Old World vs New World Rosé Wines

The Southwest of France and the Cotes de Gascogne

Hillside Vineyards 2015 Rosé vs Colorado and Creekside Cellar’s Rosé N/V

France’s indigenous grape varieties are to be found in Gascogne more than in any other part of France.    Modern winemaking techniques are changing the way wine is made and, hence, some of the rough and rustic character of previous decades is being replaced by technically wonderful wines and a reinvention of what wine can be in this region.  Red grapes predominate and you will find both of these wines a true adventure.

Let’s compare a Rosé from the Cotes de Gascogne with a Rosé from Creekside Cellars in Colorado, USA — both less known on the international scene and similarly priced.

Both wines are clean and well made and if I were to hazard a guess, I would say the French wine was made as a food wine and certainly reveals this intent.  The grapes are various. Therefore, the comparison is of the wines, not the way they have fashioned the same grapes, albeit from divergent terroir.

Minerality is very obvious in the French wine;  less fruit and more of the red wine’s phenolics appear.  In the Colorado wine, we have a softer texture with much more fruit, recommending the wine for easy drinking and a summer’s refreshing lift.  Another element is obvious this time in the Colorado wine:  its fresh acidity and salivating potential.  More fruit lasts on the finish, but both have a short finish and fill the expectancy of typical Rosé wines.  Although the French wine is of a lower alcohol, note its warming effect due to less fruit and acid.

More acid brings out more fruit, so it is sometimes difficult to tell if the fruitiness of the wine is due to the acid level or the potency of fruit flavors in the grape.  é

Note, also, how the balance of the wine is affected on the finish by more or less acid, more or less fruit, and more or less alcohol.

Dominantly Grenache – A Ravishing, Rustic Rhone Wine

From the Heart of Southern Rhone

Vacqueyras – Domaine La Garrigue, 2012

Domaine La Garrigue Vacqueras 2012

Domaine La Garrigue Vacqueras 2012

This wine epitomizes the wines of the Vacqueyras Appellation.  Several appellations comprise the heart of the Southern Rhone and this one is perhaps a little more on the rustic side.  The grapes ripen earlier in the stony and sandy soils of this dominantly scrub covered landscape.  Garrigue, the name of the winery, is also the word for scrubland in French.  The wine —  unfiltered, powerful, heady, and full of character — suggests the region has great potential for some excellent wines.  Winemaking is advancing fast in this Rhone region.

Black fruit, tar, licorice and a touch more burnt toast (all expressions of the dominant grape, Grenache) after it had been opened a while — this is for the strong of palate.  Riding on this strong attack and 14% alcohol, it hits you unedited by standards of finesse.  Not that the wine is unpleasant, it is not.  However, the most pleasant experience with this wine is in the company of a rich cheese, like the one I enjoyed with it — a full-flavored, rich, Irish Cheddar from pasture fed cows.  A charcoal grilled steak would also welcome this wine.

Its flavors are bold and the finish is l-o-n-g!  On the palate, it is definitely full-bodied and a wine of texture and substance.  The winemaking has been unrestricted in its search for a bold drink needing food.  As you taste, think of what this region may hold for a wine lover’s enjoyment in the near future.

Rating: 90

Chateau Haut Rian 2015 – A Mouthwatering Bordeaux Blanc

Chateau Haut Rian Bordeaux Blanc 2015

Chateau Haut Rian Bordeaux Blanc 2015

Chateau Haut Rian Bordeaux Blanc 2015

We visit Bordeaux again, this time with a Bordeaux Blanc.  At 60% Semillon  and 40% Sauvignon Blanc, this wine is traditional but not without its distinctly informative characteristics.  Semillon can have unique characteristics as in Australia’s Hunter Valley, but it is usually passed up by most wine lovers due to its having little aroma when young (the exception being its use in Bordeaux’s great sweet wines) — a nondescript grape that needs something.

