Accompanied by abundant sunshine, the fresh taste of chilled rosé embodies one of summertime’s great pleasures. At Domaine Mathis Bastian (Remich) this seasonal colour comes in three different labels and with three different winemaking methods: there’s a crémant made with Pinot Noir, a Gris de Gris made by macerating Pinot Gris and a cuvée blend made from Pinot Noir and Auxerrois.
Mathis Bastian lavishes careful attention when looking after his vines. Each day starts off invariably with the same ceremony: a cup of coffee in his hand, he steps out of his kitchen and sets off to inspect the vinestocks which are growing a few metres away below. For Mathis, there’s no point in talking only about cellars and bottling: “Everything starts here among the vines: without all the hard work put in by winegrowers and their workers there would be no wine, and that applies to any estate – we should never forget to pay them tribute as they do a fantastic job!”
At the start of June, on Bastian’s plots everywhere is green. Leaves are starting to spread out right along the wires, while herbs and flowers are growing profusely between the rows of vines. Ladybirds, butterflies, bees and so on – there are insects everywhere too: “You have to give nature a chance: if you provide those insects that harm the vines with another playground, they’ll leave you alone and then there’s no longer any need for herbicide or insecticides.”
If you didn’t take a slightly closer look, this picture would seem idyllic – but frost damage from those first days in May is well and truly visible. “There won’t be many grapes here… But what can you do, it’s one of the risks that come with the job and I’m actually really lucky to have vines in Wellenstein that are intact. There are others who are worse off than me.” That’s typical of Mathis Bastian, whatever the circumstance he always focuses solely on the positive.
The crémant rosé we’re currently selling is from our 2015 harvest, a superb year.
The character of the estate’s wines lends itself perfectly to hot summer days. “I respect all styles of Luxembourg wine; however, personally, what I’m looking for is liveliness, freshness, fruitiness, aromas and elegance,” he explains. This philosophy is completely reflected in the estate’s rosé wines: its crémant, Gris de Gris and the unusual Cuvée Lanira.
The crémant rosé is made with 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Auxerrois and Pinot Blanc in equal amounts. Fairly dry, it’s voluptuous with red fruit aromas. It has a gorgeous colour, fine but generous bubbles and liveliness, so inevitably a single glass just won’t do – but this after all is the sign of a top-quality wine!
“The crémant rosé we’re currently selling is from our 2015 harvest, a superb year,” the winemaker explains. “After tirage [the bottling stage when the liqueur de tirage is added to trigger second fermentation and create the bubbles], we then do the disgorging [removing the deposits created by this second fermentation] twelve months later, and we release the bottles a thousand at a time, in response to demand. This is why here today we have a crémant rosé which has spent 30 months on lees, which is ideal.”
Moving onto the still wines, we start with the 2018 Wellenstein Foulschette Gris de Gris. Pinot Gris is its base and its colour comes from leaving the grapes to macerate overnight but no more, directly after they’ve been harvested. A rosé must is obtained when the pulp comes into contact with the pigments in the skin. This year, because the grapes were so ripe, it was easy to get this tone of colour. This effect is due to the combination of huge exposure to sunlight and a wonderful terroir. “The Foulschette is a sort of basin that’s totally protected by the forest from westerly winds. Pinot Gris thrives particularly well on these heavy soils [Keuper marls].”
It’s a perfect easy-drinking wine and in general it appeals to a younger, different clientele.
To produce a Gris de Gris, it’s absolutely essential that only really ripe grapes are used and they must also be perfectly healthy. Should one bad grape slip through the net, everything in the vat will be spoilt. “When we are harvesting and destemming, we’re terribly careful not to let any bad grapes get through,” Mathis Bastian confirms. When you taste the purity of this wine, you know that all their hard work has paid off. Already this Gris de Gris is extremely pleasant to drink; however, in a few months’ time it will definitely be even better, once its rich structure has become slightly more rounded.
To finish off, Domaine Bastian’s final rosé is an unusual blend which will soon be celebrating its third summer: Cuvée Prélude Ianira. “We wanted to include an easy-drinking wine in our range,” Mathis Bastian says. “Which is why we produce two cuvées: a white blend [Prélude Nanami] and a rosé blend [Prélude Ianira].”
Currently, Prélude Ianira is made with 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Auxerrois; however, this recipe is not set in stone and may change depending on the given year. Since the 2018 wines are so amazing, it’s not out of the question that Mathis Bastian may alter his blend, since what he’s looking for first and foremost is “liveliness”.
Since this well-crafted blend has enjoyed just as much attention as all the estate’s other wines, it provides immediate, but not simplistic, pleasure, “Cuvée Prélude Ianira is made only from great wines from our vines, so it enjoys a really good pedigree!” the wine maker says with a smile. The obvious place for it is on a table, in the garden, under a parasol, with the barbecue close by. This wine is very close to Bastian’s heart: “It’s a perfect easy-drinking wine and in general it appeals to a younger, different clientele.”
But why the name? To baptise its blend, the Bastian Estate delved into Greek mythology. According to the poet Hesiod, Ianira was an Oceanid, a water nymph and daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. Each nymph (there were 3,000), had to preside over sources of freshwater on earth (rivers, lakes, etc.). Now there’s something that conjures up summer!