Wine Offerings: Post

The French Climate Divide: 2023 Rosés Show The Difference Between Warm-Climate (Mediterranean) and Cool-Climate (Oceanic) Fruit. Ten Types, Spanning the Two, by Seventeen Producers. A Dozen Rosés $349 – A Holiday Sampler.

Two things that France and the United States share: A red, white and blue flag and a passion for rosé. So, while we’re celebrating both on the Fourth of July, we’ll take the opportunity to offer a springboard to this style via through a series of rosés that span France from north to south.

Tastes in wine run hot and cold and so do the climates that produce them. Nearly every commercial vine on earth is grown between 30° – 50° latitude (both north and south), but that range offers an almost endless array of rainfall patterns, cloud covers and wind configurations and such a wide spectrum of environments and that generalization seems pointless. And yet, anyone qualified to blind taste with authority should be able to tell you very quickly whether the wine comes from cool or warm region simply by gauging the character of the fruit.

In cool climates, where budding occurs late and frosts arrive early, even grapes harvested at optimal ripeness tend to produce lighter, more acidic wines with flavor profiles that lean toward savory herbs and acidic fruits like cranberries and tart cherries. In fact, you’ll find these types of descriptors used for wines made from any number of varieties that have adapted to cooler climates. In contrast, warm weather and extended growing seasons in the world’s southerly vineyards results in jammier, richer wines with less acidity and darker fruit flavors (blackberry and plum), often underscored with exotic aromatics like coffee and chocolate.

Nowhere is this climate divide more obvious than in France, and no style of wine demonstrates it better than French rosé, a wine with many guises. A versatile food wine and a cherished part of French viticulture, crisp, cheerful rosé is produced both in France’s frosty north and sultry south with characteristically different, yet equally spectacular results.

Mediterranean Climate
Provence and Southern Rhône Valley Rosé

With the same passion as its red and white cousins, rosé raises the flag of diversity and complexity in an infinite combination of terroir, grape variety and vintage variation. If you still consider it a pale, pink, lightly alcoholic swimming-pool tipple, have we got a surprise for you!

Hugging the Mediterranean between Spain and Italy and blessed with consistently fine growing condition, Southern France produces wines ideally suited for this summery milieu. Despite its location France, the vineyards are still far north of almost all of Spain and Italy’s, so the days are long during the growing season, allowing grapes to fully ripen. The Gulf Stream and Mediterranean Sea keep it balmy while steady winds banish humidity that can cause disease and mildew.

As such, the reds are particularly robust, and these grapes, of course, are the foundation of the pinks.

The 2023 Vintage

Drought was the name of the 2023 game, and the Mediterranean coast experienced it badly, sometimes halving harvest volumes. Although vines can survive scorching heat, they tend to produce less juicy and more acidic grapes. But every region has its variations. The vines in Roussillon, for example, suffered severe water stress throughout the season whereas those in Languedoc experienced an ‘episode cévenol’—a storm specific to the south of France—in September. Despite these extreme conditions, the vines’ tough, deep roots were able to draw on unexpected resources to ensure that the grapes continued to grow and the overall harvest, while smaller than normal, looks promising.

Côtes-de-Provence

The massive Côtes-de-Provence sprawls over 50,000 acres and incorporates a patchwork of terroirs, each with its own geological and climatic personality. The northwest portion is built from alternating sub-alpine hills and erosion-sculpted limestone ridges while to the east, and facing the sea, are the volcanic Maures and Tanneron mountains. The majority of Provençal vineyards are turned over to rosé production, which it has been making since 600 B.C. when the Ancient Greeks founded Marseille.

Château Les Mesclances
Côtes-de-Provence

In the Provençal dialect, ‘Mesclances’ refers to the confluence of rivers, and the estate, a mere two miles from the sea in the commune of La Crau, is situated between two streams, the Réal Martin and Gapeau, which originate in the limestone massif of the Sainte Baume. The property consists of 75 contiguous acres and is a picturesque ideal of Mediterranean culture and pretty rolling topography. And certainly, this geography determines appellation status: Wines from the estate’s plain are IGP Méditerranée while the foot of the slope yields AOP Côtes de Provence, and the steeper incline of the hill carries the rare Appellation Côtes de Provence ‘La Londe’. Only 20 estates count La Londe in their holdings.

