Two years ago, we began searching for a good Rosé to add to the list of wines we import. We tasted over 110 wines during a three-month period. When it was over, we had settled on what we thought was the best: Château Sainte-Roseline, one of the few Crus Classés of the appellation.
We bought the wine and began our promotion in May 2017, selling out in less than 75 days. Why?
In addition to being one of the 18-only Cru Classé vineyards within the Côtes de Provence appellation, Château Sainte Roseline is also a registered historical site, dating back over 1,000 years. Indeed some of the vineyards were created by Pope Jean XXII in the 14th century.
The estate is named after Sainte Roseline (born in 1263) who was the daughter of Arnaud de Villeneuve, a Marquis. According to local legend, Roseline took food from her family’s storage to feed hungry villagers during a famine. When caught, the food in her apron miraculously turned to roses! A chapel built in her honor is near Draguignan.
Equally miraculous is the underground spring that runs below the estate, providing a steady source of water for the vines. The terroir is a perfect mix of clay and limestone and the primary reason Château Sainte Roseline, along with the other Provençal estates, are ranked as Cru Classé.
Grapes are produced using an environmentally friendly approach, with grassy areas allowed next to the vine rows to preserve fauna and flora, ensuring the land remains healthy. Fruit control through green harvest and deleafing is important to maintain maximum sunlight. Harvest is done at night to maintain color and avoid oxidation.
The wine we sold last year was the top cuvée from a selection of the best plots on the estate. Appropriate to its stature and pedigree, the wine was bottled in a beautiful, frosted Lampe de Méduse glass. The Chevaliers de Méduse (Knights of Medusa) are one of the oldest wine fraternities in Provence. Less aristocractic, but interesting nonetheless, is an old drinking song popular with the knights: “Lamp in hand, lamp well lit, let us lift our lamp and invoking Mother Medusa — Let’s Lamp!” “Lamp” meaning to drink in one gulp! This was a sturdy crowd, to say the least.
These days, obviously, we encourage Rosé lovers to savor the Château Sainte Roseline blend: 35% Tibouren, 25% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and 5% each Cinsault and Rolle. The Tibouren brings a full bouquet of fragrances and delicate aromas, while the other varietals create a pale, luscious pink color and add grip and freshness. The Cru Classé pedigree is evident in the flavor concentration and rich mouthfeel of the wine, while maintaining a bright, vibrant acidity.
The 2017 Château Sainte Roseline Rosé in the frosted Lampe de Méduse bottle, will be our flagship Rosé again this year. Additionally, we are introducing the 2017 Château Sainte Roseline Prestige. This Rosé is made from 40% Cinsault, 40 % Grenache and 20% Syrah. The fruit selection for this wine is very strict. The resulting bouquet is intense with red fruit notes, slight acidity and a long finish. The wine is light pink in color — a quintessential Provençal Rosé. The Prestige Rosé is also in a beautifully crafted bottle, with the name “Roseline” etched in glass.
Finally, to complete our Rosé selection, we opted for the 2017 Château des Demoiselles, from Sainte-Roseline. The vineyard for this production is located in the famous Esclans Valley, where many top Rosés, including Whispering Angel, are grown. Cinsault makes up 41% of the blend, 20% Grenache, 11% Syrah and the remaining varietals split between Carignan, Mourvèdre, Tibouren and Rolle. The nose is made up of white flowers and hints of Provençal spice. The wine is tangy and fresh; its color glossy and clear. On the palate, it shows power and concentration. Definitely not a “negoce” wine or “Rosé Piscine” (swimming pool Rosé) — terms used to refer to the enormous vats brewed up by many suppliers to satisfy the growing popularity of Rosé.
PLEASE NOTE THIS VERY IMPORTANT FACT: Rosé are meant to be drunk young!!!! This Spring and Summer, you should be drinking 2017 Rosés, not 2016 or 2015. The older wines fade quickly and lose freshness. They can still taste ok, but offer none of those lively qualities of a new vintage. You often find Rosés at low prices in “big box” stores. Be sure to check the vintage. These aren’t necessarily the bargains you might think they are.
Our three Château Sainte Roseline Rosés were just bottled and will arrive next month. Place your order now to ensure availability. We love these wines and drink them throughout the summer while hosting Pétanque — so no guarantees as to how long they’ll last……
2017 Château Sainte Roseline Cru Classé in the frosted Lampe de Méduse. $19.99. 126 bottles available.
2017 Château Sainte Roseline Prestige in the etched glass bottle. $16.99. 216 bottles available.
2017 Sainte Roseline Château des Demoiselles. $14.99. 192 bottles available.