For those of you interested, even peripherally, in French wine, I suggest you subscribe to the web log The Riviera Grapevine – Pronto! In recent posts, Chrissie has written about rosé wine from southern France and about the Rolle grape. She’s included photos of hedonistic midnight swimmers and wine aficionados on green landscapes below peach colored moonlight. Chrissie’s blog clues readers into the nuances of varied wine appellations dotting the Riviera – where some striking rosé is produced. There’s so much going on in this region, I cannot keep up.
Here, in the humble outreaches of a Diplomatic Enclave within the capital city of an Asian country, I frequent a semi-autonomous restaurant associated with the French embassy. It has access to a smattering of decent Bordeaux, Côtes du Rhône, and bottles of rosé – exceeding the wine capacity of any other restaurant located within this nation of close to two hundred million souls. The back label of the 2012 Marius Peyold Côtes de Provence (photographed above) informed me that this rosé is made from Grenache, Syrah, and Censault (classic grape varieties in many Languedoc wines), and that it has notes of red fruit, white peach, and citrus. It tasted crisp and slightly tangy – a fresh way to ring in summer.
Over a year ago, my French friend and accomplice in sampling introduced me to rosé. We usually shared bottles of Rosé D’Anjou from the western, Loire Valley region of France.
But in the Provence region of southern France, where Peter Mayle penned his books and Russell Crowe drove multiple times around a roundabout to thrill movie audiences, rosé is king. Perhaps queen. Certainly for royalty, as well as regular folk. It’s wine to enjoy – blush, fresh, mildly zippy. Rosé is ubiquitous in Provence – bright, light, fresh, and fruity, and the antithesis of all misgivings Americans once had about rosé after they excoriated the marketing triumph of White Zinfandel years ago. Truth is, the success of that wine was responsible for saving the Zinfandel grape from virtual abandonment and extinction within California (and the United States). Zinfandel now gains nothing but respect for producing hefty red wines. And when you drink a hit or two of it as rosé you may realize that it also still provides an excellent way to kick off summertime. But don’t trust my limited experience. Tune into Chrissie’s primer on Provence rosé.
Peter Mayle retired from England and moved to southern France, where he scribbled notes about contract workers fixing up his home in Provence. His subsequent non-fiction book A Year in Provence turned into a best seller more than two decades ago – detailing the highs and lows of renovating a home. His recent fiction book The Marseille Caper [A.A. Knopf, 2012] is a quick read about the deception of already deceitful land developers. Thrown in are scenes from a private airline and yacht, and the rantings of a few dim-witted hit men piloting stolen motorcycles. There are also plenty of meals where characters enjoy glasses of rosé with artichoke hearts, smoked salmon, clams wrapped in Spanish ham, goat’s cheese, and foie gras.