Rosés from the Pays d’Oc
The season for rosés is with us, or it will be, if and when the weather finally warms up……. so, last week I attended a zoom masterclass tasting of rosés from the Languedoc, hosted by Patrick Schmitt from Drinks Business. He had selected a small selection of wines from 70 plus samples, to illustrate the quality of rosés from the Languedoc, and particularly from the Pays d’Oc. Patrick explained that the rosé market is soaring, with Provence the benchmark for quality. However, the Languedoc produces significantly more rosé than Provence; he enthused about its advantages, the size of the area, covering the four departments of the Gard, Hérault, Aude and Pyrenees Orientales, with an extraordinary diversity and range of different terroirs. The Pays d’Oc also offers a flexibility that the appellations do not. The key grape varieties are the classic five of the south, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvèdre, but white Vermentino is also allowed and you will also find other varieties, the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Marselan. Whispering Angel in Provence created a serious reputation for barrel fermented rosé with Garrus; however, France’s most expensive rosé comes from the Languedoc, with Gerard Bertrand’s Clos du Temple, on sale at 200€.
So this is what we tasted, all from the 2020 vintage: Prices are French retail prices, at the cellar door.
Calmel & Joseph Villa Blanche 2020 - 10.00€
A blend of 70% Grenache Gris with 30% Grenache Noir. Very pale colour. A delicately fragrant nose. Nicely rounded fruit on the palate, with elegance and depth. Some satisfying texture and a creamy note that Patrick attributed to the Grenache Gris.
Jacques Frelin Vignobles, La Marouette Grenache – 5.90€
Pale colour. A rounded nose and some satisfying weight on the palate with a dry finish. A little more structured than the previous wine. Not a complex wine but well-made and very good value.
Les Caves Richemer, Marselan Rosé – 4.10€
This comes from the cooperative at Agde, with 1500 hectares and 350 members. A little colour and slightly spicy raspberry fruit on the nose. On the palate, quite juicy with a dry fruit and a rounded finish. Quite a simple wine, but none the worse for that.
Serre de Guéry, Piété – 7.00€
From an estate in the Minervois. An unusual blend of 50% Grenache, and 25% each of Syrah and Malbec. An elegant pink colour. Quite firm dry fruit on the nose and a hint of dry raspberry on the palate. Satisfying depth, with a refreshing finish.
Villa Noria, Grande Tradition – 8.50€
50% Pinot Noir with 25% each Grenache Noir and Gris. Another unusual blend. The Pinot Noir gives freshness to balance the riper Grenache. From an estate near Montagnac, that is new to me. A very pale pink. Rounded ripe raspberry nose. Some weight on the palate, with ripe red fruit. Supple and fresh and nicely balanced.
Delta Domaines, Cante Cigale – 6.00€
Pure Petit Verdot, which is also unusual, demonstrating the versatility of the Pays d’Oc. A little more colour than some. Quite a rounded solid nose, with some ripe fruit, and a dry finish. The wine was made in stainless steel vats, with some lees ageing and is a modest 13°.
Famille Fabre, Grande Courtade Instant Rosé – 7.80€
A blend of 52% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Pinot Noir, which makes for quite an intriguing blend. Famille Fabre are based in the Corbières and own several different estates, all of which are farmed organically. Delicate pretty colour, with a quite a fresh firm nose. On the palate, there is some rounded creamy ripe fruit, nicely balanced with fresh acidity on the finish.
Valensac, le Domaine – 5.50€
A blend of 83% Syrah and 17% Grenache Noir, from a sizeable estate outside the village of Florensac. Very pale colour, with a fresh nose, with a lightly peachy note. Quite a firm palate, with acidity, texture and grip. A refreshing finish.
Domaine la Provenquière, Achilleus - 17€
From an estate near Capestang. An unusual blend of 80% Pinot Gris and 20% Vermentino, co-fermented in 500 litres demi-muids and kept for a further six months on the lees. Quite a rounded nose with a touch of vanilla on the nose, with some peachy creamy notes. And more obvious oak on the palate. I found the oak un peu too much. Patrick rightly commented that it divides opinions. You barrel ferment white wine, so why not rosé, but it does need skilled handling so that the fruit is not lost. I felt the nose was much more successful than the palate, but then maybe it will age well.
But altogether a very enjoyable tasting which showed how successful the Languedoc is at producing rosé, and at prices that are significantly more affordable than most of the wines of Provence.