In golden age of pink wine, McLaren Vale produces a gem of rosé – The Australian
· By NICK RYAN
· 12:00AM JANUARY 22, 2019
January offers a chance for reflection within sight of water, with cricket on the radio and your toes having forgotten what it’s like to be trapped in shoes. This is ideal thinking time, and thinking is often aided by drinking, and when thinking and drinking through the languid infancy of a new year, the thoughtful glass is usually filled with wine the same colour as legs left a fraction too long on the beach.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the rise of rose, how we’re living in a golden age of pink wines, and how I’m still a little bit haunted by a wine I tried a few months back that turned out to be the best rose I drank all last year.
When I started out in the wine trade, rose was Mateus, Portugal’s second worst export after the millipede, or a handful of confected Australian examples various shades of neon pink, ranging from Drag Queen’s Lipstick to Barbie’s Boudoir. They were sickly sweet, more confected than Twitter outrage and as closely related to serious wine as an Adam Sandler movie is to Citizen Kane.
But now rose is afforded the respect it deserves. Where once there was pragmatism in pink wine — lightly stained juice was drained off early during maceration to concentrate the red wine being made and producing a quantity of pink wine that could be tricked up and sold off as rose — winemakers are treating the production of rose seriously. That means beginning the process with a quality rose as the goal, selecting the right vineyard sites, giving greater consideration to what varieties perform best in a paler guise and picking at slightly earlier maturity levels, where flavours and aromas are in the sweet spot for lively, vigorous rose.
Dedication towards the production of serious rose is spreading right across the Australian wine industry, but nowhere is it more keenly focused than in the pure pink play a pair of old friends have decided to call Mazi.
Toby Porter and Alex Katsaros have significant day jobs within wine. Porter is a winemaker at d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale and Katsaros is a winemaker with roving commission and the Australian agent for esteemed French cooper Tonnellerie Baron, but they’ve both been putting in a bit of overtime in pursuit of the pale grail.
They make only two wines and they’re both pink. Taking obvious stylistic cues from the great pink wines of southern France, and leveraging their good fortune to be working in McLaren Vale, the Australian region where the varieties that drive those French benchmarks are at their best, Porter and Katsaros are setting new benchmarks for rose in this country.
While both wines are distinctly different expressions, they share some strong common traits. They’re serious and savoury, fine and dry, and they clearly show the benefits of being built from the ground up and having been destined for pale pink greatness from the very beginning.
Mazi is a Greek word meaning togetherness, and if the early days of the Mazi project can produce results as impressive as the two wines from the 2018 vintage, those of us who love serious rose will be hoping Porter and Katsaros stick together for a long time to come.