10 Mar 2011

Time for a rosé; and what is rosé wine ?


This rather curious photograph (I took it so I can say what I like about it) shows a bottle of Château de Sours, Bordeaux Rosé, in suspension in front of an lithograph of an rugby match in late 19th century England. The reason for this backdrop, apart from the fact that I like both the wine and rugby? Well, the owner of this winery is English, and that's about all. Let's talk about the wine.

Probably the first wines in the world were pink (or rosé) in colour, since people used to (and still do in some places) press red and white grapes together, thus producing a wine whose colour varied according to the proportions of each colour of grape. Nowadays most rosés (but not all) are made using only red grapes, which may be lightly pressed to produce a very pale pink juice, which is then fermented as a white wine. Or the grapes may be crushed and put into tanks where they macerate for a day or less, before the juice is run off and fermented without the skins. This juice will usually have rather more colour than that produced by pressing with no skin maceration. Most rosé Champagnes, which are the most expensive of all rosés, are made by blending a little red wine with white wine, all of it being from the Champagne area of course.

All the lobbying propaganda produced (mainly) by French winemakers from Provence a year or so ago about how a "real" rosé should only be made from red grapes is total bullshit, both historically, currently, and in terms of quality potential. If they were so sure of the superiority of their (multiple) techniques in terms of the quality of the wines they produced, they would have left the subject well alone. Their sadly successful lobbying was solely aimed at protecting their own short-term interests. Curiously enough, one look at many of the appellation rules that govern the production of rosé wines in France will show anyone that white grapes co-exist with red ones within the authorised lists of grapes. So you can mix grapes of two different colours but not wines of those colours? Can someone please explain to me why one practice is "superior" to the other? And most French wine journalists just swallowed all this claptrap without blinking!

Back to the wine of the week
Here we have a Bordeaux Rosé from Château de Sours, a producer which has been for years a very successful specialist of this type of wine. It is presented in a modern way with a screwcap closure, and quite rightly so as this is the best way to preserve the freshness of its fruit aromas. I would describe the label as modern-traditonal. It is elegant and clear. But the back label is much too full of guff for my taste. And silly guff at that! Who wants to drink a wine that contains "hints of bubblegum" for god's sake? And who can believe, even when shown under quotes, a statement such as "Probably the best rosé in the world"?, even if it is signed by Auberon Waugh, one of Britain's finest polemicists of recent years, about whom I wrote an article on this blog, on January 2nd this year: http://morethanjustwine.blogspot.com/2011/01/world-of-auberon-waugh.html

Never mind, the proof of the pudding is in the eating (surely to be amended to "drinking" in this case), and this test is most conclusive. The colour is medium deep compared to other rosés. The nose is fresh and fine, not very expressive but quite pleasant. The flavours on the palate are reminiscent of crisp fresh fruit, sharp but not agressive, with a feel that seems almost rounded, quite delicious and yet vibrant and refreshing. This is a very good rosé that does its job perfectly: that of reminding you of a real flavoursome wine whilst lifting your palate and making you ready for some food.

Château de Sours rosé sells for around 7 euros a bottle, which, although not cheap, actually represents quite good value when compared to some of the over-priced rosés from Provence that tend to flood the top end of the growing market for this type of wine.