Master Sommelier Ian Cauble wrote in one of his newsletters in February that while all the trade are focused on selecting the new vintage of rosés, some 2014 rosés are tasting even better after 1 year in bottle. I have often complained that rosé (especially from Provence) has to comply with an increasingly narrow definition of colour, taste profile and age. In other words, it must
a) be a very pale pink, with a hue that is neither too violet nor orange
b) must have less than 14% alc, minimal tannin, maximum fruit and not much of anything else and be very quaffable.
Why is it that with red and white wines we celebrate a vast range of diverse styles while rose is treated like a classical ballerina who is only allowed to perform certain steps and must comply with a strict morphology? I shouldn’t complain really, rosé sales have never been better and I enjoy our style of rosé as I enjoy classical ballet; however as a wine maker I feel like our creativity is being stifled / curtailed / censored.
I wonder who is driving this – is it the trade or consumers? Is it the trade that has over-simplified rosé to make life easier for consumers? Or is it the collective wisdom of consumers who over time have figured out that rosés that generally fit the above criteria taste better?
I find it interesting that those willing to challenge this rosé orthodoxy are more likely not going to be from Provence as is evidenced by Ian’s newsletter (Ian is American). This year I am launching a new rosé “Aurelia”, named after my first child born during the last harvest, which is in clear breach of the rosé orthodoxy. Nearly all 6000 bottles produced have been pre-sold but not one of them in France!
Here is a transcript of Ian’s newsletter:
“It feels as if Spring is upon us and the 2015 rosés will soon descend on the market, but the truth is, the most serious rosés from Provence need more than a year to blossom. The 2014 rosés are just now starting to soften and reach their ideal window of drinkability. Today’s 2014 L’esprit de Provence Rosé from Le Grand Cros has structure, texture, minerality and perfect freshness—this wine is everything we look for in a great rosé and is hitting a sweet spot that will continue for next few years. For less than $25 a bottle, this is everything we seek in the best examples of Rosé in the world.”