Matton of Minuty: Oak has no place in rosé

The practice of barrel fermenting and oak ageing rosé goes against the philosophy of the wine, according to François Matton of leading Provence estate Château Minuty.

François Matton, co-owner and managing director of Provence estate Château Minuty, believes oak has no place in rosé

Speaking to db at Vinexpo Bordeaux last week, Matton, co-owner and managing director of Château Minuty, said he’s anti the idea of oaked rosé.

“I’m not a fan of oaked rosé and would never barrel age my rosé as I feel it goes against the philosophy of the wine. Provence rosé should be easy to enjoy, not simple but easy.

“With Provence rosé you want lightness, freshness and elegance, you don’t want tannins from the wood. When it comes to rosé I think most of the work should be done in the vineyard not the winery. Provence rosé is at its best when drunk within a year so there is no need for oak,” he said.

François Matton with a bottle of Minuty 281 rosé at Vinexpo Bordeaux

One of the most expensive rosés made in Provence, Château d’Esclans’ Garrus, spends 10 months in oak and retails for around £90 a bottle.

As for the practice of putting ice cubes in Provence rosé, Matton is all for it. “I’m not snobby about people putting ice cubes in rosé, as it’s important that rosé is enjoyed chilled – there’s nothing worse than warm rosé,” he told db.

Keen to move the Provence rosé category into the prestige Champagne sphere, a few years ago Matton developed a top rosé made predominantly from 25-year-old Grenache wines using a clone unique to the estate.

“I wanted a luxury bottle to go with it so I approached perfume bottle designer Hubert de Malherbes, who is best known for creating Dior’s J’adore perfume bottle. I think there are a lot of similarities between perfume and rosé.

“The blue colour used on the bottle is inspired by the deep blue the sky turns when the Mistral wind blows through Provence. It’s a really specific shade.

“We called the wine 281 after the Pantone number of the royal blue colour that drips down the left hand side of the bottle. It looks like wax but it’s not.

“I wanted the bottle to stand out from a distance. Rosé is usually drunk from an ice bucket, so it was important to make sure the neck of the bottle made a visual impact,” Matton said.

Minuty produces 50,000 bottles of 281 priced at £50. France is the biggest market for the wine, which is on pour at Chiltern Firehouse in London.

Founded in 1936, Château Minuty is run by Matton and his brother Jean-Etienne. Matton welcomes the recent influx of rosé producers to the region, so long as they are quality focused.

The Minuty 281 bottle was designed by Hubert de Malherbes, who created Dior’s distinctive J’adore perfume bottle

“I don’t mind that Provence rosé is trendy now and that there are a lot of new players in the game as the average quality level is great.

“You can’t avoid or stop competition so you may as well embrace it. We’re not fighting for the volume share – we’re focused on quality. Our rosés range from €15-50. Minuty is considered the Champagne of rosés.

“As Provence rosé becomes increasingly popular, I hope that quality can be maintained across the region, but it’s human nature to chase the easy money and go down the volume route. In the long term I’m not worried as these brands won’t last,” Matton told db.

He believes part of Provence rosés surging popularity lies in the aspirational lifestyle attached to the wine.

“Rosé is a way of life and it’s very much a lifestyle wine, which appeals to millennials. When you drink rosé you dream of being on a terrace in Cannes or nice watching the sunset – you’re drinking the lifestyle.

“Rosé used to just be popular in the south of France in the summer and now it’s popular all over the world all year round. I don’t think Provence rosé is a fad; it’s here to stay.

“It’s an easy wine to enjoy and people tend to drink it when they’re on holiday in the Côte d’Azur, so it is associated with happy memories,” he said.

“Another reason Provence rosé has become so popular is because it’s versatile with food and pairs well with lots of different cuisines, from Peruvian ceviche to spicy Thai food. It even pairs well with oysters,” he added.

Château Minuty produces seven million bottles of rosé a year and Matton has his sights set on conquering the Chinese market. “Rosé is not popular in China yet – they don’t seem to care about it, but we’re ready when they do take an interest.

“My big aim for Minuty is to become the number one rosé brand in the world and be on sale in the top restaurants, bars and hotels in every export market. Cracking the US market is a big focus for me at the moment,” he said.

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