JAMES SUCKLING – Tasting notes

I love rosé, especially in the South of France during the summer. And I have there favorite rosé producers, all from the South of France: Château d’Esclans, Domaines Ott, and Domaine Tempier. I tasted their wines this week in the Côte d’Azur and I found Château d’Esclans the best. I also tasted the rosé (I bought it at the Monoprix supermarket for 18.99 euros) from actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie – Miraval Rosé Côte de Provence – and it was pretty underwhelming to say the least.

The new releases from Château d’Esclans are from the 2014 vintage – the top cuvées on the market, Les Clan and Garrus are still 2013 – show a compressed and tighter mouthfeel giving them slightly more fruit character yet a bright and fresh acidity. D’Esclans’ winemaker, Patrick Leon (formerly the long-time winemaker of first growth Mouton-Rothschild) says 2014 has a much more “vertical” style giving the wines more fruit and depth on the palate.

“It was really a great vintage for 2014 and gave the grapes such beautiful maturity,” said Leon during a tasting a few weeks ago during VinExpo, the wine fair in Bordeaux. “It wasn’t too hot and the grape maturity didn’t go too quickly. It was a long ripening period. It kept the aromas, sugar and acidity. It gave you everything,” he continued.

Leon believes that the 2014 is d’Esclans’ best vintage ever. I need to taste the top cuvées to confirm. But the more current releases suggest grandeur. They have changed the label on the Château d’Esclans 2014 to “Château d’Esclans Rock Angel.”  They say they like the idea that after drinking the entry level rosé Whispering Angel, “it’s time to rock” with the Château d’Esclans.

Okay…What is perhaps more interesting is how the top cuvées of d’Esclans improve with age. The wines are made very much like a top white Burgundy. The top cuvées – again Les Clans and Garrus – are almost entirely cold fermented in 600-liter French oak casks and aged for about 10 months. The 2013s in both wines are amazing now show wonderful freshness and intensity yet a dense and layered palate. I think that the 2013 Château d’Esclans Garrus may be the best rosé ever made.