Wine of the Week: 2016 Chateau Beaulieu Rosé Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence
by Amy Reiley
I feel a little weird about letting this cat out of the bag. I’ve been buying this wine at Trader Joe’s for $5.99. Chateau Beaulieu Rosé is not a $6 wine! It is a nice wine find at its standard retail price of $14.99. And thanks to TJ’s, it has become my new house rosé.
It’s well known that Trader Joe’s has the buying power to get a great deal and offer wines under retail. (Some well-known, high-end brands complain that it tarnishes their image but as a consumer, I am not complaining.) However, I have never found a quality wine sold at less than half its retail value…until now. It is likely a case of the importer trying to clear out the 2016 wine to make way for Beaulieu’s more recently released 2017 rosé. So on one hand, lucky us consumers who get it while it lasts! On the other hand, poor Chateau Beaulieu, having their lovely rosé sold at the price of swill.
Traditional rosé is made from red wine grapes. But instead of allowing to wine to ferment with the skins on, contact of grape skins on the juice is limited, leaving you with a pink wine. (Rosés range in color from faint blush to salmon to deep red, depending on the grapes and winemaking method.) Occasionally, methods are used to intensify red color and depth of flavor but when we talk about Provencal rosé, we’re typically talking about fresh, light pink or salmon wines made from limited skin contact and a concentration on delicacy and fresh flavors.
Chateau Beaulieu is just the kind of winery you imagine when you think of Provencal wine. It is situated on sun-drenched hillsides with views of the Durance valley. And the property is old, older than America old. (It is believed that the first people to make Provencal rosé were the ancient Greeks. So winemaking estates that are older than our nation are the norm.) But it is the current owner, Pierre Guénant, who upgraded the vineyards after he purchased the estate in 2000, and guided the winery’s current vision of creating wines from 100% estate fruit.
Beaulieu’s 2016 rosé is a blend of six grapes. Each of the varietals is vinified separately in stainless steel tanks then blended to create this complex and lovely wine.
This is a classic, Provencal rosé. Its nose is subtle with wildflower and licorice notes. It has lovely delicacy and freshness from the aromas through the finish. It offers bright berry flavors with tangy lemon acidity and minerality at the back of the palate. The acidity is almost biting but in a refreshing, thirst-quenching way. A light impression of strawberry lingers on the finish, leaving you remembering the wine’s delicacy. In other words, it has all the makings of a house rosé.
This might be my #1 pick for a spring and summer wine this year. As I said, it’s my house rosé, the one I happily pull out and serve to quench the thirst of all my guests. (And no complaints so far!) Certainly at the Trader Joe’s price, it’s unquestionably the buy of the summer. If you want to drink classic rosé, this is your wine. Although rosés are most refreshing when chilled, I recommend serving this wine after it warms for a few minutes from refrigerator temperature. Its flavors really come to life as it warms up slightly, (around 40 degrees as opposed to the 30-ish of your fridge.) Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to find this wine at Trader Joe’s, remember to leave a bottle for me.
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