LOIRE VALLEY ….
Although the Loire Valley’s wine regions experienced a few episodes of frost during the 2017 growing season—a calamity that seems to becoming de rigueur in these post-climate-change pseudo-winters and early flowerings—they were thankfully spared many of the stressors that plagued the deep south. None of our five rosé-producing growers throughout the region reported significant losses—and, in fact, after harvesting just five hectoliters per hectare following the utterly devastating frost-afflicted 2016 season, Philippe Gilbert in Menetou-Salon reported yields of ten times that in 2017!
While our 2017 rosés from Provence, and, to a lesser extent, the Rhône Valley, are marked by a drought-driven concentration and solidity this year, the Loire rosés are more true to their classic versions; i.e., reflecting the wide diversity of the region and its ability to generate some of the prettiest of all rosés. They veer toward the ripe side, yet they remain in balance.
CHATEAU SOUCHERIE [Anjou]
The wines from Chateau Soucherie continue to gain precision and depth under the thoughtful guiding hand of their owner, Roger Beguinot. The 2017 Rosé de Loire pours a soft but glowing pink with a shimmery silver undertone. Comprising 85% Cabernet Franc, 10% Gamay, and 5% Grolleau (the only cepage touched by frost this year), all pressed directly, it offers sprightly, attractive aromas of crunchy yellow plums and white pepper. The succulently juicy palate pits round fruit against nervy acidity, with a mouthwatering salty note framing the finish. This is a slightly less lean, more dynamic iteration of this always-delicious rosé.
CHATEAU DE L’EPERONNIERE [Anjou]
The ever-cheerful Mathieu Tijou was very happy with his 2017 harvest—a full crop of very high quality, with his string of good luck continuing for a second consecutive year as the frost that afflicted many of his neighbors spared him completely. The 2017 Rosé de Loire, nearly entirely Cabernet Franc with dashes of Gamay and Grolleau, is peachy-pink in appearance, with a slightly lighter hue than the Soucherie above. With an exuberant and ripe nose of macerated strawberries, it offers a sunny-vintage juiciness on the palate with mellow but present acidity and nice cling.
DOMAINE DE LA PETITE MAIRIE [Bourgueil]
Never pretentious, and always seeking an elegant rosé, James Petit’s 2017 Bourgueil Rosé is probably the most straightforwardly pretty of our 2017 Loire Valley offerings. It is quite pale and silvery in appearance; 100% direct-press Cabernet Franc, with a pure and lovely nose of fresh-picked wild strawberries and a gentle fresh-herb edge. Linear and driving on the palate, it displays excellent tension, good concentration, and not an ounce of excess flesh. It is always a favorite of our clientele.
PHILIPPE GILBERT [Menetou-Salon]
Philippe Gilbert has quietly become one of the most dynamic and experimental growers in our French portfolio over the past decade, with his incredibly vivacious biodynamic Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs gaining him a big following—especially in his home country. After a horrifying 2016 growing season which yielded him virtually no rosé at all, Philippe was completely passed over by frost in 2017, and his 2017 Menetou-Salon Rosé might be the best version we have ever experienced. An ethereal, ultra-pale wine, this 100% direct-press Pinot Noir offers an exceptionally beautiful nose of clean red fruit and pure limestone essence—by far the most mineral of our Loire rosés this year. It is super-fine and chiseled on the palate, with a weightless density and a very long and pure finish.
LUCIEN CROCHET [Sancerre]
Always among our most coveted rosés (and for very good reason), Gilles Crochet’s 2017 Sancerre Rosé (100% direct-press Pinot Noir) is wonderfully classic in character, with tangy strawberries and punchy chalk on the nose, and a soft, mellow, pale pink color in the glass. Like the Gilbert above, the fruit is very cool and pure this vintage, with great drive and persistence on the acid-driven yet scrumptious palate. While Sancerre overall experienced around 15% losses due to frost in 2017, Crochet was thankfully spared completely.