The principal characteristic of rosé winemaking is that the fermentation takes place without the presence of grape skins; the pigmented grape juice ferments without the presence of any solids (skins, pulp, pips, etc). There are two methods of making rosé wines:
Direct pressing. This method is not permitted in the D.O. Navarra. The grapes are pressed upon arrival in the cellar, as though one were making a white wine. The juice is stained slightly by a small fraction of pigment that is released from the broken skins (if the skins have color) and then the juice is fermented.
Bleeding. This is without a doubt the system that results in greater quality, but it also requires two kilos of grapes to make one bottle of wine. All Navarra rosés are made by this method. The traditional grape used is Grenache, but we also produce rosé from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tempranillo.
The process is as follows: after destemming and crushing the grapes, the must go into a tank, where we let it macerate for a few hours at cold temperatures (8 to 30 hours, usually at 53 ºF / 12 ºC). During this time, the skins separate due to gravity and, being less dense, they float to the top of the tank. The juice, which weighs more because it contains the sugar, stays on the bottom. During this time of maceration, the wine is enriched:
After this time, the tank is “bled,” an operation which consists in opening the valve on the bottom of the tank and letting the pink free-run juice flow out by gravity. To facilitate the extraction process, it was traditionally a common practice to place a bundle of twigs from the previous year to help filter the juice. Today, the tanks have an internal grid that serves this function. The juice thus obtained is then racked to remove the impurities, and once clean, it is fermented at controlled temperatures of 63 to 68 ºF / 16 to 18 ºC. Malolactic fermentation is not desired; therefore, at the end of alcoholic fermentation, sulfites are added to the wine and it is clarified and stabilized. It should be bottled as soon as possible to reach the market with all its freshness and fruitiness.