Since the hiring of energetic Burgundian mind, Gérald Damidot, our elevator pitch for Val d’Arenc’s pristine rosé is as follows: It has Domaine Tempier’s level of savoriness, depth, and nobility at a much gentler price. In skilled hands, the salmon pink-hued wines of Provence’s lauded Bandol appellation are neither a byproduct of red wine nor a drink-at-subzero quaffer right on release, but rather a regional specialty worthy of greater attention.
Obviously, the standard-bearer of world-class Provençal rosé is Domaine Tempier, but where do we turn when we don’t want to spend $50+ for their profound rosé? To a like-minded neighbor: Val d’Arenc! Sitting in the prime eastern portion of Bandol, this fresh 2017 release is brimming with mineral panache and sun-kissed fruit that gleams with a $26 price tag. It’s becoming rarer by the minute, but when elite Bandol rosé makes fiscal sense, we will never hesitate to offer one up to you. Clinging to the Mediterranean, this tiny pocket of world-class rosé production show versatility, ageability, and depth that most other regions struggle to achieve. And, be it cold or warm weather, Val d’Arenc is ready to take on just about any food in its vicinity!
The Val d’Arenc property includes 26 hectares spread across the rocky terraces (restanques) of Bandol, where the soils are a mix of limestone and sandy marl. The estate is now run by a Burgundy-trained enologist, Gérald Damidot, who has not only converted the estate to organic viticulture, but has brought a ‘Burgundian’ sensibility to the winemaking. What does that mean? Well, this is a hot region, where over-ripeness and even flabbiness is a legitimate threat; Damidot is all about preserving acidity, minerality, and freshness across the entirety of the d’Arenc lineup. This rosé offers all of that in spades.
Much of the world’s rosé comes to be by bleeding juice from a tank of red wine that has just begun fermentation. This method, called saignée, occurs at an early point during red wine skin maceration, when the juice has only been tinted pink. By contrast, Val d’Arenc, like Tempier, harvests red grapes specifically for the production of rosé, (slightly earlier than they’d harvest for red wine), then direct-presses them into temperature-controlled tanks for a brief cold maceration and a long fermentation. After several months on the lees, this 2017 was bottled with a very light filtration. The final blend was 80% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache, and 10% Cinsault.
Val d’Arenc’s Bandol rosé displays a radiant salmon-pink core with brilliant silver hues dancing around the rim. Red, white, even orange fruits fill the nose after a bit of air, followed by a dazzling display of crushed rock minerality, fresh herbs, and a dash of white pepper. You can expect a bouquet of freshly cut white and red flowers that exist alongside piquant aromas of white peach skin, Meyer lemon, redcurrant, grapefruit rind, wild strawberries, and Rainier cherries, all of which are buttressed by unwavering taut acidity with laser-sharp mineral edges. Despite avoiding malolactic fermentation, there is still a creaminess to the palate that performs a balancing act with the ample minerality on the delicate, fruit-populated finish. In a few words: refreshing, zesty, and ultra-addicting. As mentioned above, there are so many paths to take when pairing this rosé, but the attached bouillabaisse dish dreamed up in Marseilles seems to be calling its name. Simply serve this in all-purpose stems around 50 degrees and drink to your heart’s content!
Mourvèdre 80%, Grenache 10%, Cinsault 10%
Limestone, Sandstone, & Sandy Marl