Mesclances is owned by Arnaud de Villeneuve Bargemon, whose family has run the domain since the French revolution. In April 2018, Alexandre Le Corguillé joined the team as estate manager, and as is to be expected, most of the vineyard production is dedicated to rosé.

 1  Château Les Mesclances ‘Faustine’, 2023 Côtes-de-Provence ‘La Londe’ Rosé ($36)
La Londe is a tiny sub-appellation of the Côtes-de-Provence spread between the communes of Hyères and La Londe-les Maures itself, as well as some specific areas of Bormes-les-Mimosas and La Crau. 75% of the production is rosé made from Cinsault and Grenache, bolstered by up to 20% of various red and white varieties, including Tibouren, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Vermentino, known locally as Rolle.

Mesclances’ La Lond is a serious, age-worthy rosé that blends 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvèdre from the estate’s blue-schist soils, fermented spontaneously, with the Grenache given 15 hours of maceration and the Mourvèdre derived from the saignée method.

 

 


Bandol

Conventional wisdom has taught us that wine grapes fare best in places where nothing else will grow; rocky, water-starved soil on precipitous hillsides make vine roots work harder, ramifying and branching off in a search of nutrients and, in consequence, producing small grapes loaded with character. Cue Bandol, the sea-and-sun-kissed region along the French Riviera, which is not only good country for grapes, it’s good country for the soul. Made up of eight wine-loving communes surrounding a cozy fishing village, Bandol breaks the Provençal mold by producing red wines that not only outstrip the region’s legendary rosé, but make up the majority of the appellation’s output. In part that’s due to the ability of Bandol vignerons to push Mourvèdre—generally treated as a blending grape in the Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape —to superlative new heights.

Domaine La Bastide Blanche
Bandol

Michel and Louis Bronzo purchased Bastide Blanche in the ‘70s in the belief that the terroir could produce a wine to rival those of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. With that in mind, the brothers planted Carignane, Cinsault, Clairette, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Vintage 1993 proved to be their breakaway year, putting both Bandol and themselves on the wine map.

The estate is located in the foothills of Sainte-Baume Mountain, five miles from the Mediterranean Sea on land that is primarily limestone scree.

 2  Domaine La Bastide Blanche, 2023 Bandol Rosé ($31)
Predominantly Mourvèdre shored up with Grenache and Cinsault, this cuvée is full-bodied from direct-press and shows orange citrus, watermelon, herbed cherry and some lengthy minerality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Cassis

The entire vineyard area of Cassis is under five hundred acres, but most of the properties overlook the sea, which moderates the heat and creates an ideal climate for vine growing; the commune is known primarily for its herb-scented white wines, principally from Clairette and Marsanne (about 30% of Cassis production is rosé) and despite its name, it does not produce Crème de Cassis.

Domaine Bagnol
Cassis Rosé

Sitting just beneath the imposing limestone outcropping of Cap Canaille 700 feet from the shores of the Mediterranean, Domaine du Bagnol is the beneficiary of the cooling winds from the north and northwest and as well as the gentle sea breezes that waft ashore. Cassis native Jean-Louis Genovesi and his son Sébastien run the 18-acre estate.

 3  Domaine Bagnol, 2023 Cassis Rosé ($37)
45% Grenache, 35% Cinsault and 20% Mourvèdre. A taut, acidic, sea-dominated rosé from a handful of parcels totaling 17 acres planted in clay and limestone on a gentle north-northwest-facing slope. It shows the characteristic salinity of a coastal vineyard with supple nectarine and melon notes.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Côtes-du-Rhône

Côtes-du-Rhône is one of the largest single appellation regions in the world, covering millions of acres and producing millions of bottles of wine of varying degrees of quality. In Southern Rhône, it encompasses the majority of vineyards and includes hallowed names like Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

The latter wines prefer to use their individual, highly specific ‘Cru’ names, but the truth is, many generic Côtes du Rhônes may come from plots just outside official ‘Villages’ boundaries—some only across the road or a few vine rows away from top vineyards—and among them, you can find wines with nearly the same level of richness at a fraction of the cost.

