Rosette is an appellation for sweet white wines produced in the countryside surrounding the town of Bergerac in South West France. This tiny AOC-level appellation makes a minimal amount of wine and is not well known outside of the Dordogne administrative department. Nevertheless, the area is responsible for some noteworthy wines made from the Sauternes staples Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle, in a much lighter, fresher style.
The permitted vineyard zone for Rosette wines covers six communes to the northwest of the town center, including Bergerac itself. This countryside forms a kind of south-facing amphitheater that looks over the suburbs of Bergerac and the Dordogne river valley. Hills to the north are covered in forest and to the immediate east of the Rosette appellation is the similarly small and little-known Pecharmant AOC, making dry red and white wines.
The terroir in Rosette's vineyards is a result of erosion from the granitic hills of the Massif Central – a low mountain range that covers much of southeastern France. The hills that have formed here from this material, brought to the area by the rivers, are notable for their lack of limestone. Instead, sand and gravel soils with a heavy layer of impermeable clay characterize the vineyards, retaining water in the rainier winter months. This water content cools the soils, leading to cooler microclimates in the canopy during springtime, delaying budbreak – a favorable situation for the grape varieties grown here.
The region surrounding Bergerac town has a maritime climate, although its distance inland means that it is subject to more continental influence than Bordeaux, which lies closer to the Atlantic coast. This means that the Rosette vineyard area has cooler winters and warmer summers, with slightly lower levels of rainfall than on the coast. Vines on south-facing hillsides enjoy excellent sunshine exposure during the growing season, and are protected from cold northerly winds by the forests that delimit the area to the north.
Vines have been planted in this part of France since the Middle Ages, although – as in many southwestern appellations – phylloxera almost wiped out viticulture in the 1880s. A small resurgence in the 20th Century saw the Rosette appellation officially created in 1946, but vineyard land has been in steady decline since, under threat from changing wine trends and the encroachment of urban development from Bergerac itself.