People have no problem drinking red wine in the summer, and white wine doesn’t disappear from retailers when the weather turns crisp as a good White Bordeaux. So why is it that one of the most versatile wines to serve with food or enjoy on its own is seldom mentioned once the leaves start falling from the trees? I’m talking about Rosé – it looks festive in a glass, and when chosen carefully will play nicely with everything on your holiday table. I put a Chateau D’Esclans Les Clans to the test last week, where it paired equally well with the turkey, the squash and even the cranberry sauce.
More people are reaching that conclusion, says Paul Chevalier, Brand Ambassador for Chateau d’Esclans wines.
“We are predicting that this year will be the turning point where Rosé officially goes 365,” Chevalier says. “A wine like the Whispering Angel, which now has almost a ‘cult following’ continues to be consumed across the U.S. throughout the fall and winter months.”
Whispering Angel, of course, is from Chateau D’Esclans, the property of wine innovator Sacha Lichine, whose stated goal is to craft a Rosé that can stand among the best wines in the world. Working with consulting oenologist Patrick Lèon, whose credentials include Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Lichine has brought new techniques to the south of France, including many learned from his family’s roots in Grand Cru Bordeaux, as well as from Champagne. The winemaker focuses mainly on two of the region’s popular grapes – Grenache and Rolle, the French name for the Italian grape Vermentino. He also closely monitors temperature while fermenting, and prolongs contact with the “lees” – the term for the spent yeast used in fermentation. The time with the lees gives the finished product more depth and a rounder mouthfeel.
At the top of Lichine’s offerings, the Chateau D’Esclans Garrus Rosé may seem like a splurge for Rosé, but is actually a bargain compared with a top White Burgundy. Quite possibly the finest Rosé in the world, Garrus is blended from a selection of 80-year-old vines. With a yeasty, toasty quality reminiscent of Champagne, combined with deep notes of dried fruit and a palate that is round, smooth and sexy, it is a conversation starter in the best possible way. ($99.99)
Andre Compeyre, Beverage Director at Regency Bar & Grill in Manhattan, agrees that a serious Rosé can be just as enjoyable in the winter months as in the summer. “During the warm days of summer I’ll easily propose Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel, but when temperatures are dropping, like the past week, I like to open Chateau d’Esclans Rock Angel, with a little more depth and complexity, or I’ll choose La Londe 2014 Château Ste Marguerite, Cru Classé, Côtes de Provence Rosé, 2014,” he says. “When Rosé is available by the glass, you will be surprised how often you may be tempted to order it, especially on a nasty rainy day when all you need is a little excuse for sunshine.”
Some of Compeyre’s favorite Rosés, especially at the holidays, are sparklers. Here are a few of his suggestions:
For a crowd: Gérard Bertrand, Crémant de Limoux, France, 2011. This excellent value wine is from the Languedoc region, which produced sparkling wine over 100 years before Champagne.
For a festive welcome: La Caravelle, Brut Rosé France, NV
With shellfish appetizers: Billecart-Salmon, Brut Rosé, NV
With a poultry main course: Be it capon, Blue Foot Chicken or Long Island duck impress by opening a Lanson, Extra Age Rosé, NV
With a dessert: Especially anything with fresh raspberry, red fruit mousse and bitter dark Chocolate: Charles Heidsieck, Brut Rosé, NV will get you close to Heaven!