Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wines I'm Drinking: Four Saint Chinian Rosés

Last night I tasted four Saint Chinian rosés. I enjoyed all four. Having now tasted about 15 rosés from the area where I'm staying for the summer (Pouzolles, France), I've come to the conclusion that the best rosés in the area come from this appellation. These dry wines are generally marked by a good balance between raspberry-like fruitiness and crisp acidity, often with toasted, brandy-like undertones and scents and flavors suggestive of pastry or crème brulée. Focusing on rosé has been the natural result of the extremely hot weather here, although that has moderated in the past week or so. I tasted the four wines blind. Notes follow.

2009 Château St. Martin des Champs Saint Chinian Rosé
A pale to medium-deep, orange-tinged pink. Attractive nose suggestive of hawthorne blossoms, crème brulée, and (distantly) plums. Having said that, none of the scents jump out at you. Still, the overall impression is fresh and inviting. Initially seems rather tart on the palate, but has presence. Good, plummy fruit sweetness offsets the acidity. Good length, and the lingering fruit ultimately makes the wine seem harmonious. Very tasty. Clean, fresh, delicious wine. Priced at €5.30 a bottle.

2008 Cave de Roquebrun Saint Chinian Rosé "Col de Lairole"
Comparatively deep in color--the second-deepest of these four wines. A medium-deep orange-pink. Very pretty to look at in a chilled glass. Complex nose. Something floral, but something that reminded me of vegetables as well--in a good way. Fresh, raw beans. Pie crust scents as well. Somewhat softer than the first wine (that is, less acidic), but with a nice "bite" suggestive of a little tannin. Refreshing strawberry fruitiness and a tasty hint of bitterness on the finish. Seems a bit rustic compared with the wine above, but another delicious summer wine, and attractively priced at only €4.16 a bottle.  

2009 Domaine La Maurine Rouge Saint Chinian Rosé
The palest in color of these four wines, tending more toward pink than orange. Interesting petroleum-like scent, reminiscent of certain Riesling wines. Rose water. A hint of gooseberries and passion fruit. Rather interesting nose. Quite rich with intense, fruity sweetness on the palate (although the wine is quite dry). Suggests red raspberries and roses. Passion fruit again on the palate as well. A hint of tannin. Moderately long, prickly, fruity finish. Enough acidity to balance the fruit, but softer than many of the rosés I've been tasting. Overall, very refreshing and enjoyable, if not profound. €5.30 a bottle.      

2008 Cave de Roquebrun Saint Chinian Rosé "Terrasses de Cabrio"
Deepest in color of the four wines--looking almost like brandy--but with pink undertones. A very pretty wine to look at. Surprisingly distant on the nose. Something doughy at first. Later developed toasted, roasted scents. Pastry. Sweet potato pie. Drier, less fruity, and softer than some of the other wines, and shorter as well, despite the deep color, but with a little time, this opens up to seem richer and fuller--and these are all relative terms. Another tasty Saint Chinian rosé. Priced at €6.04 a bottle, perhaps not the best value of the bunch, but even that is cheap by US standards. You'd be hard-pressed to find a California rosé as good at this price point (about $7.00).

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