Pale and intriguing – Provencal rosé at its best
British drinkers are increasingly on the look-out for subtlety and elegance when it comes to rosé. While Off Trade sales of the category as a whole have fallen by 4% in the last year, those of more premium rosés from Provence have grown by 22%. Consumers are casting aside bright, fruity styles in favour of something paler, drier and more premium.
One such producer is Chateau Léoube. Relatively new on the scene, it has nonetheless been wowing critics with its beautiful wines – including recognition at the Decanter World Wine Awards and Concours Mondial de Bruxelles.
Located in the village of Bormes-les-Mimosas, the 560 ha estate of vineyards and olive groves feels like a paradise on earth, and has been for centuries. A real-estate advertisement published in Le Figaro in 1854 described it as “the most beautiful property on the coast”. Its 4 km of rocky shoreline and white sandy beaches managed to escape the post-war building frenzy of the mid-20th century, making it the largest privately-owned coastal property on the Cote d’Azur.
Chateau Léoube’s microclimate and topography provide ideal conditions for grapes to thrive. There are over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, with salty sea breezes at night to keep the vines cool. Mistral winds from the north-west ensure the vines are kept dry and disease-free during the hot summer months, while the earth is naturally rich in minerals, with a combination of sand, schist and clay.
Current owners, Lord and Lady Bamford, bought the property in 1997, after being seduced by its history and beauty. Founders of Daylesford Organic, one of the UK’s most sustainable farms, they couldn’t resist applying their philosophy to this stunning estate.
The Bamfords enlisted the help of Romain Ott as winemaker, a member of Provence’s most famous rosé-producing dynasty, and together they have achieved their vision of making an intrinsically Provencal-style wine that would showcase the singularity of this very special terroir. It took a full 10 years of lavishing care and attention on the soil and vines before they were happy with the result. And their first release in 2008 coincided with achieving full organic certification.
Today the estate boasts 65 ha of vines, a state-of-the-art gravity-fed winery and eight outstanding cuvées. All the grapes are carefully handpicked, then fermented in stainless steel tanks, giving the wines their signature freshness.
Rosé de Léoube and Secret de Léoube are both made from 40% Grenache and 40% Cinsault grapes. With the remaining 20% of Rosé de Léoube blended from equal parts Syrah and Mourvèdre; while Secret de Léoube contains a full 20% of Cabernet Sauvignon, harvested from 65 year old vines.
Both wines are delightfully pale with fresh, perfectly balanced red fruit flavours and irresistible elegance. Provencal rosé at its best.