In reality, there is no longer a rosé season—these wines can (and should) be bought around the clock, but I find one of the greatest times for rosé is when Spring is on the horizon and warming temperatures are still flirting with brisk air.
As I write this, I am actually in Sancerre, where the air is still decidedly brisk—but where I have tasted a number of long-aged rosés that still radiate freshness. I don’t think I would have enjoyed Domaine Serge Laloue’s 2016 rosé as much if I were drinking it last Spring when it was first released; a little time in bottle has done it good, very good in fact, and it is the perfect way to ring in Spring (if it ever gets here). This is no back-porch slugger, nor is it an overly extracted rosé with excess sweetness—it’s actually quite a serious rosé, especially at this price, crafted from 100% Pinot Noir. It has wonderful texture from aging on its fine lees, but also showcases garden-fresh focus and brilliant levels of minerality. Serge Laloue is an outstanding value with aging potential to boot—and believe me, as I have seen firsthand during my visits in Sancerre, these rosés can age.
For more than 25 years, the brother-sister team of Franck and Christine Laloue have carried on what their father (Serge) expanded upon in 1960 and what his father (François) began in the early 1930s. Back then, it was a self-sustaining farm producing tobacco, grain, and small amounts of wine. It was Serge who returned to the farm in the harvest of 1960 and decided to focus entirely on wine. After assuming control from his parents, he slowly began purchasing plots of land and planting his own vines. Over the following decades, the family operation became a full-fledged company when Franck joined him in 1992. Christine followed six years later.
Franck and Christine farm nearly 50 acres of land (75% Sauvignon Blanc) throughout Sancerre. Their quarter-century vines mostly lie in three separate sites that are blended into their final wines. The Laloues’ rouge and rosé bottlings are always 100% Pinot Noir and only come from a handful of their total acreage. They farm with lutte raisonnée principles and fertilize with organic composts while also planting cover grass between the rows. Soils here vary depending on elevation but there is a large presence of classic silex, or flint, mixed in with sandy-clay. After grapes were shuttled to their 100+ year old winery in Thauvenay (two miles south of Sancerre proper) they were fully destemmed and gently pressed. The wine sat on its lees for two months before additional aging in stainless steel.
Laloue’s 2016 rosé pours a deep salmon with silver and slight orange highlights at the rim. The wine shows startling concentration in the glass. Notes of wild strawberry, pomegranate, candied orange peel, white peach skin, and bing cherry emerge right off the bat with a rush of crushed rock minerality. Following are perfumed aromas of red and white wildflowers, damp herbs, and a dollop of peach yogurt. The palate is…delicious. It’s medium-plus bodied (this has weight!) and shows a lovely backbone of acidity, finishing with an enjoyable ‘prickliness.’ I see this developing over the next 3-5 years, but it’s a sheer treat to drink right now. Don’t hesitate to pop and pour in all-purpose white stems around 55 degrees when it arrives on your doorstep. Pair it next to the attached pomegranate and apple chicken salad, with or without bread. It’s refreshing and not too heavy—just like Laloue’s rosé. Cheers!
Pinot Noir 100%