Can Rosé Age?
Here’s a question that has come up several times over the past couple of months so surely time to write about it!
The short answer is yes. The longer answer is yes, but not always, and at your own palate’s discretion!
Some of you supreme wine nerds might already be familiar with the more famed examples of aged rosé, such as Domaine Tempier (from southern France) or Lopez de Heredia (from Rioja), or Chateau Musar from Lebanon. Both Lopez de Heredia and Musar actually release theirs with age. (At the shop I manage our last allocation of the Lopez was 2010 for $42; the current release of Musar is 2017 for $60.)
But let’s just go ahead and admit that these are some of the most unicorn rosés out there (i.e. very hard to find)!
What about more accessible bottles?
Firstly, not all rosé will truly benefit from age. Many rosés are made to be enjoyed in their youth, flaunting their fruity, floral beauty like a grand dame in an Easter parade! With age these less expensive, less serious offerings will most likely simply fade away.
But what of more expensive rosé offerings...those that are made to express a specific time and place just like the great white and red wines of the world? Generally, these rosés do jump up in price to the $30s or $40s (or even higher when you are speaking of those unicorns like Tempier, Lopez, and Musar).
I recently had the great opportunity to taste several vintages of Domaine du Bagnol Rosé side by side. In its youth this is a pale pink beauty from Provence (the appellation of Cassis to be precise). This was one of the first more “serious” rosés that I experienced (circa 2013), and I have coveted every bottle since. Our allocations have usually been a mere one case, but this year we lucked into two cases of the 2020! And lo and behold mixed into one of those cases were a few bottles of 2018. A good friend happened to still have a bottle of 2019 stashed away, and on a recent Saturday evening we opened 18, 19, and 20 side by side for a group of six. It was a pretty great setup for a decidedly non-scientific experiment … meaning it was a varied group of palates, and yes we tasted the wines side by side. But no, we did not go through any crazy scoring process; rather just enjoyed the wines over the course of the evening (paired with first a chilled corn soup and then salt baked fish with risotto)!
I loved hearing all of our thoughts. In brief, yes, they all tasted delicious -- nothing faded or tired in this lineup! The 2018 was not surprisingly the most savory of the group (and I actually saved mine to enjoy with the main course). The 2020 was also not surprisingly the most fresh and hedonistic of the group (and reminds me why I fell so hard for this wine in the first place).
The 2019? The Goldilocks for sure! It still possessed the youthful, seductive aspects of the 2020 but was more open and giving. There was a hint of that savoriness found in the 2018, but this aspect did not dominate the palate. Just like the perfect bed in the Goldilocks tale, this rosé checked all the boxes.
Final conclusion? Yes, great rosé can age like a champ. Just be prepared that like with aged whites and reds the fresh fruit aromas and flavors will transform with time into something very savory (umami, if you will) that begs for a fantastic food pairing and time to contemplate!
For all of you who live in the Charleston area, the good news is that I still have some bottles of 2018 and 2020 Domaine du Bagnol left for purchase! Both are $36.
I also happen to have another great Cassis rosé on the shelf from the 2019 vintage: Clos St. Magdaleine for $42.
Other rosé to consider aging: Colin-Morey from Burgundy. We have the 2020 for $42 (I drank the 2019 just last week, and it was killer!)
Cheers to enjoying rosé all summer long in all its various splendor!