While Italy is perhaps best known for its many fine red and white wines, its Rosès are often overlooked by many wine lovers. This should most certainly not be the case, as a number of great winemakers make fine Rosè wine that is more than worth a moment of your time.
Perhaps some of the best Italian wine is made at the Chateau d’Esclans, which specialises in a particularly wonderful Rosè. Here we take a look at the winemaker and the famous chapel that lends the Whispering Angel Rosè its name.
Located near the ancient Roman city of Frejus, on elevated land that is absolutely perfect for growing top quality grapes, the Chateau d’Esclans can traces its lineage back through the centuries and was an extremely interesting history.
It is believed to have first been used by the Gaullists, where it was much less renowned for any winemaking or religious importance and was instead used as a lookout point over the Gulf of Frejus. It served its purpose well in this regard, likely because the elevated land offered a superior vantage point.
Following this period, the historic chateau that lends the region its name was first constructed. Though it was one of the finest examples of the building during its era, today little remains of that first chateau outside of the cellar structure of the current building, which reflects the foundations used for the first building.
This chateau was constructed in 1201 and was given to the area by the Comte de Provence to Gérard De Villeneuve, who took ownership of the area and the chateau in the same period. His was a wealthy family that originally hailed from Marseille and they also came to own much of the surrounding Vallée d’Esclans, which they eventually sold off in pieces before selling the chateau itself to a pair of brothers named Sauver Louis Ranque and Francois Alexandre Ranque before being moved on to a matchmaker named Joseph Toussaint Caussemille in 1875.
It was during this period when an extensive amount of remodelling was done to the building in an effort to bring it up to the standards of the time. Perhaps understandably, the chateau was beginning to show a few signs of age after nearly 600 years, so the time was right to remodel and build anew.
Inspired by modern-era Tuscan Villa design, the current chateau was constructed on the foundations of the previous one during the mid-19th century. It has also changed owners a few more times in the years since, with Caussemille selling it on to the Perraud family in 1955.
The family then sold the building to a Swedish pension fund in 1994, who began to make the first real efforts to start producing wine. Some of these were sold, whereas others were kept for the locals to consume.
This winemaking has continued to the present day and there are now 108 acres of vineyards that contribute to the wines produced at the property. A number of grapes are grown there, primarily the Grenache but also including the Vermentino and Merlot amongst others. It is through using these grapes that the vineyard makes its most famous wine.
The Whispering Angel Chapel
Right around the period when the entire chateau was being remodelled, it was also decided that a chapel was need to adequately reflect the religious sentiments of the owners in addition to making for something of a centrepiece for the entire property.
As such, the Whispering Angel chapel was constructed in the mid-19th century and it quickly became admired for its interesting design that includes a pair of cherubs that many claim were the inspiration for the Whispering Angel Rosè wine that the area is most well-known for.
Today the cherubs make up the most eye-catching motif on the bottles that are produced in the area and generally denote that the wine that you have in your hands is of considerable quality and comes from the area in question.
Despite being a fairly new entrant into the pantheon of great Italian wines, the Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosè 2014 has quickly garnered a reputation for being a stellar example of the drink and it has received plaudits in a number of well-renowned publications for its quality of taste and smoothness of texture.
The 2014 vintage will be a peachy pink colour, which makes it an attractive proposition almost as soon as it leaves the bottle. It features sweet and fruity notes of raspberry and strawberry, which suggests a fruity flavouring that will also be quite refreshing when consumed.
This is confirmed when you take your first sip, as the wine tastes very fresh and is extremely bright, making it a perfect refresher in addition to being a great complement to lighter meals.
This is continued through to the wines finish, with those fresh feelings and berry notes lingering long after the wine has been consumed.
Eat It With…
Salads – A salad is the perfect accompaniment to a good Rosè, as both taste fresh and vibrant and yet neither outweighs the other one. Instead they complement each other perfectly and make for a superb combination of flavours that is both enjoyable and will leave you feeling refreshed after a hard day of work.
Seafood – Most fish dishes will work extremely well with a good Rosè wine, as the wine can work to offset some of the more pungent flavours of the fish and provide a perfect contrast to it. Try it with grilled tuna or poached salmon to find out for yourself. Ideally you should also mix the fish with a good mayonnaise-based sauce to get the full effect of the combination.
Spicy Foods – Perhaps most surprising of all of these combinations is that Rosè goes extremely well with a variety of spicy foods, enabling the diner to soother their tongue without taking away too much of the flavour of the spices that they are eating. As such, they make a perfect pairing and you will find many Indian restaurants recommend a good Rosè with many of their dishes.