Age & Rosé - Does it Improve?

An obvious question you may say, going by the old adage that Rosés are best drunk young.  However, you may well be surprised by some modern Rosés and I’d like to be among the first to break the good news!

Certainly, if you’d asked me ten or fifteen years ago I would have sided with the “Choose it well and drink it young” view, for most Rosés, but what a lot has changed since then.  Oddly enough, these changes are still not common knowledge.  Whilst many Rosés are still best drunk young there are others which benefit from being a little older. How has this come about?
Firstly, the use of refrigeration in Rosé production has increased immensely.  Refrigeration allows much more control and refinement of the various stages the wine goes through.  Effective measures to prevent oxidisation have also been introduced.  Not only do these provide a better product, but they also seems to impart stability to the wine meaning that it travels better too.  This has helped banish the “It tasted great when I was there”, but isn’t nearly as good when I bought it here”, syndrome.  This may still apply to some cheaply produced mass market wines, but not to good quality Rosé from caring producers.
Secondly, the demand for better, premium Rosés, has allowed the best winemakers to invest in a whole variety of improvements to the winemaking process.  Other producers have likewise had to improve their offer, in a demanding market, to keep up.  Science based organisations such as the Rosé Wine Research Centre www.centredurose.fr  have carried out research, unravelled some of the processes involved, and have been able to advise growers on improved methods.
So how does this affect the wine?  The increase in quality and extra stability imparted allows these wines to keep far longer than before. It has opened up the opportunity to see how Rosé develops with age and some provide startlingly good results.  A great example of this is can be found in Chateau D’Esclans “Garrus” Rosé where we have recently finished the 2013 and have moved on to the 2014.  It is silky smooth, yet complex with rich creamy notes and perhaps a hint of biscuit, remaining beautifully bright and a delight on the palate. If I wrote this about a White Burgundy or similar it would perhaps come as no surprise, but for a Rosé it is outstanding.  Yes, it takes a while to make and is aged in temperature controlled barrels for ten months, but here is a Rosé that truly benefits from its age. It is quite expensive, but conjures up another old adage, “That you get what you pay for”, and with this wine you certainly do!
Other notable wines where wonderful subtleties emerge with a little age are those from Domaines Ott and I am also finding Chateau Léoube and several of our other producer’s wines proving very interesting this way.  How do you know whether a wine will age well?  I’d suggest price as a good guide as these have to be very well made wines. They will use carefully selected fruit, coupled with expert winemaking applying costly, gentle, slow, natural, and non-invasive processes.  All Good! 
Next time someone discusses the merits of Rosé with you, I hope this subject might just make for an interesting talking point.  Of course, even more interesting is trying the wines to see for yourself!   Please do let me know your experiences.  Bill@Rose-wine.com
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