85
Côte Mas 2016 Rosé Aurore Pays d’Oc IGP 13% $11 (1 Liter)
This is a gulpable blend of 50% Grenache Noir, 30% Cinsault and 20% Syrah. By the way, if you think an “85” isn’t good, know I am ready to disagree. In my lingo, an “85” is something that is easily sippable, usually not super complex but absolutely fine to share with family and friends that are less picky about their wines. I wouldn’t lead people I want to keep around astray!

This is a soft, creamy, pliable and accessible rosé with plush fruit that starts out a bit candied (especially with too much chill) but relaxes as the wine is poured out over a few hours (and typically warms up). What is initially strawberry Jolly Rancher becomes strawberry cordial. There’s perfectly fine aromatic and palate fruit intensity here with a touch of minerality and a raspily green herb character.

Moreover, the oversized format is fun, and the retro font looks cool. This is a great wine for festive gatherings as the temperatures rise.
Drink: 2017-18

87
Côté Mas NV Crémant de Limoux Rosé Brut 12% $16
I recently learned that Limoux was the second most-imported-to-the-USA French, traditional method sparkler after Champagne. Who knew?

This one is a blend of 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir – extremely classic for this south-western France appellation. This bubbly has that come-hither, salmon-inflected, pink-rose rose color with a nose of old, rose hip-inflected potpourri. It tastes of crushed strawberries and dried cranberries, all of which are lifted by a delightfully lively, palate-caressing mousse. This is fun and approachable, and it really shouldn’t have to work much past that to charm most of its consumers.

Were I to say one thing about Crémants from France, it would be that most are exceedingly “minerally”. This is typically a desired character in wines from cooler climates or vintages as well as the Old World in general, yet it can verge on the unripe. This is especially true in sparkling wines, which are harvested earlier than still wines as they go through two fermentations (even if the second only raises the final alcoholic degree by – mostly – well less than a percentage point.) Whereas many crémant regions produce wines on the precipe of “interesting”, Limoux very consistently makes fun juice.
Drink: 2017-19