Commanderie de Peyrassol

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The name of the estate is the first indication of its long, illustrious past. Located in the heart of Provence, near routes traveled by Crusaders in the early Middle Ages, the Commanderie de Peyrassol was founded by the Knights of Templar who were dedicated to protecting the Crusaders en route to, and in, the Holy Land. The first recorded harvest took place in 1256 and winemaking has continued uninterrupted throughout the centuries. When the Templars were brought down in 1311 by the King of France, who was nervous of their power and jealous of their wealth, the Knights of Malta became the fortunate owners of the Commanderie. They remained in control, flawlessly maintaining the vineyards until the French Revolution, when it was taken over by the State.

The Rigord family purchased the estate in 1870; but, it was not until 1977 when Francoise Rigord, wife of Yves, decided to bottle and market the wines of the estate. Madame Rigord abandoned her successful career in public relations to study oenology and take on the responsibility of making all of Commanderie de Peyrassol’s wines. The first vintage bottled for sale to the public was1981. It was then, at the very outset of this commercial venture, that we met Francoise and we have worked in happy harmony together since that time.

Francoise continued to produce ground-breaking wines for the next two decades, elevating the reputation of the Cotes de Provence in all three colors: white, red and rosé. Her book, “La Dame de Peyrassol”, relating her experiences as one of the rare women in the forefront of the wine trade has received enthusiastic praise.
In 2001, the Rigord family sold the property to Philippe Austruy who has aggressively invested in this exceptional property, modernizing the cellars and expanding the holdings. His nephew, Alban Cacaret, is responsible for the daily operations of the domaine.

The “Commanderie”, now known as Chateau Peyrassol, is located in the hills of the “arriére pays”, or backcountry, of the Var, north of St. Tropez and Hyères between the villages of Le Luc and Flassans-sur-Issole. The estate controls 850 hectares and is surrounded by 165 hectares of Mediterranean forest. Eighty (80) hectares are planted to vineyards which are cultivated on dry, rocky clay and limestone based soil. When Francoise Rigord took over, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon were added to the Grenache and Cinsault already grown at the estate. The Rolle (a/k/a Vermentino) and Ugni Blanc are the principal white grape varieties, supplemented by Semillon and Clairette. Peyrassol is rigorously maintained pursuant to organic principles in full respect of the surrounding environment and the delicate balance of the local Mediterranean ecosystem. No synthetic fertilizers or pesticides or fungicides are used in the vineyards. Organic foliar sprays are used to help prevent chlorosis (nutrient deficiencies) and sheep manure is the only fertilizer used after the planting. The age of the vines, the rocky terrain, and the hot, dry climate establish conditions that severely restrict yields. As a consequence, harvest levels average between 25 and 40 hectoliters per hectare depending on the vineyard and grape variety.

Although there are many different cuvées produced currently at Peyrassol, we concentrate on several “core” bottlings that, for us, represent the terroir of this zone in the Var in its truest form.

