named “Second Love Rosé,” as it was the second rosé made by Passion Cellars, and the first was called “Love.”
The Nose: The nose opens with notes of peaches, apircots, grapefruit, and lychee. Additional notes of rosehips, grapefruit, strawberry, and muskmelon emerge in the glass when the wine has been open for a while, intermingling with a touch of minerality that is reminicent of mineral water on a hot day.
The Palate: The palate of the Second Love Rosé opens with notes of rosehips, peaches, and unripe starberrery, intermingling with notes that are reminicent of limestone and pink Himalayan seasalt. There is plenty of hearty acidity to be found on the palate. The Finish lasts for one minute and four seconds, leaving notes of seasalt, dried straw, rose, hibiscus, and limestone as it fades away.
The Pairing: Serve this wine with smoked salmon, with a side of wild rice and roasted bok choy. If you’re not a fan of fish, wings with a rosemary herb rub will also work. For a vegetarian/vegan pairing, serve the Second Love Rosé with a Tuscan bean soup.
Impressions: This wine was so incredibly popular in the Jerome tasting room that it is now gone from that location; it is possible that bottles may still remain in the Scottsdale and Willcox locations. Serve this wine, if you still have a bottle, at about 45-50 Degrees Fahrenheit. This is a fun exploration into a rarely-seen style for Pinot Grigio, and I was rather fond of it.
The Second Love Rosé is kind of like the flirtation you had when you were a teenager over the summer while staying at Summer Camp. your time together was brief, and you used to write letters, but now… not anymore. You remember her with fondness on bright summer days when you stand by running water, under cool stream breezes and swaying pine trees.