Roussillon's first sparkling rosé launches in UK

Roussillon producer Domaine Lafage is launching a sparkling rosé made using beer yeast in the fermentation process.

La Triple Rosé (rsp: £17.50) is aimed at independent wine merchants and the premium on-trade sectors, and it is available to the UK market via Bibendum Wine.

The innovative wine, a debut for the estate and the first of its kind to be exported out of the Roussillon, is made in a very different way to traditional sparkling rosé wines from France. Winemakers and owners Eliane and Jean-Marc Lafage are keen innovators, and recognising the trend for rosé sparkling, were inspired to experiment with a totally new style. 

Unusually, Lafage use beer yeast in the fermentation process, and are the first to do this in the Roussillon. The term ‘Triple’ in brewing refers to three alcoholic fermentations during the process. 

Following a very successful first trial with three alcoholic fermentations for their white sparkling wine, using beer yeast for the last fermentation, Lafage decided to use the same yeast for the rosé sparkling. This type of yeast brings more complexity and roundness to the finished wine.  In addition, the bubbles are added via gasification rather than the more standard Méthode Traditionnelle. 

The wine is made primarily from white varieties (Grenache Gris and Vermentino) with just a hint of Syrah. This approach is also unique to Lafage and delivers an easy-to drink style with freshness, aromatics and no tannins.  

Owner and winemaker Jean-Marc Lafage said: ‘We are not trying to make sparkling wines in the same way as in Champagne. Our Mediterranean climate in the South of France is similar to that of Northern Italy, so we wanted to achieve something close to the Prosecco style but using our own methods and interpretation.

“Making sparkling wine requires particular expertise, and this new project demanded a lot of time and investment - a year of research and testing - as well as the installation of a new bottling line.  We wanted to master the whole process.”

Co-owner & winemaker Eliane Lafage, said: “The aim was to make an approachable, easy -drinking, refreshing style of rosé at an affordable price-point, which would appeal to sparkling wine lovers and fans of southern French rosé. We are very happy with the result.”

The wine is a blend of Grenache Gris 50%, Vermentino 40%, Syrah 10%, picked separately according to ripeness. The juices are kept separately at 2°C and blended together around a month after the first picking. 

The wine is then fermented at a cool temperature using beer yeast and the alcoholic fermentation is stopped by cooling down the tank to 0°C. The bubbles remain very light and gentle. A hint of Grenache Gris aged in barrels is added to the final blend to add richness and complexity, as well as aromas, and it counterbalances the acidity of the other grapes that are harvested earlier for their freshness.  The light bubbles are completed by adding carbon dioxide (gasification method) to enhance the natural fermentation.

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