FLX Wine of the Week: Nine Four Sparkling Dry Rosé 2018

What an unexpected discovery! It is both a fun bubbly rosé that is perfect to enjoy on its own and a well made wine to pair with a wide range of foods.
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Photo by Richy Petrina.

By Richy Petrina of Ithaca Wine Ventures

What an unexpected discovery! In the holiday spirit, I thought it would be fun to share this ruby-red gem with you. It is both a fun bubbly rosé that is perfect to enjoy on its own and is a well-made wine to pair with a wide range of foods (we enjoyed it with a feast of tuna sushi and sashimi, poke salad, trout roe over crème fraiche and homemade potato chips, blistered shishito peppers, and miso shiitake mushrooms en papillote).

Why do I love this particular sparkling Finger Lakes dry rosé? There are so many reasons! 

First, it is made by a group of friends with a common bond and love for wine (and food). Phil Arras of Damiani Wine Cellars, and husband and wife team Josh Carlson and Melissa Thompson. Their goal is to make wines that they want to drink on any occasion, a noble cause.

The wine is made from a hybrid grape called Rougeon, which I had never heard of prior. It’s a hardy varietal, making it a good choice for our cool-climate vineyards, but it is mostly used in blending for its rich dark color. In a twist from their previous rosé, 20 percent of this wine is Vignoles, a white hybrid, which slightly tamped down the vibrant red color from the ’16 version of this wine, but the brilliant red hue remains.

This winemakers admit they were inspired by Lambrusco, another fun wine that I seldom drink but always enjoy.

“We pointed the arrow at Lambrusco, knowing that something completely different would result. That was the inspiration,” said Josh.

The wine was fermented in stainless steel with native yeast and spent months “en tirage” before being hand-disgorged like old-school grower Champagne. Laborious. Amazing. Cool. En tirage, by the way, is the length of time that wine rests in contact with the dead yeast cells inside the bottle, after the secondary fermentation and before disgorgement.

The winemakers state it shows notes of red currant, pomegranate, candied cherry and strawberry and I totally agree. It is tart, refreshing, and effervescent. The color is sumptuously rich and nicely highlighted by the clear bottle. On the nose I get traditional rosé Champagne vibes. Like many good things in life, it comes in small quantities (they made 381 cases).

I discovered the wine over the summer for an afternoon celebration and I’m finding myself enjoying it just as much in the colder months, paired with richer foods. This is a versatile wine that can be served during dinner, or for a special midnight toast.

Nine Four 2018 Dry Rose, 11% alc., Methode Traditionelle, 381 cases made. The wine is available in retail and restaurant locations throughout the region, or on the winery online store.

Richy Petrina founded Ithaca Wine Ventures in June of 2019 to elevate and amplify the region and its exceptional producers. The startup’s latest project, WINEcsa.org, is a wine club from the Finger Lakes featuring a different winery each month, with local drop-offs and nationwide shipping.

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