Article and
Tasting Notes by
George Heritier



2007 Chaume Ardaud Cotes du Rhone RoséAs I was driving to the rosé tasting being presented by our friends at Wines of Distinction - J & J Imports last week, I was contemplating how to approach noting so many variations of this particular theme. I mean, it was going to be all rosé, all the time; the pink, the whole pink and nothing but the pink. A lot of these notes would include descriptors like “strawberry” and “watermelon;” some of the more fruit forward selections might stray into the “raspberry” and “cherry” spectrum, while some of the European models might prove difficult to describe any fruit characteristics whatsoever.

I wondered if it might be better to be less literal with my notes and more impressionistic. Instead of “strawberries and eggshells,” maybe I could go with lines like “a spring breeze on a Mini-Cooper frame.” In the end, however, it occurred to me that the savvy reader understands that a lineup of exclusively rosés will necessarily include many similarly styled wines, so I should just call them as I see them (or taste them, as the case may be), and see what snapshot impressions I come up with, focusing more on any subtle differences the wines might show.

Wines of Distinction has a very good selection of rosés in their portfolio from several regions around the world, enough to devote a specific tasting to, and having been to last year’s event (and loving rosé as much as I do), this is one I simply wasn’t about to miss.

I started at Table 1, which held a variety of Italian, Spanish and French rosés, both still and sparkling.

Il Follo Cuvée Rosé Brut NV, $14.99: Pale color, with strawberry and watermelon flavors and aromas underscored with subtle mineral; clean, intense and zippy. Find this wine

Sparklers!Joan Esteve Nadal “Avinyo” Cava Brut Rosé Penedes NV, $19.49: Salmon pink, with a creamy strawberry personality accented with some subtle toast; good concentration and acids. Find this wine

Champagne Montaudon Grande Rosé Brut NV, $46.99: Pale color, with dusty minerality dominating the earthy, under-ripe strawberry character; intense and racy, with great froth in the mouth. Certainly my 2nd favorite of the Brut Rosés on hand, and one of the best wines being poured. A 2nd taste after I’d gone through the entire field revealed a certain perfumed quality to this wine that added to its charm. Find this wine

Agusta Wines Angels' Tears Pink NV, $4.99: Salmon pink, with a somewhat unpleasant sour milk element on the nose, which follows through on the palate, marring the overall under-ripe strawberry and watermelon flavors. Flat and disappointing and not at all what I remember from previous encounters with this usually steady performer. Bad bottle? Not recommended, even at this special discounted price. Find this wine

The 2007 Brumont Tannat-Syrah-Merlot Rosé Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne and 2007 Domaine du Pellehaut Côtes de Gascogne Harmonie de Gascone Rosé were being poured, but since we’ve already reported on those previously and have since backed our fond impressions up with case purchases of each, I passed those over to try selections that were new to me.

2007 Alorna “Quinta de Alorna" Rosé Ribatijo, $12.49: Strawberry pink, with dusty mineral dominated strawberry and watermelon flavors and aromas; earthy, with good weight and cut. Find this wine

2007 Couly Dutheil Chinon Rosé “Rene Couly”2007 Couly Dutheil Chinon Rosé “Rene Couly,” $13.99: I was especially interested in trying this, since we rather enjoyed two of this producer’s 2005 regular Chinons in March. 100% Cabernet Franc, with watermelon pink color and rich, dusty strawberry and raspberry flavors and aromas. Good weight, intensity and cut. I like it. Find this wine

Next came four solid offerings from J et R Selections, which I’ve been a fan and supporter of for years. J et R and Wines of Distinction have merged, which is a plus for all concerned.

2007 Domaine Mireille et Vincent Cotes du Rhone Rosé, $9.99: Watermelon pink; intense mineral sets the tone for this one, with a solid core of earthy strawberry and watermelon fruit. Good weight, intensity and cut; excellent QPR. Find this wine

2007 Chaume Arnaud Cotes du Rhone Rosé, $9.99: Watermelon pink; under-ripe strawberry and raspberry character accent with mineral undertones; excellent dry rosé that does everything it should and great QPR. Find this wine

2008 Domaine l’Espigouette Vin de Table Terre de Causan Rosé (Tank Sample), $10.99: Strawberry pink; limestone-like minerality dominates the under-ripe fruit; needs a little time yet, but should be good once it gets a few months in the bottle. Find this wine

2007 Domaine Canto Perdrix Tavel Rosé, $15.49: Strawberry pink; chalky minerality, under-ripe fruit, good weight and cut. Solid Tavel dry rosé. Find this wine

I continued my survey at the Hand Picked Selections table, which was under the very capable supervision of our good friends Gary and Georgine Kahle. There, I started with a taste of another old friend.

Champagne Jean Laurent Brut Rosé NV, $52.49: Salmon pink; great mousse and bead, with rich, intense strawberry, cherry, mineral and subtle yeast flavors and aromas. Great zip, with excellent weight and concentration. As brilliant as ever. Find this wine

Pierre Boniface Caprice de Rocailles Rosé Petillant NV, $20.99: Made from 100% Gamay, in Savoie, and reminiscent of FRV 100 de Jean-Paul Brun Vin Mousseaux for both its varietal content and the fact that it is somewhat sweet. Bright pink, with ripe strawberry, raspberry and cherry flavors and aromas. Very zippy in the mouth, and a great warm weather sparkler. Find this wine

2007 Ninet de Pena Rosé, $7.49: Strawberry pink; chalky strawberry character, with good weight and cut. Holding up well; price indicates closeout to make way for the 2008. Find this wine

2007 Donjon Minervois Rosé, $10.99: Pale color, with under-ripe strawberry and watermelon flavors and aromas; good weight and intensity. Hanging in there; price indicates closeout to make way for the 2008. Find this wine

