Veritas Wine Club: Tournament of Rosés

The Tchin Tchin Bar, located in Honolulu’s Chinatown District, is at it again with another brilliant monthly tasting lineup for its Veritas Wine Club.  This month’s theme is a refreshing reminder that summer is fast approaching.  Huzzah!

I must begin with a confession.  I am not a zealous fanatic of rosé.  Gasp.  In fact, I don’t even recall ever actually purchasing a bottle; although, mysteriously, a stowaway has taken shelter in my wine fridge for the last eight months.  Amongst the battery of power reds, the curious resident must feel awkwardly adventitious.  So this was an opportunity to demonstrate my full confidence in the able crew at Tchin Tchin to surprise and educate me in the world of rosé.  Dylan, this month’s lead sommelier for the Club, did just that.

The Lineup.  

Tchin Tchin’s rosé parade proceeded thusly: Henri Bourgeois “Petite Bourgeois”, Loire Valley, France, 2015; Quivira Vineyards “Wine Creek Ranch Rosé”, Sonoma County, California, 2016; Chateau d’Aqueria Tavel Rosé, Tavel, Southern Rhone, France, 2015; Domaine du Gros ‘Noré, Bandol, Provence, France, 2014; Lillet Rosé, Podensac, Graves, France (non-vintage).

I highlight a few best of show.

Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois.  Loire Valley, France.  2015.

Domaine Henri Bourgeois has spanned eleven generations in the revered Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé appellations of the Loire Valley.  The Domaine’s commitment to strict viticultural and vinicultural practices, such as the exclusive use of organic fertilizers in its vineyards, green pruning, and careful grape selection, has helped to establish a reputation of quality and excellence in its wines.  Accolades are plentiful.  With a focused craft on Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, this rosé is no exception. Produced with 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes, the nose enjoys pleasant but light aromas of red cherries and roses, with a dash of herb and mineral.  On the palate, the fresh red berry excursion continues in a dry wine with lots of minerals and bright acidity.  At under $15 a bottle, this is definitely a rosé to have ready at the hand.  With a value price tag, you would be wise to secure more than one bottle.  Unlike my stowaway, I suspect this rosé won’t last long in the fridge.

The evening's champion.

Domaine du Gros ‘Noré.  Bandol, Provence, France.  2014.

Provence, located on France’s southeastern coast near Monaco, exudes southern French lifestyle and cuisine.  Food is excellent. People are … hospitable, perhaps even friendly? Wait, in France? Shocking, but true.  And, of course, the region’s wine brings it all together.  Wonderful Mediterranean preparations of shellfish, grilled fish, and bouillabaisse are paired beautifully with rosé, the dominant Provençal wine blended mostly from traditional Rhône varietals, such as Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre.  Bandol rosés are the most distinguished in the region, with consistent recognition as the grand cru of Provence.  In the world of rosé, Bandol rests comfortably on its high peak.

This rosé is a blend of Mourvèdre (40 percent), Cinsault (40 percent) and Grenache (20 percent).  It has spicy aromas of clove and pepper, with orange, tangerine and light, floral notes.  The palate enjoys intense fruit, flinty minerality, bright lively acidity, and a long, clean finish.  Best of show.

Lillet Rosé. Podensac, Graves, France. Non-Vintage.

The most surprising participant of the evening comes from the famed Bordeaux region in eastern France. Bordeaux is, of course, world renown for its powerful, complex red blends that showcase Merlot, on the right bank, and Cabernet Sauvignon, on the left bank.  This wine, however, is conspicuously divergent.  The Lillet family, residents of Podensac’s cobblestone streets since the late seventeenth century, combines classic Bordeaux grapes with fruit liqueurs to produce (to my knowledge) the region’s only wine-based aperitif.  Bordeaux’s mainstays of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sémillon are blended with herb and fruit liqueurs that complement the grapes with a base of orange and cinchona bark.  The wine is then aged for one year in French oak casks.  On the nose, orange and orange blossom take center stage, along with citrus grapefruit and a touch of blackberry fruit.  The palate is sweet, but not overly so, with fresh, lively fruit and balanced acidity.  At around $20 per bottle, this is a great wine to sip as an aperitif, or get creative by combining with champagne or spirits (perhaps Mezcal and orange bitters?) for a unique rosé-inspired cocktail.

I will say without hesitation that this tasting has significantly changed my perspective on rosé. The wines have a lot of character and are wonderfully refreshing on warm afternoon. I will be sure to take a long, intentional stroll down the rosé aisle next time I am at the wine store. 

I have also observed that rosé invites impassioned discussion. Excellent! What is your favorite rosé? What region or style do you prefer? Do you even like rosé?!? Let us know in the comments below.

Cheers to Dylan, our esteemed host, for his vision and expert navigation.  Excellent work, mate!