Peyrassol-Rouge-2001 La Croix Rouge de Peyrassol Vin de Pays de la Porte de la Mediterannée: This cuvée is crafted specifically for presentation in the United States and is the result of a close collaboration between RWM and the team at Peyrassol (Alban Cacaret, Wladimir Holobinka [vineyard manager], Pierre Guérin [consulting oenologue] and Francoise Rigord [who maintains an active interest in the estate]). The blend varies depending on the particular conditions of the vintage but normally is composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah in varying proportions. It highlights the fresh wild berry fruits of the region married to a firm minerality that provides structure and discipline to the wine. Approximately 12,000 bottles per year are bottled for the US market.
2018 “La Croix des Templiers” IGP Méditerranée Rosé:
In the trying 2017 vintage, Peyrassol counteracted severe reductions in crop size by securing contracts with a handful of nearby fruit sources—sources for which they oversaw vineyard management, harvest, and vinification. In the more bountiful 2018 season, these contracts, from sources both closer to the domaine and further north toward Mont Sainte-Victoire, allowed them to produce a brand-new wine. “La Croix des Templiers” is a fresh, easygoing blend of roughly equal parts Grenache and Cinsault (plus 2% Viognier) from a blend of outside fruit sources (roughly 75%) and estate-owned parcels. Classic pale-salmon in color with a silvery streak, it deftly balances bright acidity, clean and succulent fruit, and a subtle saline component which befits its Mediterranean origins.
2018 “Réserve des Templiers” Côtes de Provence Rosé:
Also new as of the 2018 vintage, “Réserve des Templiers” comes primarily from outside fruit sources (though they are sources close to the estate, within the Côtes de Provence Rosé appellation), with a small amount of estate fruit (around 10%). Cinsault constitutes the majority of the blend here, with smaller amounts of Grenache and Syrah, and very small splashes of Mourvèdre, Rolle, and Cabernet Sauvignon rounding it out. A subtler but more complex nose than “La Croix” above introduces a palate of greater complexity, length, and energy, but built around the same classic notes of tangy red fruits and fleur de sel.
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.
We have just received 350 cases of the 2015 Commanderie de Peyrassol Rouge… This is our first time importing this particular cuvee, which really surprised us with its quality and character in this vintage. It offers a very appealing sense of freshness, with a suppleness of texture that reins in the tannins without burying them. It feels less like a red wine from a rosé-dominated appellation trying hard to impress, and more as a wine in line with the general spirit and drinkability of the rosé. That said, it is a palpable and definite step up in quality from our workhorse “La Croix Peyrassol,” offering more textural complexity and concentration, and a longer, more authoritative finish. Beginning with the 2015 vintage, the Commanderie Rouge is being vinified and raised entirely in cement tanks—a shift from the stainless steel of previous vintages, and undoubtedly a contributing factor in the wine’s sense of harmony and openness. Fermentation lasts about two weeks, and relies mainly on remontage for extraction, with only occasional pigeage—also a shift from previous vintages, and also a likely reason for the 2015’s attractive relative suppleness. The wine comprises around 50% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Grenache… It is really a superb little offering.
Peyrassol-Rose Cotes de Provence Rosé Commanderie de Peyrassol: For us, this wine is the classic representation of the pink-tinted wines of this region and is the workhorse wine of the estate. It carries a pale rose color, a lovely fruit blossom nose and finishes crisply dry with a stony touch that gives it class and elegance. The grape blend is usually Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah in varying percentages. The average age of the vines is 25 years or more. The Rosés of Peyrassol are made from the direct press method. The grapes undergo cold maceration before being pressed. This gives them their beautiful watermelon pink color. The fermentation takes place under controlled temperatures and is exceptionally long, resulting in rosés that are both lively, fresh and full-bodied. As production has increased at Peyrassol with the additional plantings, we too have increased our purchases. Our annual allotment is now between 40,000 to 50,000 bottles.
Peyrassol-Chateau-Peyrassol-Rose Cotes de Provence Rosé Chateau Peyrassol: This is the elite cuvée of the estate relying as it does on grapes harvested from the oldest vines of the domaine (35 years and older). Principally composed of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah, the “Chateau” bottling also sees the addition, from time-to-time of Tibouren, the ancient and regal Provencale grape. This Rosé is produced via the “direct press” method and has a long cuvaison designed to produce a wine of character and concentration. Vinified in stainless steel and bottled in late winter – early spring, production is quite limited. Our allocation for the USA averages 4,000 bottles per annum.
Peyrassol-Chateau-Peyrassol-Blanc Cotes de Provence Blanc Chateau Peyrassol: This white is the standard-bearer of the domaine and in its elegance and length is virtually outside of its category. It is a blend of Rolle (Vermentino) and Semillon with the Rolle being the dominant factor (90%). After the manual harvest, the grapes are fermented in barrique and then aged for four to six additional months in barrel (principally new) before the assemblage is done and the wine is finished in stainless steel cuve before bottling. Again, a cuvée of limited production, we import approximately 1200 bottles per annum.
Peyrassol-VDP-Portes-dela-Mediterranee Cotes de Provence Rouge Chateau Peyrassol: The “prestige” cuvée in red, this wine is a blend based on Cabernet Sauvignon with some Syrah in the mix. Harvested from the oldest vines on the estate (35 years average age) and from several prime parcels, the wine is fermented in stainless steel and is then aged in barrel (a mix of foudres and barriques) for a period of twenty-four to thirty months before bottling. A small percentage of new oak is used. A powerful expression of the garrigue of Provence, this is a sturdy wine with compelling aromatics. We import 1200 bottles per annum for the USA.

