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Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Rosé La Moussière 2005

Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Rosé La Moussière 2005Another rosé (after my previous tasting of the Pibarnon Bandol 2004) this week, and in a way another recommendation. Although I discuss mature as well as young wines in my Weekend Wine feature, the accepted practice with most rosé wine is to drink it young, the only obvious exception being pink Champagne, which seems to age with an inordinate amount of grace in some cases. Thus it seems obvious that any time I write about a rosé, I should be writing about a young, currently available wine. Having said that, I'm not sure that I have any real evidence for following the maxim of "drink rosé young". My only experience with a "mature" example was as a student, when I picked up a bottle of rosé at a knock-down price from a local wine merchant. The reason it was reduced was quite simply that it was about ten years old, something which would sound alarm bells today, but back then I knew very little, as my exploration of wine was only just beginning. I'm afraid I can no longer remember the producer or vintage (although I seem to recall it was a Bandol), but the experience was enough to suggest that those who avoided aged rosé were probably doing the right thing.

Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Rosé La Moussière 2005Today rosé seems to be an increasingly popular style, as UK sales have increased dramatically in the past year or two. For that reason alone it seems appropriate to look at a few examples, and this week it is the turn of another famous French appellation, Sancerre. Although I think Bandol, when pink, probably trumps all other wines that would dare to be rosé, there are a few other regions that produce good quality if not the best. I have enjoyed one or two bottles of Tavel in my time, this being an appellation based solely on rosé, an interesting concept in itself. In my experience they always tended towards the richly alcoholic and heady, orange-tinged style, but they gave some pleasure provided this was what you were expecting. The fact that my encounters with them were usually in roadside French bistros obviously has nothing at all to do with my fond memories of them. From Sancerre, however, we have a more delicate style, based solely on Pinot Noir. The wine in question is the 2005 Sancerre Rosé La Moussière from Alphonse Mellot, which is produced from the Moussière domaine, a 30 hectare south-facing vineyard which is the source not only of all the La Moussière cuvées produced by Mellot, but also the Génération XIX wines and Cuvée Edmond. On inspection it has an appealingly elegant colour, a salmon-pink-orange hue, rather close to the colour of onion skin. On the nose it is delightfully fresh, with intertwined nuances of vanilla, cream and nettles, with notes of redcurrant leaf and strawberry leaf. It is quite open and appealing. On the palate it seems similarly fresh, but with creamy nuances, and nettly fruit. It certainly has a delicious style, with a full, mouthfilling character on the midpalate, ripe and yet cut through with tingling acidity. It all rounds off with a creamy finish. This is very good indeed. Not all rosé has to be Bandol, it would seem. 17/20 (21/5/07)

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