Romanée-Conti In Pink
When we first came to WineAccess, we made a list of wineries to chase down, all makers of wines that we'd been buying and cellaring for years. Top on the list was the Perrins' Chateau de Beaucastel, Phelps "Insignia," David Ramey's single vineyard Chardonnays, and Elio Grasso's Barolo "Runcot." One by one, we pried open our favorite cellar doors, eking out allocations for the WineAccess membership.
But of all the wines we chased, one continued to prove elusive. It was neither white nor red -- but a glistening salmon pink. And while you may have never heard of Domaine de Triennes, every collector from Central Park to Tokyo knows it all too well for both the names of its owners -- and Provence's most exquisite Rosé.
In the late 1980s, Aubert de Villaine, co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Jacques Seysses, the winemaking proprietor of Domaine Dujac, began searching for a property that they could co-develop. When your day job includes the making of La Tache and Charmes-Chambertin, you can't help but set the bar high. After a 12-month search, the would-be partners openly wondered if that bar hadn't been set too high.
Finally, in the summer of 1989, they stumbled upon a 110-acre estate located due east of Aix-en-Provence. The undulating hillsides enjoyed perfect southern exposure. The soils were a rugged mix of clay and limestone, not unlike the Cote de Nuits. Set between the mountain ranges of Monts Aurelien and Sainte-Baume, the spot seemed perfect. A few months later, two of the most storied Pinot Noir makers the world has ever known pulled the trigger.
Part of what sets Domaine de Triennes apart is the place. On a hot July afternoon, the steady breeze off the Mediterranean takes the bite out of the summer sun, refreshing the vines as it cleanses them. Of equal importance is the property's high perch. Set at nearly 1400 feet in elevation, when the sun sets, the temperature plunges. The cool nights keep acids firm, buttressing the plush juiciness of the low-yielding Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah.
But, of course, much of what makes each release of Triennes Rosé so irresistible is the Grand Cru viticultural and cellar protocol practiced by the guys who make it. Not long after Seysses and De Villaine purchased the property, they radically pruned the old vines, reducing cane length by 50%, trimming yields as few can afford to do outside of the Cote de Nuits. They planted a cover crop on every other row so as to control vigor, improve drainage and fix organic matter in the soil. Little by little, they eliminated the use of chemical fertilizers and herbicides, transforming Triennes into one of France's most exquisite viticultural gardens.
The just-released 2012 Domaine de Triennes Rosé is a mouthwatering blend of Cinsault, Syrah and Grenache. Brilliant salmon pink in color with gorgeous aromas of apricot skin, white flowers and herbes-de-Provence, the attack is unusually rich, supple and round, filled with red fruits and citrus, all buttressed by the sneaky acidity that makes this our go-to pink wine each summer evening.
Thanks to M. Seysses for finally prying open the doors of one of our favorite cellars -- joining the likes of Phelps, Ramey, Beaucastel and Roger on the WineAccess hit parade.