The 25 Best Rosé Wines of 2020

Even a global pandemic can’t dampen interest in the pink wine juggernaut. According to VinePair’s internal data, rosé is off to an earlier than usual start to its strongest seasonal period, with a 19 percent increase in reader interest this March compared to 2019.

That interest comes off the back of four years of solid growth. According to Nielsen data, off-premise sales of pink wine increased almost 300 percent between January 2016 and January 2020, starting the decade with a value of over $576 million. It’s a remarkable success story, and one that looks set to continue based on the increasing diversity and elevated quality of wines VinePair recently tasted for our annual rosé ranking.

This year’s list encompasses bottles from mainstay regions like Provence and southern Italy, with fresh additions from throughout the Mediterranean, including Spain and Greece. There’s also a strong selection of domestic offerings, many of which can be purchased and shipped right from the wineries. Winery-direct sales are particularly resonant right now, as much of the country is sheltering in place; it’s a sales channel we expect to see grow in importance moving forward in the new normal.

The number of bottles tasted for this year’s list surpassed 100 labels. With a staff panel of tasters, we hotly debated our selections and rankings based on drinkability, mass appeal, quality, and value for money, with prices taken from wine-searcher.com or the winery itself, in the case of direct-to-consumer (DTC) offerings.

On the topic of price, the top 25 bottles of 2020 offer further proof of the value offered by the rosé category: More than half of the bottles on this year’s list deliver change from a crisp $20 bill. At least 10 come in at $15 or less.

1. CHÂTEAU PEYRASSOL

Château Peyrassol is one of the top 25 rosés of 2020. A delightful reminder of what makes Provence rosé so popular, this wine ticks all the boxes. The nose is delicate but serves layers of white flowers, red fruit, and a sprinkle of savory spices. The palate is both bold and refreshing, with tangy fruit cut by a piercing jolt of acidity. Add a hint of wet rocks and a dusting of white pepper to the equation, and you’ve got yourself the best rosé of 2019. If you can’t find this exact bottle, the producer’s entire range is equally impressive and should be sought out. Average price: $35.

Rosé Offering: Spring 2020

PROVENCE

Commanderie de Peyrassol
Our longstanding partnership with the Commanderie de Peyrassol provides us with our most plentiful source of classically rendered Provence rosés—wines which the market justifiably awaits eagerly as warmer weather draws nearer. The 2019 growing season saddled Peyrassol with high temperatures and dry conditions—factors increasingly becoming the “new normal” in a post-climate-change France—but a bit of well-timed gentle rainfall during harvest brought welcome balance to the fruit and neutralized the looming threat of heavy, hydric-stress-affected rosés. Varieties and parcels at Peyrassol are all vinified individually, which allows the estate great flexibility in the blending of their various cuvées. Indeed, one of the most remarkable things about the range of rosés at Peyrassol is how well-measured and notable the “steps up the ladder” are in the lineup. The wines do not get more boisterous or rich as one climbs; rather, they become more filigree, detailed, and fine—each progressive rung a further zoom-in on a sort of Platonic ideal of Provence rosé. This collection of 2019s sees Peyrassol firing on all cylinders in a vintage exceedingly favorable to their style of wine.

