Standing Alongside Cotat, Valentini, Simone: 2008 Horiot Rose des Riceys "En Valingrain"

Posted by Joe Salamone

Rosé for All Seasons,
and for the Ages - France's Best?
2008 Horiot Rose des Riceys
"En Valingrain"

"Single-vineyard, biodynamically-grown Rosé des Riceys might be one of the most obscure items in all of Champagne, but these are worth seeking out " -Peter Liem

At first glance a rosé offer just when fall's chill is starting to settle in may be perplexing.

But, Rosé des Riceys, particularly Horiot's, is no ordinary rosé.

It certainly deserves to stand alongside the world's most esteemed cult rosés, the likes of Cotat, Valentini and Château Simone. Compared to even these, Horiot's Rosé des Riceys En Valingrain seems to have more finesse, more sleek minerality and more detail.

Calling it a rosé may not be entirely accurate - it works the border between rosé and a light red. This is to say that it's not your casual pool-side rosé; instead, it's dead serious and cellar-worthy.

This marks our second offer of Horiot's Rosé des Riceys En Valingrain and we've bought every vintage that's come into the country. What keeps us returning to the wine is its vigorous chalk-imbued minerality, its purity, and its silky refined texture.

It's an utterly compelling and gorgeously singular expression of Pinot Noir and the Champagne region.

Rosé des Riceys is a still rosé from southern Champagne. Specifically, it's from the Aube region - the neighborhood of Cedric Bouchard and Vouette et Sorbée. The Rosé des Riceys appellation, dedicated exclusively to non-sparkling rosés, has the same Kimmeridgian soils as Chablis. It also shares a similar breeding, structure, detail and ageability with that region's wines.

Rosé des Riceys is, for sure, one of the most obscure wines around. In 2009, Bertand Celce wrote on his excellent Wine Terroirs blog that out of a whopping 866 hectares that make up Riceys, only 30 are used for Rosé des Riceys. Nevermind that in many years, many grapes don't reach the minimum alcohol required by the appellation, and so it isn't always produced.

Yet, for all this obscurity, when you begin to delve deep into French wine, you'll often see it praised as France's best and most ageworthy rosé. Rosé des Riceys can age for decades.

Last June, Rosé des Riceys enjoyed a brief moment in the spotlight when the New York Times ran a piece on the wine, including bottles thirty years old (read more here). For the next couple weeks we were flooded with phone calls for the wine, but sadly we had sold out.

Olivier Horiot's 2008 Rosé des Riceys En Valingrain just arrived. Along with 2002, 2008 is the best vintage of the decade. Where 2002 is defined by a high level of ripeness and muscle, 2008 is about purity, harmony and an energetic structure. That's exactly what you'll find in Horiot's beautiful 08 Rosé des Riceys En Valingrain.

Valingrain, the single vineyard site from which the wine on offer today hails, is south-facing with a relatively light and fine clay soil. Horiot says that it produces a wine of particular fineness, ageability and discreet complexity.

Horiot is an incredibly focused young producer. He's particularly interested in making superlative still Champagnes. He took over his parents' domaine in 1999 and didn't make his first sparkling Champagne until 2004. Even today, non-sparklers represent two-thirds of Horiot's production. He's quoted by Peter Liem as saying, "I am more motivated to make still wines than to make Champagne."

And we're happy he is. Horiot's 08 Rosé des Riceys En Valingrain is an undeniably fascinating and important wine. It shows how Champagne is capable of producing supremely elegant and ageworthy wines beyond just sparkling wines. The nobility of the terroir really shines through in Horiot's wine.

Sadly, Horiot bottles from just over 2ha of vines and that's spread across somewhere around seven different wines. Please be warned that we may need to allocate.

To order, reply to this email or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyers
Crush Wine & Spirits