Unforgettable Oak-Aged Provençal Rosés

Perfect for pairing with grilled meats and fish, these food-friendly rosés, from producers like Château d’Escalans and Clos Cibonne, are aged in old oak casks that impart a depth of complex flavors you won't soon forget.
Photo by Meg Baggott

During the long, hot days of summer, pale pink Provençal rosé beckons. Crisp and refreshing, a sip can transport you to a private yacht off the jet-set coast of St-Tropez. But sommeliers are abuzz about a more complex style of rosé from Provence.

We’re talking oak here.

The added depth from oak aging makes this style of rosé quite food friendly, capable of standing up to dishes like grilled meat and fish.

Driving this category of icon-class rosé is Garrus, Château d’Escalans’s offering made from estate-grown Grenache and Vermentino grapes that have been harvested from vines more than 80 years old. It’s vinified with as much care as the finest white Burgundy. Approximately 90% of the free-run juice is used, and the wine is barrel-fermented in both new and two-year-old French oak demi-muids.

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Clos Cibonne, a high-end Côtes de Provence Cru Classé estate, has produced an upscale, oaked wine for decades. Its top rosé, Cuvée Speciale des Vignettes, is unique because it contains 90% of the rare Tibouren grape (native to Provence) and undergoes an unusual maturation process.

After being fermented in stainless steel, the wine is aged under a thin layer of yeast, called fleurette, in 100-year-old puncheon barrels. That subtle oxidation—combined with traditional Provençal garrigue notes of wild juniper, thyme, rosemary and lavender—imparts a great deal of complexity.

In the prestigious Bandol appellation of Provence, Château Romassan, owned by Domaines Ott, produces an oaked rosé made from 60% Mourvèdre, the region’s signature grape.

The grapes are carefully sorted then gently pressed. The juice then rests eight months in old oak casks, which produces a depth of flavor, complexity and gentle oxygenation without overt notes of wood. Succulent, juicy ripe peach and fresh-picked raspberries are the key flavors in this dry wine, along with racy acidity from the limestone soils.

Published on July 5, 2018
Topics: Wine Ratings



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