The Cuilleron family domaine, located in the hamlet of Verlieu (part of the town of Chavanay) was founded several generations ago (1920). Yves Cuilleron’s grandfather was the first to bottle wine for commercial purposes in 1947. Antoine Cuilleron, the uncle and immediate predecessor of Yves, assumed control of the domaine in 1960 and significantly increased the percentage of wine bottled at the estate and extended the scope of the domaine. Yves assumed full ownership and direction of the domaine in 1987 and, since that time, has built an entirely new facility while at the same time acquiring additional vineyard property. The domaine is now (as of 2012) significantly larger in scope with 52 hectares of vineyards that cover multiple appellations, including principally, Condrieu, Saint Joseph Rouge and Blanc, Cote Rotie, Saint Péray and a series of Vin de Pays from the Collines Rhodaniennes. We have represented the domaine since the early 1980s when we began our collaboration with Antoine Cuilleron and began to import his Condrieu and Saint Joseph Rouge.
Most of the vineyards are situated in and around the commune of Chavanay which is just south of the town of Condrieu; obviously, the holdings in Cote Rotie extend north into Ampuis and the holdings the furthest south are in the village of Saint Péray. A large majority of the vineyards are set on terraces which makes most mechanization difficult, if not impossible. Thus, much of the vineyard work continues to be done by hand. To control yields, Cuilleron does extensive debudding and, when necessary, practices a “green harvest”.
In the cave, the grapes (harvested manually) are fermented using indigenous yeasts. The fermentations of the appellation controlée white wines are done in small barrel of one to four years age; malolactic fermentations are done in barrel as well and the elevage continues for nine months before the wines are bottled. The whites are in constant contact with the lees during elevage with regular batonnage. The whites are lightly filtered before bottling. The AOC reds are partially destemmed and the fermentation occurs in open top cuves for approximately three weeks. Pigeage and remontage are done regularly throughout the cuvaison. After the alcoholic fermentation the reds are racked into small barrel (aged between one and four years) for an elevage of approximately eighteen months. The reds are bottled with an egg-white fining but no filtration. The Vins de Pays undergo a more brief elevage (between six to eight months), some in barrel and some in stainless steel, depending on the cuvée.
|Marsanne IGP Collines Rhodaniennes: This cuvée is sourced from vineyards in Chavanay that sit on granite-infused soil. The fermentations (alcoholic and malolactic) take place in stainless steel; then, the wines is racked into a mix of stainless steel and small barrel for six months before bottling.|
|Roussanne IGP Collines Rhodaniennes: The Roussanne is sourced from vineyards in Chavanay and in St. Michel sur Rhone, essentially granite-infused soils. The fermentations (alcoholic and malolactic) are done in stainless steel; then, the wine is racked into a mix of barrels and stainless steel cuves for a six-month elevage before bottling.|
|Viognier IGP Collines Rhodaniennes:The Viognier for this cuvée is sourced from vineyards in the village of Chavanay, again planted to granite-infused soil. The fermentations (alcoholic and malolactic) are done in stainless steel; then, the wines are racked into a mix of stainless steel cuves and small barrels for a six-month elevage before bottling.|
|Roussilliere: From granite-infused soils in the village of Chavanay, Cuilleron harvests a mix of Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne in “surmaturité”, often graced by botrytis. The alcoholic fermentation is long and extends into winter and occurs in a mix of cuve and small barrel. The fermentation stops naturally by the cold of winter and the wine is bottled in the spring with an alcohol level at or near 11% with somewhere around 120 grams of residual sugar (each vintage will reflect slightly different parameters). Production is very limited … approximately 3600 bottles of 500ml size per year.|
|Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes Rosé: This Rosé is sourced 100% from Syrah grown within the confines of the village of Chavanay. It is produced by the “saignée” method after a brief maceration of several hours. The fermentations are in stainless steel and the elevage continues for about six months before bottling in the spring following harvest.|
|Syrah “Les Vignes d’a Côte” IGP Collines Rhodaniennes: This pure Syrah is sourced from vineyards in Chavanay, essentially granite-infused soils. The Syrah is destemmed at harvest, fermentation is in open-top cuves with a two week maceration. An elevage then proceeds for approximately eight months in a mix of stainless steel and small barrel.|
Syrah “Les Candives” IGP Collines Rhodaniennes: This is a special cuvée sourced from the best-positioned Syrah vines in Chavanay (outside the St. Joseph appellation). The top soil is thin and sits on a granite plateau. A two week cuvaison in open-top cuves is followed by an elevage of eight months in small barrel.
|Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes Signé: This cuvée is a blend of Syrah (85%) and Viognier (15%) from vineyards in Chavanay. Fully destemmed, the grapes are then pressed and fermented in open-top cuves for two weeks; then, there is an elevage of eight months in small barrel before bottling.|
|Saint Péray Les Potiers: Sourced from several parcels that sit on a gentle slope with southwest exposure in the commune of Saint Péray. The wine is a blend of marsanne and roussanne and is barrel-fermented and barrel-aged for nine months. The wine rests on the lees and batonnage is practiced.|
|Saint-Peray “Biousse”: “Biousse” is on a hillside lieu-dit just south of the village itself where the soil is made up of Pliocene red clays and granite scree. The wine is 100% Marsanne, aged in a higher proportion of small barrels than “Potiers”; elevage is approximately nine months on the lees without racking , but with regular batonage before bottling.|
|Saint Joseph Blanc Lyseras: The vineyards for this wine are situated in the village of Chavanay with an east-southeast exposure. The soil is a mix of sand and granite. Both Marsanne and Roussanne are in this blend. The wine is barrel-fermented and barrel-aged; the elevage is nine months.|
|Saint Joseph Blanc Le Lombard: The “Lombard” cuvée is from a selection of old vines Marsanne situated on the east-southeast facing slopes of the hamlet of Verlieu, just south of Condrieu. The soil is a mix of sand and granite. The wine is barrel-fermented and barrel-aged; the elevage lasts for nine months before bottling.|
|Saint-Joseph Blanc “Digue”: Located in the commune of Saint-Pierre de Boeuf “Digue” is a highly granitic lieu-dit with due-south exposition from which Cuilleron produces this impressive pure-Roussanne Saint-Joseph. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentations occur in barrel with natural yeasts, and are aged for roughly nine months before bottling.|
|Condrieu La Petite Cote: The vineyards of Viognier are planted on terraces with a south-southeast exposure in the commune of Chavanay. The wine is barrel-fermented and barrel-aged; the elevage is nine months with regular batonnage occurring.|
|Condrieu Les Chaillets: This cuvée is sourced from the best exposed and the oldest Viognier vines of the domaine (south-southeast exposure, planted on terraces in the commune of Chavanay). Barrel-fermented and barrel-aged with regular batonnage during the nine-month elevage.|
|Condrieu “Vernon”: “Vernon” is a legendary vineyard of biotite-rich granite and due-south exposition—the jewel of the Cote de Vernon, and the greatest and most age-worthy of Cuilleron’s Condrieu. As befits its concentration and pedigree, “Vernon” spends eighteen months in wood barrels, one-third of which are new, with regular batonnages and no racking.|
|Condrieu Ayguets: The Viognier for this cuvée is from terraced vineyards in Chavanay with a full south exposure. This site is ideal for providing an extended growing season that permits the development of botrytis and “surmaturité”. The harvest is done with several passes through the vineyards from mid-October through mid –November. The wine is fermented in barrel and the elevage in barrel as well extends for eight months. In general, the “Ayguets” is bottled at about 14% alcohol with 100 or more grams of residual sugar. Only about 2,000 bottles (of 500ml size) are bottled per year.|
|Saint Joseph Rouge “Les Pierres Seches”: This cuvée is sourced from terraced vineyards perched on the slopes of Chavanay. The soil is a mix of sand and granite with a very thin top soil. The alcoholic fermentation is done in open top cuves for three weeks under controlled temperatures with regular pigeage and remontage for extraction. The malolactic is done is barrel. Elevage in small barrel for eighteen months before the bottling (unfiltered).|
|Saint Joseph Rouge L’Amarybelle: The “L’Amarybelle” is sourced from older vines, a mix of vines aged between 20 and 40 years from hillside vineyards set on terraces. The density of plantation is between 8,000 and 10,000 vines per hectare. There is a three week cuvaison in open-top cuves, temperature control and regular pigeage and remontage. After an eighteen month elevage, the wine is bottled unfiltered.|
