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Beyond the pale

Chateau d’Esclans in Provence, France (Photograph supplied)

Firstly, a brief explanation: When I write this weekly column, I give it a title, and this is the way it appears on the Burrows Lightbourn www.wineonline.bm site.

About 90 per cent of the time The Royal Gazette changes this heading to fit their page format or better reflect their feeling about the content. For instance, this week I submit it as “Beyond the Pale” and I would not expect the newspaper to run it with a heading that is described in dictionaries as meaning “unacceptable, indiscreet, intolerable, scandalous”, and so on.

The truth of the matter is that I am literally leading with pale and then moving up and beyond, as you will see. During these challenging times you might not expect many success stories, but here is one. Last year the total range of rosé wines from Chateau D’Esclans, led by Whispering Angel, grew 16 per cent in case volume in the United States.

From Sacha Lachine the creator of the iconic Provence rosé brand that sparked a worldwide phenomenon, we now have 2020 The Pale Rosé. The “pale” is a nod to the vintage term of endearment used by the English, “Who’s for a glass of pale?” This fabulous, innovative bottle evokes New York’s glamorous, early to mid-20th century cocktail party scenes and the street-side cafés of Paris with a spirit of reinvention and joie de vivre.

Wine critic Matthew Jukes said that it was “like a cross between a tangy white and a sultry rosé and it is very impressive indeed”.

“It happens to look sensational as well, so be the first to pour this enchanting creation for your friends.” The Telegraph opines that “it is a glory to behold” and writes of “tastes of fuzzy peaches”. $23.70 (Stock #8113).

Our 2020 Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel is today’s worldwide reference for Provence rosé. Made from grenache, cinsault and rolle (vermentino), its pale colour is pleasing to the eye and draws one in. The rewarding taste profile is full and lush while being bone dry with a smooth finish. Highly approachable and enjoyable with a broad range of cuisine.

Wine Enthusiast magazine said: "The wine is ripe, full of strawberry flavours and crisp acidity. A tangy, zesty texture brings in citrus and a touch of minerality. This is an immediately attractive wine to drink now." James Suckling scored it 92 points.

A very recent shipment from France has now given us the opportunity to offer you a 2020 Whispering Angel package for any occasion. If just the two of you are enjoying a single glass of rosé each, then have a half bottle for $16.90 (Stock #8107). If you are having it with dinner, then a bottle will cost you $30 (Stock #8101). If another couple is joining you, how about an impressive magnum for $59 (Stock #8106). If you need four bottles, then a three-litre double magnum (Jeroboam) is yours for $155 (Stock #8109).

You may wish to really wow your gathered friends and bring out a rare six-litre Methuselah for $345 (Stock #8108). But wait, as we are not done yet.

Have you ever seen a Salmanazar of wine? This rare, enormous wine bottle is an absolute gem to open with great ceremony among gathered friends. It’s nine litres of wine will supply you with at least 60 servings. For me, just the excitement of opening something so large seems to up the enjoyment overall and it is a general opinion that wine does taste better the larger the format from which it is drawn. $640 (Stock #8114).

I will always remember telling a group of 60 at a charity dinner for the arts, that a friend of my wife and I, had donated one bottle of their Super Tuscan for us to enjoy. Frowns quickly turned to smiles when two of us carried in and presented the twelve-litre bottle (Balthazar) to be opened and poured into decanters for each table.

Moving on up we have the 2020 Chateau d’Esclans Rock Angel. This rosé bears a more complex and structured taste profile than Whispering Angel bringing it into a more premium realm and giving rosé lovers a bigger and richer wine that is fabulous as an aperitif or paired with a broad range of fine cuisine. If you like the minerality of a sancerre, you will love this wine. $39 (Stock #8102).

Our 2020 Chateau d’Esclans Les Clans epitomises a sophisticated, food-driven wine made from grenache and rolle (vermentino). Entirely fermented and aged in large French oak barrels, it represents a particular disconnect with rosé in general because it is quite remarkable with potential to age or, if tempted, to enjoy with great pleasure sooner rather than later. This wine is both rich and exotic, being full-bodied and elegant. Critic Matthew Jukes considers it “simply stunning” and James Suckling “a fantastic rosé”. Many compare it to a fine white burgundy, and I guessed this as well in a blind tasting. $65 (Stock #8116).

If you are able to position yourself at the furthest point beyond the pale, then 2019 Chateau d’Esclans Garrus is yours to experience. Garrus is made from a single vineyard of nearly 100-year-old grenache vines, and from rolle (vermentino). Entirely fermented and aged in new large French oak barrels for 11 months, the powerful and elegant Garrus was at the heart to Sacha Lichine’s vision in 2006 to make rosé grand. Today Garrus is firmly established as a world-class, iconic luxury rosé. It is an impressive and concentrated rosé with a creamy finish featuring rich and spicy notes rivalling any top white wine or prestige champagne.

Decanter awards it 96/100 and writes: “Definitely not a wine that needs to be left just for the summer months, this is a brilliant rosé that delivers on expectations.” Also with 96 points, James Suckling said: “This is really something for a rosé. Very powerful yet subtle aromas and flavours of dried strawberry, sliced lemon, mineral and a pinch of salt. Some fresh-herb undertones, such as sage. Hint of coconut. It’s full-bodied, yet so tight and compact with fantastic freshness and length. Goes on for minutes.” $125 (Stock #8111).

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

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Published April 22, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated April 22, 2022 at 8:15 am)

Beyond the pale

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