Rosés from the Pays d’Oc
Patrick Schmitt, the very articulate editor of Drinks Business conducted a webinar on Pays d’Oc rosés earlier in the summer.
First of all, there was some useful background. Patrick talked about the enormous growth in the rosé market from 8% in 2020 to 10% in 2022 and the growth is predicted to continue apace. You can’t avoid Provence. That is the benchmark, with Whispering Angel the biggest selling dry rosé in the USA, and investment by Moet Hennessy.
You can think of Pays d’Oc as a cheaper neighbour, but it also offers an enormous diversity in different terroirs and grape varieties. Patrick enthused about the more innovative wine styles in the Languedoc, considering the wine growers to be more adventurous. The very dry climate helps organic viticulture. And the area is the larger producer by far, 273 million bottles of rosé compared to 160 million from Provence. Most Provence rosé is a blend of grape varieties whereas 90% of all Pays d’Oc rosé are varietal wines. 27 different grape varieties are allowed for rosé; the most important are Grenache Noir, Cinsault and Syrah, but Grenache Gris is on the rise. Another advantage from the wine growers point of view is the permitted yields, 55 hl /ha in Provence and 75 hl/ha or more for Pays d ‘Oc.
The colour split for Pays d’Oc is now 45 % red, 30% rosé and 25% white, with rosé growing at the expense of red wine, with 1000 independent wine growers and 160 cooperatives.
And it is the Languedoc, not Provence, that produces the world’s most expensive rosé, Gérard Bertrand’s Clos du Temple from Cabrières.
So, to provide us with nine quite contrasting samples, Patrick nobly tasted 100 different wines. And this was his selections:
2021 Domaine de Cabrials, French Ambush
A blend of 84% Cinsault and 16% Grenache Noir, from vineyards near Béziers. Pale colour. Light, fresh nose with a touch of raspberry. And on the palate, lightly rounded red berries, with a soft finish. A very classic blend.
N.V. Chantovent, Miss Anaïs Gris
Chantovent is one of the big players of the Languedoc with 1200 growers farming 6000 hectares. Pure Grenache Gris. Pale orange pink colour. Quite a delicate nose. Quite rounded and mouthfllling. Lightly peachy fruit on the palate. Ripe with a fresh finish. A good example of a grape variety that has previously been overlooked and gaining some recognition.
2021 Domaine de l’Ostal
This is from the Minervois estate of Jean-Michel Cazes, with vineyards at the foot of the Montagne Noir. A blend of Grenache and Syrah, another classic southern blend for rosé. Light orange pink colour. Fresh dry nose and on the palate, quite firm and structured with some acidity. Good mouthfeel.
2021 Domaine Puilacher, Prologue
A pure Syrah, which would not be allowed in Provence. From the village of Puilacher, south east of the town of Clermont l’Hérault in the department of the Hérault. Onion pink in colour. Quite a firm nose. With lightly peppery raspberry fruit, and some herbal notes. Quite a structured palate, with some elegant weight.
2021 Domaine Ancely, la Colère Belle
Pinot Noir from an estate in Minervois la Livinière, with vineyards that were removed from the cooperative in 2001. A pretty pale pink. Fresh dry nose and on the palate, quite fresh and crisp, with a delicate hint of raspberry and firm acidity on the finish.
2021 Domaine de Cabadiès,
This is estate in the village of Capestang that belongs to the large family company of Bonfils. Altogether they have 16 estates, totalling 1200 hectares, including some vineyards in Bordeaux. Jean-Michel Bonfils is the head of the family, with three sons Olivier, Laurent and Jerome, all working in the family business. A blend of Syrah, with pressurage direct and Grenache which is saigné. Light colour, a light bright pink. Rounded nose and quite a powerful palate, with some raspberry fruit, and some fleshy mouth filling weight. More vinous than some with ripe fruit.
2021 Domaine La Belle Pierre, Evidence
A blend of Caladoc and Cabernet Franc. Caladoc is a cross of Malbec and Grenache Noir that was created in 1958, with the advantages that it is more disease resistant and less susceptible to coulure. A little more colour than some. Quite a fruity nose and on the palate some rounded fruit, with some grip. Quite structured; drier and sturdier than some, with some weight.
2021 Domaine La Jeanne, Excellence Rosé
A blend of 50 % each of Grenache and Cinsault, from a 27-hectare estate in Boujan-sur-Libron. Their first vintage was 1992. Delicate colour. Quite firm and dry on the nose with quite a delicate palate.
2021 Domaine les Yeuses, O d’Yeuses Rosé
From an estate near Mèze that is owned by the Dardé family. With vineyards on clay and limestone. A blend of 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 10% Cinsault,
Free run juice, with 10 hours maceration and then a cool, 15°C fermentation. Delicate colour; delicate nose. Nicely rounded ripe raspberry fruit on the palate. Good weight and satisfying mouthfeel; dry fruit with an elegant finish. I have tasted wines from Domaine les Yeuses before and they are on my ‘to visit’ list.
Patrick concluded, enthusing about the diversity of the region; there are old vines in terraced vineyards on steep hillsides in Roussillon, down to flatter vineyards on coastal plains. The wines are not just Provence lookalikes but are developing their own style, with the freedom of opportunity. A great tasting.