2007 Chateau de Lancyre Pic-Saint Loup Rosé2007 Chateau de Lancyre Pic-Saint Loup Rosé, $13.99: Peach pink; intense mineral dominates the rich, under-ripe fruit. Still in great shape and always welcome at our house; price indicates closeout to make way for the 2008. Find this wine

2008 Cuvée de Pena Rosé, $9.99: Pale color, with big chalk and mineral on the nose; flavors echo with very good intensity, weight and acidity. Find this wine

2008 Massamier Vin de Pays “Cuvée Oliviers” Rosé, $11.49: Watermelon pink; bone dry mineral dominated “fruit,” with good presence and acids. Nice. Find this wine

2008 Donjon Minervois Rosé, $13.99: Fairly pale, with strawberry and mineral flavors that show a subtle note of detergent underneath (that’s a good thing; this doesn’t really taste soapy!); good weight and cut. Very harmonious. Find this wine

2008 Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d'Aix en Provence Rosé2008 Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d'Aix en Provence Rosé, $15.99: Like the Chateau de Lancyre Rosé, this is a perennial favorite at our house. Peach pink, with perfumed mineral and under-ripe strawberry flavors and aromas; the smooth texture belies the ample underlying acids. Classic Commanderie de la Bargemone Rosé. Find this wine

2008 Chateau de Lancyre Pic-Saint Loup Rosé, $17.49: Pale color; slightly chalky mineral and strawberry character. Deceptively rich fruit and excellent concentration and intensity. Another classic dry rosé. Find this wine

From there, I jumped two tables over to visit with J et R’s Dan Farley, who was accompanied by Domaine du Vieux Chene owner-winemaker Jean-Claude Bouche and his son Bruno. Vieux Chene is another J et R producer that we’ve been following for some time, and while their entire lineup was ready to pour (including some that aren’t in the US yet), I only had time for the two rosés. Both are made from 100% Grenache, and seem rather less austere than most of the others being poured on this occasion.

2008 Domaine du Vieux Chene Vin de Pays “Cuvée Friande” Rosé, $9.49: Pale color; good rich strawberry and watermelon flavors and aromas, underscored with subtle mineral. Smooth in texture, but with enough acids to do what it's supposed to. Find this wine

2008 Domaine du Vieux Chene Cotes du Rhone “Cuvée des Capucines” Rosé, $11.99: Pale color; mineral and strawberry character, with good weight and intensity. I like this one a little better than the “Cuvée Friande.” Find this wine

I backtracked a table to met Adam Satchwell, winemaker at Shady Lane Cellars in Leelanau County. Our friend Jim Lester has spoken highly of Adam’s wines, and although he had his entire lineup ready to pour, again, I was here for the rosés, and Adam’s was unlike any of the others being presented. (We hope to visit with Adam up in Leelanau sometime in the next few months and taste everything he makes.)

2007 Shady Lane Cellars Coop de Rosé2007 Shady Lane Cellars Coop de Rosé, $9.49: Pale in color, but bright and ripe strawberry and cherry in flavor, almost sweet, as if made as a step up for white zinfandel drinkers. Middleweight, with good acids, and nice for its style, if not what I’m looking for in my rosé. Find this wine

The last rosé of the day was tasted with Mark Truman, whose Truman Wine Company imports and distributes boutique wines from around the world. Again, I only had time for the one rosé on the table.

2007 Las Renas Monastrell Rosado Bullas, $9.49: Pale pink color; nice mineral and slightly dusty strawberry and raspberry flavors and aromas. Medium bodied, with good balance, cut and presence. Does what rosé is supposed to and offers good value. Find this wine

Almost everything I tasted would be welcome at our table and on our back deck. Only the Angels’ Tears was not up to snuff, and as stated, that doesn’t jibe with previous impressions, so the jury’s out on that one. Despite my intention to taste only rosé, I was intrigued by four reds that Gary Kahle was pouring and because of my esteem for him and Hand Picked Selections head honcho Dan Kravitz, I took the time to taste them, and I’m glad that I did. All four of these are very limited.

2007 Domaine Cabirau La Bonte des Amis Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes, 100% Grenache, $34.49: Showing good dark color, with animal, red and black fruit on the nose; rich and expressive on the palate, offering earthy black plum and blackberry, shaded with undertones of mahogany. Big, well structured and very impressive already, with great promise for further development. Sourced from a vineyard bought by Dan Kravitz in 2007, located in Cotes de Rousillon; appellation law calls for at least three of four authorized varieties, thus the Vin de Pays designation. Find this wine

Nothing pink about these two!2007 Domaine de l’Edre Cotes du Roussillon Villages, 50% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 25% Carignane, $NA: Deep dark color, with boxwood/cat pee (?!) nose; gains forest floor and deep, dark plum and berry in the mouth. Full bodied, rich, intense and very well structured for several years in the cellar. Find this wine

2006 Domaine de l’Edre Cotes du Roussillon Villages, 55% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 15% Carignan, $49.99: Deep color, with well integrated oak over deep, dark black fruit; 1-year old barrels give this a subtle note of mahogany. Big, rich and very well structured; lots of promise, but already very impressive. Find this wine

2003 Massamier Tenement de Garouilhas Minervois-la-Liviniere, 60% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 20% Carignan, $53.99: Almost looks like a glass of ink, and beautifully aromatic; new French oak adds a lovely accent to the black olive and black fruit nose. Gains a note of mahogany in the mouth; big, rich, powerful and more New World in style than Old. Normally, that would not be to my liking with a French wine, but this is just too good, and it has excellent structure for several years in the cellar. Bravo Dan Kravitz!!! Find this wine



Reporting from Day-twah,

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© George Heritier May, 2009