This Wine Has Invisible Oak, No Magic Involved

Posted on: April 18th, 2019 by

I got two sample bottles of the 2017 Wölffer Estate Grandioso Rosé. It’s a Long Island wine. Pretty damn local for me to drink! This is the current release.

Perhaps you noticed something in that first sentence?


That’s right, this is not a “fresh” 2018 rosé.

What the hell is going on?!?

Is this rosé mummified? Dead? Undead?

Wizard stuff? Advanced spell-casting?

A magic book that's open and a spell's coming out of it

photo by Mike Haufe via Flickr

The answer is none of the above.

Wölffer Estate makes a trio of still rosés (plus sparkling, cider, gin, vinegar, and verjus!), and the Grandioso is unique because it ferments in old oak barrels, spending five months on the lees. (Lees are kind of the good detritus of grapes and fermentation that add flavor/texture, and get left behind before the wine goes into a bottle.) So 2017 is the current release.

Look even if it was a “regular” rosé from 2017, you know what? It would be fine. So would you. Honestly, a lot of rosés are rushed to market and extremely unsettled. It’s like if you had to commute to work via two subways, a train, and a nauseating shuttle bus over the course of two hours. Once you got to work, would you be settled? NO! You’d need some time to chill, have a CBD latte or whatever the kids are into, do the NY Times crossword (if it was Monday through, say, Wednesday…), and ease into the day. So most 2018 rosé (particularly ones from across the ocean) really needs some time to chill the F out.

Also last year’s rosés are usually offered during a fire sale to make way for the “fresh” ones. So stock up, yo. (Actually this probably happened a few months ago. Sorry.) But the best time to buy rosé is in the winter.

Anyway, let’s get back to this wine. I am easily distracted.

Wölffer Estate Grandioso Rosé 2017

Wölffer Estate Grandioso Rosé

This pic is of the 2015 but it’s probably still drinkin’ real nice.

The wine is blend of 39% Merlot, 33& Chardonnay, 26% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Gewürztraminer. Kinda kooky, huh? Unusual, no? Unique, eh? Yes, yes, and yes.

So what does the oak do for this wine? Let me tell you this. It ain’t oaky. This is old oak (seven to nine-year-old barrels) that really adds texture and smooths out the sharp edges. It’s not one of those watery acid bomb rosés that somehow taste like nothing yet are searingly acidic. I don’t know how something so bland can be so off-putting, it’s one of wine’s/life’s mysteries.

Wine-Searcher has the average price at $29. This is fine. The info about it from the winery says to serve slightly chilled. I’m a monster so I drink it tooth-shatteringly cold but they have a good point. You can treat this rosé like red wine. Put it in the fridge to cool it down. It’s serious enough that it deserves to be venerated like you would a thirty dollar bottle of red. Wölffer also suggests to squirrel some bottles away until Thanksgiving, which is also an excellent idea. (It comes in magnums, too, which is they way to go whenever possible.)

CONCLUSION: The Grandioso offers another reason to explore rosé beyond Provence and also showcases the diversity of styles out there, via winemaking and grape blending. It’s very good!

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