Provence Rosé – the wines of Chateau Gassier

Author: Jane Nisbet Huseby, owner Oslo Wine School

Oslo Wine School meets winemaker Guillaume Cordonis, winemaker Chateau Gassier

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a tasting of three rosé wines from Chateau Gassier in Côtes de Provence with a special interview with winemaker Guillaume Cordonis. Rosé wine sales have increased by 500% in the last 15 years and today sales of Provence rose accounts for 90% of the region´s wine production.  Not only is Provence the most important (and largest) production region for rosé wines in France,  foreign investments and the more focus on high quality production have helped to nurture the image and quality of rosé wines in the region, as well as expand the category in general.

Côtes de Provence Sainte Victoire

The Côtes de Provence Sainte Victoire Appellations is known for its fresher climate.  Further away from the warmer Mediterranean coast, drier conditions protect the vines from fungal diseases, whilst the mountains to the north and south give some shelter from the strong winds.  Due to the closeness to the mountain range directly behind the vineyards, this creates cooler night time temperatures which allows the grapes some respite from the strong daytime heat and keeps the freshness in the grapes.  These conditions are ideal for organic vineyard management practices and has allowed Chateau Gassier to be focus on organic certification of their vineyards.

The key to Provence rosé wine

Provence rosé wines are usually very pale in colour (pale pink or salmon colour), with fresh acidity, moderate alcohol (around 12 – 12.5%) with juicy citrus and red fruit character, and generally are made for immediate consumption.  These rosé wines are in general made using a blend of red grape varieties (principally Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault) and to avoid the wines becoming dark in colour like a red wine, the grapes are more or less pressed immediately (like you would do with a white wine) when they are brought into the winery.  

Oxygen is the enemy of the majority of rosé wines, and for this reason,  winemakers work hard to protect the grapes and use only healthy grapes to make their wines, and the wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks at r low temperatures (12 – 16’C) to preserve the crisp fruit flavours, and the use of any oak is generally avoided (except for the more expensive age-worthy rosé wines)

Tasting notes of the Chateau Gassier rosé wine portfolio available in Norway

1. Gassier Coteaux d´aix en Provence 2019

– juicy fruity fresh relaxed style of rosé, easy-drinking

Price: 171,90 kr (75 cl), 469,90 kr (225cl BIB)

Basisutvalget

VMP: 97466001

Pale salmon colour. Fresh juicy acidity, white peach, citrus, ripe strawberries and hint of garden herbs.  Good concentration with a moderately long finish. 12.5% abv

Good quality. Great terrace wine. Organic.

Grapes: Grenache 33%, Syrah 33%, Cinsault 34% 

Score: 88 pts 

Drink now, whilst young and fresh, will not improve with further storage

2. Chateau Gassier Le Pas du Moine 2018, Côtes de Provence – Sainte Victoire

– structured and mineral-driven food wine

Price: 239,90 kr

Bestillingsutvalget

VMP:  10269701

Pale salmon colour, restrained citrus and herbal notes on the nose.  Juicy and crisp acidity, very good structure, with stony minerality, more citrus driven (pink grapefruit) than fruity.  Relatively long finish.  13% abv

Very good quality. This is a food wine which would easily go well with many white fish dishes in the same way as you would use a white wine. Organic.

Grapes. Grenache 30%, Cinsault 30%, Syrah 30%, Cabernet Sauvingnon 5%, Rolle (Vermentino 2%)

Score: 91 pts

Drink now whilst young and fresh, however has the structure and fruit concentration to hold another year or two at least.

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3. Chateau Gassier 946 2017, Côtes de Provence Sainte Victoire

– high quality age-worthy with hints of cedar, food wine

Price:  399, 90 kr

Bestillingsutvalget

VMP:  614501

Medium salmon colour, ripe peach, stone fruit, hints of spice from oak, soft red fruits.  Juicy fresh acidity, quite full-bodied with elegant structure and soft peach, strawberry and cream character, and hints of spice and dried herbs.  Relatively long finish.  14% abv.  60 – 70% of the wine has been fermented and aged in used Austrian oak barrels which gives a gentle spice character to the wine.

Very good quality elegant and more age-worthy rosé wine.  This is a wine served best with food – for example lobster or chicken dishes. Organic.

Grapes: Syrah 45%, Grenache 45%, Rolle 10%

Score: 93 pts.

Ready to drink now but will hold another 3 – 4 years.  Organic.