The Perfect Pink: A Guide to Rosé Wines
Left: Bernard Eloy; Right: Photo Courtesy: Hajnalka Ardai, SXC
Often referred to as a wine for all seasons, rosé has been gaining in popularity over the last decade. At the recent TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes, Bernard Eloy of Chateau d'Esclans spoke about the varieties of rosé wines and the reason behind its new found appreciation.
It's the whites and reds that have traditionally found favour with wine connoisseurs the world over. However, owing to evolving tastes and enhanced production techniques, rosé has emerged as a tough contender to traditional choices in the last couple of years. Easily paired with a variety of cuisines and lighter on the palate, rosé is definitely here to stay.
Chateau d'Esclans is known to produce some of the world's best rosé wines. Can you give us a background of the company?
The company started just after the World War. A gentleman named Alexis Lichine, nicknamed the 'Pope of Wine' was responsible for launching French wine in the United States after the War. He's the author of several books on wine, including the famous book called The Encyclopaedia of Wine, which is still considered the Bible of wine, the world over. Lichine lived between New York and Bordeaux and bought two properties - one was Château Lascombs and the other was Château Prieuré, which later was known as Château Prieuré-Lichine (one of the biggest Bordeaux chateaus today). When Alexis Lichine died, his son took over the vineyard. He took care of Prieuré Lichine and sold it in 1999, 12 years after his father died. In Bordeaux, there are châteaus and trading companies. He sold the château, but kept the trading company. In 2006, he bought a property in Provence which does 90 per cent rosé wine. This is what we're working with the most today.
What are the different varieties of wine produced?
We have four varieties of rosé wine - Whispering Angel, Chateau d'Esclans, Les Clans and Garrus. Garrus is the most expensive - you can hardly feel the alcohol when you consume it, which also makes it very dangerous! (laughs)
Why do you think this wine is considered as the best in the world?
In a very short time, we've made this the best rosé in the world. It's not we who say that, but it is regarded so highly by wine commentators and connoisseurs. We basically started by completely re-doing the property which took a few years.
What is it about Provence that produces some of the best wines?
It's one of the regions in France that makes excellent rosé. Personally, I would say, it's the best because they've been doing rosé for a very long time and so, they know how to do it right. Now, with the new technique, it's become much better than before. Even in Provence, rosé wine was not as good and popular for a very long time. It's only in the last 10 years that rosé has been booming. In France today, rosé has surpassed white wine in popularity.
Is the production of rosé different from other wines?
One of the differences, as compared to other wines, is that once we've taken out the skin, we have machines that eliminate the very small grains. We only harvest in the night because it's too hot in the day. The cooler the temperature, the better it is for the finished product. After the grapes are picked in the night, they are cooled to about seven degrees. That's also what gives the wine its light colour. That's the big difference between our wine and all the other wines - the process of cooling.
Why has rosé become so popular worldwide?
As I mentioned, one of the reasons is that the rosé produced earlier was not of a very good quality. With new production techniques, the quality has improved a lot. Rosé also seems to be in fashion! Earlier in France, it was considered bad. This has changed a lot in the last 10 years.
Rosé is lighter than red wine. Why so?
Rosé is made with red grapes. The skin is taken off immediately after harvest. What gives wine its red colour is the skin. If you take off the skin immediately and take it through the right processes, you come to this colour. That's how rosé is done. By taking away the skin, you also take away the heaviness from the wine. Hence, it's lighter.
What kind of cuisine is rosé best paired with?
As far as white wine and rosé are concerned, there are very few foods that don't go with them. I personally think it goes very well with Asian food. Rosé champagne is also booming.