This is a story of old and new. Of traditions and innovation, and marketing opportunities. Of old wine making techniques, of the marketing success of sparkling pink Muscat and the trendiness of funky pet-nat wines. Of appellation rules and protecting wine traditions.
In early January 2016, Wink Lorch (who I mentioned in my last post had personally transported rosé from Oregon for me) telephoned me. As part of her research for her next book on the wines of the French Alps she was going to visit the vineyards of Bugey-Cerdon. Did I fancy going with her to taste their rosés and their méthode ancestrale rosés. It sounded a great idea and I duly booked my ticket to Geneva where Wink would collect me before a short week visiting vineyards. The plan started to fall apart as we struggled to find hotels and restaurants which would be open in January, and the trip collapsed when a freak, cold front plummeted temperatures to below -10C. Dear readers, even in my quest to seek out all and every interesting rosé, standing in freezing cellars for four days was not high on my list of vinous ambitions. The plan was shelved, and I continued my research in warmer conditions.
Cerdon vineyards in Bugey. photo by Mick Rock for Wink Lorch
Méthode ancestrale wines are also known as pétillant naturel, French for ‘naturally sparkling’ They can be made with any varieties and range in colour from red, through pink to white and, due to the method of vinification can be cloudy or murky. Unlike Champagne and traditional-method sparkling wines, they do not undergo disgorgement when the spent yeast and sediment are removed. Amongst the most well-known white wines is Blanquette de Limoux from the Pyrenees. Continue reading
So excited! After a year of rosé discovery, my book Rosé: Understanding the pink wine revolution, part of the Classic Wine Library, is out and will be available from 15 January.
My first view of the book
With the world’s top men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic in the news in June announcing that he was buying a vineyard in his native Serbia, it seemed an appropriate time to consider Serbian rosés. I asked Serbian wine expert Tomislav Ivanovic, of Vinopedia, to describe the rosés made in Serbia and include some of the best examples.
Tomislav is: Author and editor-in-chief of website www.vinopedia.rs. Winner of Millesima Blog Award 2016. Wine writer and contributor to several wine magazines. Juror in national and international wine events (including Concours Mondial de Bruxelles). Focused on wines from Serbia and the Balkans.
Rosé wines from Serbia
Serbian folk poetry shows that the ancestors of today’s Serbs were avid wine lovers. The turbulent history of Serbia nestled at the periphery of great empires where the West meets the East, resulting in an extensive collection of Serbian epic poetry. No wonder that medieval Serbian knights and warriors quenched their thirst with red wine rather than rosé. From their perspective, drinking elegant rosé with delicate aromas from a chalice did not match the image of a brave warrior, hero, defender against Turkish conquerors.
Travel writers who recorded their journeys across the Balkans in the Middle Ages, and local ampelographers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, revealed that the Serbian population also consumed darker coloured rosé wine called Ružica (pronounced: roo-zhi-tza), resembling clairet wine. Continue reading
Last month I had the exciting – and rare – opportunity of tasting an amazing selection of 353 still rosés from around the world. This proved a glorious spectacle of the most amazing shades of pink – forget 50 – this was far more dazzling. The range of colours was an easy reason why this sector of the wine market has so attracted the consumer; who is not enchanted by a glass of shell-like pink or glowing ruby wine, lit up by sun- or candle-light?
Jonathan Pedley MW tasting Rosés at The Drinks Business Rosé Masters
Earlier this year I wrote an article on premium rosés. One important point I highlighted was the use of altitude, especially in hot climates, which provides both the ripe fruit character and the crisp acidity essential in rosés. So when fellow MW, Yiannis Karakasis tweeted that he was visiting Cyprus vineyards at 1000m, I playfully tweeted back ‘… Any rosés?’ His affirmative piqued my curiosity, and the following week I received seven Cypriot rosés to taste.
Cyprus lies in the Eastern Mediterranean, with nearby wine-producing countries including Greece, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey.
Mosaic found near Paphos showing the god of wine Dionysus, illustrating the ancient history of wine production on the island
On a cold grey blustery day in early April, I made my way to the Salon du Millesime 2015 Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence held at the Hotel Renaissance in Aix-en-Provence. This is the only one of the repertoire of Provence tastings which takes place in the evening, from 4 to 9pm.
In my post last year of the rosé 2014 vintage, I summed up the different regions of Coteaux d’Aix and noted how the four different terroirs had an impact on the styles of Coteaux d’Aix rosés. This year, the tasting table clearly indicated from which region each wine came from, which help tasters recognise regional styles. Sommelier Nadine Rosier was on hand to discuss the wines.
The rosé tasting table with colour-coded labels to indicate regions
Mid April saw the round of tastings introducing the new 2015 Provence wine vintage came to a close with that for Coteaux Varois en Provence. Held in a beautiful location, it is the prettiest and most enjoyable of all the tastings.
Student sommeliers ready before the start of the tasting
In 2013, the 4th sub-appellation of Côtes de Provence, Côtes de Provence Pierrefeu, was announced for red and rosé wines, adding to La Londe, Ste Victoire and Fréjus.
Cotes de Provence Pierrefeu in darker purple
Launching a new appellation is no easy process. This took some ten years, which is not atypical. In 2003 some 30 producers (including 4 co-operatives) in the triangular region of Pierrefeu-Cuers-Puget-Ville came together to promote their belief that the largest area of production within the larger Côtes de Provence appellation had a distinctive character worthy of a sub-appellation.
I was intrigued when I first saw the publicity for a rosé wine bearing an image of the iconic chaise bleu of the Promenade des Anglais on Nice’s Côte d’Azur waterfront.
The launch of this new label Prose was at the lovely Plage Beau Rivage, by the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. This describes itself as “the best place to be for a meal with sea-view, a drink between friends, a live clubbing evening or if one wants to make the most of the sun on a sunbed”.
Made by the Comte Guillaume de Chevron-Villette, owner of Château Reillanne, one of the largest winemakers in Provence, Prose is the latest in its range, and is targeted at the on-trade and wine-merchants. A pleasant, delicately fruity summer quaffing wine, made largely from Grenache and Cinsault with small percentages of Rolle and Tibouren. Despite the Niçois image, the wine is not from Bellet, the wine appellation of Nice, but is Côtes de Provence from central Provence. Continue reading
Tibouren is regarded by many in Provence as the traditional variety for making rosé, unique to the area. Tibouren is a pale-skinned grape, suited to making rosé, as it allows for fuller fruity character to be developed without extracting lots of colour. An early ripening variety, it seems to do best in sunnier sites, usually the hotter coastal regions which also benefit from damper maritime winds. Plantings have never been extensive (currently around 450ha), as it is regarded as slightly temperamental, with susceptibility to coulure (poor fruit-set after flowering), and irregular yields. Most Tibouren is from old vines. DNA analysis suggests a close connection with the equally rare Rossese which makes red wine in Dolceacqua, just over the border from Nice in western Liguria, Italy. Continue reading