THE MANY SUMMER SHADES OF FRENCH ROSÉ!

Posted by Team Roma on

A Wine Wisdom Online Masterclass with Ron Merlino, Certified Sommelier and wine consultant to Roma Wines & Liquors.

DID YOU KNOW THAT ROSÉ WINE IS THE ORIGINAL FINE WINE?

Long before red and white wine, there was rosé - beloved by the Ancient Greeks, admired by the Romans, fought over by the French and English throughout the Medieval Ages, and coveted by the Flappers of the 1920s - Rosé wine has been the heart and soul of wine passion for the entire span of human history.

We may all think of Rosé as a less important, easy drinking, not too serious wine - one to be enjoyed without much attention as a mere addition to the summer experience - an accessory to pleasure.

Well, it can indeed be just that.

But it can be MUCH MUCH more as well.

Rosé is very difficult to make. It requires extreme care and focus on the part of the winemaker to press the grapes just right, to deliver the ideal balance of flavor and freshness, to blend the different grapes in the perfect proportions to craft a pleasing wine that keeps you coming back for a new glass, sip after sip - always luring you in to its charms.

Rosé aims to please. This is the very reason it was long considered to be the finest quality of wine - in high demand by the wealthy, always a style that everyone wanted to drink -  that is, until the 18th century when strong and durable glass bottles were invented. Before that time, there was no complex red wine to keep in a cellar for decades, there was no champagne either. The weak strength of the older glass bottles could not keep the pressure of the sparkling wine from exploding.

By and large, wine was prized for its freshness, its early drinking style. The “newest” wines were the most expensive; and the older, aged wines, the darker, redder, coarser and more astringent ones, these were left to the lower classes of society or even given as rations to soldiers as was the case in Ancient Rome.

Subtlety, delicacy, elegance, refinement - these were the hallmarks of a great wine - one that could match and pair beautifully with all manner of foods and dishes, that could provide pleasure at functions and social gatherings. Rosé was the true gastronomic wine that could please everyone and still offer a deeper level of aesthetic appreciation for those who admired it as an art form.

Much of this was due simply to the fact that technology limited how wine could be made. Without long term storage and temperature controlled facilities as we have today - grapes were harvested, left to rest on their skins for a short time, and then immediately pressed as a light pink juice that was then fermented - in short, rosé! In most cases white and red grapes were grown side by side in vineyards and harvested together, and then pressed and fermented together. Invariably, most wines took on a common light red, pink, or gentle orange hue.

Winemakers could not risk too much spoilage or oxidation on the grapes after picking and so the wines needed to made quickly. And in turn they needed to be drunk young to keep their delicate aromas and gentle flavors and not turn sour. Necessity meant fine wine throughout most of human history as we know it - was Rosé.

Today we find Rosé wines made in every corner of the globe - where there is fine wine, there is Rosé wine - no matter what the climate, soil, and style of the other wines - we have rosé - not as an afterthought, but as an integral part of the winemaking - all thanks to the legacy of history. And let’s be honest - rosé wines work brilliantly with food - they just do. They are the ultimate food friendly wines and that gives them a superb purpose for all occasions.

Don’t think that Rosé is a secondary wine - it is as important a wine as all the rest; and here at Roma Wines, we believe deeply in Rosé and we have built a splendid range of different rosé wines from different countries and continents all to give you many different choices to explore and discover - wines that can be enjoyed outdoors, at a picnic, at your dinner table with simple foods and even just on their own with a summer breeze or a blazing sunset.

HOW DO THEY MAKE ROSÉ WINES?

Direct Pressing (or Skin Contact) Method

This is the most common and highest quality way to make a great bottle of rosé. The grapes are harvested, left to soak in the vats or barrels for a short time (from hours to a few days at most), and then they are pressed and the juice from the press is then fermented into wine. White and red grapes can often be blended before fermentation in this method.

Saignee (or Free Run Juice) Method

In this style, the juice that naturally runs from the bottom of the fermentation vessel mostly from the weight of the grapes piled on top of one another above, is the juice that is used for the fermentation of the wine. This generally is used to concentrate the quality of the red wine and “bleed off” the natural first juice - and so a rosé made entirely from this saignee liquid tends not to be of the most complex character. However, many very fine Rosé wines will use BOTH the free run (saignee) juice as well as the direct press juice and ferment them together - and this can deliver a wine with much more structure and aging potential.