|Saint-Joseph Rouge “Cavanos” – Vieilles Vignes”: As of 2015, Cuilleron will no longer produce his well-loved “L’Amarybelle.” His oldest Syrah vineyards instead are being used for this cuvee, “Cavanos”—the ancient local name for the village of Chavanay. Made from densely planted Syrah over 40 years of age, “Cavanos” offers a profound, more overtly smoky character than “Pierres Seches” above, trading a bit of that wine’s straightforward snappiness for a broader palate of greater opacity and thickness. After a manual harvest, the grapes are destemmed and undergo a three week cuvaison in open top vats. The wine is moved into smaller barrel for the malolactic and are left to age for 18 months before bottling.|
|Saint Joseph Rouge Les Serines: The “Serines” is sourced from the oldest Syrah vines of the domaine and the vines are “selection massale” (grafted from original rootstock). After a three week cuvaison, the wine is racked into small barrel for the malolactic and an elevage of eighteen months before being bottled unfiltered.|
|Crozes-Hermitage Rouge “Laya”: “Laya” comes from a single 2 hectares vineyard south of the Tain L’Hermitage. The grapes (Syrah) are partially destemmed and placed in open vats for an approximate three week cuvaison. Malolactic fermentation occurs in barrels where the wine is left to age for 16 months before bottling. Juicy, smoke-tinged fruit that veers toward the red end of the spectrum completely coats the not-insubstantial tannins, and the push-pull between acid and ripeness makes this wine eminently drinkable even at this youthful stage|
|Cornas “Le Village”: Cuilleron produces “Le Village” from 3 different holdings: one behind the church of the village of Cornas, one in the lieu-dit of “Reynard” and one in the locality “La Cote” in the prime swath of the Cornas appellation. Situated on steep terraces, the soils are composed of classic granitic rock, erecting a deeply colored and structured wine. The vinification is similar to his other reds: partially destemmed, natural yeasts, long cuvaison, malolactic fermentation in barrels, and aging for 18 months before bottling. Total production is approximately 400 cases per year.|
|Cote Rotie Bassenon: The first of the Cote Roties of the domaine is sourced from a 1.5 hectare parcel on the hill of Semons in the vaillage of Tupin-Semons in the southern sector of the appellation. The soil is granite and gneiss; the blend is 90% Syrah and 10% Viognier. The cuvaison proceeds for three weeks; the wine is racked into small barrel for the malolactic; then, there is an elevage of eighteen months before the wine is bottled unfiltered.|
|Cote Rotie “Madiniere”: This cuvée is sourced from a two hectare parcel with a south-southeast exposure in the northern tier of the village of Ampuis. The soil is composed of schist. This Cote Rotie is 100% Syrah. There is a three week cuvaison, regular pigeage and remontage; then, the wine is racked into small barrel for the elevage where the malolactic occurs. The wine is bottled without filtration eighteen months after harvest.|
|Côte-Rôtie “Bonniviere”: “Bonniviere” is an east-facing lieu-dit of mica schist in the very center of the appellation close to Ampuis. The most full-bodied and “sauvage” of the trio Côte Rôties produced by Cuilleron, this parcel is regarded as his best in appellation. The grapes are partially destemmed and undergo a three week cuvaison before being aged in barriques for 18 months.|
2018 Yves Cuilleron Condrieu Lieu-Dit Vernon Diaphanous yellow-gold. Mineral- and spice-accented orchard, pit fruits and a hint of violet on the deeply perfumed nose. Densely packed yet lively as well, offering palate-staining nectarine, pear liqueur and Meyer lemon flavors that show outstanding clarity and solid back-end thrust. The floral and mineral notes build emphatically on
Long ago, sweetness in any form was far rarer than today, and it was prized thusly. In our era of ubiquitous corn syrup, junk food, and soda, it is difficult to imagine a world in which sugar was special, and the overall difficulty in selling sweet wines across all markets testifies to that. Still, sweetness in wine—real wine whose sweetness has not been coerced—remains one of nature’s rare gifts. Producing sweet wines requires a grower to be courageous, as she must wait to harvest and risk late-season vagaries of weather, or, in passito-style wines, assume the risk of air-drying fruit for upwards of half a year in her cellar. Sweet wine production requires prodigious effort for feeble yields, which generally then take longer to produce and longer to sell than their dry counterparts.
