Provençal Rosé

Two and a half millennia’s worth of experiment and refinement in viniculture, give or take a few centuries, surely demonstrates a commitment to getting it right. In these ancient vineyards dotted among the tumbling limestone bluffs and some still-wild scrubland, a colourful panoply of migrant tribes, religious monk orders, dukedoms, kingdoms, and empires have introduced new varieties of grapevine — adapting them as regional cultivars and a diversity of styles. In antiquity, Greek settlers farmed the maritime landscape for 500 years before Caesar strode ashore triumphantly at Marseilles in 49BC. The occupation would endure for four centuries and provide Provence with its modern name derived from the long-held Latin title, Provincia Romana. With the sudden demise of the Western Roman Empire, a succession of Ostrogoths, Visigoths and Germanic Burgondes took turns making their preferred wines before being absorbed into the Kingdom of the Franks in the 8th century. Invasion by North African Berbers, then the rising of Charlemagne’s Carolingian Empire, was followed by a litany of other feudal Frankish or Italianate kingdoms. So it continued throughout the Crusades and Medieval Periods — up until 1481 when Louis XI firmly embraced Provence as a unique territory in the France we know today. Somewhere along the historical way, Provençal winemakers finally settled on the challenges and rewards of becoming the global gold standard for the fashioning of Rosé.

When cultivating grapes, especially Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault, it’s a blessing in the Côtes de Provence AOP to see 300 days of yearly sunshine; better ensuring that the fruit will have reached peak maturity by harvest. If you’re a local vintner aiming to fashion crisp and refreshing wines from these relatively robust varieties, then it’s also beneficial for the vines to experience a significant cooling-off in the evening as a respite from the stressful, daytime heat. If you’re a painter, then the vista of the Arc Valley, framed by mountains and low-lying hills on 3 sides might be as inspiring as it was to Cezanne in his landscape composition, Mont Sainte-Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley.

Call it ‘Provence’s sun-drenched bounty’ and know that it’s plentifully expressed in this week’s DéClassé recommended bottling of Gassier Sables d’Azur Rosé. It’s a classic blend of the grapes listed above, with the Cinsaut adding softness and bouquet to the salmon-pink formulation. As an excellent example of why this charming wine style continues to enjoy a renaissance of appreciation worldwide, it’s attractively bottled in the slender and curvy glass vessel known regionally as a flûte à corset: a playful association to the garment, and shapely effect. What’s not reined-in here is an abundance of delicately layered flavour. Buy 3 (at least)!

GASSIER SABLES D’AZUR ROSÉ 2016
VINTAGES – Product #33621 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 16.95
Wine, Rosé Wine
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: D

Made in Provence, France
By: Advini
Release Date: May 27, 2017

Tasting Note
Fresh red berry, melon, and sweet citrus zest dominate the aroma and flavours of this dry and vibrant wine. Perfect as an aperitif served alongside Sushi, salads, Prosciutto Crostini and goats’ cheeses or with mains of stuffed Mediterranean peppers, herb-roasted poultry and sweet potato gratin.

Western Cape Rosé

Both a designated coastal wine region and historical center, the dynamic town of Stellenbosch lies 50km inland of Cape Town in South Africa’s Western Cape. Three centuries on in time and toil; from the first planting of grapevine in 1690 by Dutch and Huguenot settlers — an under-developed plot of land that local farmers had dismissed as vuilplasie (‘dirty little farm’) was gradually converted to vineyard. Launching with a fledgling vintage of white wine in 1992, the ever-evolving Mulderbosch winery has seen a number of development phases, both in its properties and its wine crafting talent. Star vintner Mike Dubrovnic led the enterprise through a period of expanded profile, and now under Adam Mason’s creative winemaking guidance it continues to contribute to South
Africa’s revival as a reliable source of very affordable, terroir-distinctive wine.

This week’s DéClassé featured varietal Rosé is made from the so-called Don of red wine grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon. With distinctively compact blackberries and a thick-skin, Mulderbosch harvests these somewhat earlier than if it were destined to be finished as a full red wine. This particular practice of fashioning Rosé yields naturally higher levels of acidity, minerality, and brightness to the bottled aromas of the fruit. Exploiting a local geographic advantage, their vines are planted in well-drained valley terrain below the Cape Fold mountain range, where the surrounding hills funnel cooling breezes into the vineyard; helping attenuate the sometimes grape-wilting heat of South African summers.

mulderbosch-vineyard

This impressive 78-hectare farm has come a long way in a quarter century. Along with attaining critical and commercial success, the eco-friendly farming strategies that they’re employing qualify it as Certified Sustainable. Moreover, sections of the property have been dedicated to conservancy; including rehabilitation of wetlands; better ensuring that the biodiversity of indigenous vegetation and wildlife will continue to thrive.