Blending Method

In this process, separately fermented white and red wines are simply blended together to create a rosé or blush wine. In modern times this is generally frowned upon except in the Champagne region where it remains the only way to produce a great Rosé Champagne. However in most fine wine regions, this would not be done to produce a fine quality rosé. This is different from the direct press wines where whites and reds are blended before fermentation.

Chances are that most great Rosés you enjoy this summer will be Direct Press and one or two may combine elements of Saignee in their creation as well - and we have a few examples of each for you to enjoy.

WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?

You can find a Rosé everywhere fine wine is made - however there are a few classic countries and regions where you are likely to discover some of the best rosés on the planet.

Let’s begin in France where there are more diverse styles, types, and traditions of Rosé than anywhere else in the world. From the far north to the very southernmost borders of the country, France takes its Rosés very seriously - so let’s explore a few key categories.

PROVENCE, France - The Spiritual Home of Rosé Wines Today

Why are there SO many Provence Rosés?? Is there a reason for this?? Yes!

Provence is a large place - covering many distinct climates and soil types - from the sun baked sandy beaches of the Riviera to mountains, valleys, rivers, and lagoons all covered in lavender, thyme, olive and almond groves, and of course vines. These vines are populated by many different types of grapes white and red, they grow in hot and cool areas, on limestone and schist, clay and sandy soils.

Most importantly, Provence sits on the Mediterranean Sea and it has many natural ports and harbors. This informs its powerful place in the history of wine.

The Ancient Greeks, Phoenicians, and Phocaeans in the 5th and 6th Century BC spread their winemaking knowledge from the Middle East and the Greek Islands all across the Mediterranean thanks to their intrepid seafaring skills and trading interests. Their traditional wines were light delicate rosés. As they extended their trading networks, these winemaking sea captains planted new vines throughout southern Europe - especially Sicily, Southern France, and Spain, as well as Northern Africa.

Later on when the Romans conquered a wider Empire, they wisely continued cultivating these early Greek vineyards and expanded them farther north into Burgundy and Champagne, Bordeaux, and beyond. However, the wines from Southern France - in particular those from modern day Provence became highly prized back home in Rome for their special, refined quality - and as early as the 2nd Century AD, the fame and renown for the Rosé wines of Provence were already secured.

The Mediterranean Sea also provided another catalyst for rosé wines in Provence: seafood. Seafood was prized by the Romans and it required a balanced, delicate wine that could match subtle flavors together at the table.

It is HOT in Provence, and the grapes can over-ripen in the sun - which can make it hard to produce a balanced red wine that is not too fleshy or round or overwhelming on the palate.

The right answer for Provence, even as modern winemaking technology did develop in the 18th and 19th centuries, was to remain true to the time-honored tradition of the light pale pink wine from ancient times - fresh, appealing, and ideally suited to the climate and its cuisines.

As Nouvelle Cuisine advanced from France across the globe at the end of the 20th century, Provence wines found their place in the fine restaurants of the world. After 2000, Provence Rosés led the new movement for legitimizing Rosé worldwide, and for the past 20 years, great Provencale producers have invested more time and money into making and crafting world-class rosé bottles.

It is a glorious time once again for Provence Rosé and there are many different sub-regions in Provence each with their own style and type of Rosé - this can be a bit daunting to figure out for yourself but we will single out three of them for you here:

  1. Cotes de Provence;
  2. Coteaux-d’Aix-en-Provence
  3. Bandol

Chances are, if you pick up a bottle of Provence Rosé, it will likely come from one of these three wine regions

Cotes de Provence is the largest area and encompasses the vast majority of all Provence rosés - these can be made from any number of grapes and they are almost always blends, quite often of red and white grapes (but they are usually made in the high quality Direct Press method). Here one will commonly find the red grapes Mourvedre and Cinsault, as well as Grenache and Carignan alongside the white grapes of Rolle (Vermentino), Ugni Blanc, Clairette, and Bourboulenc.

Don’t worry! You don’t have to know what the grapes are to appreciate the style of a Cotes de Provence Rosé - they are usually very very light, extremely subtle, floral and aromatic, tart, juicy, and even a little bit salty as well. They are always very dry and lower in alcohol keeping them easy to drink and refreshing on the palate.

