By Rick Riozza
An immediate newscast of the wine purchases in this 2022 holiday season will show that rosés are selling at a record pace! You’d think after a prolonged summer here in the desert, where rosés were selling at a record pace, the pretty-in-pink movement would have subsided and the big winter seasonal reds would start to take over. Well—it hasn’t happened yet!
Not that we need to explain such a pink phenomenon, but there are more rosés on the market than ever before. Every winery in town and on the earth is producing a rosé! Geez—even the first wine that my son Paolo and I made in our “wine kitchen” was a rosé; a Muscat rosé, to be certain, made from the grapes given to us by the Galleano Winery in Mira Loma.
Another reason we do not have to figure out, is that rosés—still wine, bubbly or otherwise, go wonderfully with holiday fare. From cranberry sauce to game birds, from escargot to oyster stuffing, from Festa dei sette pesci to Tripe a la Caen, rosés are here to stay throughout the holidays! Cheers!
Now comes….one of the most favorite rosés on the market shelf: a bottle and label that is universally recognized as de rigueur on the seasonal dining table. (Hyperbole you may say? Well try saying de rigueur!) Anyway—let’s get back to the Rosé of the day: Of course it is the famous Whispering Angel Rosé made by Provençal winery Château d’Esclans.
Okay—at around $23 or so for the bottle, when it comes to the opinion of rosés, most enthusiasts either love it/like it—or find the luxury brand to be overrated or a bit pompous because it’s cool to be seen with that bottle in hand. Fun stuff, no matter what.
Three years ago we reviewed the 2018 Whispering Angel and wrote: “comes across very fresh and on the mineral side of fruity, along with citrus notes, some tangerine, jasmine, cherry and a hint of watermelon. And there’s a kick of mouthwatering salinity on the finish. It’s certainly deliciously dry to the end.” We’ve become fans of the wine and don’t believe it to be a status thing—but you do look cool with that bottle in hand.
As to the new 2021 Whispering Angel release, we wish to be a bit more thorough, i.e., wordy, since there are so many rosés out here and you vino voters are so savvy when it comes to your pink quaff. For starters, the winery notes state, “Aroma—A beautifully pale pink, which is pleasing to the eye and draws one in. Palate—Fresh red berry fruit characteristics with floral notes. Ripe and fleshy feel on the palate. Finish—Great concentration….smooth and round finish. No astringent aftertaste.”
We’ll get to our personal review & comments in a bit, but let’s get you pink punkers caught up on the qualities of the wine: the grapes are grown from the most precious grown in and around the region of La Motte en Provence. Most of the grapes utilized are Grenache, Cinsault, and what the French know as Rolle; the Italians know this grape as Vermentino—isn’t knowledge powerful?
We can get really wordy—or, rather really nerdy and talk about how the Château d’Esclans’ Harvest takes place each September from sunrise to noon to avoid the heat of the day. During the Harvest, grapes, at their ripest, are selected, picked and carefully placed in small (10 kilo) crates, the size of which is chosen in order to avoid too many grapes at the top crushing grapes at the bottom of the crates.
Then, Once the grapes arrive to the cellars, they are sorted manually and then go through optical eye sorting, which is programmed to detect whether grapes correspond to the established criteria. Grapes which do not are rejected. As the individual juices from corresponding Barrels and Vats are selected and placed into half bottles, the technical team will taste through these unique juices and they will start to form opinions for which wines they should be used to make the new vintage.
Next is overseeing the blending for Chateau d’Esclans wines by the Technical Director and Cellar Master who will collectively form a final determination that will be made relative to that information provided by the technical team. While there is little variation vintage to vintage, the cepage or percent/ types of different grape varieties that will make up the ultimate blend will differ with each new vintage however the taste profile remains the same.
Okay—time to give the highlights from our CV Weekly tasting panel’s comments: On the aromas, there are melon, strawberry, cherries and pear notes along with lavender, cloves and minerality. Similar notes meld into the palate along with watermelon and red fruits. It’s medium-bodied, fresh acidity but creamy as well. It’s an elegant, perfumed quaff.
So, we all like it and we will indeed see the bottle on our Thanksgiving table. Cheers! To you and yours!