This is the kind of rosé I want to sit down and have a conversation with. Mature, elegant, and layered, it has far less to do with the easily quaffable rosés of Spanish summertime than with the elegant reds of the Massif del Garraf from which it was born. It’s zipped up, but not enough to alienate its audience. Even after almost 30 years, the Gran Caus Rosat continues to be a refined temptress.
When Carlos Esteva of the Can Ràfols dels Caus winery sought to make a distinguished rosé back in the 90s, he was hardly taken seriously. Rosé, at that time, was a toss off, made with lower quality grapes and far less technique than today. Demanding five kilos of organic Merlot grapes per bottle, the first pressing of Esteva’s rosé yields a pure fruit juice redolent of strawberries, raspberries and cherries, yet his use of long maceration and natural yeasts creates a vivid, complex wine, meant to be savored over a meal.
That attention to process is Esteva’s way. He never takes the short route. The Can Ràfols vault, chiseled out of the bedrock over almost ten years, holds the intestines of the winery. The meter-thick automated door swings open at what seems like a snail’s pace. We step across the threshold into the cool underground space and find ourselves on a metal catwalk leading across a massive room made of cement and stone. I’m awed of course by the production value but also the study in contrasts–how the futuristic feel stands up against the hand-hewn walls of the winery’s original masia where we had our tasting. And as I stand on the bridge overlooking the tall, stainless steel fermentation tanks and the aging barrels beyond, I realize this is the heart of Can Ràfols: honoring heritage by pioneering perfection.
What to try: The Gran Caus Rosat (14€), complex enough for a hearty winter pork roast, and the Pedradura (14€) made of Marselan and Petit Verdot, defined by rich red fruits, crushed herbs, anis, and balsamic–an exceptional example of a Massif del Garraf wine.