Chandon Winemaker Explorations Méthode Ancestrale Rosé 2018


As part of LVMH, the French multinational luxury goods maker, you might expect Yarra Valley sparkling maker, Chandon, to be averse to risk-taking. Far from it.

First, we saw the prescient arrival a few years back of Chandon S, a sparkling blended with orange bitters. This month, it is Méthode Ancestrale rosé 2018, released under the Winemaker Explorations label. Ancestrale is the yin to modern sparkling’s yang.

Residual dead yeast cells are central to style. Rather than being removed after fermentation they remain in the wine, they make it cloudy, doubly so if you give it a shake, and they invest the wine with a little wildness or rusticity.

Here, the colour is more coconut ice than pale rose; a confection pink, bright and pretty. A tasting of this wine can be divided into before and after. Before shaking it up, the bouquet and flavour base is centred around watermelon skin, raspberry, nougat. After, it’s less fruit sharp, more of a blend, biscuity and berried. Before, the acidity cuts through, the focus is diamond-bright and sculptured. After, the effect feels denser. There is a transformation taking place in this wine which is fun to watch and interesting to explore.

It remains delicious either way – before or after – but after a bottle roll or shake, you do experience an extension of the original scents and flavours. This is what I enjoy about the rise of good Ancestrale or Pet Nat (Pétilant-Naturel) styles. And this is one of the best tasted so far.

There is little human control employed in this ancient sparkling wine method. It’s risky in the extreme. Often the results are a little too rustic, too cloudy and muddy as to be unpalatable to the eye and the tastebuds. Not so the Chandon Ancestrale rosé 2018. Next from Chandon will be a field blend featuring the rare grape variety, Petit Meslier.

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