Let’s take tasting to theory. Below I have two wines: Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses Rose 2019 and Chateau d’Aqueria Tavel Rosé 2018. Write yourself a few dry tasting notes and then answer the question—What are the environmental and winemaking factors that contribute to the differences in these two wines?
When you’re ready, read my tasting notes and thoughts on the theory.
WINE: Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses Rose 2019
GRAPES: Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault (percentages unknown)
Appearance: pale pink
Nose: medium intensity: strawberry, raspberry, watermelon, red cherry, rose water, peach, nectarine, pepper, mineral, hint vanilla (flower)
Palate: dry, high acid, medium body, medium alcohol, no tannin, medium intensity of flavors (add pink grapefruit), finish is medium
Assessment of quality: (6 marks) I concluded that this is a good wine. It has a wonderful balance of high acidity that keeps the wine refreshing from start to finish and the primary fruit flavors alive throughout the tasting. I could see how some may mark this wine simple, but because of the range of those primary fruit flavors spanning through red fruits, stone, and even notes of tropical, I’m calling this wine at least minimally complex. However, the wine lacked intensity in aroma and flavor and that lack of intensity followed through to the finish as well which was simply medium. Thus, I cannot rate the wine any higher than good quality.
Suitability for bottle ageing: (3 marks) This wine is not suitable for aging. The lack of intensity of fruit flavors now tells me that what’s here will only fade with time, creating an imbalanced wine. The joy in this wine is in its freshness, it’s refreshing quality, and is clearly intended for immediate consumption.
WINE: Chateau d’Aqueria Tavel Rosé 2018
GRAPES: 45% Grenache, 20% Clairette, 15% Cinsault, 8% Mourvèdre, 6% Syrah, 4% Bourboulenc, 2% Picpoul
Appearance: Medium pink-orange
Nose: medium (+) aromas: red cherry, ripe red strawberry, pomegranate, ripe raspberry, ripe red plum, rose petal, earth/dusty, white pepper, tomato leaf
Palate: dry, medium (+) acid, medium (+) body, low tannin, medium (+) intensity of flavors: red cherry, ripe red strawberry, pomegranate, ripe raspberry, ripe red plum, rose petal, earth/dusty, white pepper, tomato leaf, baking spices (nutmeg, vanilla), floral arrangement is much more lifted here; Finish medium (+) (that pepper really lingers)
Assessment of quality: (6 marks) I concluded that this is a very good wine. The acidity level is high enough to keep the primary fruits of red cherry, ripe red strawberry, pomegranate, ripe raspberry, and ripe red plum fully alive from start to finish. But there is a good dose of earthyness, an expression of terroir, with the floral notes as well as that kind of dusty quality and the herbaceous note of tomato leaf and white pepper that balance well with the primary fruits. There’s just a touch of tannin, enough to give the wine a bit of body as well as texture and the moderate alcohol does not overwhelm the intrigue of the aromas and flavors and also adds a smooth, round quality to the mouthfeel as well. Well balanced, certainly intense, and with layers of flavors speaking to complexity, I cannot mark this wine any lower than very good. Because the finish was just shy of long at a medium (+) I cannot rate the wine as outstanding. But this is a very good wine—one that would be best enjoyed with food.
Suitability for bottle ageing: (3 marks) I believe this wine is suitable for bottle aging. Structurally, the components are all there—acid, alcohol, even tannin. It would be so fun to see this wine develop some dried red fruit notes, potpourri expressions—yet there’s enough vivacity in these fruits and acidity to keep primaries alive over time as well.
Post-Tasting Comparative Analysis
- Tavel, being further south in the Southern Rhone, the terrain becomes a bit flatter (mechanical harvesting is possible)
- The soils here are mostly stony and sandy with good drainage, aiding in fruit concentration
- There are areas of limestone which generate the lighter, more delicate rosés
- Possibility to blend across site locations/soil types.
- A hot, dry Mediterranean climate means grapes will reach full phenolic ripeness—an important component for the short maceration process, as skins and seeds will need to be fully ripe, otherwise providing bitter flavors
- Languedoc being a large region, has terroir spanning from the ocean side to the foothills to choose from
- soil types also quite diverse
- This more coastal Mediterranean location has more cooling influences, meaning grapes will have higher acidity
- Tramontane wind as another cooling influence across Languedoc
- Machine harvesting also possible here in the flatter coastal areas
- Grapes for regional Languedoc wines are planted at higher yields (than individual AOCs), reducing flavor concentration
- Short maceration (Tavel) versus direct to press (Languedoc)
- Tavel wine has a mixture of red and white grapes (some red may have seen oak; some white may have gone through ML—both adding to depth of flavor and complexity)
- Interesting to note that the Tavel has slightly lower alcohol (13.5%), something that can also be achieved by the inclusion of white grapes (especially if, as in Tavel, they are grown specifically for rosé production, and thus can be picked early when sugar levels are low, acidity high). The Languedoc has slightly higher alcohol (14%), so there may be more Grenache (produces higher alcohol) and/or grapes were sourced from a warmer sub-region.
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