Commanderie de Peyrassol
Our longstanding partnership with the Commanderie de Peyrassol provides us with our most plentiful source of classically rendered Provence rosés—wines which the market justifiably awaits eagerly as warmer weather draws nearer. The 2019 growing season saddled Peyrassol with high temperatures and dry conditions—factors increasingly becoming the “new normal” in a post-climate-change France—but a bit of well-timed gentle rainfall during harvest brought welcome balance to the fruit and neutralized the looming threat of heavy, hydric-stress-affected rosés. Varieties and parcels at Peyrassol are all vinified individually, which allows the estate great flexibility in the blending of their various cuvées. Indeed, one of the most remarkable things about the range of rosés at Peyrassol is how well-measured and notable the “steps up the ladder” are in the lineup. The wines do not get more boisterous or rich as one climbs; rather, they become more filigree, detailed, and fine—each progressive rung a further zoom-in on a sort of Platonic ideal of Provence rosé. This collection of 2019s sees Peyrassol firing on all cylinders in a vintage exceedingly favorable to their style of wine.
2019 “La Croix” IGP Méditerranée Rosé
Produced from roughly equal parts Grenache and Cinsault, plus a splash of Rolle (Vermentino), the 2019 “La Croix” blends 50% estate holdings with fruit sourced from the Côtes de Provence as well as further north toward Mont Sainte-Victoire. An exemplar of Peyrassol’s blending acumen, it offers the precision and elegance that characterizes all the estate’s rosés, albeit in a more direct, fruit-forward manner than its stablemates below.
2019 “Cuvée de la Commanderie” Côtes de Provence Rosé
Peyrassol’s perennial workhorse hits a bullseye in 2019. Comprising 30% each Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah, with small amounts of Tibouren and Mourvèdre completing the blend, the beloved “Commanderie” offers the tension, salinity, and crystalline fruit that characterize this wine every year, with greater lift than the 2018 and a vinous core that does nothing to detract from the wine’s breezy deliciousness. This cuvée blends 70% estate-grown fruit with 30% purchased from several growers in nearby Flassans-sur-Isole with whom Peyrassol has multi-year contracts; Peyrassol’s team oversees the harvest and vinification of these sources.
2019 “Château Peyrassol” Côtes de Provence Rosé
Produced entirely from fruit grown on the estate, the 2019 “Château Peyrassol” is no weightier than the “Commanderie” above, differentiating itself instead through more marked salinity and greater palate persistence. It seamlessly interweaves taut, bright red fruit and vivacious acidity into a texture both cool and layered, and its overall personality is slightly lighter and more focused than that of the 2018. The 2019 is comprised of 65% Cinsault, 30% Grenache, and 5% each Tibouren and Mourvèdre.
2019 “Le Clos Peyrassol” Côtes de Provence Rosé
Taking the crystalline focus of the “Château” above even further, the 2019 “Le Clos” is stupendous in its textural elegance and purity of fruit. It combines roughly equal parts Tibouren, Grenache, and Cinsault from the most favorably situated section within Peyrassol’s holdings, and this 2019 sees the estate experimenting in the cellar to great effect: 20% of the wine was vinified and aged in 10-hectoliter terracotta jars, which contribute a texturally caressing quality to the final blend without sacrificing its sense of laser-like precision.
2019 Cassis Rosé
The dynamic Sébastien Genovesi describes 2019 as a beautiful harvest, one for which a sorting table was virtually unnecessary, and his family’s domaine produced 15% more wine than in the similarly warm and dry 2018. Domaine du Bagnol’s rigorous vineyard practices (organic-certified since 2014) and careful, precise cellar work have resulted in wines of increased harmony and complexity with each passing year, and this vintage of their Cassis Rosé represents a new pinnacle for a justly beloved cuvée. Comprising 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, and 20% Mourvèdre, the rose-petal-colored 2019 was pressed directly and rapidly (in under two hours) to extract as little color as possible, and the bottled wine contains only 20 milligrams per liter of total sulfur—a factor which contributes to its gorgeous purity of texture and precise, intense evocation of limestone soil.