Domaine Charvin
Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé

Established in 1851, Domaine Charvin is one of the region’s perennial superstars. Laurent is the sixth-generation Charvin to run the domain, and the first to commercially market a proprietary bottling. He tends vines in the northwest end of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, primarily in Cabrières, Maucoil and Mont Redon, farming organically and engaging in old-school vinification, without de-stemming and fermenting in concrete tanks for 21 months before bottling without filtration.

4  Domaine Charvin, 2023 Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé ($24)
45% Grenache, 45% Cinsault, 10% Mourvèdre showing up-front notes of candied cherries, strawberry, lavender and Provençal herbs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Oceanic Climate
Loire Valley Rosé

Established in 1974, Rosé de Loire is an official appellation that covers rosé made in the Loire Valley region of western France. Broadly speaking, the appellation follows the wider Loire River valley from Blois in the east, almost to Nantes, on the Atlantic coast in the west, covering the same lands as Touraine, Saumur and Anjou but stopping on the border with Muscadet.

Obviously, such a wide swath of land is varied in terrain and geography, from the shale-based vineyards in Anjou to the undulating chalk and tuffeau hills of Saumur and Vouvray. Touraine itself boasts a wide variety of soil types (including clay-limestone, clay-flint, as well as sand or light gravel on tuffeau. Climatically, the region is heavily influenced by water, with the Loire River and its tributaries moderating both very warm and very cold weather while the Atlantic Ocean (Bay of Biscay) to the west is the origin of much of the weather patterns in the area.

Only Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Grolleau, Grolleau Gris, Pineau d’Aunis and Pinot Noir are permitted in Rosé de Loire wines. The blend (or single variety) used is at the discretion of the winemaker.

The 2023 Vintage

The Loire suffered a hit-and-miss 2023. The winter was relatively mild and rolled into an equally benign spring without cataclysmic frost. Budburst was largely successful, and the gently rising temperatures proved idyllic for flowering, with yields promising to be high. June, however, hot and humid and aggravated by frequent rain; disease pressure ran high. Producers had to frequently spray and those who weren’t vigilant lost yields. That said, the heat pushed the grapes to phenolic ripeness signaling an early harvest.

Although some parts of the valley were struck by several fierce heatwaves, nights were cool enough to preserve both acidity and aromatics.

Sancerre

Sancerre in a nutshell—or rather, an oyster shell—boils down to the sea. Sancerre’s terroir is built on the remnants of the vast primordial ocean that once covered the hills and valleys of northern France and deposited calcium-rich shells from ancient, oyster-like sea creatures. This is ideal soil for the two grapes for which Sancerre is justly famous, primarily Sauvignon Blanc and to a slightly lesser extent, making up about 20% of the output, Pinot Noir and its attendant rosé.

A ‘typical’ rosé from Sancerre is created by allowing the Pinot Noir to macerate on the skins for a short period of time, generally between two and 20 hours, lacing the wine with a deeply layered nose featuring elegant green citrus, sweet floral notes, passion fruit and fresh green herbs. A semi-tannic structure, which is prized in these rosés, usually means they are better after a year or two in the bottle.

Like its red-blooded parent, rosé made from Pinot Noir has a natural affinity for food, and is a perfect foil for the rich cheese produced throughout the appellation.

Domaine Pascal & Nicolas Reverdy
Sancerre Rosé

The oyster-shell limestone of Sancerre, called Kimmeridgian, forms the base soil beneath the tiny hamlet of Maimbray, located in a valley surrounded by chalk hills of Chavignol and Verdigny. Across 43 acres of this vital terroir, Pascal Reverdy and his wife Nathalie (alongside Nicolas’s widow Sophie) combine tradition with trajectory: Now, sons Victorien and Benjamin shore up the team. Having completed his DNO at Dijon, with stints at Armand Rousseau (Gevrey-Chambertin), Châteaux Léoville Las Cases and Beychevelle (St Julien) and Christine Vernay (Condrieu), Victorien returned first in 2019. Benjamin reappeared in the summer 2023, having cut his teeth at Domaine de la Romanée Conti.