2019 “La Croix” IGP Méditerranée Rosé
Produced from roughly equal parts Grenache and Cinsault, plus a splash of Rolle (Vermentino), the 2019 “La Croix” blends 50% estate holdings with fruit sourced from the Côtes de Provence as well as further north toward Mont Sainte-Victoire. An exemplar of Peyrassol’s blending acumen, it offers the precision and elegance that characterizes all the estate’s rosés, albeit in a more direct, fruit-forward manner than its stablemates below.

2019 “Cuvée de la Commanderie” Côtes de Provence Rosé
Peyrassol’s perennial workhorse hits a bullseye in 2019. Comprising 30% each Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah, with small amounts of Tibouren and Mourvèdre completing the blend, the beloved “Commanderie” offers the tension, salinity, and crystalline fruit that characterize this wine every year, with greater lift than the 2018 and a vinous core that does nothing to detract from the wine’s breezy deliciousness. This cuvée blends 70% estate-grown fruit with 30% purchased from several growers in nearby Flassans-sur-Isole with whom Peyrassol has multi-year contracts; Peyrassol’s team oversees the harvest and vinification of these sources.

2019 “Château Peyrassol” Côtes de Provence Rosé
Produced entirely from fruit grown on the estate, the 2019 “Château Peyrassol” is no weightier than the “Commanderie” above, differentiating itself instead through more marked salinity and greater palate persistence. It seamlessly interweaves taut, bright red fruit and vivacious acidity into a texture both cool and layered, and its overall personality is slightly lighter and more focused than that of the 2018. The 2019 is comprised of 65% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, and 5% each Tibouren and Mourvèdre.

2019 “Le Clos Peyrassol” Côtes de Provence Rosé
Taking the crystalline focus of the “Château” above even further, the 2019 “Le Clos” is stupendous in its textural elegance and purity of fruit. It combines roughly equal parts Tibouren, Grenache, and Cinsault from the most favorably situated section within Peyrassol’s holdings, and this 2019 sees the estate experimenting in the cellar to great effect: 20% of the wine was vinified and aged in 10-hectoliter terracotta jars, which contribute a texturally caressing quality to the final blend without sacrificing its sense of laser-like precision.

Domaine du Bagnol

2019 Cassis Rosé
The dynamic Sébastien Genovesi describes 2019 as a beautiful harvest, one for which a sorting table was virtually unnecessary, and his family’s domaine produced 15% more wine than in the similarly warm and dry 2018. Domaine du Bagnol’s rigorous vineyard practices (organic-certified since 2014) and careful, precise cellar work have resulted in wines of increased harmony and complexity with each passing year, and this vintage of their Cassis Rosé represents a new pinnacle for a justly beloved cuvée. Comprising 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 20% Mourvèdre, the rose-petal-colored 2019 was pressed directly and rapidly (in under two hours) to extract as little color as possible, and the bottled wine contains only 20 milligrams per liter of total sulfur—a factor which contributes to its gorgeous purity of texture and precise, intense evocation of limestone soil.

Château Pradeaux
Ninth-generation Etienne Portalis displays ever-greater confidence and mastery of craft with each vintage, and his rosés reach new heights with the below range of 2019s. Employing only spontaneous fermentations and using a variety of casks for vinification and aging (cement, steel, foudre), Etienne produces rosés of vinous complexity and impressive concentration, all with an evocative salinity at their core. These are wines which justify Bandol’s lofty reputation near the top of the rosé genre, while simultaneously reinforcing Pradeaux’s peerless position within this singular seaside appellation. Etienne began harvesting on September 20th under warm, dry conditions, but the overall year’s water supply was greater than in 2018, resulting in rosés of riveting acidity and excellent balance. As is ever the case, these rosés will drink great young but will amply reward cellaring as well.