Ninth-generation Etienne Portalis displays ever-greater confidence and mastery of craft with each vintage, and his rosés reach new heights with the below range of 2019s. Employing only spontaneous fermentations and using a variety of casks for vinification and aging (cement, steel, foudre), Etienne produces rosés of vinous complexity and impressive concentration, all with an evocative salinity at their core. These are wines which justify Bandol’s lofty reputation near the top of the rosé genre, while simultaneously reinforcing Pradeaux’s peerless position within this singular seaside appellation. Etienne began harvesting on September 20th under warm, dry conditions, but the overall year’s water supply was greater than in 2018, resulting in rosés of riveting acidity and excellent balance. As is ever the case, these rosés will drink great young but will amply reward cellaring as well.
2019 Côtes de Provence Rosé
The 2019 Pradeaux Côtes de Provence Rosé carries less Mourvèdre than last year’s: 65% (compared to 75% in the 2018), with 25% Cinsault and 10% Grenache completing the blend. Etienne remarks that the lower proportion of Mourvèdre makes the wine saltier, and indeed this vintage offers a mouthwatering, acid-driven palate of intense mineral cling, with honest, non-confected flavors of dried strawberries and Provençal herbs. Vinified and aged entirely in steel, this wine comes within striking distance of the Bandol in its complexity, yet is brisker and lighter on its feet overall.
2019 Bandol Rosé
As the last bastion of ultra-traditional Bandol, Château Pradeaux never allocates more than 30% of its total harvest toward rosé, even as other growers in the appellation convert ever-greater proportions of their production to pink in order to satisfy the demands of the market. The Bandol Rosé they do produce is a standard-bearer, always among the most magisterial rosés in all of France and a fixture of our portfolio for nearly four decades. Comprising equal proportions of Mourvèdre and Cinsault, the 2019 clocks in at 14.1% alcohol but bears not a trace of heat, instead offering a freshness exceeding that of the quite rich 2018. Jellied quince, crunchy melon, and guava vie for attention with the wine’s turbo-charged chalky core and sizzling acid profile, and an overall sense of intense concentration bodes well for its future development.
2018 “Vesprée” Vin de France
With the 2016 vintage, Etienne began producing “Vesprée”—a rosé of pure Mourvedre from among his oldest vines (60 to 70 years old), vinified and aged partly in cement egg and partly in 600-liter demi-muid. The wine spends ample time on its lees without being racked, and is bottled just before the following harvest rather than early in the year like most rosés—hence the arrival of the 2018 vintage this season. Both saltier and richer than the flagship Bandol Rosé, “Vesprée” (named after the appearance of the sun’s fading rays as dusk approaches) follows the inherent seriousness of the category to a further extreme, yet it remains lively, focused, and Provençal to its core. Despite its deeply imbedded sense of classicism, however, the wine often provokes accusations of atypicality from the woefully conservative appellation authorities, and indeed this stunning 2018 bears a Vin de France designation.
2018 Palette Rosé [available now]
Château Simone’s legendary Palette Rosé makes a legitimate claim as perhaps the greatest rosé in all of France, and, as is the case with their white and red wines, there is certainly nothing else quite like it. Built on the backs of Grenache and Mourvèdre, with smaller amounts of Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Castet, Manosquin, Théoulier, Tibouren, Picpoul Noir, and Muscat de Hambourg, Simone Rosé is produced from a blend of equal parts direct-press and saignée juice. Whereas much commercial-minded rosé is fermented with artificial yeasts and rushed into bottle well before spring’s first shoots emerge, Château Simone’s spends nearly a full year (hence the 2018 vintage here) in old foudres resting on its lees and gaining remarkable depth, with sulfur applied only at the moment of bottling. Sumptuous and utterly seamless in its texture, this 2018 bastes the palate with savory red fruits and delivers an almost viscous impression of concentration. As with all vintages of this wine, it will doubtlessly develop beautifully in bottle for well over a decade.
