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Elin’s Wine Pick: 2011 Le Petit Chaperon Rosé

LePetit Chaperone Rose

LePetit Chaperone Rose, a dry rose, is Elin McCoy's wine of the week.

It’s midway through summer rosé season, and I’ve happily been sampling widely. In my tastings, some reasonably priced pink wines from southern France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region have surprised me — like this juicy, strawberry-scented 2011 Le Petit Chaperon Rosé from Domaine du Loup Blanc. Made from Cinsault and Cenanson grapes, it’s an exuberant, gulpable rosé that offers mineral and cherry flavors that seem to go with just about everything.

Interest in dry rosés has been growing for the past eight years as more and more drinkers discovered pink wine isn’t synonymous with sweet, plonky white Zinfandel. The international winemakers’ group RAP (Rosé Avengers and Producers), which staged its eighth annual Pink Out tasting in San Francisco in May, surely helped raise consciousness about dry rosé.

Languedoc is lovely for dry pink wines too

In response to its popularity, more producers around the world now offer their own versions of pink, using a wide range of red grape varieties. That’s made for plenty of duds as well as expanding the number of rosé tastes and strongholds. The Languedoc is definitely becoming one of the latter. An arc of land on the southern French coast from the Spanish border to Montpellier, it’s France’s largest wine region.

Domaine du Loup Blanc, from the Val de Cesse appellation in the eastern edge of sub-region Minervois, was founded a decade ago by Quebec residents and restaurateurs Laurent Farre and Alain Rochard. Their Montreal bistro Le Continental and wine bar Plan B are noted for fairly-priced wine lists.

At Loup Blanc, the certified organic vineyards have some vines that are more than 100 years old. The red grapes for their rosé are pressed quickly to release the juice and only briefly in contact with the skins to pick up color, so the wine is a paler pink than it appears in the accompanying bottle shot. Cinsault, frequently used for rosé in Provence, produces delicate, crisp, fruity wines, while the obscure local Chenanson lends more color and depth.

Imported by natural wine specialist Jenny & Francois Selections, Le Petit Chaperon Rosé has lively floral aromas and the taste has a definite sense of place — what more do you need on a hot summer night?