Local rumor has it that, once upon a time, only Mozart was played in the cellar during the cool fermentation processing of the grapes; perhaps imparting some layered finesse and playful sophistication into the developing wine! True or not, a great deal of investment by the vintner has been directed into this attractively priced, and unique bottling – that should translate into you picking up at least 3!

Mulderbosch

MULDERBOSCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON ROSÉ 2015
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #999821 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 12.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in South Africa
By: Mulderbosch
Release Date: May 11, 2016

Tasting Note
This is a dry, medium-bodied Rosé that’s full of delightful lip-smacking acidity. With cherry, ripe strawberry and pomegranate flavours, serve this well-chilled to preserve its crispness. Substantial on its own as an apéritif or along with summer citrus-laced salads, Thai spring rolls, sushi or asparagus Quiche.

Provençal Rosé

Two and a half millennia’s worth of experiment and refinement in viniculture, give or take a few centuries, surely demonstrates a commitment to getting it right. In these ancient vineyards, dotted among the tumbling limestone bluffs and some still-wild scrubland, a colourful panoply of migrant tribes, religious monk orders, dukedoms, kingdoms, and empires have introduced new varieties of grapevine; adapting them as regional cultivars and a diversity of styles. In antiquity, Greek settlers farmed the maritime landscape for 500 years before Caesar strode ashore triumphantly at Marseilles in 49BC. The subsequent occupation would endure for four centuries and provide Provence its modern name; derived from its long-held Latin title Provincia Romana. With the sudden demise of the Western Roman Empire, a succession of Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and Germanic Burgondes took turns making their preferred wines before being absorbed into the Kingdom of the Franks in the 8th century. Invasion by North African Berbers, then the rising of Charlemagne’s Carolingian Empire, was followed by a litany of other feudal Frankish or Italianate kingdoms, and so it continued throughout the Crusades and Medieval Periods–up until 1481 when Louis XI firmly embraced Provence as a unique territory in the France we know today. Somewhere along the historical way, Provençal winemakers finally settled on the challenges and rewards of becoming the global gold standard for the fashioning of Rosé.

chateau-gassier-vineyard

When cultivating grapes, especially Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault, it’s a blessing in the Côtes de Provence AOP to see 300 days of yearly sunshine; ensuring that the fruit will have reached peak maturity by harvest time. If you’re a local vintner working to fashion crisp and refreshing wines from these relatively robust varieties, then it’s also beneficial for the vines to experience a significant cooling-off in the evening as a respite from the stressful, daytime heat. If you’re a painter, then the vista of the Arc Valley, framed by mountains and low-lying hills on 3 sides might be as inspiring as it was to Cezanne in his landscape composition, Mont Sainte-Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley.

Call it ‘Provence’s sun-drenched bounty’ and know that it’s plentifully expressed in this week’s DéClassé recommended bottling of Gassier Sables d’Azur Rosé. It’s a classic blend of the grapes listed above, with the Cinsaut adding softness and bouquet to the salmon-pink formulation. As an excellent example of why this charming wine style continues to enjoy a renaissance of appreciation worldwide, it’s attractively bottled in the slender and curvy glass vessel known regionally as a flûte à corset: a playful association to the garment, and shapely effect. What’s not reined-in here is an abundance of delicately layered flavour. Buy 3 (at least)!

Sables D'Azur

GASSIER SABLES D’AZUR ROSÉ 2015
VINTAGES – Product #33621 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 15.95
Wine, Rosé Wine
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: D

Made in Provence, France
By: Advini
Release Date: April 30, 2016

Tasting Note
Fresh red berry, melon, and sweet citrus zest dominate the aroma and flavours of this dry and vibrant wine. Perfect as an aperitif served alongside Sushi, salads, Prosciutto Crostini and goats’ cheeses or with mains of stuffed Mediterranean peppers, herb-roasted poultry and sweet potato gratin.

Provence Alert

Côtes de Provence is a grape growing region that stretches along the otherwise
famed Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) from Marseille to Nice. Several low mountain
ranges, particularly the Massif de la Sainte-Baume and the Massif des Maures,
act to partition its geographic zones. Currently, about 50% of all France’s rosé
originates from this DOC and it remains widely recognized, deservedly, as the
global gold standard of this wine style. Greeks were first to introduce wine to the
area around 600 BC and over the millennia, in the long lead up to the last several
centuries, fashioning Rosé has now become the primary focus and distinction.

