Wednesday Wines – Episode 28

Episode 28 – 7th October 2020 

I am guilty of not listing one wine under a tenner this week, but I am desperate to write up these two amazing rosés as they are both the finest wines under their labels that have been made at their respective estates.

2019 Le Grand Cros, Aurélia Rosé, Provence, France (£28.50, https://store.faulknerwine.com/UK/).  

Cuvée Aurélia is only made in the finest vintages and owner Julian Faulkner has produced a discreet 200 cases in 2019.  This elite cuvée, which sits atop the Le Grand Cros portfolio, is a lees-aged, delicately oak-influenced wine and these two sensitive techniques have augmented the appeal of this rosé greatly.  I am a Le Grand Cros fan and in episode 7 of this Wednesday Wines feature I wrote about the other releases from this winery, so do have a look.  What impresses me about this particular cuvée is that it hasn’t fallen into the trap that virtually all others do when chasing a top-flight rosé dream.  Usually, when estates ‘push’ their wines to make ‘super-cuvées’ the wheels almost always fall off!  In my experience, oak is often the biggest culprit with heavy-handed, badly-selected barrels and overzealous winemakers getting over-excited about creating a grand and impactful wine.  Oak inevitably tramples over all of the delicate rosé flavours which are coaxed from the red grape skins when making sophisticated rosé wines.  Aurélia steps back from temptation and merely uses the oak to add volume and sheen.  The result is a catwalk rosé, which sashays across the palate with a flirtatious swing of its hips and this is all of the excitement I need to get my pulse racing.

2019 Château d’Esclans, Les Clans Rosé, Provence, France (£44.95, www.finewinedirect.co.uk).  

It is always such a joy to taste the new Esclans releases 2019 Les Clans is a masterclass in balance and poise.  Château d’Esclans wrote the rulebook on crafting statuesque rosé wines and while all others have floundered around for a decade or more, over-oaking, over-macerating, over-blending and generally making all of the mistakes imaginable, this imperious property nailed the recipe first time around and has been fine-tuning ever since.  The investment in winemaking equipment here would make both an accountant and a bank manager faint, but the vision and determination of owner Sacha Lichine have paid handsome dividends and more now that Whispering Angel is not a lone figure on the international circuit but a veritable heavenly chorus.  It is clear to me, having tasted legions of 2019 rosés that this is a brilliant vintage and therefore great wines must be expected to step up.  Les Clans is always built with exacting precision and so it is hard to imagine where improvements can be made!  That said, I am of the mind that this is the finest release of this celestial wine to date and the superb silkiness is but one of its extraordinary attributes.   Les Clans is sometimes guilty of being a little shy on the nose, but this 2019 is positively forward as it rushes from the glass to greet you.  In terms of the balance, this is a full-framed wine but it seems effortlessly graceful, too.  We have come to expect greatness from this label and this is what 2019 Les Clans dutifully rewards you with.  While other estates strive to make wines with this level of gravitas most fall well short of the mark.  Château d’Esclans will one day have true rivals, but for now, if you have the choice and also the budget to spend, then this is the wine that you will want in your glass.