Ever thought of selling up, relocating somewhere new and start making wine? Georgina Hindle speaks with Stephen and Jeany Cronk about how they transformed a dream into reality, and tastes through the most recent Mirabeau rosé wines.
Mirabeau rosé wines stand for the fruition of a long-held winemaking desire and a shared love of Provence rosé for British pair Stephen and Jeany Cronk.
With no previous experience of making wine, the couple started in 2009 by relocating with their kids from London life to the stunning rolling hills and blue skies of southerly France.
' We were outright supporters to Provence rosé,' states Jeany Cronk. 'It was one of the things we constantly agreed on, we just loved it and it wasn't even especially fashionable in those days.'
Commemorating their tenth anniversary last year, the acclaimed Mirabeau variety currently consists of a sparkling rosé and 8 still wines - one in a can - and can be found in more than 50 markets around the globe. Additionally they make a gin.
Scroll down for Mirabeau's wine tasting notes and ratings.
' It's a very tough business'
Stephen and Jeany have established a very effective négociant business model, developing their array by sourcing fruit from other places as opposed to taking the more traditional path of making wine entirely from their very own estates.
' The reality is, it's a very tough business,' said Stephen. 'It's extremely capital intensive so we chose to establish a model utilizing other people's vineyards as a négociant, taking the completed base wines and blending them to specific profiles.'
They scoured the region for the best vineyards and growers to work with, and employed an experienced winemaking group led by Beaujolais-born winemaker Nathalie Longefay.
Mirabeau's 'Classic' gave the group its big break, landing a contract with UK grocery store Waitrose and kick-starting growth in the USA, Canada, Holland and Germany. It is currently an 'entry point' into the range.
The Pure and Etoile wines followed, in 2014 as well as 2017 specifically, forming the major emphasis of the brand.
Business established: 2009
Initial vintage: 'Classic', 2010
Proprietors: Stephen and Jeany Cronk
Winemaker: Nathalie Longefay
Model: Négociant with estate wine expected
Variety consists of: VClassic, Pure, Etoile, La Folie sparkling, Azure, Belle Année, Forever Summer , X and Prêt-à-Porter Rosé to Go!
Estate: 20 hectares (ha), with 14ha under vine and planted to Grenache, Cinsault and Rolle, situated in Notre Dame des Anges.
How Classic, Pure and Etoile wines are made
Stephen Cronk defines Classic as 'a really great representation of a Provence rosé'.
It's made from a non-prescriptive blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault and is dominated by red fruits. There is less than 1g of residual sugar, as in all 3 of these wines, but there is an impact of sweetness balanced by acidity and a round taste.
Pure has a different profile. 'It's more citrussy with grapefruit flavours and a mineral quality,' states Stephen. 'The framework makes it a slightly more serious wine and for people that are used to drinking Provence rosés. It's even more direct with the backbone on the palate.'
Etoile is made in smaller amounts from grapes grown at high altitudes in the Mont Ste-Victoire appellation just south of Aix-en-Provence.
It is always 90% Grenache and 10% Cinsault, with a profile that Stephen describes as 'rock fruits on the nose, peach and apricot, with a minerality and concentration that makes it even more of a gastronomic wine'.
Sourcing the appropriate base wines.
Aside from Etoile, Mirabeau wines are made to a specific 'taste and quality profile' rather than a specific blend, according to the team. It resources the base wines that have the called for flavour profiles.
' Our method is to taste as widely as feasible' states Jeany. The team believes its initiatives to establish and nurture strong partnerships with the area's growers have actually helped in this regard.
' We have an enormous panel of wines to purchase from, which is a big benefit,' says Jeany. 'Due to the fact that Nathalie has the stlye of each of our 3 core wines efficiently in her head as a profile, we progressively choose what will go into the final blend.
' Even in times of severe shortage we have actually been blessed enough to get some wonderful wines to collaborate with.'
Consistency between vintages
This access to top quality grapes from the 2,000 ha of prime Côtes de Provence vineyards additionally permits Mirabeau to more conveniently blend-out vintage variation.
' The négociant model truly enables us to pick the best wines from the best sellers to produce that constant style our customers recognise.
' We know customers who enjoy Pure and would like it to be the exact same annually and we acknowledge that. We work all year long to have those connections with growers and become their key partner - it’s a transparent and symbiotic model.'
When selected, the base wines will be blended and bottled throughout the year. It's nearly a bottled-to-order system, with the couple 'drawing the wines down as and when they need them'.
They have found that this provides even more flexibility, especially given the needs of labelling and marketing wines in various countries and for various customers, from exclusive supermarket labels to Hebrew back labels.
Other wines in the range.
Numerous new wines have actually been launched on top of the core range, some as fun experiments and others in a nod to customer preferences as well as ecological considerations.
For example, there is a sparkling rose called La Folie, comprised this year of Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache and Collombard.
