Log In / Join Now

New York Gets Dream Rosé Mansion, France Gets Nightmare Rosé Fraud Epidemic

A first look at the psychedelic house of pink. Plus, the chosen Champagne pour of the Tour de France
We're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside!
Photo by: Rosé Mansion
We're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside!

Posted: July 12, 2018

If you think rosé's moment has come and gone, you're living in a fantasy land—and a very different fantasy land than the one that occupies the new two-story Rosé Mansion, a psychedelic palace devoted to the pink drink that opened to the public today in midtown Manhattan. Unfiltered wandered on over for a sneak peek at the dozen-plus rooms celebrating rosé in all its forms.

What is the Rosé Mansion exactly, other than a way to give all your Instagram "friends" major FOMO? "Rosé is a great vehicle for storytelling," said our pink-suited guide Tyler Balliet. Balliet and Morgan First, wine-event organizers who conceived the Wine Riot tastings that came on the scene in the late aughts, co-created the pop-up, which shepherds rosé spectators from one themed room to another through the myriad styles and sensory experiences of rosé.

Photos courtesy of Rosé Mansion and Emma Balter

Rosé Mansion Rosé Mansion Rosé Mansion Rosé Mansion

In each room, one's glass gets a refreshed pour. In the "World of Wine" room, decorated like an old-school travel agency (remember those?), for example, we got a taste of La Brune's Lekker rosé from South Africa, while in a "science"-themed room, we warily tested a Provence rosé and grapefruit gummy bear pairing.

Things eventually took a turn for the surreal with a blending lab where one could mix different rosés willy-nilly, a rosé Champagne tower, a chandelier we could and did actually swing from, and a "bubble" ball pit. ("What does it feel like to be in a glass of Champagne?" is how Balliet explained it.)

Rosé Mansion Rosé Mansion Rosé Mansion Rosé Mansion

At the ground-floor bar, Rosé Mansion beverage director Cara Maldonado, who left her sommelier job at City Winery for this gig, has crafted a 130-selection mostly-rosé wine list. The result runs the gamut, from old standbys Riunite and Barefoot to more studiously made rosés from Bedrock, Château de Pibarnon, Clos Cibonne, Hermann J. Wiemer and more. Rosé Champagne is well represented by Krug, Billecart-Salmon, Pol Roger and Goutorbe-Bouillot, and Maldonado is particularly excited about a canned pét-nat from Maryland. Yep, you read that right—ask for the Old Westminster Farmer Fizz.

If you're in need of even more rosé in your life or considering a career as a social media influencer, flock to the Rosé Mansion, open through Oct. 7. Tickets can be purchased on its website.


Massive Spanish Rosé Scam Has France Seeing Red

We all know the self-described Francophile, who wears a beret or works in phrases like "allons-y!" whenever they can. It may be a bit, ah, gauche, but it's all in good fun. However, when it comes to wine, francisation, or "frenchification," of foreign products is a really big deal, and in some cases, it's très illegal.

That is what's behind a major winecrime allegation of the French government, following a multi-year investigation revealing that as many as 10 million bottles of Spanish rosado may have been passed off in stores and restaurants as "French" rosé.

In 2016 and 2017, France's Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) conducted a large-scale investigation of imported wines, mostly rosés and particularly from Spain, after tips of fraud. The organization audited hundreds of suppliers around the country, including producers, importers, retailers and restaurants. Now, they've released a report of rosé malpractices ranging from the misleading to the straight-up fraudulent.

Among the allegations: Many of the offending Spanish offerings prominently featured the French flag, pictures of "French" châteaus, or the phrase “bottled in France” on labels, with the wine's real country of origin in small, inconspicuous print on the bottles or boxes of wine. If that is shady yet above-board by EU standards, investigators also claimed clearer law-breaking, citing Spanish wines labeled with "Vin de France" or even the name of a legally protected IGP wine region. According to the DGCCRF's official report, these latter offenses could merit two years in prison and a fine of 300,000 euros.

At the point of sale, investigators allege that some eateries and hotels failed to mention the origins of some rosés on their wine lists, and kept up the confusion by associating the wines with French-sounding verbiage (such as "cuvée du patron"). Other restaurants were alleged to be more outright with the fraud, listing their Spanish offerings as French or selling them as IGP wines. Wine shops stand accused of similar tactics of consumer confusion.

Offenders have been ordered to destroy batches of labels and withdraw non-compliant products. According to the DGCCRF report, one seller alone removed 16,700 bottles of misleading Spanish wine from its stock. Export of some wines has also been blocked.

"This survey concerned both the protection of consumers, so that they have fair information enabling them to guide their choices in a sufficiently informed way, and the protection of wine industry professionals against fraudulent practices," the DGCCRF report reads. "These can have significant negative repercussions and significant economic consequences."

The report also notes the struggles that entry-level French producers have faced in the past few years due to strong competition from low-priced Spanish wine. This latest chapter in the French vs. Spanish wine saga seems … unlikely to improve that relationship.


Champagne Castelnau Pulls Away from the Pack as Chosen Pour of the Tour de France

In 2016, wine became a minor scandal at the Tour de France when Cono Sur's Bicicleta label was chosen as the race's official sports wine: The cycling-themed Chilean wine had plenty of "tour" but zero "France." This year, organizer Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) is riding with a drink everyone can clink: Champagne. For the seventh year, Champagne Castelnau is saddling up as the fizzy pour of the tour—and what's sure to be the only possibly-performance-enhancing substance in the race. The house is releasing a new limited edition, be-tire-tracked bottle design for its Brut Reserve NV and Brut Reserve Rosé NV.

Instagram / @castelnauuk
The bottles (are) runneth over.

According to Pascal Prudhomme, the general manager at Castelnau, the house’s partnership with the ASO in "sharing the magic of the Tour de France” began with the 2012 race after a meeting between Prudhomme and cycling giant/five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault. “[The partnership] reinforces pride on the brand and allows us to motivate all the 775 wine growers” who contribute to the Castelnau cuvées, Prudhomme told Unfiltered via email.

Castelnau
General manager Pascal Prudhomme gets in gear.

The stylishly tire-trodden black and white bottles are now available at retail for those in the armchair peloton, while Castelnau reps have been chasing the Tour itself on the ground and over social media. They kicked off the Tour earlier this week with a stroll through the VIP section at the starting line in Vendée, sampling all the luxuries a dedicated cycling racer(-watcher) needs, including ice cream, popcorn and, of course, lots of bubbly. Here's hoping they've saved some for the guys on the bikes after today's grueling Stage 6.


Gangsta's Parad-weiss: German Company's Cooleo Double-Layered Bottles Stay Chill

A Germany-based design company is launching new double-layered bottles to keep a long-term chill on wine without the need for a cooler, ice bucket or run to the fridge. The Cooleo—not to be confused with the mid-'90s California rapper—relies on the insulating effects of glass inside and out to maintain a wine's optimal temperature for up to an hour, even in the heat of the summer sun. For added swag factor (something German beverage companies really seem to be all-in on lately), the outside layer of the inside bottle is decked out with artwork that is customizable for wineries and consumers. “Instead of having a picture on the wall, you basically have the bottle on the table and the artwork is behind glass protected from scratches or touching,” CEO Soohee Kim explained to Unfiltered.

Cooleo
Must-have for any walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

In a nod to sustainability, glass stoppers allow the bottles to be reused to accommodate any beverage type. (But why deviate from wine?) The Frankfurt-based winery Wasem is the first to snap up the tech, bottling its Riesling and rosé in Cooleos.


Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 365,000+ ratings.