By Igor Sill, March 26, 2017
Spending the summer months sipping Rosé wines in one of the most beautiful and famous villages of France, St. Tropez, brings back some truly incredible memories. The sparkling aquamarine stretch of coastline between Provence, St. Tropez and Bandol is home to some of the finest Rosé wines and the perfect accompaniment to a Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur afternoon.
Each year, a group of us friends make the annual trek to Dick Eddy’s Annual Rosé Wine Tasting gathering at his lovely Mediterranean villa centered in St. Tropez. Every year, Dick hosts this elaborate celebrity-packed party focused on discovering the finest Provence and Bandol Rosé wines that France has to offer. Partygoers blind taste and then vote for the very best of 6 to 12 various Rosé wines offered. Dick, a true renaissance gentleman and Rosé aficionado, attracts an extraordinary group of interesting people who arrive from all corners of the world for his Rosé event. Dick settled in St. Tropez in the early 1980’s and recognized the excellence of Rosé paired with the local cuisine. He’s pretty much the Rosé guru of St. Tropez’s chic jet setting crowd. The day after the wine tasting party, we all go to le plage de Pampelonne à Ramatuelle to one of Dick’s favorite restaurants in the world, Le Club 55 and spend the entire afternoon and well into the early evening sipping Rosés while deep in philosophical discussions. Out of this decades long experience (Dick is well into his 30th year of Rosé competition) I came to appreciate the finesse, depth and excellence of Bandol and Provence Rosés.
“Rosé is very possibly the most difficult wine to craft properly”, said former Marinite turned Winemaker Igor Sill of Sill Family Vineyards. “But when crafted properly it outshines and outsells all other wines. I love Rosé for its crisp brilliance, fruity aromas, smoothness and the wonderful mouth feel it leaves behind. For years I’ve contemplated producing a superior California Rosé born of those St. Tropez memories. A Rosé that’s rich, elegant, ultra quality and an extraordinarily different Rosé from those available here in the United States. Essentially, introducing a ultra premium Rosé for serious Rosé lovers while making a real difference in the industry.” One of the most alluring aspects of our très Chardonnay de Rosé is its ability to offer the very best of both wine worlds with the chilled, refreshing qualities of an exceptional Burgundian Chardonnay along with the richness, complexity and depth of a Bordeaux style Cabernet Sauvignon. Our resulting très Chardonnay de Rosé is an absolute first in the wine industry.
What distinguishes our très Chardonnay de Rosé from all others is the grape varietals used and the French white oak barrel aging. Generally, traditional Rosés are produced using a combination of the lesser grapes of Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Syrah and Mourvédre. I contend that truly exceptional wines come from ultra superior grapes, such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. We barrel age a limited production of 98% Sonoma Coast Chardonnay blessed with 2% Rutherford bench Napa Cabernet Sauvignon wines, producing only 760 bottles. A truly fresh marriage of the finest, most prestigious grapes producing an elegantly brilliant, crisp, rich, balanced, buttery floral Rosé. We are truly blessed with the unique terroir of our très Chardonnay de Rosé which supports this classic Provençal-style.
We use the traditional Provençal and Bordeaux method, then, age the wine in French white oak barrels from Tonnellerie Jean-Louis BOSSUET and Tonnellerie REMOND.
The wood barrel staves are chosen from the finest forests in the center of France. These are fully grown white oak trees, 150 to 200 years old from the Allier, Nevers and Tronçais Haute Futaie forests. These three forests have tighter grains and are some of the most sought after woods for the production of fine, more aromatically delicate wines.
Given that these oaks grow at a slower rate, they produce a much tighter grain which impart less oak and more subtle aromatic flavors. These 2 particular Tonnelleries forest-age the staves for 36 months before assembly of our barrels, then “toast” them at a specified medium toast plus (MT+) for the exquisite flavors these barrels produce. The production of these exceptional barrels are very limited and difficult to acquire. Aging our très Chardonnay de Rosé in these oak barrels is a critical step in the production of truly great wines. These barrels serve to enhance and preserve the characteristics of the grape variety, the terroir, and our wine’s flavor. The aromas are rich fresh floral with flavors of pear, watermelon, guava, black currants and the slightest nuance of spice in a silky, creamy mouth feel texture across the palate.
This Rosé is just at home out on the patio as it is in the formal dining room. It’s a masterful match for almost any dish. The perfect pairing with this wine would be a grilled salmon salad, juicy barbecued burger, grilled chicken or summer’s afternoon outing at the beach with a festive crab feed.
It’s the beautifully fitted black dress of Rosé wines that seduces with alluring bouquets of fraises des bois and cherry blossoms before drifting memorably into the late evening. This wine is everything you’d ever expect in an ultra-premium Rosé. We may make many compromises in life, but never with our wines.
The total market for Rosé wine in the United States increased by 56 percent last year and now accounts for more than 10% of all wine purchases.
According to Bouquet magazine, “The Rosé craze came from the East Coast, more specifically from the Hamptons where rosé has been enjoyed every summer for the past 5-6 years by a population that travels to Southern France and brings the ‘Rosé lifestyle’ back with them – from Provence back to New York, representative of a South of France lifestyle that people love to dream about.” Rosé is the connection between a summertime drive along the French Riviera, every time you uncork a bottle. Enjoy.
The author, Igor Sill, farms a terraced hillside cabernet sauvignon vineyard and a mountain vineyard in Atlas Peak Mountain in Napa , California. He’s a passionate winemaker, wine lover; writer; Court of Master Sommeliers; attended UC Davis’ winemaking program; Judge, International Wine Challenge, London UK and holds his Masters from Oxford University. >