Pascal, who founded the winery in 1993, explains the family’s mandate: “We are about 70% planted with Sauvignon Blanc and 30% with Pinot Noir. Hard pruning keeps yields low, with vineyard being grassed through, and lutte raisonnée being practiced. Harvesting is by hand and we have built a reputation across white, red and rosé Sancerres, with no oak ageing, as well as three special cuvées (Les Anges Lots, La Grande Rue and à Nicolas) which are barrel aged.”

 5  Domaine Pascal & Nicolas Reverdy ‘Terre de Maimbray’, 2023 Reverdy Sancerre Rosé ($32)
The ‘Terre’ in the name is ‘blanche’—the ‘white earth’ of Sancerre’s classic terroir. From three acres of 30-year-old Pinot Noir grown in characteristic clay-limestone, direct-pressed and vinified in demi-muids (10%) and stainless steel tanks (90%), the wine shows a bouquet of ripe strawberries and red grapefruit underpinned by earthy tones that still allows bright acidity to sparkle through.

 

 

 

 


Domaine Roger & Christophe Moreux
Sancerre Rosé

Established in 1895, with winegrower roots extending back to the 16th century, work in the Moreaux’s 22 acres has been handed down across many generations. Today, following the retirement of his father Roger, responsibility rests with Christophe Moreaux.

Located in the tiny hamlet of Chavignol (population 200) along the Upper Loire River where they are renowned equally for their wine and their cheese—Crottin de Chavignol has its own appellation. Wine, however, is the passion of Christophe, who says, “We believe we are in possession of some of Sancerre’s  greatest terroirs, the vineyards of Les Monts Damnés and Les Bouffants.”

Moreaux production is a scant 65,000 bottles per year, with about one quarter of it made from Pinot Noir, both red and rosé; it is fermented in stainless steel and aged for six to eight months before release.

6  Domaine Roger & Christophe Moreux ‘Cuvée des Lys’, 2023 Sancerre Rosé ($27)
A lightly structured rosé with a distinct herbal edge; ripe with aromas of apricots, cherries, currants, and wild strawberries supported by vibrant acidity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Domaine Pierre Morin
Sancerre Rosé

Gérard Morin took over the family’s vineyards about twenty years ago and, while making some of the most striking wines in Sancerre, he prepared his son Pierre to run the show. Pierre, who once worked the vineyards of Adelaide Hills, saw little in Australia worth emulating in Sancerre. He now helms the estate with an eye toward maintaining a house style typical of Bué (about a mile and a half from the village of Sancerre): rich, aromatic whites and some particularly deep reds that are best matched, according to Pierre, to “an andouillette cooked in the vineyard on vine prunings, ideally for breakfast.”

The Morin’s vines are planted on a steep hard-calcaire amphitheater surrounding the commune of Bué and consist of 17 acres of Sauvignon Blanc and five of Pinot Noir. Yields are held low through spring de-budding (one of Pierre’s few, but significant changes) and all harvesting is done by hand. Fermentation is done by parcel in an air-conditioned chai, in enameled steel vats, with the finished wines left alone on their lees for as long as possible.

 7  Domaine Pierre Morin, 2023 Sancerre Rosé – Bué ‘Les Rimbardes’ ($31)
Les Rimbardes is situated to the east of Bué, nearly to the border of Sancerre. Soils here are heavy with clay, giving the wines more heft. This fruit-forward rosé offers grapefruit, strawberry, Meyer lemon, and tangerine zest aromas intertwined with rhubarb, lemon and hints of caramel.

 

 

 

 

 


Domaine Dominique et Janine Crochet
Sancerre Rosé

The steeps slopes of Bué are also home to winemakers Teddy and Cyprien Crochet, who took over from their father Dominique after his untimely passing. Although Teddy spent time as a rugby player, he remains true to his roots, now five generations deep. Cyprien raves about the holdings in Chêne Marchand, Grand Chemarin, Champ Chêne and the steepest vineyards in the La Côte de Bué: “We like to think that the Crochet name is synonymous with the town of Bué,” Cyprien says, “…one of the three greatest villages in Sancerre. We’re equally proud to be producing Sancerre in a winery our father started in a garage—we are true garagistes making ‘vins de garage.’”