Coteaux-d’Aix-en-Provence Rosés come from an area a bit further inland and west near to the Medieval city of Aix - and here with a generally warmer climate, the wines can be a bit more full and round - mind you, not very full, but with a touch more power than the Cotes de Provence wines and a reliance on a bit more red grapes in the blend.

Bandol is the prized original Greek port settlement from the 6th Century B.C. - here on the terraced vineyards that cling to the steep mountain foothills that surround the valley on three sides (the ocean being the fourth), the rugged powerful intense brooding and remarkable Mourvedre red grape reigns supreme.

Bandol sports an abundance of limestone in its soils and the wines here have a long long life span - most reds require many years of aging before they can be properly enjoyed and the Rosés here, while easy to drink young, do have much more grip and weight, they are rounder, fuller d heartier than their neighbor Rosés from the other two regions mentioned here. Bandol rosés are darker in color, and made predominantly from Mourvedre along with a touch of Cinsault as well. Aficionados of fine wine who don’t often drink or collect rosé bottles generally do have Bandol Rosés in their cellars - these are magical, serious wines worthy of pure meditation in many cases.

There is more than just Provence Rosé however in France - and some other southern wine producing regions in France have their own equally long tradition of making fine and beautiful Rosés.

SOUTHERN RHONE VALLEY, France - Big Bold Red wines and One Famous Rosé

Tavel - near the famed Chateauneuf du Pape region

Just to the west of Provence lies the majestic history-laden wine region of the Southern Rhone. Vineyards line either side of the great powerful Rhone river that flows down from the north, spanning the distance from Lyon in the north to Avignon in the south. The rich juicy, soft and round reds from this area are a constant favorite among American wine drinkers.

Unusually, for as much Rosé as there is in Provence, there is that little of it in the Rhone Valley. In fact, there is nearly none at all except for one tiny appellation with a history of Rosé that is as old and even more distinguished than that of Provence.

That is Tavel.

In Tavel there are ONLY Rosé wines - nothing else. And it has been that way since the Romans settled here in the early 2nd century A.D. A small, tight village that lies just a stone’s throw to the northwest from the world-famous Chateauneuf du Pape wine region, Tavel was the favored wine of the Popes who resided at Avignon during the 14th century. It was also beloved by King Louis XIV The Sun King some three hundred years later earning it the title “The Rosé of Kings and the King of Rosés.”

These are Rosé wines so distinct that you could confuse them with true red wines. They are deep, rich, concentrated, even tannic with grip and bite - the kind of Rosé that you could serve in the autumn and winter with heavier foods and still enjoy its charms.

Here in Tavel - as in all of the Southern Rhone, the Grenache grape is the star of the show and Tavel wines rely on Grenache as the major component to the blend. Like Provence, Tavel Rosé is a blended wine and by law it must include at least two grapes - usually with Cinsault as the primary partner and a whole host of other grapes, white and red, filling in the gaps. Grenache provides a rich luscious warm strawberry foundation and Cinsault adds vibrant racy raspberry notes as well as floral elements that deliver an intoxicating and long long lived wine of pleasing textures with deep dark pink almost light purple color. In fact, Tavel has its own distinctive color that immediately stands out in a lineup.

What makes Tavel so rich and complex? Remember our rosé production styles? Well in Tavel, the wine uses BOTH Skin Contact/Direct Press AND Saignee Free Run Juice together. The added free run juice plus the concentrated direct press wine (having been made concentrated buy the bleeding off of the free run wine) provides a more structured base wine to ferment and the final result is something closer to a full-blown red Rhone wine than a light, delicate rosé.

Once you’ve tasted a Tavel, you will always remember it. This is a unique, singular and beautifully haunting wine that speaks to a long ago history and retains the spirit of its past in vibrant, richly tapestried flavors. These are some of the great wines of the world, yet they remain largely overlooked. Feel free to buy several extra bottles and let them age - they will reward you with time in the cellar just like a great red wine will - and their charms will evolve and mellow to grace your palate with an experience like no other.

THE LANGUEDOC, France - Rugged and Poetic, Wines of the Troubadours.

We move even further west to France’s largest wine producing area - the Languedoc, the land of the Occitane Peoples and the 12th Century Troubadours, a once thriving Medieval cultural society wedged between the Pyrenees of Spain and the vast reaches of France’s Auvergne. More wine is grown and produced here than in any other part of France and the landscape is so vast and diverse that it would be impossible to summarize the wines and its Rosés in any meaningful fashion.

