"Have you ever tasted a sweet Rosé," asked Steve Farquharson, proprietor of Wooing Tree Vineyard in Central Otago. "I'm not sure if anyone else does one," he added.
I remember years ago tasting a sweet red made by Grove Mill really early on in our journey of wine discovery, but I don't think it was made from Pinot Noir, nor was it a Rosé. And I have tasted sweetish Rosés, but not one made intentionally to be a late harvest style.
The wine is named Tickled Pink and it's attractively presented in a clear, 375ml, tapered bottle that shows off the transparent pale pink hue to perfection. Neil opened it and put it into a blind tasting with several other Rosés, but it was easy to spot because it was the only sweetie in the line-up. And it really did tickle my fancy.
I call the colour baby pink because it reminds me of soft baby pink knitting yarn. You could also liken the colour to candy floss, pale watermelon or a rose quartz gemstone because the transparent pink colour does have a rosy glow. The aromas are full of ripe cherry, the fresh kind not the confectionary kind and the texture of the wine in the mouth is lightly viscous and honeyed. The flavours are a play on strawberries and cream with a squeeze of tangelo. Everything is beautifully in balance - yes it's sweet - but there's underlying acidity to balance it beautifully. It's simply delicious if you like a sweeter style - I couldn't spit it out in the tasting. And a little goes a very long way because the flavours go on and on and on.
In the Wooing Tree vineyard three rows of Pinot Noir grapes were left on the vines until late May, almost six weeks after the grapes for the traditional style of Rosé was picked, to allow the natural grape sugars to intensify in the grapes. The juice was then barrel fermented in older neutral oak for five months (there are no oak flavours though) and the ferment was stopped to retain a residual sugar of 108 grams per lire while the alcohol clocks in at 11% by volume.
We tasted the wine with fresh strawberries, followed by a strawberry, watermelon and pomegranate seed salsa - the strawberries were best. But I was envisioning Tickled Pink accompanying strawberries and Pavlova on Christmas Day, or the day after or the day after that. I shut my eyes and I couild taste it. In fact I can't think of anything that would be better.
So where do you get this wine … Right now from the winery - check out www.wooingtree.co.nz. At $35 a bottle, it's a bit of a special treat, but worth it on the right day, I'd say. Just 83 cases of the 375ml bottles were produced.