2019 Luberon Rosé “Poudrière”
It’s an unlikely story: the heir to an enviable share of holdings in Chassagne-Montrachet ends up unlocking the potential of an appellation in northern Provence known more for bulk wine than nuanced expressions of terroir—yet that is precisely what we’re seeing as Sylvain Morey continues to improve and evolve at Bastide du Claux, his outpost in the Luberon which he acquired in the early 2000s. Sylvain is currently undergoing organic certification, which he will obtain in 2021 (though he has been practicing since 2015), and his commitment to harvesting by hand, fermenting without additions, and tailoring blending and élévage to the characteristics of each harvest results in wines of striking depth and purity. The 2019 “Poudrière” blends 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault, with the Syrah and part of the Grenache pressed directly, and the Cinsault and the other part of the Grenache bled off. With flavors of black cherries and peach skins, it presents mouthwatering textural tension and an underlying sense of minerality, as well as an unforced vinosity that shames many of its confected Provençal cousins from more market-friendly area codes.
2019 Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé
Gilles Gasq has had an impressive run lately, having begun producing a dynamite Châteauneuf-du-Pape in addition to his always-reliable offerings from the Côtes-du-Rhône and the Plan de Dieu. His 2019 Rosé, comprising 50% Grenache, 40% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah, was produced solely via direct-press and aged in stainless steel on its fine lees for several months before bottling. Sprightlier and more linear than its 2018 counterpart, it offers bright, friendly strawberry fruit, gentle but well-measured acidity, and an underlying freshness not often found in the rosés of the southern Rhône. The domaine has been certified organic for nearly a decade at this point, and the already-expert Gilles continues to hone his approach to great effect.
2019 Ventoux Rosé “Epicure”
After a brutal 2018 vintage in which Luc Guenard suffered a massive reduction in crop size, 2019’s relative bounty was a particularly welcome blessing. Steadfastly organic in his viticultural practices, Guenard reported remarkably clean and healthy fruit in 2019, and for the first time ever he added no sulfur whatsoever to the grapes at harvest time. Composed of one-third each Cinsault, Grenache, and Syrah, and produced via direct press, “Epicure” is vinified and aged in cement and given only a very light filtration at bottling. This 2019 is vivid in its fruit profile, with flavors of melon and cherry framing a ripe, round texture that nonetheless displays a refreshing and acid-driven sense of lift.
2019 Ventoux Rosé
The rock-steady Soard brothers produced a remarkable version of their Ventoux Rosé in the 2019 vintage, a season which offered a similarly warm and dry character to 2018 but without that summer’s overwhelming hydric stress. Composed of 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 15% Mourvèdre, and 5% Carignan, and produced solely via direct press, this 2019 offers perkier acidity and an overall greater sense of energy than the 2018, with a sense of well-judged restraint that characterizes all the domaine’s wines. Fenouillet has been certified organic since the 2012 vintage, a fact which shows in this rosé’s vibrancy and vividness of fruit.
2019 Gigondas Rosé “Amour de Rose”
Our stalwart source of great Gigondas for nearly forty years, Gour de Chaulé is undergoing an exciting period, with Stephanie Fumoso’s intelligent and passionate young son Paul having recently joined the domaine full-time. Comprising 40% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, and 20% Mourvèdre, their 2019 Gigondas Rosé clocks in at 14.5% alcohol, but this lofty level belies the wine’s sense of harmony and freshness. Whereas the wine in times past was produced purely from saignée, Stephanie began incorporating a proportion of directly pressed juice some years back, and for the past few years it has been made exclusively via the direct-press method. Furthermore, Stephanie and Paul harvest those plots destined for their rosé earlier than those for their red—and always early in the morning in order to preserve freshness and minimize the use of sulfur at the time of picking.
2019 Syrah Rosé “Sybel” IGP Collines Rhodaniennes
The immensely talented Yves Cuilleron has amassed a towering reputation over his 33-year career for rendering northern Rhône wines of typicity, depth, and pleasure. Tucked among his formidable and expansive lineup is “Sybel”—a rosé of pure hand-harvested Syrah produced from the bled-off juice of his many cuvées, fermented spontaneously and aged in a combination of steel and large wood. Both easygoing and surprisingly terroir-expressive, it is a rosé that could come from nowhere but the northern Rhône, and it represents remarkable value year-in and year-out.
