Backsberg Estate Cellars’ maiden-release Pinotage Rosé won a Double Gold medal at the 2017 Rosé Rocks Competition. This is South Africa’s only wine competition exclusively committed to rosé wines. Some 161 still and sparkling wines were entered into this year’s competition, with only nine Double Golds awarded to still wines in an event that, according to panel convener Allan Mullins CWM, exceeded all expectations in terms of the quality on show.
“I can confidently say that the quality of rosé wine being produced in South Africa is on par with the best that Spain and France produces,” says Mullins.
The potential the Pinotage variety has shown for making a rosé wine, as well as the public’s increasing demand for this style, led to the launch of Backsberg Estate Cellars’ maiden Pinotage Rosé this year. “Quality and the positive reception in the marketplace so far vindicated the decision to create a new wine,” says Simon Back, CEO of Backsberg. “Recognition from a panel of esteemed wine judges during a blind tasting competition has, however, been a very welcome bonus.”
Made from the superb 2017 vintage, the Backsberg Pinotage Rosé 2017 is produced from grapes grown on the Backsberg Estate on the Paarl side of the Simonsberg, arguably South Africa’s premier wine-making address.
“We had been planning a rosé wine for some time, but had not quite been expecting the quality of the grapes – especially the red varieties – from the 2017 vintage,” says Back. “Despite the hot and dry conditions of spring and early summer, vineyard conditions were delightfully mild during the harvest. This resulted in perfect ripening conditions, delivering grapes with fine balance between sugar and acidity as well as magnificently complex fruit structure.”
Grapes for the Backsberg Pinotage Rosé were picked at 21° balling, just before optimal ripeness and so as to capture the bracing acidity and freshness required by this style of wine.
“The sweet spot for rosé is in allowing the juice sufficient contact with the red grape skins to give colour and a whiff of tannin complexity, but not enough of these to overpower the delicate composition and fruit profile this style of wine requires,” says Back.
As a result, the juice was drawn from the skins after six hours’ contact after which it was handled like a white wine, fermentation taking place in cooled stainless steel tanks.
“If there is one concept used internationally to describe the requirement of a rosé, it is freshness,” says Back. “This is what makes rosé so popular among consumers, together with the fragrant summer notes of berry-fruit and the slight complexity on the palate. We would like to believe that this criteria was sought by the judges in the Rosé Rocks Competition, and are pleased to have met the rigorous standards set by wine events like these.
The judging was conducted by a panel of six judges and joining Mullins were Marthelize Tredoux, Malu Lambert, Joseph Dhafana, Tatiana Marcetteau and Praisy Dlamini.