A Taste of Modern Cypriot Rosés

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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

Mosaic found near Paphos showing the god of wine Dionysus, illustrating the ancient history of wine production on the island

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Wine, Films, Action!

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The world of film has had a long connection with Provence, so while the cinema industry focuses on Cannes for the next two weeks for the 69th Cannes Festival of Film (11-22 May 2016), I thought I would do a fun round up of a few film and wine connections in Provence.

*** STOP PRESS **** Jean-Baptiste Pacioselli (whose parents run Domaine St Jean in Bellet) and Kyrian Rouvet of WellKy Films won three awards: ‘Best Original Screenplay of a Foreign Language Film’,’Best Crime Film’ and the ‘Audience Choice Award’ in the short films category on Friday 13th May 2016 for ‘The Last One.’ Congratulations!

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A Bouquet of Tibouren Rosés

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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

A Tasting of International Rosés

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As most of the rosés I taste are from Provence, it is always interesting to look further afield to compare those from other countries and in other styles.

So, in August I organised a group of wine professionals to meet at Domaine le Grand Cros in Carnoules, to taste a range of rosé wines, to see which styles we liked and to create an atmosphere in which to challenge accepted ideas. Especially as rosé styles are fast evolving.

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We had an eclectic mix of 19 rosés from Hungary, Italy, Spain, USA and Lebanon. Some were received as samples from producers. Others we chose as being easily available in France, and were bought from Metro, the nationwide food and wine wholesalers.

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Rosé Wines from Central Europe

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Central_Europe_Regions

This June I drove from home (near Nice) to Hungary to take part in the VinAgora Wine Competition.

With only a few days free before the start of the competition, I drove across northern Italy, to Slovenia, staying for a couple of days outside Ljubljana, before driving east, taking a very short short-cut across northern Croatia into Hungary and up to Budapest.

After the VinAgora competition, I drove from Budapest, north west, briefly across Slovakia to stay a few days in Moravia in the Czech Republic, then south west to Vienna, south through Styria to north east Italy and back home.

During the trip I had a few opportunities to taste local rosé wines, appreciating the diversity of this growing wine style. As there have been no organised tastings of rosé wines from these countries, this summary is based on the few I have tasted and is by no means exhaustive. Despite the popularity of rosé, few rosé wines featured on wine lists in bars and restaurants, so I sometimes had to ask if rosé was available.

The rosés tended to be darker than those of the almost white-shell-pink Provence. Blaufränkisch/Kékfrankos was the most commonly used grape, featuring in twelve out of thirty wines. Zweigelt, which is included in five of the following rosés, is a cross, created at Klosterneuburg (see Austria below) between St Laurent x Blaufränkisch. Most of the rosés were fruity (generally red fruits) and with high acidity. Many also had a delicate tannic presence which, combined with the acidity, appears to give these rosés a degree of longevity; note the vintage dates of those tasted – the oldest being 2012. The majority of rosés tasted were 12% alcohol or under. Continue reading

Rosé Wines from Liguria

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Cantine Bregante vineyards up in the hills overlooking the sea

Cantine Bregante vineyards up in the hills overlooking the sea

The wine region of Liguria is beautiful, with rocky hillside vineyards, overlooking the sea as well as higher up in the valleys.

What makes it so attractive to the casual visitor, does make it more difficult to explore – and interesting – for the wine lover. Small narrow roads meander up amongst the vineyards, the length of the region from the French border to Tuscany, discouraging access for the faint-hearted.

The large number of grape varieties unique to Liguria can be confusing, but research, visiting and tasting in such a picturesque region is worthwhile.

IMG_5134At Ligurian food & wine festival Mare&Mosto in Sestri Levante, I was able to try a large number of wines and talk to producers, and discover more about the growing number of rosé wines (rosati) produced in response to growing popularity.

Many of the rosati are more akin to a light red wine, with a touch of dry tannins on the structure and finish, making them more suitable to accompany a meal than for light easy drinking. The best examples had good ripe fruit which balanced this slightly tannic finish.

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Looking at the Rosé wines of Provence and Elsewhere

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Blind Tasting of Top Rosés at Thomas Pink of Jermyn Street, London

A great location for a tasting, surrounded by expensive shirts, ties and cufflinks!

Fox in the red hunting jacket known as a Pink jacket after the tailor

Fox in the red hunting jacket known as a Pink jacket after the tailor

This was a fascinating tasting of twenty rosés selected from around the world – New Zealand, Australia, Italy and France, all selected because they are highly regarded. So, technically, all of the wines should have achieved high scores.

Admittedly, when wines of such different styles are tasted side by side, some will appeal more than others, so the scores do not necessarily reflect the quality, but rather which style is most attractive to each taster – so it will be fascinating to see the results when they are compiled by Richard Bampfield MW.

Richard Bampfield MW

Richard Bampfield MW

In summary, I would say the rosés I liked most had fresh vibrant fruit (usually red or black depending on the variety), such as Pascal Jolivet, Clos Canarelli, Chene Bleu, Ca dei Frati’s Rosa dei Frati and Charles Melton’s Rose of Virginia, matched with a fresh acidity (preferably not too much grapefruit), as in Clos Canerelli, Domaine Ott’s Clos Mireille, Guado al Tasso’s Scalabroni Rosato. But I also like the creamy, toasty/leesy character (André Dezat, Ch Brown, Domaine de la Source, Ca dei Frati) giving the wine a bit more complexity – maybe more of a gastronomic wine and not a poolside rosé.

Some roses seem to have mixed up weight with gastronomic or serious style – both Chateau d’Esclans and Chateau d’Esclan’s Whispering Angel and Mordorée’s La Dame Rousse – ended up being too chunky and clunky for me.

Tannins in a rosé do not seem to work for me and it was interesting that the two from the Barossa Valley had a touch of tannin, which combined with the darker colour suggests a touch too long skin contact and the use of darker more tannic varieties.

The depth of colour is not something I would judge a wine on – although the Léoube and Chene Bleu were possibly a touch too pale in comparison to the others – but I do know that in Provence that paleness is highly sought after.

Little varietal character seems to show other than the fresh leafy green character of Cabernet or if the variety is too dark and tannic.

Altogether, a rosé, for me, should be fruity and even a touch floral, fresh and clean, some complexity and weight, but not so heavy and chunky that it loses any finesse.