I don’t typically recommend rosé wines from two vintages ago. I mean the point of rosé is its freshness and immediate appeal, n’est-ce pas? Some rosé wines, however, are made of slightly sterner stuff than the usual ethereal, instantly accessible, quaffable models that so delight us and can age for a year or two beyond the Summer after harvest. Such is the case with the two rosé wines from the South of France that I mention today. I encountered these examples at a trade tasting at which rosés from 2015 and ’16 were offered, and while most of the ’15s were fading, if not falling apart, this pair drank with splendid panache, zeal and deliciousness. North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, Calif.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Le Caillou Rosé 2015, Côtes du Rhône, is an unusual blend of 85 percent counoise and 15 percent mourvedre grapes, and I CAILLOU_rose_websay “unusual” because counoise, not so easy to grow and late ripening, typically finds itself in a minority position in red wines of the southern Rhone Valley, if it shows up at all. In this very pale pink-coral hued wine, it provides scintillating acidity that runs through the structure like an electric wire, as well as a lovely hint of red plum, behind notes of strawberry and orange rind. The domaine, by the way, was founded in 1956 but the estate, surrounded by the Chateaunuef-du-Pape appellation, has a long history of grape-growing and winemaking; the vineyards are certified organic and maintained by biodynamic methods. Winemaker is Bruno Gaspard. This is a dry, taut, crisp rosé that delivers a dusty, almost powdery texture supported by lithe, chiseled flint-like minerality; the finish brings in hints of heather, sea-salt and just a ghost of melon. Drink through the end of 2017. Excellent. About $25.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The history at Chateau Mattes-Sabran goes back a thousand years in Languedoc-Roussillon. The estate was once the seat MATTES_narbonne_rose-228x300of the Dukes of Narbonne and was well-known in the 12th and 13th centuries as a center for troubadours and the elevation of courtly love. The city itself, as distinct from the commune, dates back to Roman times and was once an important seaport. Winemaking on the estate commenced in 1733. Though made from 100 percent syrah grapes, the Mattes-Sabran Rosé 2015, Pays d’Oc — winemaker was Jean-Luc Brouillat — is unusually delicate and elegant, though possessing tensile strength that feels almost steely; the color is extremely pale watermelon-coral pink, and aromas of slightly spiced and macerated red currants and raspberries testify to its origin in the syrah grape. An aura of pink grapefruit and blood orange is allied to the wine’s crisp citric acidity, while a few moments in the glass bring out notes of dusty limestone, rose petals and dried thyme. Bring on the rabbit and duck terrine, the cucumber sandwiches, the shrimp salad! Now through the end of 2017. Excellent. About $19.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________