The Consolation vineyard lies in the hills just South of the village of Collioure in South-West France. It is terraced, and ridiculously steep. While the majority of vines (and there aren't many) are Grenache Gris, there are a few oddities thrown in, including one vine of San Sebastian - a varietal I had never heard of before.
We picked it about lunchtime, our second vineyard of the day. My head pounded with dehydration and I worked slowly. The French pickers laughed at me and smoked rollies. They made fun of my pace and my idea of a holiday. I left a fair few rotten bunches on the schistes terraces to rot in the sun. I fell behind a lot.
The vineyard went quickly. It's tiny, and there were a lot of us.
Andy - who owns the vineyard - and I sorted the fruit by hand, bunch by bunch, trying to rid ourselves of pervasive rot. We destemmed them and left them in tank for a night, lightly crushed, making rosé the old fashioned way, drawing a touch of colour from the light pink of their skins.
In the end, there wasn't very much. Had we used a barrel, there wouldn't have been enough to fill it. So it rested in tank, without malolactic fermentation, until Andy liked it enough to put it in bottle. And now there's a wee amount in Scotland and I drink it with as much regularity as I can afford.
So once again I'm writing up a wine that I've helped make, once again casting objectivity and integrity aside. I took more part in this wine than any of the others I helped make. As such, it's rather close to my heart. When it first arrived I was curious, excited and filled with trepidation. Now I've tried it three or four times I think I can attempt a description that leaves some of that behind, and respects the wine for what it is.
The tint is salmon pink - reminiscent of Provençal rosé with a touch of copper at the core.
Strawberries and peaches on the nose with a prickle of mineral freshness. Then some melon and more exotic fruit comes through later.
Most people will drink this very cold. When done so, there's a crisp freshness and tightness that come through as incredibly refreshing and quenching. But they're missing so much. With just a little bit of time at room temperature the fruit and mouthfeel reveal strawberries, peaches and watermelon with just enough citrus zest around the edges to keep everything in line. Waxy-textured with fine-grain minerality just underneath, stretching to a finish that lingers with the memory of fresh strawberry pips.
I don't really get rosés. I enjoy them crisp and fresh on a summer day, but I don't often find writing notes on them of any value. Nepotism aside, I think this is a brilliant wine - textured and rounded with lovely fruit and not a hint of confection.
***** (unabashed affection, I don't care that it seems nepotistic and biased)
Tasted always at Shorehead, most recently 15/07/09
Note: as far as I know, only two cases of this wine exist in the UK at the moment. And I've drunk the better part of one of them. If you see it anywhere, buy it. Even if just to prove me wrong.