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Tastings Of French Rosé

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By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR

It has been years since rosé finally got a good grip on consumer wallets. Once the exclusive product of southern France and then the darling of the white zinfandel craze of the 1980s, rosé has finally earned a respectable place at the table.

But despite its durability on the market, it has become a victim of its own success. Today nearly every producer in every country makes rosé from just about every grape variety.  So, if you can find rosés from Spanish tempranillo, California pinot noir, Italian corvina or Argentine malbec, what is the definition of rosé?

https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/shot-harvested-grapes-special-red-boxes_30468171.htm#fromView=search&page=1&position=48&uuid=27f3b88d-fe8c-4b09-a94e-4a11fa0454dbWe first associate rosé with southern France, a region where rosé relies on a handful of grapes cultivated for generations of farmers whose sole goal is to make rosé.  It is here where producers have been perfecting the summer quaff for centuries. Many of them, such as Domaine Ott, make nothing but rosé. While many producers use whatever grape varieties are in their vineyards, their products contribute to what some French producers derisively have called a “swimming pool” of rosé. France has its own swimming pool of plonk, but they aren’t as quick to admit it.

Faith Based Events

Every year we taste our way through dozens of rosés from every country, and the differences are often remarkable. In the typical rosé, the crushed grapes soak with their skins for only a few hours, which gives the wine its pink hue and simple flavors. Those that have a deeper red color have been left to soak for more than 24 hours. So, any red grape variety will work, but the French varieties give the wine its classic lively red fruit character.

We think the French have it right by choosing grenache, syrah, cinsault, mourvedre and rolle grapes. These are grapes that perform remarkably well in the heat of Provence and Bandol.  These rosés – usually a blend of these grape varieties – have the right acidity, color and fresh fruit character.  Many even have complexity but they come at a price. Put them alongside other rosés made from different grape varieties and they stand out.

We’ll write about the rosés from outside France in a future column. For today, feast your eyes on these exceptional rosés from southern France:

Domaine Ott Chateau de Selle Rosé 2022 (Brentwood Fine Wines)

Domaine Ott Chateau de Selle Rosé 2022 ($68). This exquisite and layered rose leans on grenache and cinsault with a little syrah and mourvedre thrown in to keep it interesting. It opens with citrus, vanilla and minerality. White peach and lemon flavors round off a beautiful, intense rosé. Two years ago we visited with Jean-Francois Ott at his Provence tasting room and saw his dedication to making the best rosé in the world.

Chateau de Fabregues Costieres de Nimes 2022 ($17). A blend of syrah and grenache, this rosé from southern France has lively acidity, medium body and understated raspberry, apple and white peach notes.

LEOS Cuvee Augusta L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue 2023 ($19).  The Perrin family has teamed up with Nicolas Jaboulet – another great winemaking family – to produce this unique rosé that adds bourboulenc and vermentino to grenache.  The result is a highly floral rosé with good concentration and lots of fresh strawberry fruit. This was one of our favorites of the year.

Chateau La Mascaronne Cotes de Provence Rosé 2022 ($30). Fresh strawberry and peach notes with a good dose of citrus quickly develop in this bright and tantalizing blend of cinsault, grenache, syrah and rolle grape varieties.

Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone Rosé 2023 ($18). One of our perennial favorites, this classic blend of grenache, syrah and cinsault is an expressive display of stone fruit and citrus notes with a hint of anise.

Minuty Prestige Cotes de Provence Rosé 2023 ($25).  Twenty-five years ago, producers Jean-Etienne and Francois Matton wanted to produce a signature wine to a wider audience at a reasonable price.  We have enjoyed it for years.  Strawberry and raspberry notes with a dash of stone fruit and citrus come from this blend of grenache, syrah, rolle and cinsault.

Chateau Minuty Rosé et OR 2023 (Vivino)

Chateau Minuty Rosé et OR 2023 ($35). Lots of fresh citrus and red fruit notes with a dash of mineral. The blend is grenache (80 percent), syrah, cinsault and tibouren.

Mathilde Chapoutier Selection ORSURO Cotes de Provence 2023 ($21).  This Rhone Valley producer is really into rosés with three selections. This one is a blend of primarily grenache noir and syrah with a bit of cinsault, cabernet sauvignon, clairette and rolle to round out a broad palate of flavors.

Chateau d’Escalans Whispering Angel Rosé 2023 ($18).  This fav of many consumers, Whispering Angel was an overnight success. It is found on restaurant wine lists and at wine warehouses for a lot less. From Provence, it is semi-dry which may be its reason for success. Smooth with grapefruit and citrus notes and a dash of clove.

Miraval Cotes de Provence Rosé 2023 ($23).  The subject of an ugly divorce between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, this wine is successful despite the acrimony between the Hollywood couple. It is a classic blend of cinsault, grenache, syrah and rolle. We always have this one sitting in our refrig, begging for a plate of cheese. Raspberry and citrus notes with lively acidity and a dash of orange peel and minerality.

Esprit Gassier Cotes de Provence Rosé 2023 ($20). Grenache, cinsault, syrah and rolle combine to make a delicately appointed rosé with peach notes.

Chateau La Coste Vin de Provence Rosé 2023 ($25). There is some nice complexity in this classic blend of grenache, syrah, cinsault and cabernet sauvignon.  Red fruit with a dash of peach and citrus.

Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve 2022 ($15). The family behind Chateau Beaucastel has been making another tier of wines for a long time – just waiting to be discovered. This blend of cinsault, mourvedre, grenache and syrah has rasberry notes with crisp acidity.

Hecht & Bannier Provence 2023 ($14). Two friends formed this company in 2002 and have been making some terrific rosés since. This one from the Languedoc has strawberry notes and a great mouthfeel.

Wine picks

Clockwise Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley 2023 ($30). Steve MacRostie, who makes wine under his family name, and winemaker Heidi Bridenhagen, launched this brand a decade ago as a playground for new varieties and regions. This simple and aromatic sauvignon blanc is a great sipper on a summer afternoon. Citrus, grapefruit and freshly mown grass dominate. We look forward to what else they produce.

Lucia by Pisoni Soberanes Vineyard Chardonnay 2022 ($55). Jeff and Mark Pisoni have a series of chardonnays and pinot noirs that continue to impress us. This one has dense and effusive stone fruit and apple aromas with velvet pear flavors and a distinctive hint of minerality.  We also like the pure and rounder estate cuvee chardonnay that sources its fruit from Soberanes and Pisoni vineyards.

Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr, MoreAboutWine, posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com
Republished with permission
Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr have been writing a weekly wine column for more than 30 years. Additional Wine reviews on MoreAboutWine
All photos are randomly selected and do not indicate any preferred wine. Listed prices are subject to change and do not include tax or shipping.
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Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr have been writing a wine column since 1985. They have traveled extensively to vineyards in France, Spain, Italy, Greece and the United States. Tom currently resides in Naples with his wife, Sue, where he conducts wine tastings. His web site is MoreAboutWine.com. Patrick is in the wine retail business in Annapolis, MD.