by Catriona Ramsay
Flicking through various wine magazines having just got back from holiday drinking lots of vinho verde- some of which was good and others disgusting- I couldn’t help but notice that Rosé is taking up rather a lot of column space, notably Ch d’Esclans. Premium Rosé is what everyone is (understandably) drinking this year with Provence leading the way (According to DrinksBusiness.com “rosé accounts for almost 13% of the off-trade in Britain”). Sacha Lichine of Ch d’Esclans made it his mission to create the best rosé in the world and his range of Ch d’Esclans, Whispering Angel, Les Clans and Garrus (at almost £70/bottle the world’s most expensive bottle of pink) is pretty fantastic. The Drinks Business credits Sacha for raising the profile of Provence rosé and proving that pink wine can be made with the same attention to detail as top-end white or red: “Chateau d’Esclans has cranked up the level of expectation for Provence rosé. Raising the bar ambitiously high, it has elevated the entire rosé category in the process.” Sacha employs winemaking techniques akin to those used in Burgundy such as lees stirring and the use of new french oak for fermentation which do indeed make rosé seem a little more serious.
In fact, the success of the Esclans tribe of rosé has spurred Domaine Ott- previously the most renowned I believe- to produce a super-premium rosé from Bandol to rival Garrus. It will be made from around 70% Mouvedre (Garrus is mostly Grenache) so it will have good ageing potential. A limited edition bottle is rumored to be under construction which will be label-less and no doubt snapped up in rosé guzzling St Trop.
Rosé is now purpose made and not merely the by-product of red wine making with vineyards directed toward producing rosé-fit grapes and pressing as opposed to saignée as the preferred method of vinfication. Goedhuis stocks the Clos Mireille- one of three estates in the Ott fleet- which is so refreshing and elegant. Despite Ott dominating the world of Provencal rosé for a good while, the consensus with fine wine producers there seems to be that competition can only be favourable and will only encourage improved quality and of course interest!
I should probably mention that the Whispering Angel 2011 has just been awarded a spectacular 90 points and the ‘Smart Buy’ strapline by Wine Spectator with the following tasting note: “This elegant wine displays a sense of power behind the delicate flavors of dried cherry, licorice, cream and spice. Finishes with notes of dried mango and hints of sage honey. Drink now. 15,000 cases imported.” (and 90 for the straight Chateau; 91 for the Garrus and 92 for the Les Clans- but the Whispering is definitely a smart cookie and if you have £70 odd to spend I would buy the Double magnum of this to share with one or two friends.