In 1964, eight vineyard owners from the Saint-Tropez Peninsula elected to form
the Maîtres Vignerons de la Presqu’île de Saint Tropez brand. Setting out to be
much more than simply a marketing tool, the group benefits from the sharing of
resources such as production facilities and grape-growing advisement provided
by the staff of viticulturists. The shareholding vintners continue to cultivate and
vinify their own, terroir specific wines, but distribute their finished offerings under
this highly successful, cooperative umbrella.

This fresh and crisp rosé is truly a Provençal wine, blending 90% Grenache and
a small, 10% splash of Cinsault. As is typical for the vintners here, grapes are
harvested from multiple growths, with each batch made into individual wine that
then is selectively combined to achieve the desired balances. Fairly rounded and
reasonably weighty, this week’s DéClassé recommendation will complement and
keep up with a range of food flavours from the delicate to the barbecued and the
spicy. It’s a well-made, textbook version to introduce to guests who aren’t familiar
with the charms of dry rosé. The shapely, amphora-like bottle is also expressive
of the South of France and graces the best-laid tables; soon, perhaps yours also!

Carte Noir

CARTE NOIRE ROSÉ 2014
VINTAGES – Product #319384 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 17.95
Wine, Rosé Wine
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content : XD

Made in: Provence, France
By: Les Maîtres Vignerons de la Presqu’île de Saint-Tropez
Release Date: June 13, 2015

Tasting Note:
With aromas of cherry, red pepper and rose petals, this consistently well-made,
holiday in-a-glass, is a wonderfully delicate sipper but also an excellent match for
ratatouille, Nicoise salad, squash gratin or herbed, grilled fish and chicken.

Cabernet Rosé Alert

A designated coastal wine region and historic town, Stellenbosch lies 50km east
of Cape Town in South Africa’s Western Cape province. Three centuries onward
in time and toil from the first vine stock having been planted by European settlers
in 1690, a small, under-developed plot of land that local farmers had dismissed
as vuilplasie (dirty little farm) was gradually converted to a vineyard. Having begun
with a fledgling white wine vintage, the still-evolving Mulderbosch winery has seen
a number of development phases of both its properties and wine crafting talent.
Star vintner Mike Dubrovnic led the enterprise through a noteworthy period of
expanded profile for the brand and now under Adam Mason’s creative guidance,
it continues its significant contribution to South Africa’s revived reputation as a
reliable source of very affordable, terroir-distinctive, world-class wine.

This varietal Rosé is made from the so-called Don of red grapes – the compact,
black berries of the thick-skinned Cabernet Sauvignon. Harvested somewhat
earlier than if destined to be finished as a full red wine, this particular practice
of fashioning Rosé yields naturally high levels of acidity, minerality and brightness
to the bottled aromas of the fruit. Exploiting a geographic advantage, the vines
are planted in well-drained terrain lying in sheltered valleys below the Cape Fold
mountain range. Cooled by a wind tunnel effect between the surrounding hills,
the resulting breezes guard against the potentially, grape-wilting summer heat.

This very dynamic 78-hectare farm has come a long way in a quarter century.
Along with attaining critical and commercial success, the eco-friendly farming
strategies employed qualify it as Certified Sustainable. Moreover, sections of the
property have been dedicated to nature conservancy that includes rehabilitation
of wetlands – better ensuring that the biodiversity of indigenous vegetation and
wildlife will also continue to thrive.

Local rumor has it that only Mozart was played in the winemaking cellar during
the cool fermentation process of the grapes, perhaps imparting some layered
finesse and playful sophistication into the developing wine! True or not, a great
deal of investment by the vintner has been directed into this attractively priced
bottling, which should translate into you thinking of picking up at least 3!

Mulderbosch

MULDERBOSCH CABERNET SAUVIGNON ROSÉ 2014
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #999821 | 750 ml bottle
Price $ 12.95
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in: Coastal Region, South Africa
By: Mulderbosch
Release Date: May 30, 2015

Tasting Note
This is a dry Rosé that’s medium-bodied, full of lip-smacking acidity with ripe
apple, watermelon, strawberry flavours and aromas. Serve this well chilled to
preserve its crispness as an apéritif or alongside summer salads, vegetable
spring rolls, sushi or quiche.

Rhône Rosé Alert

The historical vineyards of Costières de Nîmes roll out on a landscape framed
between the towns of Nimes and Arles. The Rhône’s most southerly appellation
produces consistently well-made, rich, fruity red and Rosés and has done so for
a very long time. With tales of the elixir being consumed by the ancient Greeks,
these may be among the world’s oldest known varieties of grape vines. The local
variants from this French region continue to thrive and the winemaking business
remains enduringly renowned and strong.