Established in 1992, Dominique and Janine began with a handful of of perfectly situated hillside acres. Today, the domaine extends to nearly forty acres hosting more than forty tiny parcels. Grapes are hand-harvested—a Bué necessity, given the steep hillsides—and indigenous yeast is preferred, especially for the reds, which are treated to light clay filtration before bottling

 8  Domaine Dominique et Janine Crochet, 2023 Sancerre Rosé ($29)
Grown on silex soils, the wine is attractive in both color and bouquet; salmon pink and perfumed with cherry and rose petal, which is echoed on the palate with juicy citrus accents and culminates in an energetic and crisp finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Domaine de Sacy
Sancerre Rosé

In keeping with the theme of these selections—small production, family-owned hamlet wines—miniscule Sacy nestles near Crézancy and Bué; Karine Millet has taken over the family domaine with of vines. Karine practices polyculture, the historical practice in Sancerre, where cow manure from the farm is used throughout the vineyards and sustainable viticulture, without herbicide or pesticide, is the rule of the day. Her vines average 30 years old, with some approaching half a century.

“Our soil is all ‘terres blanche,’” Karine says. “This is a late-ripening terroir made of thick clay layers intertwined with flat, white limestone. It’s rich in fossils that have the particularity of whitening while drying in the sun. Terres Blanches terroir gives a strong aromatic concentration, tension and aging potential to the wines as well as a pronounced mineral character.”

 9  Domaine de Sacy, 2023 Sancerre Rosé ($29)
A beautiful and balanced summer wine offering medley of citrus flavors wrapped in an with an intense bouquet of strawberry, raspberry and red fruit cake. The palate shows solid Sancerre structure with varietal character: spicy red Pinot Noir with a classic hint of watermelon rind and mineral notes.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Menetou-Salon

Menetou-Salon is an AOP in the Centre-Val de Loire with vineyards extending over 820 acres and covering 10 communes, including Menetou-Salon itself. Only 3600 bottles of Menetou-Salon Rosé reach American shores each year, so if you can find it, you are in an exclusive club.

Domaine Philippe Gilbert
Menetou-Salon Rosé

Having felt the pull of the soil, Phillipe Gilbert left his occupation as a successful playwright to take over the family estate in the hamlet of Faucards in the midst of Menetou-Salon. The vineyards are scattered throughout the heart of the appellation in prime sectors of the villages of Menetou-Salon, Vignoux, Parassy and Morogues where the soil is a classic mix of clay and limestone sitting on the famous Kimmeridgian basin.

With the assistance of his colleague, Jean-Philippe Louis, Philippe Gilbert has plunged headlong into the system of biodynamic viticulture and the domaine is now certified as an organic producer.

 10  Domaine Philippe Gilbert, 2023 Menetou-Salon Rosé ($32)
100% Pinot Noir, Philippe’s standout rosé is pressed directly and fermented spontaneously—a rare practice for the category since most growers want to ensure market-demanded consistency at all costs. It spends six months in steel, undergoing natural malolactic fermentation. Exuberant and energetic, it offers brambly raspberry, white cherry and grapefruit zest interlaced with notes of pulverized chalk and wet river stones.

 

 

 

 


Chinon

Playwright François Rabelais (a Chinon local boy made good) wrote, “”I know where Chinon lies, and the painted wine cellar also, having myself drunk there many a glass of cool wine.” That wine was likely red: though capable of producing wines of all hues, Chinon’s focus is predominantly red; last year, white and rosé wines accounted for less than five percent of its total output. Cab Franc is king, and 95% of the vineyards are thus planted. Rabelais’ true stage was set 90 million years ago, when the yellow sedimentary tuffeau, characteristic of the region, was formed. This rock is a combination of sand and fossilized zooplankton; it absorbs water quickly and releases it slowly—an ideal situation for deeply-rooted vines.

Château de la Bonnelière
Chinon Rosé

Respect for tradition and love of family are the twin forces that animate Château de la Bonnelière: In 1976, Pierre Plouzeau bought the old family castle and renovated the property while replanting the largely-vanished vineyards. His son Marc took over in 1999 and has become one of Chinon’s most prolific and talented personalities, responsible for a plethora of marvelous juice—red, white and pink. 43 acres of vines and a 1500-square-meter cellar carved out of the castle’s solid stone foundation provide an environment as beautiful as it is fecund.

