There’s still plenty of summer left, not even counting the summer we have here in SoCal that can sometimes hang around until early November. Thus, by virtually any definition, we are still in the throes of rosé season. A brief word on that. Our rosé section is pretty much set unless something amazing comes along. Yet even being very selective about what we have brought in, and buying the smallest percentage of offerings since we got serious about pink wine some fifteen years back, we still have our largest and most varied selection ever.
In part, it’s because we like the 2016s a lot. But it is largely because we were presented more pink wine than ever! That is both good and bad. It’s ‘good’ because the more great options you have, the better selection you can offer. But, as we have lamented in the past, there are way too many people making rosé, and a lot of it is pretty ordinary and overpriced. Sorting through all of that is our job. Here are a couple of things we haven’t talked about before.
The La Bastide Blanche Rose Bandol 2016 is definitely a candidate for pink of the season. Beyond the fact that it is an extremely well-priced for a Bandol and has a pretty glowing review from Vinous Media (92 points and some nice words), it is a textbook example of what makes Bandol unique and special. You’ve got the inviting deeper salmon hue, a lovely nose of citrus, strawberry, and melon all happening at once with some mineral, and the intriguing muskiness to the nose that speaks the influence of Mourvedre (this is around 70% Mourvedre with the balance Grenache, Cinsault, and a splash of Clairette, a white grape that adds a little lift).
On the palate, the Bastide shows ample weight and refreshing cut, but there’s a coolness and somewhat cerebral nature to the flavors that juxtapose the fruit and florality. Thinking man’s pink? Sure, it can play that role as well as just being a great drink if you just want that.
We had lots of success with the junior version of Puech Haut Rosé Prestige until the market absorbed it. A consistent, well reviewed and rather ‘cost effective’ pink, if one couldn’t sell that one to wine drinkers they should consider a career change. But while we were cruising around a large trade event not long ago, we came upon the Eric Solomon table and had the opportunity to taste their upper cuvee, the Puech-Haut Coteaux du Languedoc Rose Tete de Belier 2016. Hello! This one, side by side with the delicious Prestige showed another couple of gears. More lifted and layered, even a bit ethereal as pinks go, this is classy juice.
The Mourvedre takes charge here, too, though playing with just Genache the Belier goes a little higher toned and stone fruit driven and has a touch of wild herbs. Jeb Dunnuck in his Wine Advocate piece called it, “…one of the finest Rosés out there and will drink nicely over the coming year.” We agree with the first part and wouldn’t hesitate to have a little for next summer as Mourvedre based pinks do seem to have a little longevity. There are those that insist that they aren’t even revved up until 18 months old.
Finally, Chidane rosé? That was our reaction when we saw this pink from one of the Loire’s great Chenin masters, but this sneaky little charmer won the day. A definite ‘all-geek’ selection, the Francois Chidaine Touraine Rose 2016 is a quirky blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Grolleau (a relatively arcane local grape) that comes off like a Sancerre rose. Delicate cherry, a little tea, a definite tactile impression, high-toned minerality, and a nice cut to the finish, it is sedate and quite tasty. In difficult vintages this wine probably wouldn’t work, but it’s a cool change-of-pace in this instance.
All three of these were farmed biodynamically. Á votre santé.