2019 Corbières Rosé “Rosé des Glacières”
For the even-keeled and remarkably kind Jean-Baptiste Gibert, 2019 was an even drier year overall than 2018—a not-insignificant fact given the already inherently rugged and rain-starved climate of Corbières. With assistance from some well-timed rainfall in August and early September, however, Gibert’s organically tended vineyards yielded a relatively large crop of impeccable fruit in 2019. His always unique “Rosé des Glacières”—pure saignée Syrah from vines up to 40 years old—offers more freshness than a typical vintage, with a drier impression overall (its 1.5 grams per liter of residual sugar are undetectable). Flavors of macerated strawberries and Provençal garrigue spread generously over the palate, given definition by tangy but supple acidity and an appealing undertone of gentle bitterness.
2019 Bordeaux Rosé
Husband and wife Olivier Allo and Angelique Armand produce an impressive range from their estate’s holdings in and around Sainte-Croix-du-Mont—a zone historically coveted for its finely wrought botrytised sweet wines but capable of producing excellent dry wines as well. Their restrained, beautifully balanced Bordeaux Rosé blends equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and is produced solely via direct pressing. In keeping with its vintage-mates across France, this 2019 is lighter in color and in spirit than the 2018, both fully ripe and delicately pretty, and with a clear, focused line of acidity.
2018 “Rose-Marie” Vin de France [available now]
Like all of this enigmatic and iconic estate’s wines, Le Puy’s “Rose-Marie” is a true outlier. Since the 2006 harvest, the Amoreau family has bottled a rosé of pure Merlot from the bled-off juice of a single vat of “Barthélemy”—the wine they produce from their highest-altitude and most prized vineyard. “Rose-Marie” is aged in old barrels without the addition of yeasts, sulfur, or, for that matter, anything at all. The results are startling in their purity and frankness, with unmediated flavors of herb-tinged red fruits wed to a riveting acidity and a powerful underlying sense of chalk (Barthélemy has less than a foot of topsoil atop its mother-rock of solid Astrée limestone). Rare and delicious, “Rose-Marie” is produced in minuscule quantities and is only available sporadically; it is a wine that will challenge one’s notion of what rosé can be, and in the best and most satisfying way imaginable.
2019 Rosé de Loire “Astrée”
2019 marks the first vintage from flowering to harvest for Soucherie’s new chef de cave Vianney de Tastes, whose skilled, delicate touch resulted in a rosé of excellent poise. Produced entirely from direct-press Gamay planted in the Astrée vineyard—a departure from the Grolleau-Gamay blend of the previous vintage—this 2019 Rosé de Loire is ethereally pale, pouring a glinting light-copper in the glass. The palate continues the theme, with vivacious acidity and a captivating combination of serenity and energy; one gets all the prettiness of Gamay without any of the excess roundness to which it is sometimes prone. Notably, the entire 6,000-bottle production of the 2019 was allotted to Rosenthal Wine Merchant, and we couldn’t be happier with the quality and value this exemplary rosé provides.
2019 Menetou-Salon Rosé
With each passing vintage, Philippe Gilbert cements his position at the vanguard of this eastern Loire appellation. His steadfast commitment to biodynamics (he was the first in Menetou-Salon to adopt the practice), his refusal to machine-harvest, and his minimal intervention in vinification and aging result in wines of energy, clarity, and visceral exuberance. Philippe’s ever-delightful rosé shines in 2019—a season which, like 2018, was overwhelmingly hot and dry, but which produced wines of greater equilibrium and drive. Produced from directly pressed Pinot Noir and aged on its lees in stainless steel, the 2019 carries an undetectable 1.9 grams per liter of residual sugar and clocks in at 13.4% alcohol. It offers a very pure expression of calcareous minerality, with delicate but juicy cherry fruit and a soaring but well-integrated acidity.
2019 Sancerre Rosé
Gilles Crochet reported a particularly small Pinot Noir harvest in 2019—about half of a normal yield—due to an unusually intense late-summer heat wave which grilled a portion of bunches not shielded by leaf cover. Despite a warm and dry season, however, the 2019 Sancerre Rosé displays the rapier-like precision and scintillating minerality for which the estate is renowned, albeit with a subtle wink toward Pinot Noir succulence which cooler vintages often lack. Produced entirely from hand-harvested direct-press Pinot Noir, it spends several months on its fine lees in stainless steel before bottling, and develops interestingly in bottle for several years past vintage.