Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Rarest Rosé


The commune of Riceys in the southern portion of the Champagne region has been producing for centuries tiny quantitites of the world's most rare rosé. Said to be the favorite of Louis XIV, this rosé is so rare that even in Champagne, let alone in France, few have heard of it. To my knowledge none is exported.

I was visiting Champagne last March and I took my buddy Robert with me. He decided to stay around a little longer after I've finished my appointments to do some R & R and hunt down this rare Rosé de Riceys. He got lucky as he found one wine store that stocked a few bottles of it. The proprietor was quite impressed at Robert for even asking for it.

Robert lugged the bottle back home and when we decided to have a bite together one day before watching a Giants ballgame he brought the bottle of Rosé de Riceys with him. This was probably the only bottle of this rosé in the country.

We sat at the bar of Coco 500, Loretta Keller's newly renovated hotstpot in the south of Market. We dug in a couple of the small plates that were both superb. One was the COCOmole “taco” ($4.00), a refined take on mole made with braised beef cheeks on crisp taco shells. Every piece was delicious. The other plate was a version of the Provence standard, a brandade served with fennel crackers ($6.00). Another homerun!



Both small plates were superb with the particular taste of the Rosé de Riceys. Made of 100% Pinot Noir, this rosé is made by macerating the Pinot until the taste of Riceys is achieved, a procedure that requires not only a skilled winemaker but also one who knows the precise taste of Riceys.

The rosé has a deep cherry nose, very earthy and Pinot-like, it reminded me of the Pinot Noirs I've had from Alsace. The initial taste was of black cherries then layers fanned out revealing fresh herbs and lavender. Very delicate yet intense on the palate. Substantial for a rosé, hence the wine was a perfect accompaniment to our small plates.

500 Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA

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