Wednesday Wines – Episode 122 – Elite Rosé Special

Episode 122 – Elite Rosé Special

17th August 2022

I tend to write up my favourite rosés as soon as I taste them, whether or not they are actually on the market. This gives my Members time to secure stock at the earliest opportunity. This week’s column features a mixed bag of wines that are all sensational but slipped through the cracks. From as little as £12 a bottle to €180 for a magnum, you will indeed find a wine for you this week. If you want to taste wines at the top of the global rosé ladder, here are a few candidates to consider.

2021 Le Grand Cros, GC Rosé, Cotes de Provence, France (£15.95 www.swig.co.uk).  

This wine is made from 42% Grenache, 28% Cinsault, 12% Syrah, 6% Mourvedre, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Vermentino and 2% Semillon, wins the prize for the most complicated recipe. While there are undoubtedly discreet layers of flavour here, this is a wine to drink with your brain in neutral. GC sets out to enchant quietly, and it does this with style. This is not a shouty, boastful, oak-influenced wine but a silky, charming creation, and it will surely impress every single person you know.

2021 Château Saint Baillon Rosé, Côtes de Provence (£15.95 bottle, £34.95 magnum, £99.99 jeroboam, www.finewinedirect.co.uk; £143.00 for a case of 12 bottles – £12.83 each, £84.00 for a case of 3 magnums – £28.00 each, £69.00 jeroboam, www.goedhuis.com).

The 2021s are a little more edgy and angular than the slightly richer 2020s, and I like this stance on the palate. Saint Baillon’s ’21 is a touch greener and livelier than usual, and while the trademark melon and pomegranate juice hints are present, there are some invigorating, tangy, citrus moments, too. This is an immensely classy wine, and the value is sensational. Served blind, this could be twice the price given its grace and balance!

2021 Elégance du Clos Cantenac Rosé, Bordeaux, France (£42.00 bottle and £84.00 magnum, www.privatecellar.co.ukwww.hedonism.co.uk).  

This wine is made in small concrete eggs and is the tip-top rosé in the Clos Cantenac portfolio. Launched on 12th September and available for delivery by the end of the month, Elégance is the big sister to 2021 L’exuberance Rosé (you can read my note on this wine in Episode 112, published on 8th June). The big question is, does it warrant a price tag exactly twice that of its sibling? Of course, it does, not least because this is an entirely different wine.  Firm, challenging and sporting discreet musculature, this is a high-brow creation with traction and vinosity. It demands that you pay attention and serve decent grub alongside it because there is more to discover behind the scenes. It is facile to compare the Clos Cantenac Merlot Rosés to the Grenache-based Provençal creations because they are so different. But composure and restraint here mean any serious rosé lover must simply track these wines down. They are otherworldly, impeccably well-made and pioneering. And if that is not all, I have allowed a guest appearance by one white wine this week. Released alongside Elégance is 2021 L’exuberance du Clos Cantenac Blanc (£36.80, www.hedonism.co.uk). This wine is the perfect partner to the rosés and reds from this over-achieving estate.  Made from 100% Semillon and using both steel and oak in its construction, this is a Bordeaux Blanc like no other. This is one of the most refreshing, energetic, magical and searingly dry white wines I can remember. It is combative, asking questions of your senses and driving its message home with exceptional accuracy. I don’t doubt it will age and improve, but it is so exciting right now! This wine is the antidote to every ponderous, baggy, lanolin-soaked white Graves you have tasted.

2021 Mirabeau, Pure Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France (£15.50, or £12.00 with a Clubcard, Tesco; £15.49 for a bottle in a Mix Six and £26.99 for a magnum in a Mix Six, Majestic; £15.99, Waitrose; £12.50, on offer, www.ocado.com).  

I have no idea how big Mirabeau is, but I saw bottles of this wine in Pingo Doce, in Lisbon, so, clearly, supply is no problem. It is also the most widely distributed of the wines in this piece, and this is a good thing. If you are stranded and need a reliable rosé to take to a dinner party, then Pure is a cracking candidate. Available from £12 – £16 and also in magnums at Majestic, the fruit is indeed pure, long, buoyant and bright, and if it weren’t for the perfume, I would not be as enthusiastic, but the aromatics on this beautiful 2021 are spot on.

2021 Love by Léoube Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France (£18.00, www.daylesford.com).  

I tasted the full range of rosés from Léoube, and I am extremely keen on 2021 Love by Léoube. While the prices have all crept up alarmingly, this wine is within reach, and it is gentle, balanced and harmonious. There is a little more spice here than found in the others on this page, giving it a foodie stance. Interestingly, 2021 Léoube, La Londe Rosé Côtes de Provence, France (£50.00, www.daylesford.com) has now become a big-ticket wine with its hefty price tag. Still, if you think of it as a light red rather than a rosé (I know the colour is as pink as it gets) when you drink it, you will sense that there is some profound depth and minerality here. This wine is the polar opposite of the easy-drinking wines in this article. It is powerful, structured and impressive, and I can see why it is such a prized wine in top restaurants on the Riviera. Finally, a wine that is only sold in France. 2020 Léoube, Rosé Singulier, Côtes de Provence, France (€180.00, magnum, www.leoube.com) is a limited edition release of 800 magnums in wooden boxes, and it is spectacular. I realise that this is a huge price to pay for a wine regardless of style or origins, but I genuinely felt that if I had won the lottery, I would rush out and buy a couple of magnums, not least because the flavour is so all-encompassing and delicious. Rich, stylish, luxurious and layered, this is the finest wine I have tasted from Léoube, and I hope to see it again in years to come.

2021 Château d’Esclans, Rock Angel Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France (£24.99 in a Mix Six, Majestic; £25.98, www.bcfw.co.uk; £25.50, www.bbr.com; £228.00 in bond for 12 bottles, www.farrvintners.com; £26.00. www.waitrosecellar.com).  

The final wine in this collection is the finest all-rounder of all. Rock Angel manages to bring freshness and poise to the party while also involving depth, gravitas and considerable length. This balancing act is extremely difficult to achieve as most rosés fall into either everyday, forgettable, glugger camp or the wannabe, luxury, foodie camp.  So many wines gain bronze medal scores in my notes, making them, to all intents and purposes, vinonymous. I only look for wines of character and credibility, and 2021 Rock Angel is such a soaring success it is incredible. It embodies the Esclans no compromise ethos while stepping up the drama. It also manages to sit in the mid-twenties price zone, which is amazing given the winemaker élan involved here. It is strange how many rosé producers scrap for shelf space for their sub-twenty wines and then release super-cuvées in the fifties, completely forgetting that discerning drinkers want to spoil themselves without going nuts. This is precisely where Rock Angel hangs out, further underlining its aim to give the Whispering Angel crowd a wine to graduate to when the waiter brings your food to the table! Well done, Esclans. I don’t doubt that this is your most refined Rock Angel to date, and having tasted it on many occasions this year already, it never disappoints.