From €19.90, $26.98, £21.95
Last week we published a collection of tasting notes on pink wines and have continued to add to it so that our Rosé assemblage now includes reviews of more than 100 very different rosés.
We listed them in declining score order and - surprise, surprise - the top-scoring wine was Domaine Tempier 2015. But one rosé producer whose wines seem to be getting better with every vintage is Château Léoube, the coastal estate owned by the British (JCB) Bamfords of Daylesford Organic, the Cotswolds-and-London farm and food supplier. Secret de Léoube 2015 is the usual fashionable very pale, almost gris, salmon pink and comes in a smart, if all-but-illegible screenprinted clear bottle on which much is made of the wine's organic credentials.
The Bamfords bought this 560-hectare (1,380-acre) estate in 1997 and there are now 65 ha (160 acres) of vineyards and 20 ha (50 acres) of olives on the coast roughly half way between Toulon and St-Tropez near Le Lavandou. Romain Ott (pictured below) of the eponymous Provençal rosé producers has been recruited as winemaker, apparently to good effect.
The soils are a coastal mix of schist and clay and the blend of Secret, the mid-priced rosé of their three, is roughly equal portions of 30-year-old Cinsault and Grenache with about 20% Cabernet Sauvignon (which seems to play a very minor role in terms of flavour). Hand picking and careful sorting play a part, as presumably do the coastal breezes.
Many of the Provençal pinks we reviewed are in the same dry, lightly smoky, slightly herbal idiom as Secret de Léoube but this one seems particularly satin-textured, with a genuinely dry finish that suggests it would be just as good at the table with food as sipped on the beach. According to the bottle, despite being packed with flavour, this 2015 is just 12.5% alcohol. It reminds me of some of the early vintages of the top wines of Esclans, but is considerably cheaper. It's available in France, from quite a wide array of retailers in the UK and the US, and you can also buy it direct from the Léoube website at €22.50 a bottle.
I reckon Secret de Léoube is definitely the best value of the three Léoube rosés. The top wine, La Londe de Léoube, costs considerably more (£40 a bottle on the Daylesford site) but I gave it the same score, 17 out of 20, as the Secret. (Daylesford still seem to be selling the 2014 Secret, at £20 a bottle.) The regular Rosé de Léoube 2015 (£16.50 chez Daylesford) is perfectly competently made but is not as fine, pale and subtle as the other two.
The beach pictured above is the 'protected' Plage du Pellegrin on the estate, where apparently they operate Le Café Léoube from Easter to September (weekends only in May), offering, according to their website, 'a wide choice of greedy plates from €7 and hot or cold sandwiches from €5. Here we opt for the good product accompanied with the essential glass of Rosé of Léoube or Secret of Léoube.'