Rosé has changed. In the last twenty years, it's gone from being mostly sickly-sweet and mass-produced, to being mostly flavourless and mass-produced. If you're in any doubt that this is a major improvement, you can still find the occasional bottle of the old style in corner shops throughout the land.
But there is a third way. There are a few places where rosé never needed to change, and a handful of artisan producers proving that it can be as great a wine as any other. In Bandol, Domaine Tempier still make what Robert Parker called 'the world's greatest rosé'. And in Rioja, Lopez de Heredia (where nothing at all has changed for 142 years) make what may be the world's strangest.
The 2018 vintage of Domaine Tempier's Bandol Rosé has just arrived in stock. It's the gold standard of Provence rosé, made right in the heart of the Bandol appellation. It's delicious on release, but capable of ageing as long as any great white wine. We have a small allocation of bottles and magnums, ready to order now.
Lopez de Heredia won't be releasing their 2018 rosé this year. Or next year. Or the year after that. They're just getting round to the 2008. This is a rosé unlike any other, made by the arch-traditionalists of Rioja. It's the world's only 'Gran Reserva Rosé', aged for four years in large old oak barrels, then a similar period in bottle before it's finally deemed ready for release. It doesn't taste of fruit, but instead has an earthy complexity to it which makes it thoroughly mysterious - an intriguing, multi-layered, unique wine. A small amount is in and ready to go, and we have a couple more cases on the way.
When the rosé pendulum swings back towards wines with flavour, let's hope it stops where these have been all along.
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