23rd July 2015
Les 5 du Vin
Smart Rosé, Sharp Rosé, Post-Summer Rosé
Let's sweep the prejudices to one side, the bitter comments, petty neighbourhood jealousies like "I, unlike the others, I make proper rosé and without blending, sir!" Put the experts who bombard you, saying that there is nothing new in your new article, and the opinion of the "pros", who consider that rosé is not a real wine, or those who slate this type of wine as an invader on the market, well and truly back in their places. Let's again insist on asserting that in the wave of rosé that floods the market this summer, a few big great vineyard rosés could be slipped in, be it a Sancerre (Vincent Pinard) or a Provence (Roselyne Gavoty), to name but two recently rediscovered classics in my cellar tours. Vineyard? Yes my lords, because it is not just the fruit that counts in a rosé.
Pinot or Cinsault: this build, this structure, the undeniable salty or mineral bite, this infinite persistence: all of this contributes more and more to the rosé being stored in a case of wines that can be kept, beyond five years, to improve and to be consumed even in winter.
And that's where I wanted to get to. Following an article in Decanter, I follow the adventures of my friend the Winemaker, Eric de Saint-Victor, obviously well supported in his vineyard and Pibarnon cellar. Yes, I know you will do me a great hoopla trick, sing to me with the usual attitude, "still a large area, an expensive wine, a luxury wine, an expensive wine, a really famous Château". Poor arguments which lead nowhere. You will also probably suppose that I am the public relations officer of an appellation that signalled my debut, that of Bandol, the rosé Queen (by the way, I am sure they themselves are going to blame me for shoe-boxing them into this specialty alone!), a theme of one of my papers last winter, that I invite you to re-read, that showed excellent vintage rosés from Tour du Bon, Pradeaux, La Bégude, Souviou, Sainte-Anne, L'Olivette, Les Salettes, Tempier... and so on. Rosé designed to be drunk throughout the year by Eric and his young team, is not just a simple idea started off the back of a limited edition vintage range, and is even less of yet another Rosé with chic Brad Pitt or Sacha Lichine style marketing. It is intended, in my opinion, to be the equal of his great red or his great white. But as he led me to believe, Éric de St-Victor would like to primarily create a movement amongst winemakers who would like it, with the goal of including the rosé as being specifically a rosé from Bandol, through initiatives that would reposition these wines of this colour. For this first 2014, a direct result of pure pressed Mourvèdre, unlike its classic wine that is the product of twice (pressing and bleeding) of the Mourvedre accompanied by Cinsault at 35%, the wine was vinified and aged 6 months in a Austrian Stokinger cask and in stoneware from the brand Clayver, manufactured in Italy, and already used by winemakers as diverse as Benoît Tarlant, Philippe Viret and Bonny Doon.
So, how is this rosé? I humbly confess that I have not yet tasted the wine from this vintage Nuances, with 3,500 units produced and sold at around €24 at the cellar door. I plan to open a bottle by Christmas (Eric's first idea was to design an autumn rosé) or even after, before going along to taste the 2015 edition in late April 2016 when it's ready. But this does not prevent me from finding the initiative truly original because it helps to break the imagery that surrounds the rosé which is a little silly and simplistic: the wine that would be stupidly flavoured - and God knows that it works in supermarkets - or a range of wine at different levels, that is reserved for the snobs flouncing past the yachts in St. Tropez or Cannes, or a bling-bling rosé sold in jeroboams to wealthy Russian and Chinese people in posh nightclubs around the planet. Now that the rosé is a huge success, it is time to reposition it and to develop it as a separate wine able to accompany the finest dishes. But hey, it's been over 20 years that I have been preaching like this... And I'm not alone. Just read all the good articles written about rosé in the Club des 5 to realise it.