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Southern French and Spainish rosés I recently tasted differed far more than their nations of origin. The age, wine-making style, and grapes in the two bottles of rosé that I poured for a few people after work contrasted most. Perhaps it was the confluence of all the various factors that made the tasting so compelling. One had been an audition for the store and the other was bottle from my apartment cellar, but both shed light on the wines that proudly exist on the color spectrum between red or white.

A few samples made my way, a confident drop-off by a new representative sharing the soft pink wines in their unusual vessels, as he left me with three bottles of the newly approved wine. Later that night I would pop the bottle of 2010 Vie Vité with a rapt audience. The intensity of the cantaloupe-tinted wine was powerful, yielding aromas of melons and strawberries with fresh squeezed lemon and redolent white blossoms. The genetic make up of the wine consisted of mainly Cinsault (45%), and a balance of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, which was typical of the Côte de Provence region from which it hailed. On the palate it was clean, youthful and brimming with fruit and organic earth. Its freshness lingered on the palate favorably but its complexity was not its bright spot (medium at best), making it an aperitif for the following bottle of rosé.

One of my favorite producers in Rioja (among those that I have tasted in my brief career), known for its character and complexity, was the ace up my sleeve for the night. A side-by-side comparison would yield some overt differences in style, and make another compelling argument for terroir. The bottle of 2000 R. López de Heredia Rosé would show a lot less fruit and even more nuance from its oxidized upbringing. Nuts, soil, rocks and funk would collide in the nostrils after taking in a deep whiff of the Tempranillo, Garnacho and Viura blend. My friends observed the complexity that had made me a believer in the wine. Foods that accompanied the tasting were made a requisite part of it. Where earlier we were content to just taste the Vie Vité alone, the Viña Tondonia rosé demanded food. The wine lived up to its billing which is another reason why I cherish this producer’s traditional style, because as most wines are starting to overlap to the point of ambiguity it is nice to have something assert its uniqueness openly.

The olives and pizza disappeared as the night waned and the bottles emptied. I stopped to take some photos before they (the bottles) were completely drained of their contents. It was another nice night that left me happy as rosé season was approaching and the weather would level to near perfect conditions.

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