Rosè again? Well yes, not just because it's that time of year. When we tasted rosès the last time, I was planning on comparing French and Italian wines. Unfortunately a couple of people had to cancel, so I held on to the two French wines I had for another tasting. This time we had 14 people, so with plenty of money in the budget left over, I picked up a pink Champagne as well, just because.......well, do you really need a reason? We looked at 9 still rosès, and we ended, in celebration of a tour de force tasting, with the bubbly.
As I mentioned in the last post on pink wines, quality still rosès are usually made by a limited maceration (skin contact) time, to absorb color and flavor, but generally not tannin. Good sparklers, on the other hand, blend white and red wines together, sometimes at the very end of the process. Rosès are commonly made with the classic grape varieties of a given area. The south of France is most well-known for their rosès, and the wines are based on the predominant grape varieties in each place, mostly grenace, cinsault, and mouvedre, but increasingly more far-flung grapes as well in the Vin de Pays wines which allow for more flexibility.
We had four wines from the Cote de Provence, one Bandol, one Cabernet d'Anjou, one Gigondas, one Vin de Pays d'Oc, and finally one Champagne. Interestingly, we also had a couple of distinct offerings from two producers, so we were able to look at the different directions producers can take. Even with a wine some dismiss as simple, such as rosè, there is incredible potential for variety.
From Domaine Houchart, we had three wines, two Cote de Provence, both of which are based mainly on grenache, syrah, cinsault, and mouvedre, and one Gigondas, which is grenache, syrah, and cinsault. Their Sainte Victoire spent four months on its lees and was a step up in complexity from their basic offering with a lovely mineral quality to it, along with bright red fruit. The Gigondas had amazing notes of wild strawberries and a lovely smooth texture.
We also looked at two wines from Domaine Ott, their Bandol and their Cote de Provence from their Les Domaniers estate. The latter had lots of fresh fruit, apricots and peaches, and refreshing acidity, while the former was our most complex wine of the evening, though by far also the most expensive. Coming in at 30 euros, it was more than twice as expensive as the other wines. Grenache, cinsault, and mouvedre are fermented in tanks and then aged for six to eight months in a combination of oak and tank. The resulting wine has very complex notes of stone fruit, grapefruit, and hints of tobacco and spice.
The one exception to the southern rule was our Cabernet d'Anjou, from the Loire in central France. There are three appellations here for rosè, and the Cabernet d'Anjou is of the highest quality. It is made from a blend of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, and is always medium sweet. Ours was well-balanced by its acidity and lots of ripe red fruit.
To cap off the evening we ended with a pink Champagne, based on pinot noir. It was just the thing to wake us up after nine still rosès, brightly acidic with a persistent mousse, fine bubbles, and fantastic toasty, fruity flavors. It was the perfect way to end an interesting evening.
1. Collioure 2009 Les Clos de Paulilles
2. Vin de Pays D'Oc Rosè de Syrah 2009 Beauvignac
3. Cote de Provence 2009 Chateau de la Galiniere
4. Cote de Provence 2009 Domaine Houchart
5. Cote de Provence Sainte Victoire 2009 Domaine Houchart
6. Gigondas 2008 Chateau du Trignon
7. Cote de Provence Les Domaniers 2007 Ott Selection
8. Bandol 2008 Chateau Romassan Domaine Ott
9. Cabernet d'Anjou 2009 Chateau Pierre-Bise
10. Champagne NV Jacques Picard