2019 Côtes de Provence Rosé
The 2019 Pradeaux Côtes de Provence Rosé carries less Mourvèdre than last year’s: 65% (compared to 75% in the 2018), with 25% Cinsault and 10% Grenache completing the blend. Etienne remarks that the lower proportion of Mourvèdre makes the wine saltier, and indeed this vintage offers a mouthwatering, acid-driven palate of intense mineral cling, with honest, non-confected flavors of dried strawberries and Provençal herbs. Vinified and aged entirely in steel, this wine comes within striking distance of the Bandol in its complexity, yet is brisker and lighter on its feet overall.

2019 Bandol Rosé
As the last bastion of ultra-traditional Bandol, Château Pradeaux never allocates more than 30% of its total harvest toward rosé, even as other growers in the appellation convert ever-greater proportions of their production to pink in order to satisfy the demands of the market. The Bandol Rosé they do produce is a standard-bearer, always among the most magisterial rosés in all of France and a fixture of our portfolio for nearly four decades. Comprising equal proportions of Mourvèdre and Cinsault, the 2019 clocks in at 14.1% alcohol but bears not a trace of heat, instead offering a freshness exceeding that of the quite rich 2018. Jellied quince, crunchy melon, and guava vie for attention with the wine’s turbo-charged chalky core and sizzling acid profile, and an overall sense of intense concentration bodes well for its future development.

2018 “Vesprée” Vin de France
With the 2016 vintage, Etienne began producing “Vesprée”—a rosé of pure Mourvedre from among his oldest vines (60 to 70 years old), vinified and aged partly in cement egg and partly in 600-liter demi-muid. The wine spends ample time on its lees without being racked, and is bottled just before the following harvest rather than early in the year like most rosés—hence the arrival of the 2018 vintage this season. Both saltier and richer than the flagship Bandol Rosé, “Vesprée” (named after the appearance of the sun’s fading rays as dusk approaches) follows the inherent seriousness of the category to a further extreme, yet it remains lively, focused, and Provençal to its core. Despite its deeply imbedded sense of classicism, however, the wine often provokes accusations of atypicality from the woefully conservative appellation authorities, and indeed this stunning 2018 bears a Vin de France designation.

Château Simone – Palette

2018 Palette Rosé [available now]
Château Simone’s legendary Palette Rosé makes a legitimate claim as perhaps the greatest rosé in all of France, and, as is the case with their white and red wines, there is certainly nothing else quite like it. Built on the backs of Grenache and Mourvèdre, with smaller amounts of Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Castet, Manosquin, Théoulier, Tibouren, Picpoul Noir, and Muscat de Hambourg, Simone Rosé is produced from a blend of equal parts direct-press and saignée juice. Whereas much commercial-minded rosé is fermented with artificial yeasts and rushed into bottle well before spring’s first shoots emerge, Château Simone’s spends nearly a full year (hence the 2018 vintage here) in old foudres resting on its lees and gaining remarkable depth, with sulfur applied only at the moment of bottling. Sumptuous and utterly seamless in its texture, this 2018 bastes the palate with savory red fruits and delivers an almost viscous impression of concentration. As with all vintages of this wine, it will doubtlessly develop beautifully in bottle for well over a decade.

Bastide du Claux

2019 Luberon Rosé “Poudrière”
It’s an unlikely story: the heir to an enviable share of holdings in Chassagne-Montrachet ends up unlocking the potential of an appellation in northern Provence known more for bulk wine than nuanced expressions of terroir—yet that is precisely what we’re seeing as Sylvain Morey continues to improve and evolve at Bastide du Claux, his outpost in the Luberon which he acquired in the early 2000s. Sylvain is currently undergoing organic certification, which he will obtain in 2021 (though he has been practicing since 2015), and his commitment to harvesting by hand, fermenting without additions, and tailoring blending and élévage to the characteristics of each harvest results in wines of striking depth and purity. The 2019 “Poudrière” blends 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault, with the Syrah and part of the Grenache pressed directly, and the Cinsault and the other part of the Grenache bled off. With flavors of black cherries and peach skins, it presents mouthwatering textural tension and an underlying sense of minerality, as well as an unforced vinosity that shames many of its confected Provençal cousins from more market-friendly area codes.