Acting as a geographic divide between Languedoc to the west and Provence to
the east, the Rhône delta region is the meeting of the Rhône, Durance and Gard
rivers before their combined flow spills outward into the blue Mediterranean Sea.
Sandy alluvial soils mixed with red shale contributes to the unique character of
these classic Rosés with their blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. Grenache
provides the raspberry and earthen aromas; Syrah typically adds structure with
its tannins and dark fruit flavours such as blueberries and blackberries, while the
Cinsault, with its soft, fragrant characteristics, lifts the aromatics of the wine.

Located 35 miles from famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the Mas Des Bressades
estate is also considered a premier producer, though its offerings are available
at far more modest price-points. Under the enthusiastic guidance of the current
vintner Cyril Marès, 6 generations of vinicultural practices continue to evolve. To
fashion this particular form of finished wine, a so-called Saignée method is used.
Literally meaning “bleeding” in French, it involves making the light coloured wine
as a by-product of red wine fermentation, where a portion of the pink juice from
the grape must is removed earlier on, then fermented separately as Rosé.

As many DéClassé readers have come to appreciate, Rosé from the regions in
South-eastern France are very dry, food-friendly wines that are far more delicate
and rounded than many of the sweeter, less-dimensional new-world versions. If
you still need additional motivation to revisit this woefully under-appreciated style,
then dare try this as a delightful contribution to your Mothers’ Day celebrations!

Mas Des Bressades

MAS DES BRESSADES CUVÉE TRADITION ROSÉ 2014
VINTAGES – Product #950576 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 15.95
Wine, Rosé Wine
13.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content: XD – Extra Dry

Made in: Rhône, France
By: Cyril Marès, Vign.
Release Date: May 2, 2015

Tasting Note
Bright pink/orange in colour with aromas of cherry, strawberry preserves and
melon. Dry, fresh and fruity with a surprisingly plump structure. Moderate acidity
and a medium-long finish. Try matching it to pan-fried scallops, or a herb chicken
stuffed with feta cheese and olives.

Rosé Alert

The vineyards of Provence stretch northward from the Mediterranean coast to
the so-called Maritime Alps above Nice and eastward toward the Italian border.
This is a region blessed with an average of 300 days of sunshine and remains
the global gold standard for the production of crisp, dry and refreshing Rosé.

Originally from Barcelonnette in southeastern France and part of the Provençal
nobility since 1421, the Gassier family and Château are now rooted in amongst
40 hectares of vines in the heart of the Arc Valley plain at the foot of Montagne
Sainte-Victoire lying to the north, also framed by the Regagnas hills and Aurelien
mountains to the south and east. The current vineyard property is managed by
the Baron Georges Gassier, heading up the fifth wine growing generation of the
family. Situated a few kilometers outside the charming and historically rich town of
Aix-en-Provence, this relatively unspoiled geography is now classified as natural
reserve (“Grand Site de France”) after having been made famous by noteworthy
artists such as the painter Cézanne, as well as, a favoured haunt of the writers:
Frenchman Emile Zola and the American Earnest Hemingway.

This salmon-pink tinged wine is a classic regional formula, blending Grenache
with Syrah and a splash of some Cinsault for added softness and bouquet. It
stands out as an excellent example of why this charming, though still challenged,
wine style continues to enjoy a renaissance of appreciation. Unfortunately, less
sophisticated North American versions promote the idea that Rosés are, by and
large, sweet and one-dimensional wines driving down consumption of this locally
made output. As for Provence’s sun-drenched bounty, the opposite is at work,
representing about 80% of its wine making – impressively accounting for almost
35% of all French Rosé wine production!

Bottled in the distinctively slender and shapely, curvy glass vessels known locally
as ‘flûte à corset’: derived as an association to the garment and its effect. In this
case, what’s not reined in is an abundance of summertime flavour. Buy several!

Sables d'Azur

GASSIER SABLES D’AZUR ROSÉ 2013
VINTAGES – Product #33621 | 750 mL bottle
Price: $ 14.95
Wine, Rosé Wine
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content : XD

Made in: Provence, France
By: Château Gassier
Release Date: July 19, 2014

Tasting Note
Fresh berries, peach and citrus zest dominate the aromas and flavours of this
dry and vibrant wine, accented with a delightfully crisp finish. It’s an excellent,
chilled apéritif or alongside pan-fried freshwater fish with lemon, sushi, stuffed
peppers, paella, prosciutto and summer salads.