Rather let us celebrate the panoply of offerings and focus on two major regions within the Languedoc with their own individual styles of rosés.

Minervois - in the northwest part of the Pays D’Oc (as it is often called) celebrates its ancient Greek wine legacy with the central town of Minerve named for the Greek goddess herself. Here we find steep hills of limestone and powerful endless Mistral winds that blow over the land relentlessly - the vines are tough and gnarled, but they are also full of poetic beauty - perfumed, floral, and at the same time powerful. Grenache sits side by side with Syrah here (a dense deep dark northern Rhone red grape), and Cinsault is always there to offer its gentle tempering character as well.

Minervois Rosés are much beloved and usually are made entirely from the Saignee Method only - which means they are extremely light, delicate and very very floral and subtle but with a pleasing twist of concentrated fruit flavors as well. Don't miss this special wine if you can try one.

Corbieres, which sits just south of Minervois, lies within the famed Golden Crescent area - one filled with sandy beaches and bright flamingos, vast lakes that spread as far as the eye can see, and dry scrub brush foothills dotted with Medieval castles and fortified cities. This is another old Roman wine region with a long legacy. The reds cover many styles and here the tough rustic blackberry brambly Carignan red grape is the star - but a unique and special though extremely rare style of Rosé can also be found here made from the Grenache Gris grape.

Grenache Gris is a mutation of the red Grenache grape and it appears side by side with the red version in the vineyards just “by chance”. When it occurs, producers here value this unusual prize as the perfect Rosé grape and they turn it into something magical. The Gris version of the grape is naturally very light pink in color, and so when turned into wine it provides the most gentle onion skin pale color rosé in all of France. The character of this wine can be intoxicating - full of mouth puckering strawberry and peach fruit flavors with racy acidity and a dash of citrus finish. It is very dry yet tricks your mind into feeling you’ve had a mouthful of fruit. Once you have tasted this style of Rosé, you will find yourself craving it again and again with all your meals - but beware, it is heartbreakingly hard to find! 

ROSÉS OF THE LOIRE VALLEY, France - A TALE OF TWO GRAPES, MOSTLY

The Loire Valley is something of a misnomer - it spans the entire run of France’s longest river, the Loire, which flows 700 miles from the central interior all the way to the Atlantic Coast. And so Loire wine defies true and easy description - there are so many different wine regions within and along the Loire that are grouped together under the title Loire wines, that you would have a hard time keeping them all straight in your minds. Let’s just focus on two of those regions each with a famous style of Rosé wine that you should know and taste if you have the chance:

Chinon and Sancerre

Up to now, we’ve discussed Rosés that are made from blends of different grapes - but here in these two regions, the Rosés are made from one grape only - Cabernet Franc in Chinon and Pinot Noir in Sancerre.

Chinon lies at the heart of the Loire valley centrally located not far from the city of Touraine. Chinon itself is a legendary capital fortress with powerful history - here the Romans first set up the border of the Empire at the confluence of the Loire and Vienne rivers - across the Loire was the uncharted land of the Celts. In the Medieval ages, Chinon was in fact the capital of England for a time. King Henry the Second ruled over his lands in France and England from Chinon in the 12th century and from that time the wines of Chinon were considered justly famous throughout much of Europe. Joanne of Arc began her famous campaign to regain control of France from England here in 1429. And well into the 19th century through many periods of royal rule and control, Chinon remained a vital cultural and economic crossroads.

Throughout this dense history, the wines of Chinon were continuously praised and admired. If one red wine from the Loire is familiar to most drinkers today it would be Chinon. These wines are traditionally made from the ubiquitous grape of the area - Cabernet Franc - a parent grape to the more famous Cabernet Sauvignon found in Bordeaux and in Napa Valley.

Cabernet Franc can be delicate and gentle - full of red currant and raspberry favors with an unmistakable hint of violets and a telltale green herb almost green pepper note as well. It’s a complex grape and worthy of its love among wine drinkers - but for most of its wine history, it was produced as a Rosé. The Chinon wines admired at the Medieval and Renaissance courts of France and England were much as you would find the Rosé version of it to be today - fresh, delicate, alluringly sweet and savory - full of rich mineral notes from the hard, crumbly yellow limestone “tuffeau” that blankets the vineyards. These are age worthy wines - you can hold them for quite some time in your cellar and enjoy their evolution. Like any fine wine, they will reward your loyalty.

