A tour of mature roses from Kermit Lynch
Traveling around France with the Kermit Lynch team, visiting legendary growers and still-unknown up-and-comers, is one of the great thrills of working in wine.
And when two colleagues and I got the chance to tag along, it was everything you could hope a trip down that particular wine route would be. We met superstars (Thierry Allemand, Jean-Marc Roulot, Clape... the list goes on and on) and new discoveries. We tasted incredible wines.
But two of our favorite visits were with producers who fell in neither category: Domaine du Terrebrune in Bandol and Maxime Magnon in Corbieres. Both are well known. The top wines of each domaine are expensive and worth laying down. We expected to taste delicious and fascinating wines. What we didn't expect was to have our minds blown by rosés. But when M. Delille opened a bottle of rosé from deep in his cellar, that's exactly what happened.
The wine was still fresh and it had the signature Terrebrune minerality, the mark of the domaine's famous blue limestone. But it was so much more. It had become savory, earthy, complex as an age-worthy red or white wine, but still with its pink soul.
After that you might think we would be ready for anything by the time we got to the Languedoc and Magnon's wines. And yet... After tasting through Maxime's latest, and a selection from his pal and Kermit stablemate, Didier Barral, they invited us to the backyard to eat a selection of homemade sausages and pates made from wild boar they had harvested themselves. They pulled out more wine, experimental cuvees and old bottles from the cellar.
There was so much to choose from. And yet, as I sat in the sunshine eating the amazing food, learning about their low- and no-sulfur experiments, their biodynamic trials and the other producers they knew and loved, I kept going back to the rosé. It was mature and paired with the porc in a salty, savory kaleidoscope of pleasures. But it was also still juicy, vibrant and perfect for that afternoon sunshine. Sure, there were great bottles of top red wines on the table. But really, there was only one wine I wanted.
So when I found out that Kermit's NY distributor had back-vintage bottlings of both rosés I needed to taste them and see: could the wines live up to my memories?
Short answer: Yes! Both wines are in amazing spots. Fresh but complex as those wines I remembered from that trip. I tasted with colleagues, one of whom said this was the best rosé tasting of the year, by far.
We bought everything available but there’s not much left. This is a wine that you can enjoy at the end of summer. Or in the fall. Or at the Thanksgiving table. Or in the winter, when you’re dreaming of the spring to come.
Here are the wines with some more notes:
Domaine Terrebrune, Bandol Rosé, 2016 $44.99
There are no recent reviews of the wine but it's worth reading Josh Raynonlds 2018 reviewing and noting, in particular, that we are right in the mature part of his proposed 2019-2025 drinking window.“Glistening orange. Powerful, mineral-accented citrus fruit, red berry and succulent herb scents, along with a suave floral nuance. Chewy and sharply focused on the palate, offering concentrated strawberry, cherry, blood orange and smoky mineral qualities and deeper suggestions of peach pit and fennel. Delivers a solid punch of flavor but comes off lithe, the mineral and floral elements carrying through the very long, precise finish." -- Josh Raynolds in Vinous, 2019
Domaine Maxime Magnon, Corbières Rosé “Métisse,” 2018 $39.99
You can see in the photo that this wine is a deeper pink, and the wine feels similar: red fruit, still, but umami and spice and wild herbs and on and on. Like the Terrebrune, there's plenty of limestone in the soil but there's also schist and the mineral signature is different.
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