 11  Château de la Bonnelière ‘M Plouzeau – Rive Gauche’, 2023 Chinon Rosé ($19)
A cuvée born in the alluvial soils on the left bank of the Vienne, where the sand and gravel terroir produce Cabernet Franc of exceptional freshness. The wine shows crisp minerality and notes of raspberries and peaches.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Rosé-de-Loire

Although rosé production in Loire has expanded markedly in recent years, its commercial origins go back to the early 20th Century when the wines were dubbed ‘Rouget’ in the Anjou and ‘Vin Gris’ in Touraine. Today, they are required to be dry with no more than three grams per liter of residual sugar and cannot have more than 12.5% alcohol-by-volume.

The title covers much of the rosé production in the area although it is worth noting that all the appellations covered by the Rosé de Loire title can produce their own rosé. Both the Saumur and Anjou appellations can make rosé produced from Cabernets Franc or Sauvignon and these must be labeled “Cabernet de Saumur” or “Cabernet d’Anjou” respectively. Additionally, Rosé d’Anjou (another possible rosé title in Anjou) is broadly similar in production requirements to Rosé-de-Loire.

Château Soucherie
Rosé-de-Loire

Perched on a rise overlooking the Layon river, Soucherie is considered one of the most beautiful domains in Anjou. Roger-Francois and Pascal Beguinot have transformed 90 acres of limestone, clay and schist into multiple lieux-dits spread across Anjou, Chaume, Coteaux du Layon and Savennieres. Around the winery, 54 acres are planted on a southern hillside sheltered from the winds; the 11 acres in Chaume contain vines over 70 years old while the four acres in Savennieres (Clos des Perrieres), loaded with shale, produce wines noted for their minerality. Maître de chai Thibaud Boudignon is leading the charge towards 100% organic viticulture through the principles of ‘agriculture integrée’—a ‘whole farm’ management system intended t deliver more sustainable agriculture by combining modern technologies with traditional practices according to a given site and situation.

 12  Château Soucherie ‘L’Astrée’, 2023 Rosé-de-Loire ($27) Gamay
Cellarmaster Vianney de Tastes hand-harvests this pure Gamay rosé, and shapes the variety into a pale, juicy and dynamic wine by direct pressing and four-months of aging in stainless steel.  The wine offers white peach, dandelion greens, sweet basil and pineapple sage.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Semi-oceanic Climate
Champagne’s Coteaux-Champenois Rosé

Côteaux Champenois Rosé is a still Champagne as rare as a five-leaf clover; it is only produced from select, authorized vines, and only in certain vintages, in extremely limited quantities, and by very few Vignerons.

Domaine Fleury
Côte-des-Bar

Although it sounds a bit contradictory, doing what comes naturally’ is often an exacting science and a dedicated quest, and nowhere in Champagne is this more evident than in the fields and cellars of Domaine Fleury, the Côte des Bar foremost champion of ‘The Art of Nature.’

Founded in 1895 in the heart of the Côte des Bar and driven by the terroir of the clay-limestone hillsides formed by the first tributaries of the Seine, Fleury has a storied history in the region, managing to weather both the phylloxera crisis and the market crash of 1929. But according to Jean-Pierre Fleury, it was biodynamics over all else that gave new meaning to Champagne production: “To be respectful of the natural and living heritage of this terroir, where custodians of the land forever learn, in all humility, to perceive the balance and to unearth its mysteries.”

Gone entirely biodynamic by 1992—a time when the concept was foreign to nearly every winemaker in France—Jean-Pierre has passed the spirit of purity and innovation to his children: Morgane Fleury, an actress and sommelier, who has developed a new concept of an ecological wine and champagne bar in central Paris; Jean-Sébastien, also at the heart of innovation at the domain, who is experimenting with grafting techniques in the vines as well as reintroducing horses to work on certain plots; Benoît, who is currently working with massale selection and agroforestry as new ways of cultivating the vines in symbiosis with an adapting environment.

Domaine Fleury, Coteaux-Champenois ‘Côte-des-Bar’ Rosé ($68)
Comprised of vintages 2017, 2018 and 2019 hand-harvested 35 to 40 years old Pinot Noir vines, fermented spontaneously with low-intervention, bottled unfined and unfiltered. The wine offers a nose of Maraschino cherry, strawberry and lemon zest while the fruit-driven palate had notes of cherry and raspberry behind bright acidity.

