Floral aromas of raspberry, strawberry, and orange zest, with anise and white pepper
Is it the one of the finest and most complex pink wines in France? We’ve long thought so. Domaine du Carrou’s Dominique Roger has been a friend of WineAccess for two decades, but it took four years to eke out a small allocation of the Sancerre Rosé from the steep rocky vineyard that Loire Valley locals like to call “Cayenne.” The lion’s share of the annual American allocation gets snapped up by sommeliers at Manhattan’s top restaurants.
The hillsides of Bué-en-Sancerre are a patchwork quilt, each slope blanketed with vines. Not even an acre goes up for sale, ever. Had you driven to the very top of this town on Le Chemin de Marloup around 25 years ago, you would have seen one patch that, while beautifully exposed, had never been planted. All it takes is a glance to understand why; if you pull over and walk the hillside, it becomes painfully obvious.
The land here is practically vertical, easily mistaken for an impossibly steep rockpile, and, given the northern exposure, subject to chilly winds and the region’s temperamental weather. The locals had taken to calling the plot “Cayenne” after the French Guiana prison where the Steve McQueen film, “Papillon,” took place. So when old-timers at the local café heard a rumor one day that daredevil winegrower Dominique Roger had purchased the “Cayenne” slope with the intention of growing Pinot Noir for Rosé, they’d wondered if he’d lost his marbles!
The concern seemed warranted initially. After two months of back-breaking work, Roger stood back and watched as one of Sancerre’s violent tempests tore every “Cayenne” sapling from the ground and washed them down the hill. But undeterred, Roger repeated his herculean labors the following year — and this time, the Pinot Noir plants gained a foothold in the soil strewn with white calcaire, spindly roots spidering deeply into the substrata. Soon “Cayenne” was giving birth to what we — and a bevy of sommeliers — believe to be the most extraordinarily complex and SERIOUS pink wine in France.
In a 2016 growing season whose yield was halved by spring frosts, this north-facing slope eked out a tiny, if terrifically concentrated, crop. Sugars were unusually high, while acids remained exquisite.
Glistening, pale ruby to the rim with gorgeous floral aromas of raspberry, strawberry, and orange zest, touched with anise and a dash of white pepper. Unusually concentrated for a pink wine, weighty, dense and compact, the bright red fruit core is braced with terrific minerality and tension. Serious yet utterly quaffable.
From this criminally tiny vintage, just 200 cases were earmarked for WineAccess. $32 on release. Just $19.99/bottle — a WILD bargain — for this mouthwatering, salmon-pink sophistication. Shipping included on 6.
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