RHÔNE VALLEY

Domaine La Manarine

2019 Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé
Gilles Gasq has had an impressive run lately, having begun producing a dynamite Châteauneuf-du-Pape in addition to his always-reliable offerings from the Côtes-du-Rhône and the Plan de Dieu. His 2019 Rosé, comprising 50% Grenache, 40% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah, was produced solely via direct-press and aged in stainless steel on its fine lees for several months before bottling. Sprightlier and more linear than its 2018 counterpart, it offers bright, friendly strawberry fruit, gentle but well-measured acidity, and an underlying freshness not often found in the rosés of the southern Rhône. The domaine has been certified organic for nearly a decade at this point, and the already-expert Gilles continues to hone his approach to great effect.

Château Valcombe

2019 Ventoux Rosé “Epicure”
After a brutal 2018 vintage in which Luc Guenard suffered a massive reduction in crop size, 2019’s relative bounty was a particularly welcome blessing. Steadfastly organic in his viticultural practices, Guenard reported remarkably clean and healthy fruit in 2019, and for the first time ever he added no sulfur whatsoever to the grapes at harvest time. Composed of one-third each Cinsault, Grenache, and Syrah, and produced via direct press, “Epicure” is vinified and aged in cement and given only a very light filtration at bottling. This 2019 is vivid in its fruit profile, with flavors of melon and cherry framing a ripe, round texture that nonetheless displays a refreshing and acid-driven sense of lift.

Domaine de Fenouillet

2019 Ventoux Rosé
The rock-steady Soard brothers produced a remarkable version of their Ventoux Rosé in the 2019 vintage, a season which offered a similarly warm and dry character to 2018 but without that summer’s overwhelming hydric stress. Composed of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 15% Mourvèdre, and 5% Carignan, and produced solely via direct press, this 2019 offers perkier acidity and an overall greater sense of energy than the 2018, with a sense of well-judged restraint that characterizes all the domaine’s wines. Fenouillet has been certified organic since the 2012 vintage, a fact which shows in this rosé’s vibrancy and vividness of fruit.

Domaine Gour de Chaulé

2019 Gigondas Rosé “Amour de Rose”
Our stalwart source of great Gigondas for nearly forty years, Gour de Chaulé is undergoing an exciting period, with Stephanie Fumoso’s intelligent and passionate young son Paul having recently joined the domaine full-time. Comprising 40% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, and 20% Mourvèdre, their 2019 Gigondas Rosé clocks in at 14.5% alcohol, but this lofty level belies the wine’s sense of harmony and freshness. Whereas the wine in times past was produced purely from saignée, Stephanie began incorporating a proportion of directly pressed juice some years back, and for the past few years it has been made exclusively via the direct-press method. Furthermore, Stephanie and Paul harvest those plots destined for their rosé earlier than those for their red—and always early in the morning in order to preserve freshness and minimize the use of sulfur at the time of picking.

Yves Cuilleron

2019 Syrah Rosé “Sybel” IGP Collines Rhodaniennes
The immensely talented Yves Cuilleron has amassed a towering reputation over his 33-year career for rendering northern Rhône wines of typicity, depth, and pleasure. Tucked among his formidable and expansive lineup is “Sybel”—a rosé of pure hand-harvested Syrah produced from the bled-off juice of his many cuvées, fermented spontaneously and aged in a combination of steel and large wood. Both easygoing and surprisingly terroir-expressive, it is a rosé that could come from nowhere but the northern Rhône, and it represents remarkable value year-in and year-out.

