François Pinon Rosé Pétillant Naturel 2015
Winegrower: Domaine François Pinon
Region: Touraine (Loire) France
Grape: Côt (Malbec), Grolleau
Today’s sparkling rosé offers something for all true wine lovers: it’s found in some of the finest restaurants in the world, it’s the product of painstaking organic farming and a winemaking pedigree that dates back over 200 years, it’s extremely limited and at $27 offers extraordinary value. It’s also a bit dangerous because it’s priced in that ‘sweet spot’ where you are compelled by the Gods of Value to buy more and drink often. Savvy sparkling wine drinkers know that the Champagne ‘brand’, which has been expertly cultivated and protected by its producers, carries a hefty premium. But this French sparkler is even better in many cases because it offers more value for the price. Many of us wish we could trot down to our cellar each night and fetch something special; this wine gives that impression at a price which is rarely encountered for this level of quality especially for a sparkling rosé. This wine simply over-delivers in the pleasure department; when you taste it you’ll discover a penetrating, persistent energy and incredible food versatility.
It's no secret that we are big fans of the Loire where geology varies more than climate: granites, schists, quartzites, sandstones and ancient, weathered limestones alternate along the valleys and divides of its eleven principal appellations. The chalk hills of the Paris Basin that dominate Touraine and Saumur unevenly give way to the weathered "old rock" of western Anjou and the Pays Nantais, called the Massif Amoricain. Such geologic multiplicity offers the intriguing possibility of tasting how the soil composition of each region influences the final expression of the different grape varieties grown. And it is what gives François Pinon's wines their shimmering ripeness of fruit that feels almost haunting alongside their bracing acidity.
The Loire Valley is one of the most progressive wine regions in the world in regards to organic and biodynamic farming, and François Pinon is part of a generation of winemakers who’ve developed an ardent following. His vineyards, which are located just northeast of Tours, were first planted by his family in 1786 and now total 15 hectares. These vineyards are worked totally by hand. François’ resolutely natural and ‘old school’ approach extends from the vineyards to his cellar: grapes are hand-harvested, only native yeasts are used for fermentation which occurs in large, old oak barrels, he favors stainless steel for aging, and the wines see little or no filtration. François vinifies each vineyard separately, which translates terroir brilliantly. And in the case of this rosé, the grapes bleed (Saignée method) at cooler temperatures to create a livelier style. The wines are aged on their lees, and while most wineries now use machines for the process of rumuage, he continues to riddle his wines by hand.
Francois Pinon is a committed organic winegrower who produces some of the finest wines made in the Loire Valley; wines that are all about unadorned, straightforward deliciousness. François’ Rosé Pétillant Naturel is what a cool, young Francophile would call a vin de soif (‘wine of thirst.’) In Paris the place where you will most easily find this wine is in a hip wine bar on a table full of bargain hunting, off duty sommeliers. This rosé comes from vines planted by François’ father in 1970. It is made in the méthode ancestrale meaning the wine is bottled before primary fermentation is finished, without the addition of secondary yeasts or sugars. This is in contrast to the méthode Champenoise used to make Champagne and other more-common sparkling wines, in which a finished wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle with additional yeasts and sugars. After four weeks in barrel, this wine was bottled on the 10th of November with a natural sugar level of about 17 grams per liter. The wine was not filtered, it was racked once, and no SO² was added. The wine finished fermentation in the bottle and it was disgorged on April 5th, 2016.
This superb sparkling rosé, made from the traditional red varietals of Grolleau (50%) and Côte – aka Malbec – (50%,) has a beautiful deep pink color and brioche, high-toned red-current, strawberry and cranberry aromas. On the palate it is very dry and earthy, with citrusy, ripe berries, spice and minerality. Serve at 10˚ in flutes if you like, but I prefer a white wine glass to better capture the beautiful aromas. I tasted this wine in February at dinner at Racine’s in NYC and it was fantastic - finishing round and refreshing. This wine can be enjoyed as an aperitif but better yet, it is incredibly food friendly and can be paired with most anything you throw at it. Try this Sole Meuniere dish and add some spring vegetables to make a perfect pairing. But be forewarned, our allocation is very limited so act now to avoid disappointment as it is sure to sell out fast.