Mirabeau has grown a lot since its inception. When I visited Stephen and Jeany Cronk back in 2015 they had just two wines. Now they have grown into Maison Mirabeau, and are a pink drink company. In addition to a wide range of rosé wines, they’ve also added a Vermouth and a Gin. An amaro may be in the pipeline. Most of the rosés are from their Provence home, but for some of the more entry level products they’ve scooted over to the Languedoc. And they now have their own vineyard, from which they make the complex La Reserve, which is barrel-fermented.
This is an impressive range of wines: I asked Stephen Cronk about the evolution of the range. What was the thinking about how it was developed? ‘When we started off, we were just focusing on making one wine,’ he said. ‘This was a classic Provence style. But as we got to know the area, we realised that Provence is a big wine region and has so many styles to offer. So we have done a bit of style creep.’ Their second wine was Pure. ‘This is a wine from higher altitude vineyards with more minerality,’ explains Stephen. ‘We also discovered that Grenache can lend itself to more stone fruit characteristics, so that’s what you get with Etoile.’
In 2021 they couldn’t make La Reserve because of smoke taint, after wild fires reached their vineyard. ‘It was heartbreaking,’ says Stephen. ‘We tried some bucket ferments, because you can’t see the taint before it starts fermenting. We thought let’s play with it: we harvested the 70% of the vines on the inner side of the vineyard that weren’t burned, but it was too smoky. Ironically we were dropping in charcoal to try to filter it out.’
Famously, Stephen has adopted regenerative viticulture. How is that going? What were they like when you got them? ‘The vineyards had been conventionally farmed, so the organic life in the soil was poor. There was really bad soil erosion and the soils were compacted. It looked like the floor here: there was no life in it. I knew that just going organic wasn’t going to do enough. What is interesting is that we were strongly advised by our vineyard consultant not to stop ploughing. These vineyards are used to having fertilizers coming in from the top down so the roots systems are reliant on this. It is a gradual process: we are trying to cut the roots to encourage them to go deeper.’ They have also started with cover crops: a mix of clovers to bring in some nitrogen. One problem is that the dry winter has meant that nothing much, including the cover crop, has grown.
Belle Année Rosé 2021 Vin De France
12.5% alcohol. A blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah. Pale pink in colour, this is fresh and fruity with lovely juicy raspberry and cherry fruit. Zippy and pure with good acidity. 88/100 (£10 Tesco)
Forever Summer Rosé 2021 IGP Mediterranee, France
60% Grenache, 40% Syrah. Pale pink in colour. Supple and stylish with a hint of spicy mandarin and delicate red cherry. There’s also some lemon. This is lovely. 90/100 (£11 Sainsbury’s)
Mirabeau X Rosé 2021 Côtes de Provence, France
12.5% alcohol. 60% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, 20% Grenache. Juicy and supple with some redcurrant fruit. Fine-grained with lovely citrus fruit and some cherry too. Some canteloup melon in the mix. 91/100 (£14 Ocado)
Mirabeau Classic Rosé 2021 Côtes de Provence, France
12.5% alcohol. 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Cinsault. Very stylish, fresh and supple with good purity and a bit of spicy grip as well as juicy cherry and cranberry fruit, with mandarin, lime and a touch of watermelon. Lovely fruit here. 92/100 (£12.99 Waitrose)
Mirabeau Azure Rosé 2021 Côtes de Provence, France
12.5% alcohol. This is an on-trade-only label, and it’s 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 15% Cinsault. Bright, pure and focused with nice acidity. Has cherries and strawberries with some lime notes. There’s a keen acid line and some stoniness. 91/100
Mirabeau Pure Rosé 2021 Côtes de Provence, France
12.5% alcohol. 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Cinsault. Juicy, linear and fresh with some nice citrus character that dominates with a hint of mandarin and cherry. Lovely juicy quality here with a nice brightness. 91/100
Mirabeau Etoile Rosé 2021 Côtes de Provence, France
12.5% alcohol. 70% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 10% Syrah. Crystalline and focused with lovely pear, redcurrant and cherry fruit with good acidity and nice focus. There’s some white pepper that adds interest, with lovely flavour. This is layered and delicious. 93/100
Mirabeau Nude Pink Rosé 2021 Côtes de Provence, France
12.5% alcohol. This is organic and vegan, and is bottled in recycled wild flint glass, and sealed with a beewswax Diam and with no capsule. Lovely bright aromatics with floral red fruits, a hint of rose and some citrus. The palate is supple and fresh with juicy red fruits, some delicacy, and lovely pear and melon, finishing with some brighter lemony notes. 92/100
Mirabeau La Reserve Rosé 2020 Côtes de Provence, France
This is from their own vineyard and is the first vintage. There was no 2021 because of fire. It’s a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Cinsault and 10% Rolle, and a portion was fermented and aged in new 400 litre French oak barrels. 3000 bottles made. Textured and quite serious with lovely depth. The nuts and spice from the barrel add an edge to the sweet cherry and plum fruit. Lovely depth and fine spicy complexity. 93/100
Vault x Mirabeau Vermouth Rosé
This is a collaborative project and it’s a pink vermouth made with rosé wine fortified with the gin spirit used for the Mirabeau gin, plus grapefruit and the gin botanicals. Fruit driven but also finely spiced, this has wonderful aromatics. Sweetly fruit and quite soft, this is very expressive and well mannered and it a great sipping vermouth, best served on ice.
Mirabeau Dry Rosé Gin
This is made with grape-based spirits plus botanicals true to the French Riviera, and some rosé wine is added to the distillate. It’s a London dry style, and it’s very juniper led with a lovely texture, some fruitiness and a lot of spicy character. Warm and stylish. Signature G&T is with Mediterranean tonic and a rosemary garnish.
I also had a Mirabeau rosé negroni, made with the rosé vermouth, Mirabeau gin and Campari. It was really good.