The Rosés of Chinon are an excellent gateway for discovering the whites and reds of the region as well. Cabernet Franc can be appealing to many yet unusual to others - and for a first experience of its unique flavors - the gentler versions in rosé form provide an ideal introduction.

Chinon Rosé is usually produced by Direct Press method with most of the whole clusters kept in the pressing to add structure, weight, and dimension to the wines - a few versions see the Saignee method but here in the Loire, the Rosés are meant to be heartier, more powerful and robust than those commonly found in Provence.

Sancerre Rosé is an even more vivid snapshot of its real wine history - for even though Sancerre is today best known for its racy, tart, taut white wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape - for most of its history from Roman settlement in the 1st century A.D. right up to the end of the 19th century, its wines were red - produced mainly from the red Pinot Noir grape and occasionally also from the red Gamay grape. This has everything to do with its geography, for while Sancerre is technically classified as part of the Loire it really lies so far to the east that it is much closer to Burgundy, Beaujolais, and Champagne than it is to the famous vineyards of Chinon.

Here the climate is much cooler - it is far inland and not subject to any influences from the Atlantic like much of the Loire wine region is - and it shares a common history with the Kingdom of Burgundy. It has a profusion of chalky white limestone soils that make it a geological cousin to Champagne; and so historically the wines of Sancerre were very similar to the great red/rosé wines of Burgundy and Champagne. Highly prized and fought over, these very, very, delicate, tart, cherry-flavored red wines with searing acidity could be kept for long periods of time even in past centuries. Indeed, Sancerre was regularly sieged in order to gain access to its wine cellars!

Since Sancerre’s modern-day Rosé is made from the Pinot Noir grape - this version again gives us a window into history, though today’s wines are likely much cleaner, sharper and refined than an old fashioned Sancerre would ever have been. We find most of these are produced by the Direct Press method but a few can also include some use of Saignee to boost the fullness of the wine, much like we found in Tavel in the Rhone.

Pinot Noir is a fickle and finicky grape. It can be notoriously difficult to grow properly - and here in Sancerre where the winters are cold, ripening a Pinot Noir fully can often be a challenge. Choosing to make a Rosé rather than a full blown red can sometimes be the better option.

At their very best, these wines are charming - full of cherry and strawberry and raspberry notes with a hint of sage and thyme thrown in for good measure. They are mouth filling and very high in acidity - making them far different from the subtle warmer rosés of the south of France. Sancerre Rosés need a bit of protein - you are less likely to drink them on their own or even as an aperitif - pair them instead with simple meals - salads, white meats, vegetable casseroles and so forth.

Also - try comparing a Chinon and a Sancerre rosé side by side and see if you can discern the clear flavor differences between the Cabernet Franc and the Pinot Noir. This can be a fun, informative and delicious exercise!

ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE! Champagne Region, France

Our last stop on the tour of France brings us to the glamorous wines of Champagne in the very northeast corner of the country. Champagne is technically a very different style of wine from still rosé; and while we cannot go in-depth into the ways of producing champagne here, it is worth including Champagne in our list of legendary Rosé regions because this is the one place where BLENDING RED AND WHITE GRAPES is not only allowed but is encouraged.

Historically Champagne wines WERE still Rosés - much like the Rosés of Sancerre, and until the early 18th century, they too were made from Pinot Noir grapes, with wines made in a feathery light delicate fashion - subtle and alluring, bursting with acidity, screaming with the hard white chalky mineral notes of the blazing chalk soils that make Champagne so famous today - spiced with a generous touch of herbal character as well.

Like Tavel in the south, the Rosés of Champagne were the “other” court wine of King Louis XIV at Versailles and they were the raging rivals to the wines of Burgundy for several hundred years right up to the advent of the sparkling method of champagne production in the early 18th century. After that time Champagne wines changed course entirely (again the advent of strong glass bottles was the key here) but up to then - this was yet another source for some of the great Rosé wines on the planet.

Even though Champagne moved to sparkling wines, the need to keep a Rosé wine was clear - and during the last years of Marie-Antoinette’s reign just prior to the French Revolution - a style of sparkling champagne to which red pinot noir wine was added became a favorite of the Queen and then quickly all the rage of Paris.

