'La Vie en Rosé'
A few years ago, people scoffed at the thought of having a glass of rosé and now it has become so popular that it has been coined as 'summer water'. I, for one am very happy about this, since rosé is my absolute preferred wine during the warmer months (and heck sometimes even during the cooler months).
Before I introduce you to one of the top-notch wineries in the South of France, which produces two of my favorite rosés, here are the essentials about the chic pink drink.
Rosés are more delicate (and can be more complex) than its counterparts, red and white wines, and should be consumed within 1-2 years of its release date. It is made out of red grapes which gives it the pink color pigment and tannic structure. A rosé's color, flavor and elegance depends on three elements (1) vat temperature (2) the type and quality of the grapes and (3) how long the grapes and skins stay in contact, which is called the skin contact period. The longer the skin macerates, the darker the wine color. To get a more complete picture of the rosé vinification process, here's a great infographic from vins de provence.
The biggest rosé producers (by volume) are from France, Spain, Italy and the U.S. but to me Provence rosés are the 'little black dress' of the group. They embody un certain je ne sais quoi. Most rosé wines from the Provence region are made using the following grapes - Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre and primary notes include flowers, red fruits, citrus and melon. Rosé is also very food friendly and depending on the rosé style (light to medium to full bodied), it can pair beautifully with salads, oysters, anchovy-based tapenade, cheese and charcuterie, lobster, grilled fish and even spicy dishes, such as curry.
Without further ado, I present to you ... Château Léoube ...
Situated in the picturesque commune of Bormes-les-Mimosas in Le Var, a department in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region, my parents and I discovered Château Léoube a few years ago on our yearly rosé winery tour of this area (which I always look forward to) and we return every year to try out their newest cuvée.
Last summer, we had the unbelievable opportunity to tour the vineyard and estate (MERCI, Jérôme!) which was incredibly informative and absolutely breathtaking!
Opened in 2005, the Domaine de Léoube has 1,500 acres of vines (each hectare has 5,000 vines) and is one of the largest estates on the Riviera, with 4 km of gorgeous beachfront. The chateau was bought in 1997 by the prominent English family, the Bamfords. Initially Lord Bamford bought the chateau for weekend visits, but a chance encounter with the renowned Ott family and Lady Bamford's passion for nature and organic products turned this land into a haven for organic wine and olive oil making. All of the grapes, mixed with scents of la garrigue and wild lavender which are carried by the wind, are handpicked and organic (no machines or pesticides are used). The terroir, full of mineral nutrients such as red clay and mica shist, enjoys a micro-climate. By day, the vines are warmed by the Provençal sun and by night, they are cooled down by the Mediterranean sea breezes. Château Léoube doesn't irrigate, the vinescape is such that there is a small incline to drain the rain, allowing the vines to hydrate properly.
And the talent behind Château Léoube's haute couture wines is winemaker, Romain Ott. Using the classic Ott method, the wines are put through the malolactic fermentation, which essentially reduces the acidity and produces a more rich mouthfeel while retaining a more balanced and palatable wine.
Château Léoube produces delicious reds, whites, and sparkling wines, but here are the two that have stolen my heart (and palate) ...
ROSÉ DE LÉOUBE (2013 vintage)
This beautiful light-pink hued rosé is made from Grenache and Cinsault grapes with a touch of Syrah and Mourvedre. The bouquet is driven by notes of citrus and red berries, rendering the palate expressive with a well-balanced finish. This wine is versatile in that it can be sipped by itself, served as an apertif or enjoyed throughout the meal.
Recommended food pairings: Antipasti, vegetable tian, or goat cheese.
SECRET DE LÉOUBE (2013 vintage)
This elegant salmon-colored rosé contains Grenache and Cinsault grapes with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is more complex with stronger notes of red berries and citrus. It starts off full-bodied and then opens to a pleasant rich palate. As a bonus, the bottle is beautiful.
Recommended food pairings: Lobster, grilled gambas and a creamy sheep's milk cheese.
On that note, Château Léoube just debuted their newest rosé called Rosé LaLonde and I am beyond excited to try it out cet été. In a recent review, The Drinks Business states, 'Château Léoube has released its answer to Italy’s Super Tuscans – a “Super Rosé” wine produced in Lalonde – staking its claim on the premium rosé market.'
In addition to these rosés, Château Léoube has three reds (Rouge de Léoube, Les Forts de Léoube and Léoube Collector), one white (Blanc de Léoube) and one sparkling (Sparkling de Léoube) that should definitely be tasted. And if you are fan of olives (which I most certainly am) Château Léoube has two extra virgin olive oils (Azur and Premium) which have captured the essence of Provence.
Château Léoube's wines are found in certain states in the U.S. such as New York and California, but I am hoping that a wine distributor comes across this gem of a wine and brings it to Nation's Capital!
So I say, like Château Léoube's tagline, 'La Vie En Rosé,' this summer should only be celebrated as such.
Below are some pics from my memorable tour of Château Léoube's estate and winery ...
Château Léoube Vineyard.
Close-up of the grapes.
Breathtaking view from the top.
Gorgeous little chapel.
Entrance to the Château Léoube boutique.
Nature déco inside the boutique.
Decanter, gift boxes and wine.
Rosé de Léoube (bottle and magnum).
Secret de Léoube (bottle and magnum).
Blanc de Léoube (bottle and magnum).
Sparkling de Léoube.