Corsica and Provence have been the heart of our rosé focus since we opened in April 2015. While the red wines of Beaujolais have also been a cornerstone, the region's more limited production rosés never made the cut. That all changed when Kermit Lynch asked Château Thivin (our favorite in Côte de Brouilly) for a small amount of their rosé for California. One hectare of 50-year-old vines from pink granite on steep slopes of an ancient volcano - This is not your standard rosé. And, at $23 per bottle it's the best kept secret in pink.
Surrounding the ancient volcano, Mont Brouilly, is pink granite and sand. Here, on some of the steepest slopes in the region Gamay is endowed with purple-toned fruits and wild lavender notes. I was initially hesitant before tasting, imagining those very bouncy and fruit-forward Gamay traits wouldn’t translate to the crisp and mineral personality I look for in rosé. But, I was shocked at the great sense of salinity and freshness from Thivin.
The rosé of Gamay is sourced from one hectare of 50-year-old vines. Grapes are pressed immediately giving just a slight pink hue. The wine is fermented with native yeasts, goes through full malolactic, and spends its life only in steel prior to bottling. In the end, it's a snappy and lively rosé that finishes with a salty punctuation that makes it irresistible.
Château Thivin’s roots date back to the 15th century. But, it was in 1877 when Zaccharie Geoffrey purchased the 2-hectare estate at auction that Thivin began as we know it today. His grandson, Claude was pivotal in the creation of the Côte de Brouilly appellation during the great depression. And now his grandnephew, also Claude, his wife Evelyn, and their son Claude-Edouard are behind production of this benchmark Côte de Brouilly. Kermit Lynch visited the domaine during his first trip on the wine route with Richard Olney in 1976.
Thivin’s rosé stole the show at our annual rosé tasting. Guests were shocked that this dark horse was neck and neck with the more established rosé estates like Tempier, Abbatucci, Clos Canarelli, and Marquiliani. At $23 per bottle, and allocated from only a single hectare, this rosé hits a rare spot where value, rarity, and top-notch terroir converge.
2017 Château Thivin Beaujolais-Villages Rosé
$23 per bottle.
At our annual rosé tasting we regularly have brand new additions to our lineup. We cover a wide range of regions, varieties, and styles. The room is always packed with thirsty San Diegans scribbling notes and getting acquainted with the new vintage. When the dust settles and orders have been placed one truth seems to carry over each spring: Triennes dominates.
As a category, rosé should be able to deliver in the value realm as well as any wine. And over the years it's become clear this space that has little room for competition. The success of the Provençal brainchild of Domaine Dujac & Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti shouldn't come as a surprise at $17 per bottle. These hallowed names of Burgundy came together in 1989 to form this estate on a high altitude, limestone and clay-dominant parcel 18 miles from the Mediterranean.
Triennes impresses each year for the delicate and floral qualities that are indicative of the best of Provence. Where it truly shines is in texture, suave and seamless in showing a pedigree that wines 2x the price claim through glossy marketing ads, but never deliver in glass. Its finish driven by salinity from the Mediterranean sea breeze takes me back to my visit at this picturesque estate.
As is standard, the 2017 is comprised of Cinsault with small portions of Grenache, Syrah, and Merlot.
It's always a pleasure to offer this home run rosé each Spring. We've included magnums for those who plan their parties proper.
2017 Triennes Rosé
$17 per bottle.
2016 Triennes Rosé 1.5L
$35 per bottle.
The 2015 Mosel rosé from Ulli Stein was the biggest pink hit last season, and it was unfortunate when we weren't able to fulfill follow up requests as the limited quantities had vanished. So, we're getting out way ahead of this one. The just-released 2016 is not available online, and will likely be sold strictly through today's offer.
Quantities are very limited and orders will be fulfilled based upon time of request.
Stein's rosé is comprised of Pinot Noir with portions of Cabernet Sauvignon (yes) and Merlot (that's correct). The addition of the latter varieties explain why this Mosel gem is endowed with such distinctive textural characteristics.
The Mosel's blue slate gives a cool fruit quality and salinity to the finish. There's a mélange of bright red and blue fruits with herbs and flowers in abundance. The total picture is one that's wrapped seamlessly together with mind-boggling texture and an explosively long finish.
Ulli's un-grafted vines on the very steepest slopes along the Mosel River (see below) lie on terraces that were once abandoned as the hand work required was simply a non-starter for many. Ulli has been described as a "true bohemian", living with his wife atop a mountain overlooking the Mosel. Their "Inn" doesn't have rooms to book, yet it's always filled with friends, musicians, artists, and writers. Conversations here fuel the eccentric mind of Ulli who's beloved in this idyllic setting among his vines on ancient terraces. As you can imagine his attention to detail and natural approach to viticulture and winemaking is the foundation for the dynamic, intricate wines he produces.
I began to write about the 2016 vintage to give an impression of what to expect, but I realize there's no more informative words on the region than from the inimitable importer, Terry Theise:
"It is a medium-weight vintage and its weight is elegantly and gracefully dispersed.
It is graceful overall, and also lithe, limber and lissome. It is strong when it needs to be, but it measures its strength judiciously and with restraint.
