Rosé is rocking the Languedoc

 

It’s no great secret that I adore rosé wines in all their many incarnations, so when I was asked if I’d like to participate in this year’s #Languedoc Day by reflecting on a few samples, it only took a moment for me to accept.

Rosé has become somewhat synonymous with the region of Provence and understandably so – they have been producing softly hued pink wines for well over 2000 years.  However their neighbor, the Languedoc, is making delicious and overt advances on their territory and the wine-loving public, are the beneficiaries.

Located in the south-western part of France, the Languedoc is the largest wine-producing region in the country. Bordered by the Mediterranean and stretching from the Rhône Valley in the north-east to the Roussillon region in the south, it’s wild, windy, mountainous terrain hosts a wide range of soil types and climates, equating to a patchwork of distinctive terroirs.

Most of the output is red, with a focus on Carignan, Grenache Noir, Syrah, and Mourvèdre but Rosé production is on the rise, both in numbers and in quality.

 

chateau_de_lascaux_-_garrigue_rose_-_site_web2016 Château Lascaux ‘Garrigue’ Rosé, AOC Languedoc  (SRP $17.00)

The region of Pic St, Loup is found north of the city of Montpellier, sheltered from the, often ferocious, Tramontane and Mistral winds by the Cévennes mountains.  The 45 acres of organic vineyards belonging to Château Lascaux, are located in the northerly reaches of the AOC, nestled between pine forests and swaths of wild ‘garrigue’ – the scrubby resinous herbs that flourish on the inhospitable limestone soils.

The Chateau’s name, Lascaux, is derived from a type of limestone found on the property which has been in the Cavalier family for thirteen generations.

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photo courtesy Château Lascaux

A blend of 40% Cinsault and 30% each Syrah and Grenache, the wine has an appealing pale melon hue, but with the first sniff, it’s all red fruits – strawberry, red currant and mellow cherry.  Juicy melon, peach, and raspberry round out the palate with wafts of aromatic thyme and bay leaf. ‘Garrigue’ is a fitting name.

 

 

2016 Domaine de Fontsainte ‘Gris de Gris’ Rose, AOC Corbières (SRP $14.95)

Corbières is the largest appellation in the Languedoc and the fourth largest in France. Named after the rugged limestone hills that overlook the ancient terrain (rock specimens over 500 million years old have been found), this is a dynamic and diverse region.

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image courtesy of http://www.fontsainte.com

On the road from Narbonne to Carcassonne, near the town of Boutenac, you’ll find the vineyards of Domaine de Fontsainte.  This sunny area, now known as the ‘Golden Crescent’, was highly favored by the Romans and it’s not unusual for vineyard workers to come across ancient coins and other artifacts. The original Domaine evolved around a thermal spring which was, in the 12th century, named after a saint – hence the name Fontsainte or Saint’s Fount.  The vines, which are sustainably grown on soils of silica, clay, and limestone, are protected from the winds by a vast, 500 ha/1,235 acre pine forest that, according to the proprietor Bruno Laboucari, contribute to the special character of the wines:

“Early morning, in the summer, there is an aroma in the humid air, warming the vineyard, of pine resin and pollen, citrus in flower, rosemary, thyme, spicy garriuge heath and woodland undergrowth. That’s the indescribable flavor that makes our wines special.”

 

 

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Garrigue refers to the many wild, resinous herbs (thyme, rosemary, bay, fennel and more) that grow on limesone.

 

Another discerning factor is the dominant grape variety used in the ‘Gris de Gris’ – Grenache Gris, which makes up 50% of the blend A cousin to Grenache Noir and Grenache Blanc, the less familiar ‘Gris’ or ‘grey’ shares the same DNA. It produces wines with distinctive minerality and flavors of honey, almonds, and stone fruits

The blend is rounded out with 20% each Grenache Noir and Carignan plus 5% of both Cinsault and Mourvèdre.

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photo courtesy www,fontsainte.com

This rosé is produced using a technique known as ‘saignée’ in which the grapes are crushed and left to macerate for anywhere from 6 to 24 hours.  Once the desired color is achieved, they ‘bleed’ (the English definition of ‘saignée) or remove some of the juice to a separate tank where fermentation will take place.  One of the virtues of this method is that you can produce both a rosé and, from the juice and skins left in the original vat, a red wine as well.

Rosé appears in a multitude of shades and this 2016 vintage shows peachy melon hues with intriguing tinges of lavender mauve on the rim.  The aromas evoke summer memories of fleshy strawberries and ripe peach, with exotic notes of tangerine and pineapple.  Berries dominate the finish, especially red raspberry, with sensual touches of orange oil. This is a ‘tricksy’ little wine, offering up both refreshment and lushness, making it altogether seductive and delicious.

 

The Languedoc is a region to watch. Full of creativity and the desire to prove its worth, it continues to surprise and delight, tempting with undiscovered treasures at beguiling prices.

The writer was provided with wine samples for review but the descriptions and are her own.

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Five great reasons to love rosé wines from Provence

It’s official – America has a big, huge, delicious crush on the rosé wines of Provence. According to Nielson polling, approximately half of all the pink wine purchased in the United States last year was from Provence. Not surprising – after all, this region is the ancient home of rosé and they set the standards for the style, but what is it about these wines from the sunny south of France that has beguiled the American wine drinker? Here are a few ideas:

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CREDIT PHOTO : F.MILLO/CIVP

It looks like Springtime: Although rosé can vary in color from faintly pink through to deeper raspberry, and every shade in between, the delicate appearance makes us think of the first warm days that herald Spring. Think cherry blossoms, roses and juicy strawberries!

It smells like Summer: Those sensual aromas of ripe, plum, red berries, mingled with a bit of cranberry, tangerine and perhaps a whisper of spice – rosé is truly the spirit of summer in a bottle. What better to cool off the heat of a sun filled afternoon than a chilled glass of rose?

A new vintage is on its way: Rosè is not a wine you put away for a special occasion. This is a wine you drink while it’s vibrant, young and fresh, so keep an eye on the shelves of your favorite wine shop and stock up as soon as they appear. Many distributors may only get a case or two from a few producers and they will disappear quickly as more and more buyers learn about the joys of these French rosè.

It’s a ‘Sipper’ – Most Provence rosès are on the lower end of the alcohol scale, with an average of 12% alcohol by volume. This means that you can enjoy more than one glass without feeling too tipsy! Now, this doesn’t mean you should consider it en par with non-alcoholic beverages; it is still booze, after all!

It’s a ‘foodie wine’ – Warmer weather means lighter fare – salads, charcuterie and cheese plates, pastas and picnics – that beg for a lighter, refreshingly crisp wine. Provence rose is happy to answer the call. These wines have a palate cleansing quality that enhances the flavors of a wide range of cuisines making them a perfect pairing.

Embrace Provence rosè -the harbinger of Spring. It seems American has got the message.

Originally published on Examiner.com