This Rosé Champagne endured even after the fall of the monarchy and happily today we all can enjoy its more robust, round, generous character nestled within the many different types of Champagne on the market.

In modern times, producers often add or blend in a portion of actual red wine with the sparkling wine giving the Rosé Champagne its unique weight and body. It has a slightly more viscous, wine-like character and is bursting with fresh cut flowers, white cherries, and wild berries on the palate. That red wine that is added can come from either the Pinot Noir grape or the other cousin found in Champagne, the Pinot Meunier grape, or indeed a mix of both. The addition of this still wine usually amounts to about 10-15% of the mix, and it makes all the difference in the flavor and texture of the finished champagne. Once it is added - voila! you have the one great rosé wine of the world that is produced by our third method - blending white and red wines together.

The next time you grab a few bottles of easy drinking affordable still rosés, treat yourself to a more elegant champagne rosé as well and see if you can notice how the red wine plays beautifully against the sparkling style. Rosé Champagnes are an investment in price terms but they are - as all rosés are - quite difficult and challenging to make - and so the next time you sit down to enjoy a summer evening or a picnic or gathering among friends (from a distance of course), raise your glass with a deeper appreciation for the serious and sophisticated quality of Rosé wines. Remember to admire their charms and their genius in ways you may not have before and celebrate the summer in true colorful style.

 

ADDITIONAL LEARNING: THE ROSÉ GRAPES OF FRANCE AND THEIR CHARACTERISTICS 

Grenache - Common in the Southern Rhone, Languedoc, and Provence.

This grape is high in alcohol, low in acid, full of strawberry and red berry fruits, supple, generous, it can sometimes have a gentle white pepper, spicy flavor as well especially in its homeland of Spain.

Grenache loves warm, hot climates, it grows happily in low lying free standing untrained older vines known as Gobelet vines and these can be seen throughout the south of France. It enjoys many different soil types and is not particularly fussy about location.

It blends beautifully with so many other grapes like Syrah and Mourvedre, and it can even produce long-lived sweet wines as well.

Mourvedre - Common only in specific parts of Provence, Southern Rhone, and Languedoc. This is a tough, tannic, meaty, hearty, powerful grape with dark color, a mixed black berries flavor profile tinged with green notes and herbs.

It is rarely produced as a single varietal and can benefit from some blending to soften its edges but when it ages, it can turn into a very beautiful elegant floral and complex wine as is the case in Bandol.

Mourvedre is extremely particular about the soils and aspect and location on which it grows. It needs a lot of sunlight but it can also require a very careful balance of water and soil types. It ripens extremely late in the season and can demand that the winemaker catch it at just the perfect moment for harvest otherwise the window for its ideal flavors will quickly diminish.

Cinsault - found everywhere in Southern France. An easy to like grape - bright, perfumed, full of fresh strawberry scents and low soft tannins. It generally is used as a blending grape and is only seen on its own as a rosé bottling in France.

This is a grape that brings something extra to any combination of other dark red grapes and seems to just improve the company it keeps.

Cabernet Franc - classic parent grape of Cabernet Sauvignon - found throughout the Loire and Bordeaux and in some parts of the Languedoc and Southwest France. It is a medium bodied grape with good levels of acidity, moderate levels of tannin and an ability to age beautifully in the bottle.

Cabernet Franc can be divisive - some drinkers love its green pepper flavors and it’s unusual mix of red currant/raspberry flavors with olives and violets. In Bordeaux it is seen only as a blending grape but in the Loire it is revered for its capacity to singularly express soil types and variations with incredible subtlety all on its own.

Pinot Noir - one of the great grapes of the world - legendary in Burgundy and Champagne, occasionally found throughout the Loire as well as Alsace.

Pinot Noir is the “heartbreak” grape owing to its extreme difficulty to grow and tend in the vineyards - it is extremely susceptible to many weather influences and can often produce wines of average quality. But when placed in the hands of a great winemaker its charms can exceed that of anything else on the planet.

Pinot Noir covers the gamut from cherry to strawberry to currant and red berry flavors, always in France with a hint of green herbs as well as rich dark earthy tones as well. Pinot can be full and fleshy, light and airy, and everything in between - and its delicate tannins, its good striking levels of acidity, and its sheer complexity of character in aroma and taste and structure and texture make it easily a candidate for all kinds of winemaking.

