There was no better end to our rosé tour than a visit to the bucolic hills of Provence to visit with our most significant provider of rose, Chateau Peyrassol. Our relationship started in 1981, when Neal first visited Francoise Rigord and purchased the first rosé in the Rosenthal Wine Merchant portfolio. Peyrassol has evolved over the last 30 years to become widely known as one of the top producers of rosé in Provence.
Alban Cacaret described the 2016 vintage as a “little crazy” due to the extreme growing season of that year. It was the longest harvest they have ever had at Peyrassol, starting at the end of August and ending on October 12th. It was also a very dry season, with very little water during summer, and fortunately a little rain in September that helped the water-stressed vines. Yields were a bit lower than the previous year. Even so, the large percentage of old vines and organic treatments in the vineyards helped the vines perform well under hydric stress. The ‘16s are very fresh and mineral with rich texture and a concentrated core of fruit. There are now three different rosés available from Peyrassol:
Commanderie de Peyrassol Cotes de Provence Rosé: This is the cuvee that most of you know, a blend of 46% Cinsault, 27% Syrah, 22% Grenache, and 5% Ugni Blanc. The method is direct press, as all rosés at Peyrassol are made from 100% direct-press juice. The fruit is picked at night to preserve the freshness of the fruit (they typically start harvesting around 3:00 in the morning). The color is a very pale salmon with a brilliant silver shine. The aromas are dominantly mineral with a hint of small red fruits. Currently this rosé presents very linear on the palate, and is not particularly juicy. It does have a concentrated core of pure sweet fruit that gives the wine a glycerol texture. The bottle we tasted was bottled just four days earlier, so do expect the wine to perhaps open up more over the coming months.
Chateau Peyrassol Cotes de Provence Rosé: This bottling is made from selected old vine plots. The 2016 is a blend of 47% Cinsault, 15% Tibouren, 12% Syrah, 8% Rolle, 6% Mourvedre, 6% Grenache, and 6% Semillon. The color is even a bit paler than the Commanderie Rosé although there is more fruit and richness on the nose and palate. The fruit flavors lean more floral and peach, with a touch of pear skin. This rosé shows comparatively more richness and concentration, but also has a greater mineral depth that gives it a graceful quality.
Clos Peyrassol Cotes de Provence Rosé: 2016 is the first year we are offering this special cuvee. It is made from a single parcel which is equally planted to Cinsault and Tibouren (a touch of Rolle makes it into this cuvee as well). The soil is a mix of clay and limestone with a lot of large rocks on the surface. The site has a bit of depression which helps more even ripening, since the soil holds a little more water than other parcels. The 2016 is the palest of the three roses, with a very silvery salmon hue. At the moment of tasting the nose was a tad firm, showing flinty mineral notes. The palate is quite rich and dense with an almost white Burgundy presence. The fruits lean a little sweeter than the other cuvées, with hints of pear and passion fruit. Even so, the wine is completely dry and has a super-long mineral finish. It’s a great rosé that has the potential to age, and we hope some of you keep a few bottles to drink over the next several years.