2019 Old Westminister Wine x Piquette 'Take it Easy' Rosé
Region: Maryland < USA
Grapes: Chambourcin rosé, piquette blanc, piquette rouge
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; bottled without fining or filtering with minimal (if any) added So2; 12% ABV
Winemaker: Lisa Hinton
We're big fans of Maryland's Old Westminister Winery, run by three
siblings. Drew Baker, the vineyard manager, explains the origin story: "In 2009, family discussions began on how to preserve our farm and put the land to work. We were abducted by the idea of planting a vineyard. We all agreed that growing and making wine that reflects our land through a vineyard was an exciting proposition." So, they researched, traveled, tasted and consulted, and made it happen by 2011, when they planted their first vineyards. Their first vintage was 2013, and now they produce 30,000 bottles total, with everything done by hand, grown in Maryland and farmed organically. Middle sis Lisa, a chemist by training, started making the wine for her family's project when she was just 23!
They make both traditional wine and a style called piquette, which is a low-alcohol wine made from the second pressings of grape pomace. Derived from the French word for “prick” or “prickle,” which describes the drink’s slight fizz, piquette dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times, when it was known as "lora". Given that it was a cheap-to-produce drink made from the scraps of winemaking, it was given to slaves and field workers. Fast forward to today, when piquette is often the preferred drink of vineyard workers at the lunch table, as its low alcohol encouraged post-lunch productivity rather than that booze-fueled stupor. While the style is tied closely with France, nearly all Euro winemaking countries have their own version of piquette, usually made and consumed by field workers and their families.
We're loving piquette not only for its low ABV, refreshing qualities but also because it's super eco-friendly - after all, this is literally wine made from the scraps. Nothing wasted! This pretty coral colored elixir is a unique co-ferment of both traditional rosé wine (here from the rarely-seen Chambourcin grape, a French-American hybrid only found on the East Coast) blended with piquette blanc AND piquette rouge. FUN FACT: Chambourcin is a teinturier, a grape whose juice is pink or red rather than clear. With most wines, the color comes from the skins, not the juice itself. So the pretty Take it Easy is a unicorn in many respects! A very delicious one, tasting like a cranberry sea breeze cocktail with that bitter grapefruit element, plus tart gooseberry and something soft and tropical, mango maybe, with an herbal garnish. It's soft, with gentle acidity, and so easy to drink it could seriously pass for juice. Hide it from your kids.