In the Loire we see it blended with other red grapes like Gamay, but in Sancerre it is used singularly; in Burgundy it always appears solo; in Champagne (and even further north in Alsace) it can appear solo or blended with white and other red grapes or both.

Fall in love with Pinot and you will never stop seeking your moment of epiphany.

 

Our Selection of Fine French Rosés at Roma Wines

PROVENCE:

Chateau Pradeaux Bandol Rosé 2019 ** (notable pick)
$33

This legendary wine made by the famous estate of Pradeaux sits at the western edge of this iconic wine region of Provence - very close to the ocean in Saint Cyr-sur-Mer. Pradeaux is one of the old school Bandol wineries - founded in 1752 and practicing fully organic methods of production. Meticulous attention to detail, strict extremely low yields, and uncompromising excellence is the hallmark of this great, great winery. This bottle is crafted from a 50/50 mix of Mourvedre (the great red grape of Bandol) and Cinsault. Powerful, textured, full of rich blackberry and wild berry notes with a sprinkling of wild strawberry and a touch of melon - this is one for the cellar - as it can be drunk now or you can scoop up this rarity and collect it for the future. Some bottle age will reveal hidden charms of violets and lavender on the nose.

Commanderie de Peyrassol La Croix des Templiers 2018, Mediterranee Rosé IGP
$16.00

An Historical Estate linked to the Knights Templar and the Crusades, it is located in the Var, north of St Tropez, where wines have been made here continuously since 1256! Peyrassol produces an extensive range of Rosés and this one combines Grenache and Cinsault in equal parts with a small addition of the white Viognier grape to add floral and perfume notes. This is a direct press wine - delicate, soft, gentle and full of clean, approachable fruit flavors.

Maison Saint Aix AIX Rosé 2019, Coteaux-d’Aix-en-Provence
$20.00 750mL
$39.00 Magnum

A classic bottle combining Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Carignan. This sees both Direct Press and a portion of Saignee in the production. Raspberry, spice, citrus and salt all swirl together in an easy drinking refreshing wine.

Domaine Saint Marie Vie Vite Rosé 2018, Cotes de Provence
$22.00 750mL
$53.00 Magnum

Another classic Provence Rosé - this estate sits just beyond Saint Tropez and is composed of equal parts Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah with 10% Carignan added for structure and spice. A more opulent cornucopia of different fruit flavors is found here - generous and open, adaptable for many foods and occasions.

Miraval Rosé 2019, Cotes de Provence
$23.00

The famous joint partnership between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt with the famous Perrin wine family of the southern Rhone, this fully organic estate sits beyond the village of Correns on steep terraces of limestone and clay. This is a complex blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Rolle (Vermentino - a white grape), with a partial Saignee process applied here to the wine.

Domaine de la Sangliere Breezette Rosé 2018, Cotes de Provence
$17.00

This is an unusual mix of 70% Cinsault and 30% Grenache offering a fresh strawberry flavored wine with a hint of salinity to keep things interesting. An easy, approachable summer wine.

 

RHONE:

Domaine de Pelaquie, Tavel Rosé 2019 **(notable pick)
$18.00

This glorious estate founded in the mid 1500s is one of the few producers of this legendary style of Rosé in the tiny appellation of Tavel. Here we have 60% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, and 20% of the meaty robust Mourvedre all combined to deliver a lush, textured, structured, deep berry and gentle plum flavored wine that can last for ages in your cellar. Savor the aromas of violets and peonies that grace your nose as you sip this and pair it with simple or hearty foods as your occasion demands. In classic Tavel fashion this wine sees a combination of Direct Press and Saignee methods used. 

 

LANGUEDOC:

Chateau D’Oupia Minervois Rosé 2019 ** (notable pick)
$16.00

One of the benchmark Rosés of France! D’Oupia sources from Minervois’ famous hillside vines resting on limestone and clay - this cuvee is a mix of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault treated with such delicacy and precision that you have a wine of pure poetry - gossamer light, perfumed, with a hint of peach, cherry, berry and melon fruit beneath the surface. Utterly stunning in its complex lightness of being - don’t miss this beautiful work of art.