LANGUEDOC

Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie

2019 Corbières Rosé “Rosé des Glacières”
For the even-keeled and remarkably kind Jean-Baptiste Gibert, 2019 was an even drier year overall than 2018—a not-insignificant fact given the already inherently rugged and rain-starved climate of Corbières. With assistance from some well-timed rainfall in August and early September, however,  Gibert’s organically tended vineyards yielded a relatively large crop of impeccable fruit in 2019. His always unique “Rosé des Glacières”—pure saignée Syrah from vines up to 40 years old—offers more freshness than a typical vintage, with a drier impression overall (its 1.5 grams per liter of residual sugar are undetectable). Flavors of macerated strawberries and Provençal garrigue spread generously over the palate, given definition by tangy but supple acidity and an appealing undertone of gentle bitterness.

BORDEAUX

Château La Rame

2019 Bordeaux Rosé
Husband and wife Olivier Allo and Angelique Armand produce an impressive range from their estate’s holdings in and around Sainte-Croix-du-Mont—a zone historically coveted for its finely wrought botrytised sweet wines but capable of producing excellent dry wines as well. Their restrained, beautifully balanced Bordeaux Rosé blends equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and is produced solely via direct pressing. In keeping with its vintage-mates across France, this 2019 is lighter in color and in spirit than the 2018, both fully ripe and delicately pretty, and with a clear, focused line of acidity.

Le Puy

2018 “Rose-Marie” Vin de France [available now]
Like all of this enigmatic and iconic estate’s wines, Le Puy’s “Rose-Marie” is a true outlier. Since the 2006 harvest, the Amoreau family has bottled a rosé of pure Merlot from the bled-off juice of a single vat of “Barthélemy”—the wine they produce from their highest-altitude and most prized vineyard. “Rose-Marie” is aged in old barrels without the addition of yeasts, sulfur, or, for that matter, anything at all. The results are startling in their purity and frankness, with unmediated flavors of herb-tinged red fruits wed to a riveting acidity and a powerful underlying sense of chalk (Barthélemy has less than a foot of topsoil atop its mother-rock of solid Astrée limestone). Rare and delicious, “Rose-Marie” is produced in minuscule quantities and is only available sporadically; it is a wine that will challenge one’s notion of what rosé can be, and in the best and most satisfying way imaginable.

LOIRE VALLEY

Château Soucherie

2019 Rosé de Loire “Astrée”
2019 marks the first vintage from flowering to harvest for Soucherie’s new chef de cave Vianney de Tastes, whose skilled, delicate touch resulted in a rosé of excellent poise. Produced entirely from direct-press Gamay planted in the Astrée vineyard—a departure from the Grolleau-Gamay blend of the previous vintage—this 2019 Rosé de Loire is ethereally pale, pouring a glinting light-copper in the glass. The palate continues the theme, with vivacious acidity and a captivating combination of serenity and energy; one gets all the prettiness of Gamay without any of the excess roundness to which it is sometimes prone. Notably, the entire 6,000-bottle production of the 2019 was allotted to Rosenthal Wine Merchant, and we couldn’t be happier with the quality and value this exemplary rosé provides.

Philippe Gilbert

2019 Menetou-Salon Rosé
With each passing vintage, Philippe Gilbert cements his position at the vanguard of this eastern Loire appellation. His steadfast commitment to biodynamics (he was the first in Menetou-Salon to adopt the practice), his refusal to machine-harvest, and his minimal intervention in vinification and aging result in wines of energy, clarity, and visceral exuberance. Philippe’s ever-delightful rosé shines in 2019—a season which, like 2018, was overwhelmingly hot and dry, but which produced wines of greater equilibrium and drive. Produced from directly pressed Pinot Noir and aged on its lees in stainless steel, the 2019 carries an undetectable 1.9 grams per liter of residual sugar and clocks in at 13.4% alcohol. It offers a very pure expression of calcareous minerality, with delicate but juicy cherry fruit and a soaring but well-integrated acidity.

