First dispatch from Larry Walker, author of The New Pink Wine: Guide to the World’s Best Rosés, due out in August.
Roussillon, France. July 20, 2018……My book was conceived here. We were deep in Roussillon, an ancient wine growing region in southeast France. The vine was first planted here by Phoenicians, followed by the Romans. We happened along some 2,500 years later. We first came to Roussillon a dozen or so years ago to listen to the stories the wines were telling. This time around, we were looking for the next chapter.
We found it at the Café Commerce, in Estagel, a village a few miles west of the city of Perpignan in the Agly River Valley, surrounded by vineyards. We had hoped for a snack and a glass or two of wine. Bad luck, the kitchen was closed but the bar was open and was happy to supply us with a generous bowl of peanuts and over the course of the next hour two glasses each of the house rosé.
Don’t know who made the rosé. Don’t know the cuvée. Don’t care. It was simple pleasure in a glass. A bright and youthful wine, inviting and lively in the mouth. Eager to tell us a story about sunshine and soil. About old vines and rocks. And we listened.
A lot of wine is made in Roussillon. And a lot of that wine is pink. Not going to trot out the statistics just now (you could Google them) but it is a serious business in these parts. When we first started coming to Roussillon rosé was always present. The difference now is that rosé is front and center. On our last visit, most winery and coop tasting rooms led with displays of rosé.
Pink wine in Roussillon is mostly made from Grenache (both Noir and Gris), Carignane, Syrah and a few dabs of this and that.
The trade group, Wines of Roussillon, has targeted the United States with a 2017 Rosé Ambassadors program. Check out the selection at your local wine shop. There are several of them in the tasting notes of my book The New Pink Wine, out soon. Here are a couple teasers. Cheers!
Domaine de Bila Haut
Another outstanding quality-for-value pink from Roussillon. This wine, with focused and uplifted fruit and bright minerality, is a Chapoutier project. Chapoutier, a Rhône producer and négociant, has been expanding into Roussillon (as well as Australia and Portugal) in a search for quality wines, based on biodynamic farming. The wine’s firm structure and broad flavors make it a particularly good match with winter stews, maybe a warming cassoulet, or grilled meats.✶ ✶ ✶
Mas Karolina K Rosé
Mas Karolina is among the best of the new wave of Roussillon wines to appear in the last decade. Working with old vine Cinsault with a splash of Grenache Noir,
Caroline Bonville has created an elegant rosé with lively minerality balanced against the vibrant red berry flavors of the Grenache. The minerality is a good example of impact of schist stones in the vineyard. This wine has the structure to match with pork, lamb or even a cassoulet.✶ ✶ ✶ ✶ ✶