It shows every aspect of superb German Riesling, but doesn’t emphasize any at the expense of the others. It is neither a fruit driven nor floral driven nor mineral driven nor acid driven vintage – it is all of these. Whatever you like about these wines, you’ll find it in plenitude. Except, perhaps, for brash acidity. If you really are someone who craves a yelping brusque acid profile, you might find 2016 too demure.
But I don’t. I find it nearly perfect, with gazelle grace but with the gazelle’s sinewy energy when it wishes to leap and run."
2016 Stein Rosé
$23 per bottle.
2015 Stein "Blue Slate" Riesling (Dry) (From un-grafted 80-year-old vines)
$22 per bottle
Of all the domaines we work with in France there's none that encompass equal amounts of mystique and intrigue like Château Simone. Located just south of Aix-en-Provence, this historic estate inhabits nearly all of the Palette appellation. Its white, red, and rosé are as distinct as the singular terroir of this centuries-old estate hidden among pines. The echelon of great French domaines like to have boundaries written by classifications, Château Simone is a prime example of where those rules are firmly broken. This is Grand Cru Provence.
The iconic castle of Simone was inhabited by the monks of Grands Carmes d'Aix, having originally dug these cellars in the 16th century. In 1830 its vines were turned over to the Rougier family. Jean Rougier was the fourth generation here and in 1948 he literally put Palette on the map by petitioning for and winning AOC status.
The north-facing Montaiguet massif and its limestone soils play a vital role in the understated and regal nature of the wines here. Warm Provence temperatures are mitigated by its exposition and the microclimate created by high altitude, deep pine forests and abundant rivers. Though we're in Provence we're many ways in a wild mountain region unto itself.
Simone's process in one that spares no expense, harvesting in small bins and sorting grapes a second time after crushing. The purity of fruit in each of the wines from 100-year-old-vines is vivid, and textures are suave and polished without the least bit of influence by vanillin new oak. This address has been guided by tradition for hundreds of years, with modern advancements only implemented sparingly.
The Red is a blend of 45% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 5% Cinsault, and 20% divided between Syrah, Castet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Manosquin, Carignan, and Muscat Noir & Blanc. Dark fruits and delicate pine-resin notes set this elegant, yet wild red apart from all other Grenache-dominant blends of the south. Only 2,400 bottles are imported each year.
The White is a blend dominated by Clairette with Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Ugni Blanc and Muscat Blanc. It's a magical blend that puzzles the senses as the rich, textural fruit is met with salinity and a fresh mineral tinge on the finish. Only 2,400 bottles are imported each year.
The Rosé many consider to be the world's most age-worthy. The blend is the same of the red. The grapes are partially de-stemmed, giving a brightness and lift to the otherwise rich and deep rosé. Faded rose pedal notes, wild herbs, and gossamer texture make this one of the world's greatest. Only 1,500 bottles are imported each year.
2015 Chateau Simone Palette Rosé
$64 per bottle.
From vines over 50-years-old.
2014 Chateau Simone "Les Grands Carmes de Simone" Rosé
$37 per bottle.
From vines over 30-years-old.
2014 Chateau Simone Palette Rosé
$64 per bottle.
From vines over 50-years-old.
2013 Chateau Simone Palette Blanc
$52 per bottle.
2011 Chateau Simone Palette Blanc
$69 per bottle.
2010 Chateau Simone Palette Blanc
$64 per bottle.
2010 Chateau Simone Palette Rouge
$69 per bottle.
Marquiliani's rosé of Sciaccarellu from the east coast of Corsica is personally the most highly anticipated rosé release of the year. There's a wide range of rosés I buy annually, and even have favorite pairings for each, but the one that's captured my heart above all is this pale copper hued, diamond cut gem.
The native Sciaccarellu grape is grown here on decomposed granite terraces a couple miles from the Mediterranean, and just below the towering 8,000 foot Mount Renosu - ensuring cool breezes to balance out the island's hot summer temperatures.
Along with her father Daniel, Anne Almaric tends the minuscule 2 hectare of vines that her family took over in the 1950's. There was a 20 year span where this 200 year-old domaine had remained abandon. Daniel was a pioneer, the first to plant Sciaccarellu on the eastern side of the island. Anne's background in agricultural chemistry lent a keen eye toward viticulture and the vines have prospered under her watch. Some of the greatest rosés in the world come from domaines that produce red, white, and pink wines, but here each single grape grown is destined to be rosé.
Marquiliani speaks from a very extreme edge of the general rosé landscape. It's wickedly precise with an undeniable laser-like focus through its finish. Mouth-watering and mineral infused, with a texture that is so fine if you think to hard it may just vanish completely. The fruit spectrum is very much in the citrus realm, with grapefruit, faint passionfruit, and jasmine notes always hallmarks.
Importer Kermit Lynch's comment on Almaric's rosé may be his very most recognized,
"Drinking her rosé is like drinking a cloud. There's an absolute weightlessness to it. Nothing is left on the palate but perfume."
Corsicans don't let much of this leave the island, so when given the opportunity each year I bring in as much as possible.
2015 Marquiliani Rosé
$29 per bottle.
A year after release, this warm vintage has developed beautifully in bottle. Acidity has softened and the floral characteristics have turned more pronounced and vibrant.
2016 Marquiliani Rosé
$29 per bottle.
A return back to more temperate weather, where brightness of fruit is highlighted and the typical linear nature of the wine is back front and center.