Wölffer Estate is heralding an eternal summer.
The late fall release of its Finca Wölffer Rosé 2017 bucks the passé notion that the pink drink is reserved for languid July afternoons. The Sagaponack winery has labeled the latest incarnation of Finca as a lifestyle wine that evokes the spirit of summer — even in the dead of winter.
“Our rosé is delicious year-round,” said winemaker and partner Roman Roth. “We’re doing our little part to change the prejudice [that rosé is only a summertime wine]. We have always made dry rosés. They are serious wines you can enjoy in the middle of the winter with spicy Asian dishes.”
Roth’s penchant for pink is well established. He’ll be the first to remind you, with a knowing laugh, that everything he touches turns pink. The winery produces no fewer than four rosés — the Estate, Summer in a Bottle, Grandioso and its Argentinian import, Finca — not to mention a rosé-based gin and a dry rosé cider.
Wölffer’s newly renovated tasting room stands as a testament to its commitment to rosé production. The rustic chic décor with Mediterranean villa vibes is made whole with a striking wall of rosé bottles and an eye-catching mural depicting the colorful Summer in a Bottle label — where an unknown number of selfies have been snapped.
Behind the fun and playful connotation of the wine is a disciplined process that has taken years to hone. A welcome result of the domination of #YesWayRosé is a renewed commitment to excellence for the variety, something retailers have taken notice of.
“Rosé used to be a byproduct,” said George Eldi, owner of Wines by Nature in Wading River. “The quality has gone up. People have started to pay more attention to it and wineries are investing in their rosé programs.”
This new brand of rosés is a far cry from the overly sweet ones that originally gave the variety a bad rap. The quality has improved so greatly that a rosé can be easily paired with a refined meal, such as fish, year-round — similar to how pinot grigio has long been enjoyed.
“Good rosé needs a good plan, otherwise you get lucky one year and then have a bad year,” noted Roth, who consistently sells out of the Wölffer rosés before Labor Day. “It should be an elegant, fun and simple wine, but in order to make it more interesting and different from everyone else, we’re using a blend of different grape varieties.”
Finca Wölffer Rosé 2017 is made from hand-harvested grapes sourced from the winery’s 200 acres of malbec vines in Mendoza, Argentina — a region known for the variety. The country’s arid, cool climate and sandy soil is bathed in sun 300 days a year, on average. The environment is ideal for achieving the balance, ripeness and acidity that are the hallmarks of Wölffer’s signature style, defined by the vineyard as “European elegance paired with the distinct typicity of the fruit’s terroir.”
To achieve the signature crisp taste, the grapes need to be harvested fresh — in this case starting in late February and March (autumn in the Southern Hemisphere) when the fruit isn’t overly ripe or fat. The harvest in the Southern Hemisphere during our winter months ensures the winery can be producing rosé year-round. The Finca is released in late November, while Wölffer’s other rosés begin to appear on store shelves in early spring.
This Finca 2017 is a blend of 41 percent malbec, 17 percent pinot noir, 17 percent syrah, 10 percent cabernet sauvignon, 5 percent sauvignon blanc, 3 percent torrontes, 3 percent chardonnay, 3 percent bonardo and 1 percent chenin blanc. It’s the only Wölffer rosé with a malbec base, imparting a strong fruity, tropical flavor heightened through fermentation in a stainless steel tank.
“Our Wölffer is being translated in Argentina, which was the goal, the diversity of variety,” Roth said. “Torrontes adds to the aroma and spice. This wine is picked deliberately. It’s vibrant.”
The 2017 is the third release of the Finca Wölffer Rosé produced with the help of premier Argentinian winemaker Susanna Balbo and her team at the sustainably farmed Dominio del Plata winery near the Wölffer vines.
“With the 2017, we’ve come to a wine that we are really proud of,” said Roth, adding that increasing his knowledge of Spanish has made the process smoother over the years. “We have really formed a lovely, professional relationship with our team there. At the end, we have someone on the ground who understands what Wölffer rosé is about. Now we’re in the third year and we’ve hit the nail on the head.”
Since the Finca is produced and bottled outside the country, it’s not available at the winery’s tasting rooms. Not to worry; bottles can be purchased at a handful of local retailers. Nine thousand cases were produced this year.
“It sells like crazy,” said Ed Comens, general manger of EHP Liquors in Riverhead, which stocks the Finca and other Wölffer rosés. “We get the Summer in a Bottle in around April and it’s liquid gold. People love the vineyard, so it’s great having a Wölffer rosé in the winter.”