Lucien Crochet

2019 Sancerre Rosé
Gilles Crochet reported a particularly small Pinot Noir harvest in 2019—about half of a normal yield—due to an unusually intense late-summer heat wave which grilled a portion of bunches not shielded by leaf cover. Despite a warm and dry season, however, the 2019 Sancerre Rosé displays the rapier-like precision and scintillating minerality for which the estate is renowned, albeit with a subtle wink toward Pinot Noir succulence which cooler vintages often lack. Produced entirely from hand-harvested direct-press Pinot Noir, it spends several months on its fine lees in stainless steel before bottling, and develops interestingly in bottle for several years past vintage.

Unique Gifts To Charm Wine Lovers For The 2019 Holidays

Jill Barth
Contributor
Food & Drink
I cover wine at work, with attention to makers and growers.

When the holidays roll around, no one wants to seem impersonal or cheap. Entertaining, gifting, dressing, dining—everything gets a special flair this time of year and that’s the fun of it. But, let’s be honest, an element of ease is important too.

I’m of the opinion that a bottle of wine is a lovely gift for most adults, but I’m also sure that the people on your list would enjoy receiving some extra dazzle. Here are a handful of easy-to-purchase yet oh-my-goodness gifts for wine lovers.

Neal Rosenthal is one of the most respected wine importers in North America, and his offshoot, Mad Rose Specialty Foods, bears his characteristic instinct for tasty, terroir-driven products from around Europe. While the site is packed with intriguing items—a vertical of vintage-dated Italian honeys, for example—the olive oils from Provençal wine domaines caught my eye. Château Peyrassol’s 2018 olive oil ($30) from their estate groves in the Var region is the perfect gift accompaniment for 2018 Commanderie de Peyrassol Château Peyrassol Rosé ($26). It can also be purchased as an element of the Premier Olive Oil Collection ($105) which also includes a bottle each from Italian family producers the Armatos and the Beas.

2018 Rosé Field Report

The story throughout the south of France for the 2018 growing season was similar: an inordinate amount of rainfall from February through June engendered a rash of mildew that had growers scrambling, treating between five and ten times as much as usual in many instances. The weather pulled an immediate about-face in July, turning remarkably hot and remarkably dry—conditions which persisted until harvest. This whiplash effect stressed both vines and vignerons, to be sure, but happily the quality of the rosés from Provence is generally outstanding in 2018. The higher amount of rainfall led to rosés not burdened by unwelcome heaviness due to hyper-low yields, but the dryness of the latter part of the growing season prevented a sense of dilution in the final wines. In general, the 2018 rosés from the south of France display impeccable balance, superb drinkability, and a streak of classicism that sets them above the 2017s.

THE 2017 ROSE REPORT:

ON THE ROAD WITH JEREMY, NEIL AND CLARKE VISITING THE GROWERS AND REPORTING FROM THE FIELD PROVENCE AND THE LUBERON As was the case throughout the south of France, the defining characteristic of the 2017 growing season in Provence was the profound drought. Our growers in the Cotes de Provence, Bandol, Cassis, and the Cotes […]

2017 Rosé Roundup: Drink Now, Drink Later

BY JOSH RAYNOLDS | JUNE 27, 2017 Among the oldest of many wine cliché’s is that Rosés don’t age well and, like seersucker suits, are out of style after the Labor Day following the vintage. While wearing summer suits out of season might not be in good taste, drinking the best pink wines year-round is […]

20 Wines Under $20: The Savory Side of Rosé

Eric Asimov THE POUR JUNE 22, 2017 If for no other reason than popular demand, summer is rosé season. These wines, once pitilessly disparaged as dull and anemic, have been hotter than July for a decade, a climactic shift that shows no signs of letting up. In the past few months, three books on rosé […]

Chateau Peyrassol 2016 Rosé Report

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 […]

Drink Rosé All Day

The south of France produces fantastic rosé. The Cotes de Provence west of St. Tropez is a great place to try both innovative versions (at Chateau Léoube) and ultra classic ones (at Commanderie de Peyrassol and Domaines Ott). There are other sublime experiences at these properties, too-from laid-back beach cafés to contemporary art set along […]

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