While most people think of Rosé as an easy drinking summer sipper, the reality is far more complex. Most Rosés are fantastic soon after bottling, providing a refreshing crisp summer drink. However, some also have the ability to develop interesting characteristics with bottle aging.
Bandol – The Heart Of Aged Rosés
The heart of Rosé winemaking is in Southern France in the AOC’s of Provence and Bandol. While Provence is mainly known for pale pink wines best consumed young, the Rosés of Bandol are known to be able to age up to 20 years!
Dave and I recently had the opportunity to visit and taste at one the best wineries producing Bandol Rosé; Domaine de Terrebrune. Georges Delille purchased the land for Terrebrune in 1963, but spent nearly ten years preparing the land, replacing old vines, and building the winery. He released his first vintage in 1980 with his son Reynald who is the current winemaker.
The vines producing Terrebrune’s Rosés are farmed organically and benefit from cooling breezes off the Mediterranean. This helps the grapes retain acidity which is critical for aging potential. They use a combination of Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Cinsault to produce wines with some structure and long-lasting aromas.
You’re probably familiar with the concept of aging red wine. As red wines develop their color fades from bright ruby or purple to a more faded color with tinges of garnet or brick. Their bright fruit flavors become more dried and earth in nature and can further develop into savory aromas of meat, leather, and tar.
Well-made white wines can also age; developing a more golden color and aromas of dried flowers, nuts, and caramel. Aged Rosés can give us the best of both worlds. The bright red fruits will become more dried and earthy in nature and you’ll notice aromas of nuts and dried flowers.
Tasting Terrebrune’s Aged Rosés
While we were at the winery, we sampled three different vintages of their flagship Rosé; the 2020, 2017, and 2015.
The 2020 had been bottled just six months earlier and was a lovely example of Bandol Rose. Pronounced aromas of grapefruit, lemon, and rose petals. The acidity was bracing which balanced out the more full-bodied style of Rosé.
Next, we tried the 2017. This wine still had the primary fruit notes of the 2020 but they were a bit more muted. On top, the wine had aromas of dried raspberries, and a hint of nuttiness or marzipan. The finish was incredibly long and we all agreed it would be a great accompaniment for hearty fish or light game and poultry dishes.
Finally, we had the 2015. I admit, I was a bit skeptical of such an “old” Rosé, but boy was I wrong. This wine was stunning. The fruit flavors were still there but had taken on a dried characteristic. The nuttiness was more pronounced, and I noted a lovely potpourri like scent of dried flowers and aromatic spices. This wine could hold up to heartier dishes and in fact became the wine we drank with our bistro lunch that day!
In talking with Madame Delille, who graciously hosted us, she remarked how surprised people often were when tasting these older vintages, but for her and her family, it was commonplace. However, she did admit that it was only possible because of the high-quality fruit they farmed and the attention to acid preservation in both early picking dates and winemaking practices.
SAMsARA Rosés – Excellent Young And Aged
At SAMsARA, our Rosés are made from Mourvedre and Grenache in about equal proportions. The Mourvedre gives the wines the structure and complexity necessary for good aging, while the Grenache provides the bright red fruit flavors associated with fresh crisp Rosé.
On the nose you’ll typically find aromas of pomelo, ruby red grapefruit and stone fruits like peach and nectarine. For our Rosés that have gone through some bottle aging you’ll also notice more complex aromas like dried fruits and flowers with spicy notes. All will have great acidity which makes them perfect for food pairing.
Try A Comparative Rosé Tasting For Yourself!
To celebrate the release of our 2021 Rosé, we’re offering a special six bottle pack that highlights our past vintages as well. This pack will feature four bottles of our newly released 2021 Rosé and one bottle each of the 2018 and 2020.
You can either drink them all separately or have some fun by doing a vertical tasting to see the aging process in action!
We only have a couple cases left of the 2018 and 2020 so this will be the last time you’ll have such an opportunity.
Meanwhile, I’m opening one of my last bottles of that delicious 2017 Bandol Rosé from Terrebrune and comparing it to ours. I think our wines hold up quite nicely compared to the best!