By Celia Strong
Expectations generally run high when we have a new wine in our glasses. Something in us just wants to like it, if not love it.
This week we have a rosé from southern France, specifically from the Côtes de Provence AOC — the Château des Bertrands Élégance.
Château des Bertrands is located at the foot of the Maures hill chain — he Massif des Maures, as it is known in France. Actually, this is a small mountain range located in the Var département, near Fraxinet. The highest peak is just over 2,500 feet above sea level. These mountains are full of chestnut trees. Excellent candied chestnuts are available to the many tourists who come to the area, and there is an annual chestnut festival in October. Also, on the plains of the Maures, the rare Hermann’s tortoise has found a home. Hikers in the area can see them and other tortoises in an area dedicated to their protection. Château des Bertrands is a 500-acre estate situated in this part of Provence.
Élégance is one of the estate’s wines. There is a continental climate, with dry, hot summers and cold winters, perfect amounts of sunshine and rain, and a prevailing easterly wind. Variations between day and night temperatures help the grapes ripen fully, but not too quickly. The soil of the hillside vineyards is typical of the Maures hills — stony and made of pink sandstone and sandy earth. The vineyards are well-drained.
This wine is a blend of 50 percent Cinsault, 30 percent Grenache, 10 percent Syrah, 5 percent Rolle, and 5 percent various other varieties. Like with other blends, each variety has something unique it brings to the finished wine. Cinsault is tolerant to heat, produces larger yields, and can be very drought resistant. It brings red fruit flavors (strawberry, red cherry, red berries), perfume and softness, and bouquet to its wines. Grenache has a thick skin and tight bunches on its vines and has a long growing time, making it perfect for hot, dry sand and stone soils. It brings sugar, and with that alcohol, and red and black fruit flavors along with anise and baking spices. Syrah has a punch to it — pronounced red and black fruits, hints of black pepper, and a front-loaded attack in your mouth. All three of these red grapes are often used in blends in southern France and often for rosés. It is worth noting that in rosés, their aromas and flavors can include lighter-colored fruits such as apricots, peaches and citrus.
Rolle, which we don’t hear from very often, is another name for Vermentino — a white grape that enhances the acidity levels that are lacking in red varieties and has citrus and mineral notes.
All the grapes for Élégance are de-stemmed before pressing, then juices are selected, decanted, and fermented at 64 degrees Fahrenheit. The finished blended wine is a pale, pretty pink with very light nuances of a peachy shade. It has rich, round aromas and flavors of peaches, nectarines, tangy orange, and some green herbs, as well as lychee and guava. Minerality and acidity are included in the clean, crisp, refreshing finish, along with a bit of black pepper and spiciness. This wine totally pops in your mouth when you taste it. Elegant and excellent for $19.99. Enjoy.
Celia Strong works at Bill’s Liquor & Fine Wines on Lady’s Island.