We received the product for review and all opinions are our own.
Each year, Randy Hester of C.L. Butaud makes a small amount of rosé as a birthday present for his wife Brooke. Before 2017, the rosés were released by Lightning Wines, Randy’s Napa Valley label. Starting last year, Brooke’s birthday wines hit the market under C.L. Butaud, the 100% Texas label that first released wine in 2016. Texas Wine Lover reviewed both the 2016 Rosé and the 2015 Tempranillo in a December 2017 article.
The 2017 Rosé is different from the 2016 in a number of ways. Most significantly, Randy sourced grapes from a new vineyard and also selected different varieties in the latest offering. While the 2016 was a Rosé of Mourvèdre, the 2017 is a blend of 45% Grenache Noir, 33% Rolle (Vermentino), and 22% Piquepoul Blanc. The grapes are from the One Elm Vineyard in the Texas High Plains and were tended by Brad Stewart. Randy works with these varieties in California, so he was excited to make this switch. Historically, these grapes all grow in southern France and often appear together in the blended rosés of Provence. How interesting that two of the three grape varieties are white grapes!
Although the 2016 and 2017 versions share a lovely salmon color, the two rosés are more different than alike. The 2017 wine carries more acidity, making it more food friendly. This may be a result of the Piquepoul Blanc, a grape whose name translates from French as “lip stinger.” This wine definitely won’t sting your lips, but it does have a bright mouth-cleansing component that makes it refreshing.
Rosé can be so lightweight that it is considered “summer water” or so high in alcohol that it feels hot. Randy’s 2017 Rosé hits the sweet spot of being substantial enough to pair with food while not tipping the scales with high alcohol. The grapes were picked at a lower sugar level (21.8 Brix), allowing them to ferment to dry with a resulting 13.6% alcohol. Alcohol on the 2016 Rosé came in at just over half a percentage point higher at 14.2%. I prefer the 2017’s lower alcohol and overall balance.
In the cellar, Randy’s winemaking approach hasn’t changed. After co-fermenting the three varieties in stainless barrels, native yeasts start the fermentation. He adds Provencal Rosé yeast to finish the job. The fermentation is kept at a low temperature, extending it to about 24 days. This cool fermentation maintains the delicate floral aromas that are important in a rosé. In addition to orange blossom, the wine shines with aromas of citrus, raspberries, and sweet herbs. It was left on the lees for eight months before being bottled. Release date was September 2018.
Rosé is big in Texas, and C.L. Butaud’s rosé production has ramped up accordingly this year. After making just 75 cases of rosé last year, Randy released 175 cases of the 2017 version. C.L. Butaud wines are sold primarily direct to consumer through their website. The Rosé is sold in a three-pack for $66. The website also features a list of places to enjoy (or purchase) the Rosé and the C.L. Butaud Tempranillo.
One could argue that rosé is the perfect Texas wine. It’s relatively uncomplicated, meant to be drunk young, food friendly, and served chilled. What’s not to love? Rosé doesn’t require swirling and long deliberations on flavor profiles. It will pair well with most summer fare, and the color is always a crowd-pleaser. Like all rosés, the C.L. Butaud Rosé is best enjoyed with friends on a patio, and it really shines with an accompanying plate of tacos. As Randy says, “It’s a serious wine for fun people.”
Cheers to spring, to rosé, and to Brooke’s birthday that makes this delicious wine possible.