In this example, what it needs is supplied (for those who want to benefit from Semillon’s slight creaminess and fuller mouthfeel) by the addition of the lively Sauvignon Blanc, as is typical in the white wines of the Graves.  Notice how this added grape variety, although at only 40%, dominates the wine. A little Sauvignon Blanc goes a long way!  Just 5% can dominate the flavors of some white grapes.  This wine comes alive with its forward acidity and aromas.  New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc flavors are all over it: grapefruit, lemon, gooseberry and green melon along with the grape’s natural herbacoussness.  It lacks the more tropical fruit flavors, probably because it was picked before they formed and/or the effects of a cooler climate, both of which may be expected in Bordeaux.

The lemon/lime, which is also characteristic of Semillon, emphasizes the lemony notes of the Sauvignon Blanc.  Semillon’s acidity also adds to the zest of this dry lively aperitif wine.  This wine comes from old vine Semillon grapes and the limestone soils may be the source of its minerality.  Ah!  That’s the difference to that NZ Sauvignon Blanc you may be tasting alongside of this wine.  In fact, do try them side-by-side because when we get to Sancerre, you will notice not a similarity to NZ Sauvignon Blanc, but a contrast.

This wine is clean and well made.  Its purpose is written in its smell, taste and finish —  a light and very refreshing aperitif, a mouth-watering delight.

Rating: 87

Chateau Trillol Vallee des Hautes Corbieres 2011 — A Wine with Real Depth

Chateau Trillol GSC

Chateau Trillol GSC

Chateau Trillol Valle des Houtes Corbieres 2011

44% Grenache, 29% Carignan, 27% Syrah

The character of the Syrah comes through and gives this wine real depth.  At 14.5% ABV, it is big, but not a fruit bomb. Rather, it is a balanced wine with earth, oak and fruit blending into attractive savoriness.  It is an expression of French Syrah (as opposed to Australian Shiraz) that is much more fruit driven.

A full wine, dark with power, overlaid with oak flavors, minerality and smoke and a solid blackberry fruit base.  The oak and earth flavors dominate.  Fresh acids increase in their strength all the way to the finish, which is bright and lasting.  The wine’s persona is strength, presented with soft power.

Trillol is really a strong mouthful and a wine on the savory side, as expected with French Syrah.  Perfect balance, without losing the acid and the flavors, is expertly maintained.  Even though it has a touch of warmth, the alcohol is not out of balance.

Compare this with a Californian Syrah, but don’t expect a comparison of apples with apples.  The comparison is rather a comparison of apples and oranges.  Trillol is a blend, but 27% Syrah is enough to make a comparison with a 100% Syrah from the New World.  Syrah is a powerful grape and a little goes a long way.  I hope you are getting an increased understanding of the difference between Old World and New World wines

Syrah — Another New World vs Old World Comparison

Overlooking the vineyard

Overlooking the vineyard

Tardieu Laurent Cotes du Rhone Villages 2013

Here we have a Syrah (60%) Grenache (40%) blend from the Southern Rhone valley.  The Cotes du Rhone Villages offers great value and can be very appealing.  The style of this wine is finer and more reserved than the Guigal we evaluated in the previous post, but its emotional appeal is in emotion:  charm.  With a faint nose, dark fruits emerge: blackberry, huckleberry, and notes of leather and dark chocolate.  Raspberry lurks around the edges of the aroma.

This wine is very complex.  It ends with a balanced, medium finish and lots of pleasure.

Rating: 90

Compare the Tardieu with Luca Syrah, Lafarge Double Select 2011 from Valle de Uco Mendoza, Argentina.  

Again we are treated to full but delicate flavors.  Star anise, lavendar, bramble, blackberry, rhubarb, allspice and oak aromas combined with earth and herbs make for complexity and depth.  It is a sophisticated wine — somewhere between an Australian Shiraz and a Rhone Syrah.  As you sip this wine, note the difference that terroir makes to both the style and flavors of the wine.  I would not call this wine silky; rather more tactile, perhaps like velvet.

With these comparisons, you will see wine in its many expressions.  All are red with similar grapes, but all are so very different.  Seek to express your own emotional responses to them.

Rating:  90