Domaine de Fontsainte Corbières Gris de Gris Rosé 2019 ** (notable pick)
$17.00

One of the rarest rosés in all of France made mostly from the Grenache Gris grape with a small amount of Carignan, Mourvedre and Cinsault pressed entirely in the Saignee method only in order to keep the wine as elegant as possible. Grenache Gris is an unusual mutation of Grenache - it literally spontaneously appears as a light pink skinned version of the red grape in the vines - and here it is made into a racy, refined, citrus and red berry focused wine that tantalizes your tongue and your mind. This is meditative wine that can be enjoyed with ease - the sand, clay, limestone and round pebbles here offer a complex range of soils that somehow, effortlessly integrate into this remarkable wine. Terroir is not a common experience in a rosé and yet it can be found in this wine - a testament to the brilliant mastery and craft of this great and always affordable winery. Utterly addictive.

Les Chemins de Bassac, Isa Rosé 2018, Vins de Pays des Cotes de Thongue 
$15.00

This small fully organic estate produces honest, genuine wines that reflect the land of the Languedoc with beautiful grace. Here on a small estate north of Beziers not far from the sea, Isabelle and Remy Ducellier produce a lithe and graceful Rosé from Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and a small hint of (yes) Pinot Noir - all fermented separately and then blended into this lovely wine. These are young vines on limestone and clay that produce an energetic and pleasing wine of darker berry flavors with a touch of savory earthy garden essence. A wine produced entirely from the Saignee method, this is a true wine of the land itself. Delicious and enjoyable in every way.

 

LOIRE:

Domaine Beatrice and Pascal Lambert Chinon Rosé, Cuvee Mathilde 2019
$20.00

This fully Biodynamic estate makes this round and open knit Rosé entirely from Cabernet Franc - with the addition of 80% whole clusters to add grip and texture making a full, generous style of rosé wine. Enjoy the red currant and violet notes in this classic Chinon.

Henri Bourgeois La Porte de Caillou Sancerre Rosé 2019
$23.00

Textbook example of the style - vibrant red tart cherry Pinot Noir shines with ample acidity on the palate. This is a focused, slightly herbal wine that hails from the village of Chavignol coming from a mix of clay and limestone soils. The wine sees an unusually long period of skin contact (2 full days) before the wine is pressed and fermented - this adds an extra layer of bite and grip. This is a wine that needs to be paired with food for its charms to be fully enjoyed.

 

CHAMPAGNE:

Pommery Brut Rosé Royal NV
$53.00

Founded by the intrepid Madame Pommery in the 19th century, Champagne Pommery has become one of the beloved great names of Champagne and has retained its standing as a pioneer in modern winemaking techniques to this day. Always a source of well-priced, excellent bottles, this Rosé version from the house of Pommery is a blend of 30 different crus throughout the region with all three principal grapes represented - Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir some of which is added as a still wine into the blend. Delicate yet robust, this will not disappoint anyone seeking a balanced yet complex, reliable rosé champagne.

Veuve Cliquot Rosé Brut NV
$64.00

This wine from the most famous house in all of Champagne is the exact same wine as the ever-present Yellow label with 12% red pinot noir from the famous Montagne de Reims region (where pinot noir reigns supreme) added into the blend. 60 different Crus are selected from all three grapes - Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir for the blend. Orange peel, ripe strawberry, a hint of exotic spice - this wine has weight and body, flesh and rich texture to please all occasions.

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé NV ** (notable pick)
$85.00

This is the great Champagne House that revived Rosé champagne for the world market. In 1970 this very Rosé was re-introduced to the market with a firm commitment to rosé as a serious and worthy type of fine champagne. Billecart-Salmon always crafts wines of the most exceptional quality in an old-world very “vinous” style - meaning they respect the idea that champagne is wine first and champagne second. This Rosé belies that belief with a staggering 30% of the finished wine coming from still Pinot Noir in the blend that also includes Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. A stunning, dazzling offering that never fails to inspire. Lots and lots and lots of red berry notes here.

Moet et Chandon Nectar Imperial Rosé NV
$87.00

Moet champagnes are found on every continent in the world. The house claims one of the longest and earliest beginnings in Champagne tracing its origins to 1743. The events in history this house has witnessed and participated in are without a doubt unequalled in the world of fine wine. This bottle is on the sweet side of the equation - sporting strawberries and cream, with a whiff of delicate floral notes to match. Best enjoyed with rich fatty foods or dessert, this too has a healthy dollop of viscous red Pinot Noir in the mix that includes Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier as well.


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