 

 

 

 


Domaine Lelarge-Pugeot
Montagne-de-Reims

In 1985, when Dominique Lelarge took over his family estate, his first order of business was to improve the quality of the soil in the vineyard, and this began with a more sustainable farming approach. To this day, he views the use of pesticide an inherent threat to nature, and treats this understanding as a wake-up call: “Life is a gift from nature,” he says. “Everything starts in the vineyard, so it is important for us to respect what nature handed us.”

Although the Lelarge family has grown grapes in Vrigny since 1799, the last two decades have seen the leadership of the two Dominiques (winemakers and owners Dominique Lelarge and Dominique Pugeot) embrace and encourage diversity in both their ecosystem and in their outlook on Champagne production. Nestled in the Premier Cru village of Vrigny on the Montagne de Reims slopes—a mere 15 minutes west of Reims—their 21 acres are planted primarily to Meunier (11 acres), but a percentage of Pinot Noir (7 acres) and Chardonnay (3.4 acres) also figure into their blended wines.

Certified organic since 2014 and biodynamic since 2017 by Demeter, Lelarge-Pugeot encompasses 42 distinct parcels flourishing at elevations averaging 400 ft.

“We do not make wine so much as we farm vines, meticulously looking after every single step of the growth to produce the most natural Champagne possible.”

Domaine Lelarge-Pugeot, 2020 Coteaux-Champenois ‘Montagne-de-Reims’ Premier Cru Vrigny Meunier Rosé ($66)
A zéro-zéro cuvée that represents the family’s first ever attempt at making a still rosé made exclusively Meunier. The fruit comes from two parcels of 40-year-old vines with tiny concentrated clusters, which create highly aromatic Meunier showing high-toned notes watermelon, pomegranate, tarragon and salinity.

 

 

 

 


Continental Climate
Burgundy Rosé

Don’t let its relative lack of press fool you—Bourgogne Rosé is made in 300 communes throughout Burgundy and comes in multiple incarnations; some barbecue basic, others rich and cellar-worthy.

As might be imagined, most Bourgogne Rosé is mad with Pinot Noir, although Gamay is also permitted (there are some made exclusively from Gamay—in fact, if you see a rosé with ‘Mâcon’ and another geographical denomination on the label, the wine must be 100% Gamay). In very rare cases, Pinot Gris (known as Pinot Beurot in Burgundy), Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc turn up in a rosé, at least in part to help manage the wines’ color. In the northern Grand Auxerrois region, the ancient César grape gets to play a supporting role, adding some depth and structure.

The 2023 Vintage

In terms of yield, 2023 was historic—the quantity of healthy grapes grown had not been seen since 1982, and bunches were harvested that weighed double the norm. So copious was the output of Burgundian vineyards that, due to INAO rules, it could not all be harvested. The major producers had to cut 50% of the harvest to meet the normal, optimal 35-40 hl/ha.

With yields like this, it is doubtful that 2023 will go down as a great vintage, but it will certainly produce lively and energetic vintage, which is an ideal scenario for rosé.

Domaine Collotte
(Côte-de-Nuits)
Marsannay Rosé

Located on Rue de Mazy, Marsannay’s ‘high street’, Domaine Collotte shares a headquarters with Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair, owned by a Collotte cousin. Formerly under the control of Philippe Collotte, his daughter Isabelle—having completed her viticulture studies—has joined her father in the domain and specializes in making the family’s superb Marsannay Blancs.

Isabelle entered the business with plenty to work with: Covering about forty acres, mainly in Marsannay but with small plots in Fixin, Gevrey and Chambolle, Domaine Collotte draws mainly from vines over fifty years old and farms one lieu-dit planted in 1947.  Among the innovations she has insisted upon involves selling less wine in bulk, which was a practice of her father.

In addition, she has embraced a holistic view of vineyard work: “Plowing is the norm here, no herbicides,” she says. “The grapes are triaged at the winery before 100% destemming into concrete tanks with one week of cool maceration. We love the thermal stability of concrete so there is a little pigeage early in fermentation and later only remontage. The color is ‘fixed’ with a short period at 35°C where the wine slowly cooling in the tank before a pneumatic press and then into barrels.”