It was introduced four years before and is made using the Charmat Technique - the procedure commonly found in Prosecco - to deliver freshness, fruit flavours and sparkle at a budget friendly price.
Forever Summer was born with the trend for low alcohol wines in mind.
Reverse osmosis has actually reduced the alcohol level from 13% to 11% abv. The original objective was someplace nearer to 9%, but the couple found that reducing abv by more than 2% had way too much impact on the wine's structure.
This bottling, available specifically at UK supermarket Sainsburys as of 2 years ago, is likewise classified as 'plant based', because it is sourced from growers that utilize vegan winemaking strategies.
The range also consists of Mirabeau's 'Prêt-à-Porter Canettes Rosé to Go!'; rosé in a can that Jeany refers to as having 'so many positives', not the very least at outings and celebrations.
It began as a special project with Whole Foods in the US, labelled as a Vin de France made from Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. However, amid the rising popularity of both canned wine and rosé, the wine is now widely stocked.
' It simply spoke to me as a customer, but we really did not intend to fall into the trap of not putting wonderful wine in there,' Jeany says.
Not content solely with wine production, there’s even a Mirabeau Rosé gin.
It uses 100% neutral grape spirit, from the alcohol extracted during the production of Forever Summer, and a host of local botanicals. Together with juniper berries, these include coriander seeds, orris and angelica root, Citron de Menton peel and enthusiasm, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, lavender, Rose de Mai flowers and jasmine.
Domaine wine on the horizon
Based in Notre-Dame des Anges, which became the 5th official sub-region of Côte de Provence in 2014, the Mirabeau group now has the creation of their very own 'domaine' wine in mind.
They will begin exploring for the first time later on this year, using Mirabeau's 14 hectares of vineyards. It consists of primarily Grenache, Cinsault and Rolle, which is also referred to as Vermentino.
‘We’ve got a broad range and all our products need our attention, so we’re not going to bring a new wine out for the sake of it,’ say the couple
' We do not know when we'll have a wine that is good enough because it will have to be different. We wish to take our time and also experiment technically and find something that’s really small batch.’
The pair said they were committed to environmentally-responsible viticulture and intend to step in as little as possible in the vineyard.
‘It’s a survival essential,’ says Stephen, who believes strongly in the idea of regenerative farming; this involves encouraging biodiversity that will then re nourish the soil and help build resilience to erosion and drought. It is hoped that limited ploughing will encourage vines to store more CO2 in the soil.
Influenced by Oregon winemaker, botanist and environmentalist Mimi Casteel, Stephen intends to 'take organic to the next level' and to 'see whether we can relocate away from a mono-culture to a biodiverse vineyard and still make great wine'.
He includes, 'Where we can move the dial on an ecological front, we do.' Like numerous amongst a brand-new generation of wine makers, along with veteran opponents of chemicals and herbicides, he claims that years of using sprays and treating throughout the wine world was 'all entirely wrong'.
The Mirabeau estate doesn't make use of any type of unsafe pesticides, preferring natural compost and manure on the creeping plants.
The pair have actually established an ambitious goal to reduce their carbon impact by intending to become plastic-free, and reduce using power, water and raw materials.
See Mirabeau's wine notes and ratings
Mirabeau, La Folie NV, Vin de France, Southwest France
A fragile, very light pink shimmering made in the Charmat Approach (the same as Prosecco) to retain a beautiful fresh flavour of strawberries and raspberries together with zesty lemon and lime. Made from Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache and Colombard grown in northern Provence and the Luberon, it has crisp acidity.
A remarkable floral nose rupturing with elderflower, peach and citrus. On the pallet it's juicy and loaded with summer season berries with hints of grapefruit and underlying minerality. A mix of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, it's structured with a beautiful soft appearance, mouthwatering activity and also is extremely Provençal in style ...
A fruit-forward nose with soft, green apple and pear notes coming through along with lemon and ripe apricot. It's absolutely a different style to the Pure and Classic wines in Mirabeu's variety, with an appetizing level of acidity providing freshness and power, plus a focus on stone fruit and crunchy citrus flavours.
A meaningful nose of berry notes that, on the taste buds, transforms right into succulent and juicy red cherries, raspberries and strawberries. The palate uses a light creaminess and smooth texture with a round, crisp coating. Made from 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 15% Cinsault, it has complexity as well as drive.
This is aptly named, tasting like a summertime dessert, packed with delicious strawberries and fragile lotion flavours. It's revitalizing and extremely drinkable with tips of citrus on the palate and a refined spicy side on the coating. Forever Summer is the first lower alcohol wine in Mirabeau's range.
Mirabeau, Prêt-à-Porter Canettes Rosé to Go!, Méditerranée IGP
An ingenious product from the Mirabeau group: its Prêt à Concierge can. This has a lovely red berry fruit flavour, ripe cherries, raspberries and wild strawberries, together with tips of grapefruit and apricot. Rejuvenating as well as yummy, it makes a great alfresco option for picnics, beach trips or drinking by the pool.