Clos du Temple 2019 - the Languedoc's most expensive rosé
It seems that rosé is on a role, being drunk more than ever before, and also being taken more seriously than ever before. A fellow MW and friend, Elizabeth Gabay, has written a whole book on rosé: Rosé, Understanding the Pink Revolution, published by Infinite Ideas. www.infideas.com and wine makers worldwide are giving rosé much greater consideration. Provence is setting the pace, with the palest of ethereal rosés, that almost look white, but it is the Languedoc that produces much more rosé than Provence. Sasha Lichine at Château d’Esclans is the Provençal champion, with many others following in his wake. In the Languedoc it is Gérard Bertrand who is raising the bar for rosés and he has just released the second vintage of the Languedoc’s most expensive, by far, rosé, Clos du Temple
I was lucky enough to be sent a sample bottle, and quite fortuitously, shortly after an MW webinar, chaired by Liz Gabay at which Gérard talked about Clos du Temple and his aspirations for rosé and about how the methods of production for rosé have evolved. Gérard first began making rosé 25 years ago, when methods were pretty primitive, without much temperature control. Next he looked at different terroirs, and natural yeast, considering that organic viticulture reinforces the terroir. There is no doubt that Clos du Temple is produced in some of the most stunning vineyards of the Languedoc, in the schist hillsides above the village of Cabrières, a village which already had a traditional reputation for its rosé.
Gérard talked about the importance of the harvest date - it is not the same as for red wine. He considers Grenache to be the best grape variety for rosé in the Languedoc, not just Grenache Noir, but Gris and Blanc as well, and also considers the potential of Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Grenache gives sapidity, saltiness, complexity, but he favours blends. The schist and limestone of Clos du Temple provide freshness and minerality, while the finish and aftertaste are important too.
For Clos de Temple, Gérard selects some very old vines, and dedicates them to rosé. They are at an altitude of 200 - 400 metres, giving small yields. The berries, once picked, are chilled for 24 hours, down to a temperature of 3C and that way the grapes gives off less colour and the grapes need less chilling during fermentation. There is some oak ageing, with a fermentation around 19 - 21C. Any lower and you get technical aromas. A warmer temperature is better to express the terroir. You cannot ferment rosé in oak if the yield is too high; it is the same as for white wine; there must already be some structure in the wine. In fact there are really no differences between winemaking for white and for rosé wines. You must take care with acidity and use indigenous yeast which capture a sense of place. Made like this, there is no reason why rosé should not age, just like a white wine.
There is no doubt that the wine is very impressive. It is a delicate palle colour. The blend also includes some Viognier and I found that made for a lightly peachy note on the nose, as well as some vanilla oakiness, from the oak ageing. The palate is rounded and ripe, with some raspberry fruit and a streak of tannin on the finish. But for some reason, the wine simply did not sing, and certainly not at the high retail price. You do not get much change from 200€. There was weight and there was complexity, but perhaps there was too much oak and rounded weight. I closed my eyes and wondered how I would like it if it were a white wine. And there is the problem, I am a Chablis girl at heart and this wine was more like a Meursault or a Puligny Montrachet. The rosé I really enjoy from among the many that Gérard produces, comes from vineyards in the Terrasses du Larzac, at Château la Sauvageonne, outside the village of St.Jean de la Blaquière. La Villa is also aged in oak, but it has a more incisive structure than Clos du Temple. And for me that makes it a more satisfying and possibly age worthy wine. I still have a bottle of 2018 Clos de Temple, so I am going to simply forget about it and give it, say, five years bottle age. Rendez-vous in 2025!