Phillipe adds, “The common thread running through Domaine Collotte is an intimate link, our visceral attachment to Marsannay. For over 100 years, each generation of the Collotte family has dedicated its life to this village and its vineyards. Even if some of our parcels are located in Chambolle-Musigny, Fixin or Gevrey-Chambertin, it is in Marsannay-la-Côte that the heart of Domaine Collotte beats. Clos de Jeu, Champ Salomon, Boivin, Grasses Têtes, Combereau are a few of the Climats de Marsannay that plunge us daily into history by domain that is eminently proud of its roots.”

Domaine Collotte, 2023 Marsannay Rosé ($26)
Isabelle Collotte’s 2023 rosé is sourced a two-acre plot of Pinot Noir; the harvest is sorted as soon as it arrives in the vat room before being pressed directly. The pressing is done on a long cycle and at low pressure for a quality must; static settling is carried out for 24 hours and the wine is vinified in stainless steel tanks. The wine displays aromas of raspberry and tangerine, supported by secondary notes of rose water, rhubarb and anise.

 

 

 


Pierre-Marie Chermette
Beaujolais Rosé

Pierre-Marie Chermette was raised in the vineyard; his fondest memories of the family home in Vissoux was riding the tractor. He pursued it as his life’s work, earning National Diploma of Oenologist from Dijon at the age of 20. Two years later, he convinced his father to stop selling the fruits of his labor to merchants, and developed the market estate bottled wines, increasing the plots who was selling his wine in bulk to merchants. He invests himself fully in the family winery by developing the marketing of bottled wines. Over the years, he diversified the number of appellations the family worked, and is now responsible for nearly 75 acres.

Pierre-Marie Chermette Vissoux ‘Griottes’, 2023 Beaujolais Rosé ($22)
The estate started making rosé in 1985, when it was a genuine rarity in Beaujolais region, relying on younger vines to produce a vibrant, tangy rosé that shows wild strawberry and Morello cherry with undertones of stony minerals, dried herb and star anise.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Rosé with Character and Dimension

Since 2000, white wine sales in France have plateaued while rosé’s have doubled; over that same timespan, red wine has declined in popularity at such a staggering rate that even if rosé does not win over a single new fan, it may well surpass red wine sales in France in the future.

There is more to the phenomenon than simply wine drinkers making a bandwagon fashion statement. Even those who had to be weaned from white zinfandel are discovering that pink wine is not merely washed-out red, but a gustatory middle-ground between the lightness of white and the heaviness of red—a product able to offer more depth with less tannin and the ability to evolve with age in a way that is both unique and multi-dimensional.

Domaine Gavoty
Côtes-de-Provence Rosé

Roselyn Gavoty (the eighth generation of Gavoty to helm her family’s Roman-era farm; her ancestor Philémon acquired it in 1806) is on the cutting edge of viticulture. Situated along the Issole River in the northwestern corner of the Côtes-de-Provence, surrounded by oak and pine forests, the Gavoty family has worked the land without synthetic chemicals for decades, obtaining organic certification in recent years. The vineyard covers 150 acres in the commune of Cabasse (‘harvest field’ in the old Provençal language). Roselyn says, “Our vines are planted on clay-limestone soil, and produce a majority of rosé by the saignée method, involving involves bleeding off a portion of red must to create structure and depth.”

Domaine Gavoty ‘Clarendon’, 2022 Côtes-de-Provence Rosé ($37) – Current Release
In his articles for ‘Le Figaro’, Bernard Gavoty often wrote under the pseudonym ‘Clarendon,’ and this cuvée—produced from the domaine’s oldest Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan vines (dating back to the early 1960s)—honors his memory. Combining saignée with the juice from the first pressing, the wine striking a wonderful balance between vinosity and immediacy, showing strawberries and red currants.

 

 

 

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Posted on 2024.07.05 in Rosé de Loire, Anjou, cassis, Bandol, Menetou-Salon, Santenay, Chinon, Sancerre, Côte-de-Provence, Côtes-du-Rhône, France, Beaujolais, Wine-Aid Packages, Loire, Southern Rhone

 

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