Wed 23 Jul 2008
We’re close to the end of July, and you may have noticed that your neighborhood retail store is still stocking rosé wines from 2006, while bringing in more examples from the most recent vintage, 2007. The question is, Is it o.k. to drink rosés from the previous year? Or are they old, tired and faded?
Rosés are not like beaujolais nouveau, a fresh, grapey, frothy (in spirit) quaff that begins to turn thin and sullen at the age of six months or so, like a troubled pop singer after a jail term. The best rosés, however, though charming and delightful, possess the structure of “real” wine, that is to say, they are real wine, with the proper acidity and balance to last for more than a season. Not that we expect longevity; it’s just that rosé wines don’t have to be regarded as beyond the pale (haha, sorry) once they reach a year in age.
I’ve encountered several rosés from 2006 that I heartily recommend. We’ll start with a comparison of a terrific model of a rosé from both recent years.
Tavel in the southern Rhone Valley has a centuries-old reputation for rosé wines, a reputation too often merely traded upon than reasonably proved. Fine models exist, however, and some of the finest are produced by the Prieuré de Montèzargues, pictured here. The original priory was established in 1119; grapes have been grown there and wine made since sometime shortly after 1300. Winemaker in the present manifestation of the property — it long-since ceased its function as a religious house — is Guillaume Dugas. Grapes grown at Prieuré de Montèzargues are grenache, cinsault, syrah, mourvèdre and carignan for red and clairette, picpoul and bourboulenc for white, all the typical southern Rhône or Provençal varieties. The wines are imported by Henriot Inc., New York.
Prieuré de Montèzargues 2007 offers a lovely color of bright garnet flushed with salmon’s orangy-pink. Notes of strawberry, raspberry, peach and orange zest waft from the glass and segue seamlessly to the mouth in consistent flavors. The texture is soft and enticing but energized by crisp acid and a scintillating mineral element that expands to dominate the finish. Great balance and freshness. Very Good+. About $18 to $23.
How about the version from 2006? The color is similar, perhaps with a shade of magenta, but the wine is robust, ripe and fleshy, delivering scents and flavors of strawberry and peach with touches of melon and dried herbs. A few minutes in the glass bring up hints of cherry/berry and Bazooka Bubble Gum, with orange zest, limestone and earthy notes and a lingering hint of cloves on the finish. This is an unusually complicated rosé for drinking through the end of 2008. Great detail and dimension. Excellent. About $18 to $23. If you can find the ’07 and the ’06, buy some of each.
Here are notes on three other rosés from 2006, also French:
*The Rosé de Fayel 2006, made by Chateau des Sources, Vin de Pays du Gard, southeast of the city of Nimes, is an unusual blend of 70 percent syrah and 30 percent cabernet franc. While I don’t recommend buying a wine for its color alone, the intense magenta color here, tinged with blue, is stunning. The wine is extraordinarily earthy and stony, offering (a bit reluctantly) delectable notes of dried raspberry, strawberry and red currant. The limestone quality expands and the acid is lively and vibrant, making this truly a dry rose, but with thirst-quenching freshness and (after all) winsome red berry flavors. The ’07 version of this wine is available (in a slightly different blend), but why neglect drinking this one over the next few months? Very good+. About $10, a Great Bargain . Robert Kacher Selections, Washington D.C.
*The Domaine des Corbillières 2006, a pinot noir rosé from Touraine, in the central Loire Valley, sports the classic pale copper-onion skin color. The bouquet weaves fresh and dried strawberries with fresh and dried raspberries and hints of peach and orange zest. Though the wine is dry and crisp as all get-out, the texture is lavish and silken, a pleasure to feel gliding over the tongue and palate. The finish brings in heaps of minerals (more damp slate than limestone) without being austere. Really attractive for drinking through the end of 2008. Very good+. About $11 to $14. Robert Kacher Selections, Washington, D.C. The ’07 is on the market, but why waste this ’06?
*Characterized by a spiced peach element infused with dried raspberry and orange rind — and the color a pale peach-salmon — the Domaine de Beaurenard 2006, Côtes-du-Rhône, unveils delicate strata of baking spice, dried herbs, melon and rhubarb, all supported by the necessary acid for tautness and structure and depths of minerality. For drinking through the end of this year, certainly, but with a great deal of satisfaction. The grapes are grenache, syrah and cinsault. Very good+. About $15. European Wine Group, Tucker, Georgia.