Although the rich red wines and bright rosés produced there are the most famous wines to come from the Rhône valley, Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc — made from Grenache Blanc (White Grenache) with the addition of other white grapes — has long graced the lunch and dinner tables of French families. White Grenache, with its distinctive aromatic profile, gives this wine its unmistakable herbaceous and white fruit nose (think white apple and pear). While smaller amounts of Clairette help to bring the alcohol level in this wine up to a judicious 13-13.5%, it is the Bourboulenc that gives Belleruche Blanc its delightful acidity, making it a fantastic pairing for salads (dressed with vinegar) and seafood (kissed with the juice of a lemon).
In the vineyard, the grape growers wait until peak ripeness before picking in order to allow the fruit to show its natural flavors and aromas. In the cellar, the key to the vinification is freshness: the grapes are pressed the moment they arrive in the cellar, thus retaining the wine’s bright fruit and crisp acidity.
In the tradition of the Rhône valley’s great rosé wines, Chapoutier’s Belleruche Rosé is made from a blend of Grenache (roughly 75%), with smaller amounts of Cinsaut (Cinsault), and Syrah. The Grenache in this food-friendly wine gives it bright red stone fruit flavors and beautiful color, while the Cinsaut gives its delicate strawberry aroma and the Syrah its body, making it a great pairing even for the intense flavors of seafood. Rosé wine is obtained by limiting the amount of time the grape must (juice) is allowed to macerate in contact with the skins. While rosé can typically lack tannic structure (the grape skins also impart tannin to the wine), Chapoutier uses the Syrah to balance it with tannic structure.
After the grapes are pressed for the production of Belleruche Rosé, the winemaker employs a process known in French as débourbage: the grape must (juice) is allowed to settle for a period of 24 hours. This allows the solids and the liquid to separate naturally and reduces the need for filtering later. This ancient technique — now abandoned by many wineries because it is time-consuming — helps to create the wine’s gorgeous rosé color by allowing the skins to gently impart their color to the wine.
Chapoutier’s Belleruche Rouge (Red) is made from roughly 80% Grenache (the grape variety used primarily in Châteauneuf-du-Pape to the south) and 20% Syrah (the grape used to make the Rhône valley’s most famous red wines in Côte Rôtie, Crozes Hermitage, Hermitage, and St Joseph to the north). Michel loves to serve this wine at Sunday lunch: its perfect balance of natural fruit flavors from the Grenache and the structure, spiciness, and gentle tannins from the Syrah make it an excellent pairing for a wide variety of dishes, from roast chicken and pork to grilled and roast lamb (the ideal pairing).
After handpicking at the peak of ripeness, extended maceration (up to 15 days) and natural fermentation give this wine its rich color and mouthfeel, freshness on the nose, and red berry fruit and structure in the mouth.
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