The way the wine market works means that we often only know the most famous wine or the wine with the best publicity. But there is often an unexpected treasure lurking in the shadows.
To start, Provence is well known as a rosé producer. Nearly 90% of its wines are rosé, 7% are red and a mere 3% are white wines. Only one estate, Domaine Gavaisson, produces only white wine. This bijou property has only 3ha of vines in central Provence, with two cuveés using only Rolle (Vermentino). Made by the patriarch of Provence wine making, Emmanuel Gaujal, these super elegant wines show creamy ripeness with candied lemon peel and long stony leaness.
Beaujolais, famed for its Gamay reds whether juicy fruity Nouveau wines or more intensely structured Village wines, also produces a small amount of white Beaujolais made from Chardonnay. Domaine de la Couvette makes an amazingly complex example with notes of smoke and lime peel, a firm mineral core and charming Chardonnay spice and roundness to hold it together.
Carrying on northwards to Burgundy, home to great Pinot Noir reds and white Chardonnays, we come to the Burgundy appellation of Marsannay near the city of Dijon. This is the only Burgundy appellation to include rosé as Rosé de Marsannay, made from Pinot Noir. Top producers, such as Joseph Roty, make pink wines which age beautifully with beautiful floral notes and complex flavours of spice, raspberries, strawberries and hints of roses.
Moving further north to Champagne, where it is hard to imagine we all know Champagne is white or pink … but Pierre Brocard has turned the rules upside down to make a champagne so dark pink it is red. Only 2000 bottles, so this is a real hidden gem. Five years of ageing has removed most tannin leaving a delicious wine full of bramble fruit, long fresh acidity and complex spice character.
None of these wines are available in big quantities, but they do prove, that hidden away, there are still delightful surprises to be found.
This article was written for Bespoke Yacht Charter by Elizabeth Gabay MW – A long-time lover of the wines of southern France, and based in the hills behind Nice, Elizabeth is currently immersed in all things rosé for a forthcoming book on pink wines around the world. Other passions are the wines of Hungary, the Mediterranean, unusual grape varieties and history. She writes about for various journals and websites, including her own – www.elizabethgabay.com