I like rosés that contain a lot of chardonnay. Don’t get me wrong, I like 100 percent pinot noir saignée rosés too. But every time I taste Margaine’s rosé I just want to drink the whole bottle by myself.
This week’s Wine of the Week is a bit unfair, as Arnaud Margaine just let me taste his new release of rosé, based on the 2006 vintage, and all of you guys in the rest of the world still have the 2005. But whatever. It’s always good, every year. (By the way, I know that's a strange photo, as the bottle had no label, but the color was so nice and Margaine's wallpaper is so cool that I took it anyway. You can see the actual label below.) As usual, this rosé is all from the village of Villers-Marmery (because all of his vines are there), and it contains about 12 percent of red wine. Sometimes he makes it with only chardonnay vinified en blanc, but this year it’s 80 percent chardonnay and eight percent pinot noir (Margaine is always very precise with his percentages). It’s never just the regular Brut with some red wine added, but a completely different blend, selected to demonstrate “more finesse and more vivacity,” as Margaine says.
The color is beautifully pale and inviting, and the aromas open on the nose with fresh, lively notes of strawberry, green apple and green pear. On the palate it’s silky and graceful, driven by the peculiarly earthy minerality of the eastern Montagne de Reims — more than anything else, this is a wine that clearly expresses a very specific place on the planet. It’s still very youthful, of course, yet the components are already so harmonious, finishing with lots of red fruit fragrance and vividly refreshing acidity.
Back when I lived in Portland, Oregon, my friends and I opened a wine bar with a wildly extravagant and extensive list of champagnes. At that time, the Terry Theise champagne portfolio had not yet been distributed in the Oregon market, and we worked out a killer deal with our distributor friends who were going to pick it up. We got to buy whatever we wanted from the portfolio (come to think of it, what didn’t we want from the portfolio?) at prices that today would make you cry, and it allowed us to pour (and drink) all sorts of fun things by the glass. One of the crazy things we managed to do was contract an exclusivity on Margaine’s rosé in Oregon, just because I loved that wine so much. The production is so tiny and the wine so obscure, I figured it wouldn’t really hurt anyone if I just quietly took it all for myself. (Hey, knowledge is power, right?) Well, whaddya know. Pretty soon, everybody else was clamoring to have it too, just because we did. They hadn’t the foggiest idea in the world who Arnaud Margaine was, and there were plenty of other rosés available to choose from, but damn it if they would let us pour Margaine Rosé without getting in on a piece of the action. Now, of course, the bar is closed and lots of people carry Margaine. But if you happen to drink Margaine Rosé in Portland, think of me.
Margaine is imported into the United States by Terry Theise Selections/Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, NY. The suggested retail price for the Brut Rosé is $58.